German WW2 jet - The Me-163 Komet - video

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German WW2 jet - The Me-163 Komet - video

Funny looking little stubby plane, I imagine it must have been revolutionary for its day and look even more bizarre to the pilots used to seeing propellers on aircraft.

I wonder how much it would have affected the war if they were operational a year or 2 earlier.

As you can see in the video the landing of the planes was problematic.

The airplane lacked steering or braking control during the landing run, leaving the pilot unable to avoid obstacles.

Once on the ground, it had to be retrieved by a specialized tractor-like vehicle, the three-wheeled Scheuschlepper, as the Komet was unpowered and lacked wheels at this point.

For production models, a set of landing flaps allowed somewhat more controlled landings. This issue remained a problem throughout the program, however.

Nevertheless the performance was tremendous and plans were made to put Me 163 squadrons all over Germany in 25 mile (40 km) rings. Development of an operational version was given the highest priority.

Much more on the link
... Quote:
The performance of the Me 163 far exceeded that of contemporary piston engine fighters.

After take-off from a two-wheeled dolly, it would be travelling at over 200 mph (320 km/h) at the end of the runway, at which point it would pull up into an 80-degree angle of climb, jettison the dolly, and rapidly climb to the bombers' altitude.

It could go even higher if need be, reaching 40,000 ft (12,000 m) in an unheard-of three minutes. Once there, it would level off and quickly accelerate to speeds around 550 mph (880 km/h) or faster, which no Allied plane could hope to match.

Operations began in 1944. As expected, the plane was extremely fast, and for a time the Allied fighters were at a complete loss as what to do about it.

Singly or in pairs, the Komets attacked the bomber formations, often faster than the opposing fighters could dive in an attempt to intercept them. A typical Me 163 tactic was to zoom through the bomber formations at 30,000 ft (9,000 m), up to an altitude of 35,000–40,000 ft (10,700–12,000 m), then dive down through the formation again.

With luck, this would afford the pilot two brief chances to fire off a few rounds from his cannons before he had to glide back to his airfield.

The Allied pilots quickly noted the short lifetime of the powered flight. They would wait it out, and as soon as the engine went off would pounce on the unpowered, gliding Komet. They also quickly identified the fields the planes operated from and started strafing them after the Me 163s landed.

In any operational sense the Komet was a failure.

More were lost to landing accidents than they ever accounted for in bomber kills, which stand at only 16.

Due to fuel shortages late in the war, very few actually went into combat, and it took an experienced pilot with excellent shooting skills to achieve "kills" with the Me-163. At the same time the Komet was a remarkable design that pointed the way to the future.

german-me163.jpg - 30.57kb
By netchicken: posted on 18-9-2007

They wouldn't have affected the war much even had they been employed a year or two earlier. practically speaking, they only allowed for one dive at an allied bomber formation followed by a treacherous landing.

The ME-262, on the other hand, would have been a possible tide-turner had it been employed early enough to make a difference!
By Thomas_Crowne: posted on 9-2-2009

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