Me 163 file photo [2094]

Me 163 Komet

ManufacturerMesserschmitt AG
Primary RoleJet Fighter


ww2dbaseThe possibility of using hydrogen peroxide as fuel was discovered before WW2, leading to the theory of a rocket engine. It was not until 1941 when the world's first rocket-based fighters began to take shape. The design started in early 1941 under the name of Bf 163, which was actually a name originally intended for a two-passenger light aircraft; the purpose for such a name was to foil Allied intelligence efforts. In late 1941, the first prototypes named Me 163 A V1 and V3 were delivered, breaking the speed record by achieving 1,004.5km/h. There were some serious design flaws, but the speed performance was so earth-shattering that the project continued. By late 1943, over 400 Me 163B aircraft were performing test flights fully equipped with cannons. The Me 163B fighters impressed the pilots greatly with their ability to reach the speed of 320km/h by the time they hit the end of runway, and their ability to climb to the altitude of 12,000m in mere three minutes.

ww2dbaseMe 163 fighters began operations in May 1944, and the first combat engagement occurred at the end of Jul 1944 when a number of these fighters attacked United States Army Air Force B-17 bombers. Immediately, their speed overwhelmed Allied fighters. Allied pilots reported that these new German fighters could reach their altitude before the Allied fighters had enough time to dive and intercept. The rocket engines soon became the fighters' biggest weakness as well. Because of the rockets' short fuel life, Me 163 aircraft only had a short time to attack before they run out of rocket fuel and need to glide back to the airfield. Allied pilots soon learned to simply wait until the rocket fuel ran out before beginning their attacks.

ww2dbaseThe blueprint, as well as a prototype, were shared with Japan some time during the war, and were seriously evaluated by Mitsubishi and Yokoi Aircraft Company, but none were produced.

ww2dbaseThe Me 163 Komet fighters were a considered tactical failure, but the design was undoubtedly revolutionary and took aircraft design to the next level.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Sep 2006

Me 163 Komet Timeline

2 Oct 1941 The third Messerschmitt Me 163A rocket-powered prototype aircraft, piloted by Heini Dittmar, achieved an unofficial world speed record of 623.85 mph.
13 May 1944 Major Wolfgang Sp├Ąte, in a Me 163 jet aircraft launched from Bad Zwischenahn in northern Germany, pursued two USAAF P-47 fighters. Mechanical problems with the aircraft cause Sp├Ąte to eventually lose contact with the US fighters.
29 Jul 1944 A Me 163 jet fighter attempted to disrupt a B-17 raid on Mersburg, Germany but was instead pursued by Captain Arthur Jeffrey in a P-38 fighter. Jeffrey chased the Me 163 jet fighter to a very low altitude and confidently reported a victory, but post war records indicated that there was no Me 163 lost on this particular date.
7 Oct 1944 1st Lieutenant Elmer Taylor and 1st Lieutenant Willard Erfkamp of USAAF 364th Fighter Group, flying P-51 fighters, together shot down the German Me 163 rocket fighter piloted by Husser; Husser would survive the subsequent crash landing.
2 Nov 1944 About 12 Me 163 rocket fighters of German Jagdgeschwader 400 fighter wing intercepted a group of US bombers escorted by P-51 fighters east of Leipzig, Germany. The Germans shot down two bombers, while the American fighters shot down four Me 163 rocket fighters; the four German pilots shot down were Oberfeldwebel Horst Rolly, Oberfeldwebel Herbert Straznicky, Oberfeldwebel Gunther Andreas, and Jacob Bollenrath (rank unknown). Bollenrath's fighter would be the final Me 163 downing by a P-51 fighter.


Me 163B-1
MachineryOne Walter HWK 109-509A-2 liquid-fuel rocket, rated at 17kN
Armament2x30mm Rheinmetall Borsig MK 108 cannons
Span9.33 m
Length5.70 m
Height2.75 m
Wing Area18.50 m²
Weight, Empty1,905 kg
Weight, Loaded3,950 kg
Weight, Maximum4,310 kg
Speed, Maximum955 km/h
Service Ceiling12,100 m
Range, Normal40 km


Me 163 A-V4 aircraft at rest, Germany, 1941USAAF bomber crews at a briefing in England, United Kingdom, 1944-1945; note drawing of Me 163 Komet jet fighter on the mapMe 163B-1a at Museum of Flight, East Fortune, Scotland, date unknown

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Anonymous says:
25 Sep 2008 06:33:40 PM

The speed listed for the Me 163 Komet is incorrect
2. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
15 Feb 2009 03:41:09 PM

more pilots were killed in landing accidents, then in combat. but the komet was state-of-the-art. any fighter pilot would want to strap it on, and defend the fatherland! the japanese build a model it was called the J8M Shusui (sword stroke) a total of seven aircraft were built.
3. Commenter identity confirmed BILL says:
23 Feb 2009 02:46:01 PM

Black and White Photo of (KE+SW) Messerschmitt Me 163A V-1 Was the first prototype. The aircraft was used for gliding trials winter 1940-1941
4. Commenter identity confirmed BILL says:
23 Feb 2009 03:01:56 PM

Messerschmitt Me 163C-1a Maximum speed 596mph, at 13,000-40,000ft. Maximum endurance after climb to 32,810ft. at 495-510mph was 6.5min. Maximum powered endurance 12min. Maximum ceiling 52,500ft. Armament, either two 20mm MG 151 cannons or two 30mm MK 108 cannons. PowerPlant: One Walter HWK 509C-1 bi-fuel rocket motor possessing a maximum thrust of 4,410lb.
5. Commenter identity confirmed Alan Chanter says:
11 Jul 2009 02:55:57 AM

The Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet was designed by Dr. Alexander Martin Lippisch who, for many years, had been working on tailless sailplane designs. In January 1939, he and his design team joined the Messerschmitt Company and began work to convert the DFS 194 tailless research glider to be powered by an 882-lb thrust Walter rocket motor. Successful testing of this aircraft, during which a speed of 342mph was attained, resulted in Messerschmitt receiving an order for six Me.163A prototypes. After testing of the first Me.163A prototype as a glider towed by a Bf.110, the prototypes were extensively tested at Peenem├╝nde in the summer of 1941 powered by the 1,653-lb thrust Walter HWK RII-203b rocket motor demonstrating speeds of up to 550 mph. During one of these tests a Me.163A, flown by Test Pilot Heini Dittmar was towed to a height of 13,125 ft before the engine was fired, attained 623.85 mph before losing stability as a result of compressibility effects. Dittmar succeeded in regaining control, but the wing needed to be redesigned to alleviate this problem.
Other problems that need to be addressed were those posed by the highly unstable rocket fuel and by the jettisonable wheeled dolly/retractable landing gear.
6. steven king says:
18 Nov 2009 03:09:19 AM

With regard to Bills comment of the 23rd of February 2009 Do you know if the Me 163 was ever taken in testing to an altitude of 52,500 ft or has this figure been calculated from fuel, weight and aerodynamic data.

Regards Steven King
7. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
11 Jan 2010 03:10:35 PM

Steven's comment 18 Nov 2009

The maximum ceiling is 52,500 ft. for the
Me-162 Komet. If any special tests,were made I haven't read about them. But its possible
the Germans did a test, and any records of
the test could have been lost or destroyed.

Information presented is a reflection of what is known and available at this time.
Any Updates, Additions, and Corrections
are Welcome.

8. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
26 Sep 2010 10:58:48 AM

The Komet was fast and carried 30mm cannons
as it swept through Allied bomber formations
the Komet pilot had about every .50 caliber
machinegun firing at him.

The pilot was protected by a thick armored
blast shield, that was three inches thick
or eighty millimeters, enough to hopefully
stop a .50 caliber slug
9. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
15 Dec 2010 03:33:19 PM

The DFS 194 was designed by Dr. Alexander Lippisch, as a rocket-propelled research aircraft.


The DFS 194 was powered by a Walther RI 203 rocket-engine that developed 400kg thrust about 800lbs.
In January 1939 Dr. Lippisch and his design
team moved to Messerschmitt, taking the DFS 194 project with them.

The DFS made its first flight in 1940 reaching speeds of 500km/h 340mph this led to
the development of the Messerschmitt Me 163
The Me 263 was a improved design of the Me163 three prototypes were built, but none
were test flown before the end of the war. The Me 263 would have had a maximum speed of
80km/k 550mph and a ceiling of 14,000 meters
45,000 feet.


Mikoyan-Gurevich(MIG)I-270 was a copy of the Me 263 the aircraft was a experimental rocket-powered research aircraft.

The United States continued its work with
rocket-powered aircraft, working with the Bell Aircraft Comany and the X-1 program.

The British and the French had their own
experimental rocket-powered aircraft programs
after WWII.

Deutsche Forschungsinstitut Fur Segelflug


Deutsche Forschungsanstalt fur Segelfug
10. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
18 Mar 2011 08:27:28 AM


File photograph of Me 163 (KE+SW) this
aircraft set a speed record of 1,004.5km/h
or 624.2mph in October 1942.
This would not be approached until the post war period, by the Douglas D558 Skystreak in 1947.


The Douglas D558 Skystreak was developed by Douglas Aircraft and the US Navy research program for transonic and supersonic flight
Working with German wartime data and powered by rocket/jet engine the first flight was in 1947 at Muroc Army Air Field, now called Edwards Air Force, Flight Test Center located
in California USA.


The Douglas D558 flew at 1,032km/h or 641mph flew at 1,050km/h or 650mph at sea level was retired in 1953 and has been overshadowed by Chuck Yeager's Breaking the Sound Barrier in the Bell X-1 rocket powered aircraft in 1947

The Skystreak provided valuable research, by flying for extended times at high transonic speeds this freed the Bell X-1 to fly at limited periods at supersonic speeds.

In 1944 Messerschmitt test pilot Rudy Opitz
reached a speed of 1,123km/k / 698mph
11. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
18 Mar 2011 09:32:58 AM


Post-War research was carried out by the USA
Britain, France and the USSR.
United States: tested in 1946 towed by B-29 for unpowered flight. Powered test were planned, but not carried out due to the delamination of the 163s wings.
Aircraft was stored until 1954 and later trasferred to the Smithsonian, were it is on display today.

Britain: Tested the Me 163 in unpowered and
powered flight with the assistance of German technicians. The Me 163 Reached 32,000ft in 2 1/2 minutes what a ride!...

France: Tested in unpowered flight its unknown if any powered flights were carried out.

USSR: The Russians captured a number of 163s
at the Junkers plant plus some trainer models
After the war, unpowered tests were conducted its unknown if any powered test took place.
The supply of T-Stoff and C-Stoff were limited, and if the fuel was available it wasn't enough to use for testing, the fuel was unstable and dangerous, this was a problem all the Allies faced.

Splitting, pealing of layers of the Me 163s wooden wings, this would make the aircraft
dangerous to fly.
12. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
23 Mar 2011 08:40:22 PM

Messerschmitt improved on the basic Me163 design, this was the Me263 only one was flown, its first flight was in August 1944.
The Me263V-1s maximum speed 550mph/880km/h ceiling of 45,000ft/14,000meters, endurance
of 15 minutes and would have been armed with
2x30mm cannons w/60rpg.
Besides Messerschmitt Hirth and Klemm built the Me163 Komet, a total of 360 aircraft were built.


A two-seat training variant was built from early Me163B and A Models the Me163S trainer had the rocket engine removed and replaced with a second seat for the instructor and used as a glider for takeoff and landings
before the student pilot went on to fly the rocket powered Me163.


US Forces captured three Me263 prototypes and a mockup, one prototype was shipped to the USA, the rest turned over to the Russians who later built their own version called the MIG I-270 rocket intercepter.


Another design improvement was the Me163C it
had a longer fuselage for extra fuel, and a more powerful engine, designed with a bubble canopy for improved pilot visibilty.
The speed record of 1,130km/h/702mph was not broken until Noverber 1947, by Chuck Yeager in the Bell X-1 flying at 1,434km/h/891mph or Mach 1.35 at 48,000ft/14,000meters.
The Me163C tookoff on its own power, the Bell X-1 was launched from a B-29 Mother ship.
One Me163(PK+QL)was painted red in color the paint added 40lbs of weight to the aircraft. Pilots wore special protective coveralls to help protect them against the dangerous and
highly flammable C-Stoff and T-Stoff fuel.

The Me163s closing speed, gave the pilot 2.5 seconds to aim and fire his cannons some got in close less than 650 yards! less than 25%
of all Komets built, ever saw combat. Allied fighters shotdown some Komets, but most were lost in landing accidents the Komet destroyed
16 Allied bombers during its short combat career.
In a operational sense the Me163 Komet was a failure so much effort and technology went
into its design, with the improved Me263 things might have turned out different, but due to fuel shortage, experienced pilots the few that saw combat and with only 16 Allied bomber lost, it was another Wounderwaffen too little too late.

The Planes of Fame located in Chino, Ca. USA
has a realistic replica of the Me163 Komet
it took 6 years to build, on display next to the Komet is a real Walther HWK 109-509A-1
rocket engine. Other Me163s are displayed in
museums worldwide. Another Me163 is on display at the National Air & Space Museum
located in Washington DC.,USA.
13. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
1 Apr 2011 10:52:32 PM

Messerschmitt started design work on the
Me P.1111 single seat, jet engine, the wings were swept back 45 degrees with swept back vertical tail and rudder.
The intakes were blended into the fuselage wing passages the cockpit was pressurized
the pilot was equipped with an ejection seat
armed w/4x30mm MK 108 cannons maximum speed of 995km/h 618mph.
However, the design never made it past the drawing board, no prototype was bult, and only a wind tunnel model was made.


The tailless design was continued after WWII
with the de Havilland D.H. 108 and 110, the
de Havilland D.H.108 and 110 the American
F4D-1 Skyray, Swedish SAAB J-35 Draken and other tailless jet aircraft designs, that lay
lay with wartime German research.


A flying model of the Me P.1111 was built and powered by a mini jet engine, built from light fiberglass and was controlled by radio transmitter.
The model had outstanding performance with well coordinated turns.
14. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
27 Aug 2011 07:46:42 PM

Added information about Me163B-1a, Yellow 15.

This Messerschmitt Me163B-1a was captured at
Husum, Schleswig Holstein at the end of the war, and was flown by JG400.
The Komet was transferred to the College of
Aeronautic at Cranfield in 1947, after a few
years of outdoor air displays and neglect, it
was later refurbished and loaned to the Royal
Scottish Museum in 1976. In 2000 the Me163 was donated to the museum by the Cranfield University, and is on display today.

Suggested Reading:

By Wolfgang Spate
Published by Independent Books (1995)
ISBN-10: 1872836100
15. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
28 Aug 2011 03:24:33 PM

May 8, 1945 JG400 surrendered with 48 Me-163s
to the RAF at Schleswig-Holstein, 25 aircraft
were taken over by the British, four were turned over to the French and US Forces took control of the rest.
An unknown number of Me-163s were captured by the Russians, at the Junkers factory at war's end. After the war, the British did some unpowered tests, as well as the USAAF, the Russians wanted powered tests, but couldn't obtain enough special fuel known as
T-Stoff and C-Stoff, so the powered tests were never carried out.
16. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
27 Jan 2012 12:31:57 PM


Before the Messerschmitt Me163 Komet ever flew, it was developed from the prototype
DFS 194 research rocket-powered aircraft.
The airframe was designed by Dr. Alexander
Lippisch and the rocket engine was designed by Hellmuth Walther.


This was the first design venture together for Messerschmitt and Walther, the prototype
was first flown as a glider and later under rocket power, with test pilot Heini Dittmar
at the controls.
Dittmar must have been a very brave man, the DFS 194 was powered by a Walther RI-203 rocket engine using a very dangerous fuel of T-Stoff and C-Stoff when mixed together the chemicals explode pushing the little aircraft forward.
This was the same fuel mix that was later used to power the Me 163 Komet. The DFS used a dolly for takeoff and landed using a skid under the fuselage much like the Me 163
flight testing was done at the Peenemunde test facility.
One prototype DFS 194 was built and later development continued at Messerschmitt that led to the improve design of the Me 163 Komet rocket fighter during WWII.
17. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
27 Jan 2012 01:34:16 PM

The DFS 194 was powered by T-Stoff this was concentrated hydrogen peroxide, and Z-Stoff
that was calcium permaganate and used as a catalyst, but later replaced with C-Stoff

All these fuels were very unstable and prone to spontaneous combustion great care was taken in transporting the dangerous fuel the aircraft, had two seperate crews that were assigned to fuel the aircraft and started after each crew was cleared of the area all the chemicals were highly corrosive and dangerous. Both ground crew and pilots were
protected by wearing non-organic suits during operations.
18. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
26 Feb 2012 06:44:53 PM


The Me 163 pilot had to get in close to score a hit against the bombers to a range cover 650 yards in four seconds, the last two hundred yards in 1.5 seconds, to open fire with his 30mm cannons.
The pilot had 2.5 seconds to aim and fire, at such speed its a wonder any rounds hit the target the MK 108 30mm cannon had a low muzzle volocity and it often took one or two rounds to knock down a bomber.
Passing through the bomber formation, hoping his fighter doesn't take any .50 Caliber rounds.


After his attack the Me163 was out of fuel
and had to glide back to base, if any Allied fighters see him, they'll close in and shoot him down, catch him as he's coming in for a landing or be strafed on the runway.
Pilots were killed in take-off and landing accidents, caught in the air and shotdown
some Me163s blew up during take-off and coming in for alanding, or in the air for reasons unknown.

Experienced pilots would come down at 500mph and hope Allied fighters don't catch him
flying towards the inside airfield defense perimeter, protected by flak guns, the pilot would bleed off airspeed before making his landing knowing Allied fighters would stay out, or risk being shotdown.
By this time their were few experienced Me163 pilots left. The Luftwaffe was able to
operate one Komet Group JG400, it scored nine kills and lost fourteen Me163s
19. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
20 Apr 2014 05:46:56 PM

After World War II the Soviets shipped captured Me-163B and Me-163S rocket fighters back to the USSR for testings and evaluation. Due to the lack of T-Stoff & C-Stoff fuels prevented any powered flight testing.


Unpowered testing was carried out as glider only
giving Russian pilots some familiarization with the Me-163. Testing was also carried out in wind
tunnels during 1946-1947 at (TsAGI) or The Central
Aerohydrodynamic Institute located in Moscow.
20. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
2 Nov 2016 04:16:26 PM


Before WWII even ended, the Allies along with the Soviets were searching for advanced wartime German technology.


The Soviets were able to get their hands on the single-seat Me163 fighter and the two-seat Me163s trainer rocket powered aircraft, along with spare-parts, engines and service equipment. Testing were carried out by Red Air Force testing units near Moscow.

Search teams were also able to capture a small quantity of C-Stoff and T-Stoff for bench-testing the HWK-509A rocket engine. Along with all this war booty, were the unfortunate engineers, technicians and specialist that ad to work for the Soviets.
However, by November 1945 the Soviets were able to produce (23) tons of C-Stoff and (7) tons of T-Stoff, that was sufficient for (10) partial rocket engine starts, airborne under tow and (5) full powered takeoffs
21. Anonymous says:
2 Feb 2021 07:46:16 AM

the j2 fule is the reason tose comets blew up its hily unstable and the pilots had to land on the belly due to the fact that there bulky landing gear was egeted on take off some times it wold bounce and hit the plane causing a exploshon

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Me 163 A-V4 aircraft at rest, Germany, 1941
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