Weird Nazi Toys: Messerschmitt Me-163 Komet Is a Rocket Interceptor

Weird Nazi Toys: Messerschmitt Me-163 Komet Is a Weird Rocket Interceptor 1 photo
Photo: screenshot from Youtube
While Hitler's fanciful ideas about how wars should be fought cost him the war and resulted in millions of unnecessary lives lost, millions of marks were spent on pushing the envelope of aeronautical engineering. The V1 rocket is the most famous example of this, as it laid the groundwork for putting men on the moon. However, we're quite taken with the Me-163 Komet as well.
A project of the same Messerschmitt aircraft company that made the Me-109 fighters, the Komet is the ancestor of the interceptor aircraft. It's designed to climb as fast as possible and shoot down enemy bombers before gliding back to earth.

Designed by Alexander Martin Lippisch, it was the only rocket-powered fighter aircraft that saw action during the Second World War. However, it arrived at such a late stage that it could not change the tide of the biggest conflagration in history.

The problem faced by the German Luftwaffe during the later stages of the war was that it had limited resources of all types: skilled pilots, aircraft and especially fuel. Determining when and where the enemy bombers would arrive over Germany was very hard. Even when the calculations were correct, conventional fighters could take half an hour to reach the necessary altitude, by which time the damage was done.

The Komet didn't even need radar installations. Pilots would often just sit in their cockpits ready to go. Once the signal to launch was given, the Me-163 pilots could be at 30,000 (9144 meters) feet within 3 minutes, with enough fuel left to take down a couple of bombers.

Although revolutionary and capable of performance unrivaled at the time, it proved ineffective as a fighter and resulted in the destruction of very few Allied aircraft. With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that a rocket-powered interceptor is a stupid idea, although using boosters to accelerate isn't.

Much like other cutting-edge Nazi aircraft, the Me-163 was complex and very dangerous to fly. After takeoff, the landing gear was jettisoned to save weight, which meant that the pilot had to go belly-first.

Below, you will find a rare interview with Heini Dittmar, who became the first human to fly faster than 1,000 km/h. We also found a scale model version of the plane that's interesting to watch and probably cost a small fortune to build. It's accurate right down to the form of propulsion.

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About the author: Mihnea Radu
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Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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