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ME 163 Komet plans are available from: Airborne Plans Service for AU$85.00 (3 sheets) plus 4.00 P&H2 (within Australia).  
Moulded Canopy: AU$27.50 plus P&H (AH$6.00 within Australia).
Plan No. 647
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ME 163 Komet... 1/4 Scale Prop driven WWII Rocket Fighter

HANGAR AND STRIP REPORT by Robert Dickson

In May 1944 the Luftwaffe released its secret rocket propelled fighter for experimental operations against the allied airforces over Europe.

One of the first combat engagements was by a fiery red Komet from test unit 16, the pilot attacking a flight of P47 Thunderbolts. During the engagement the Komet approached speeds close to 600mph. This brief sortie was a significant moment in WWII history. Despite its short flight endurance of 7.5 minutes powered flight, (extended by gliding) and its short range cannon armament, the Komet gave it's opponents good reason to panic.

The Komet's evolution began during the 1930s with experiments using tailless gliders. In 1941, the prototype was fitted with a small liquid fuelled rocket engine for high speed research. The Komet would take off on a dolly, climb and accelerate at an astonishingly rapid rate (40,000 ft in 3 - 5 minutes), then after the fuel supply was exhausted, it would glide back to earth, landing on its skid. Attacks on enemy aircraft had to be swift and sure.

The Komet's service introduction had limited success due to delays, hence Komets entered production and service when the war was drawing to a close. Its diminutive size, high landing speed and carrying of highly volatile fuel also made flying the Komet extremely hazardous. Pilots were killed or seriously injured during heavy landings, when fuel tanks could shift, rupturing fuel lines. When the two fuels contacted there would be an instant explosion vaporizing all organic material.

THE MODEL

Komet frameThe 1/4 scale model of the Me 163 Komet makes a challenging and most fascinating subject for the experienced scale modeller. Its size is relatively compact making transportation easy. It does not require expensive retract undercarriage systems but a dolly wheel must be made for it, details of which are included in the plan.

The Komet can be flown on standard 4 channel radio with standard servos provided there is an onboard electronic mixer for the elevons or use an electronic mixing Tx.. The model is prop. driven with the exhaust ducted through the middle of the fuselage, exiting at the tail pipe. With rich mixture or extra oil in the fuel the model leaves a most realistic smoke trail behind. A smoke unit fitted to the Komet would give an even more realistic and spectacular effect. The prop is almost indiscernible giving good scale like appearance when flying.

The prototype was powered with an OS 108 two stroke motor, however, any 120 motor would make the vertical performance even more rocket like. It is a fully aerobatic model that will create a huge sensation at any flying field.

COMSTRUCTION

THE FUSELAGE

The fuselage is built up with all formers glued onto a central crutch, then skinned with balsa planking.

Cut out all formers, crutches, braces, spines, keel etc. from 3mm ply sheet. There is a fair amount of plywood used on this model which results in a very strong fuselage. This is essential as the model, which is rather heavy and has a high landing speed, has to make a belly landing after every flight.

If you decide to use an internal exhaust pipe, it can be manufactured from stock aluminium (see sketch). I used a tubular aluminium piece (approx 32mm diameter) straight through at rear. At the front I hammered the circular tube into a square shape onto which I epoxied a piece of square aluminium tube.

Cut out the exhaust slot, hammer a plug into the end to match the engine muffler, then harness the muffler on with a large hose clamp. Alternatively, a square tube can be used all the way through with a tubular reduction piece welded onto the rear end. The exhaust can be fitted after construction. Cut out a hole in the firewall F1 to suit.

Komet plankingAccurately align the formers F1 - F7 over the crutch and glue them in squarely. Glue in the side braces FS1 and FS2, the bottom spine. Tack on the hatch formers F5a and F7a. Add C3 at the front, the F8 and F9 at the rear. Glue in the square balsa longerons and top spine as well as the wing root ribs and balsa blocks for the wing bolts.

Insert the brass tubes into the bottom keel for the dolly wheel undercarriage. Glue the 12.5mm square hardwood skid base onto either side of the keel. Glue in the cockpit base between F1 and F3 and the fin support between F7 and F8. Now make up the fin frame and skin with balsa sheet on both sides.

Glue the fin into the fuselage frame. Also glue the 6.5mm balsa strip to the underside rear fuselage spine and fill the leading edge of the wing root fairing with balsa block.

Mount the engine onto firewall F1 and check clearances etc. for the exhaust header and pipe. The fuselage frame up is now ready for the tedious process of planking. Use a light to medium balsa for flexibility. Cut strips of 3mm x 6.5mm balsa and plank thoroughly before sanding off any rough edges. Add the tailwheel blocks onto the rear of the fuselage. Fill any irregularities with lightweight filler or a mixture of polyester resin with micro balloons. Sand the fuselage again for a smooth finish.

Make up the engine cowl and nose cone which becomes the spinner. Using foam block, sand the front end to shape, then use two or three layers of fibreglass cloth and resin. Again, smooth to shape. Fill any irregularities with fibreglass and micro balloons filler. Smooth out and finish with 3/4oz woven fibreglass cloth. Sand down again.

Komet ExhaustCut out the spinner from the nose cone unit. The backing plate is cut from 3mm aluminium bevelled, then grooved close to the perimeter to accommodate the spinner. The front end of the spinner is filled on the inside with fibreglass for greater strength. Fit the prop and backing plate onto the motor then, using a prop nut to the correct size, bolt the spinner onto the front squeezing the outer edges of the spinner into the backing plate groove. The cowl is secured onto the front of the fuselage with small screws into hardwood blocks against C3.

Build up the rudder as shown on the plan. Mass balance was used on the middle horn. Fit the rudder onto the fin. Install the tail wheel with control rods coupled to the rudder and tail wheel. Add an aluminium strip to the underside of the skid.

Build up the canopy frame, paint it out and glue the moulded plastic canopy onto the frame.

The canopy was hinged from the side. Cut out the side windows rear of the cockpit and add the dummy aerial on top.

THE WING

The wing is foam core with an inset I-beam at the root, and balsa skinned. It also has built-in slots on the outboard leading edges. The wing also has four degree reflex which is set when cutting the cores. Do not change the design of the wing in any way, as the inbuilt features are the secret of its success.

Cut out the wing cores to size using the template sections A and B. Cut out a channel for the I-beam section, plus the slots, Drill holes for the wing rod and locating dowels. Cut out the I-beam pieces and glue them into the wing whilst gluing in W1 at the same time. Check wing alignment with wings attached to the fuselage before the glue sets. The wing has no dihedral. You may strengthen the area over the I-beam section with fibreglass cloth three to four inches wide and epoxy resin sandwiched under the wing skins. Skin the wing panels with balsa sheet. Leave a gap over the I-beam for the dural plates used for holding the wing.

Cut out sections for the elevons, slats and leading edges. build up the slots with balsa and ply pieces. Add the leading edge which becomes part of the slots on the outer section. Glue in the elevon spars and wing tip blocks. Sand wing to shape. Build up the elevons from balsa. They have a small amount of twist in them to match the wing reflex. Fit with hinges, onto the balsa spar. Wing fences and wing tip skids are now fitted to the underside of the wing.

THE UNDERCARRIAGE DOLLY

Komet Dolly Drop AwayThe drop-off dolly is made from metal with pram or industrial wheels attached. It is fairly simple to put together as illustrated on the plan. Make sure the bolts are a loose fit into the fuselage tubes.

 

COVERING AND FINISHING

The fuselage can be covered in lightweight 3/4oz woven fibreglass cloth and polyester resin. The wing can also be entirely covered in 3/4oz cloth or even heavier up to 2oz if desired. However, to save weight, I simply used heavy weight tissue over the wing skins.

Elevon and rudder were covered with Solartex. There are several interesting colour schemes from all red, all light blue and grey or green mottled camouflage. My model was painted red enamel then the black and white Luftwaffe emblems were painted on - I used the colour scheme of the famous Komet flown by the Kommander of Erprobungs Kommando 16, Rocket Test Unit. This aircraft was involved in the historical combat with P-47 Thunderbolts of the 13th of May 1944.

Install the engine, fuel tank and radio gear the carefully balance the model to the centre of gravity marked on the plan, correct balancing is critical for flying this model. All up, the Komet weighed 17lbs so a permit to fly this model is required.

THE FRIGHTENING BIT

Komet ready to FlyThe Komet flies very smoothly and predictably and should present no problems to any pilot 'once airborne'. The tricky bit is to get off the ground! You will need a LONG, SMOOTH runway for this model. The take off run is the most critical phase of flying the Komet. Once full throttle is applied track straight using rudder but keep the model on the dolly until and beyond flying speed. To obtain a clean rotation of the dolly, quickly apply up elevator. Once airborne relax the elevator and climb away.

One trap is that if the field is too bump, the model Komet will bounce off its dolly when rolling a high speed and end up on the ground. If this happens the engine should be still running and you can refit the dolly and go again. After many take offs and flights the model has never suffered wing drop or sudden stalling. The slat and wing design contributed to these safe flight characteristics.

The Centre of Gravity (C.G.) is critical. A forward position will prevent the model pulling off the dolly and too far aft the model will rotate early and oscillate wildly. The C.G. range is very narrow so only very small adjustments should be made to establish the ideal C.G. for your model.

Once airborne, the Komet really captivates the onlookers. The fire red bat-like rocket plane with smoke trail coming out of the tail cone contrasting against the bright blue sky is really a sight to behold.

The aircraft is fully aerobatic. Loops, rolls, Immelmans, 1/2 cubans can all be performed provided you have sufficient power and energy to pull through the vertical sections. Landing the model should be done with the engine running just as you would normally with any other powered model. The skid is deep enough for sufficient prop clearance and after an abrupt halt the engine should still be ticking over.

To maintain good elevator response on landing, bring the Komet in with a reserve of airspeed and touch down fairly fast. If you slow the model too much a high sink rate will develop with reducing elevator effectiveness. This may cause a heavy landing on the unsprung skid. Should the engine cut out during the flight, (as can happen occasionally), the model will glide safely but again maintain plenty of speed on land approach.

My Komet has been flying successfully for thirteen years. Its first appearance was in 1986 at the Shepparton Mammoth Model Meeting. The only damage the aircraft has suffered has been to the landing skid area, which is to be expected and is easily fixed. I enjoy flying this aircraft more than any other and I am still fascinated by the flying wing concept.

When you arrive at the flying field with your new Komet, and open the throttle for a sharp take off, you can be sure all eyes will be on your Komet.

An excellent reference source for the Me-163 is Aircraft Monograph 7, Me163 Komet by B. Belcarz and R. Peczkowski, published by AJ-Press, Gdynia, Poland. Australian distributors are A. Klos Ph/fax: (07) 3851 4835



SPECIFICATIONS ME -163B Komet

Scale: 1:4
Wingspan:
2.35 metre
Length: 1.45 metre
Engine: 1.08- 1.20 two stroke
4 channel radio control required with elevon mixer


ME 163B KOMET plans are available from:
Airborne Plans Service

3 Sheets AU$85.00 plus AU$4.00 P&H1
Moulded Canopy: AU$27.50 plus P&H (AH$6.00 within Australia).

Plan No. 574

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This page was last modified on the 21-May-02