163B Komet was for all intents and purposes a complete redesign of the
163A which was a proof of concept aircraft. It retained the basic
configuration, that of a swept wing tailless airframe powered by a
rocket motor. Messerschmitt was given a contract for 70 preproduction
aircraft plus six prototypes. Construction began in December of 1941
with the first example being rolled out in April of 1942. Unfortunately
problems with the rocket motor delayed delivery of production units.
The second prototype was delivered to Peenemunde where it was joined
during the summer month by further prototypes. An extensive flight test
program was conducted with the unpowered aircraft even including
gunnery trials. More than two-thirds of the 70 preproduction aircraft
had been delivered before the first flight cleared rocket motor arrived
at Peenemunde in July of 1943. The first powered flight was made in
August. Messerschmitt was responsible for the preproduction aircraft
only and those not allocated "V" numbers received the designation Me
163Ba-1 and were assigned to service evaluation tasks. The first
production Me 163B-1a was accepted by the Luftwaffe in May of 1944.
Even at this late date the rocket motors were still experiencing
problems and the touchy rocket fuels were prone to exploding if the
aircraft suffered a hard landing. By this time bombing, lack of rocket
fuels and trained pilots severly limited the use of the fighter and
although some success were had in the end it would prove far more
dangerous to those who flew it than those it flew against.
Although not a jet powered aircraft I felt this bird fit better in this catagory so here it is !
Dragon kit has it's roots in the Trimaster series of kits that were
ultimately bought out by Dragon. It has been released a number of times
in the past and this is the current version which for the first time
has a displayable rocket motor. The kit is unusual in that you actually
get two complete sets of fuselage sprues. One could build a complete
aircraft and a second fuselage with the tail section removed showing
the rocket motor. A stand is supplied to hold this second wingless
fuselage. Inside the box one finds six bags, two each with duplicate
fuselage parts, one with the wings, one with the rocket motor and stand
parts, one with some miscellaneous parts and one with a fret of
photoetch. The kit is molded in a medium gray plastic with recessed
panel lines and rivet detail. The parts are relatively flash free with
some of the small parts having a bit more flash than the main airframe
parts. The surface is smooth and glossy and I found no surface
blemishes or sink holes. The only ejector pin marks I found that would
show were on the inner sides of the wooded service stand. The fabric
control surfaces are not overdone and all are molded in place. The
cockpit is well appointed and seat belts and harness are supplied in
the PE along with some other structural details and the propellor for
the generator in the nose. The kit includes four figures, two standing
pilots in their special acid proof suits and two maintenance personel.
Altogether there are 132 parts in gray however many of these are
duplicates and aren't required for the basic aircraft. See photos
below. Note: duplicate sprues not shown.
clear parts are clear relatively thin and consist of four parts as
shown below. With these the total count for the kit comes to 136
decals include markings for five aircraft, four from JG 400 and one
from Erprobungskommando 16. The decals are presented on two sheets,
appear thin and well registered and include a fair amount of
stenciling. See below.
photoetch fret is fairly limited but at least supplies the belts and
harness and some other goodies to dress things up. See below.
The instructions are on one long sheet folded to form 8 panels. The
first panel has a parts map, the second general instructions, an icon
chart and a color chart listin Mr. Color and Model Master numbers and
well as listing colors by name and in some cases RLM numbers and the
first two assembly steps, the next four and a half panels are the rest
of the assembly steps and the balance of the panels covers paint and
is a nice kit in spite of its age. It was state of the art when new and
has held up very well both technically and the dies themselves. I would
expect based on other former Trimaster kits that there will be some fit
issues but nothing that trial fitting shouldn't over come and would
recommend it to all but the very beginners in the hobby.
Links to kit build or reviews
A review / build can be found here.
"War Planes of the Third Reich" by William Green
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