Aeroplane Aviation Archive — Issue 33 The World’s Fastest Aircraft

(Jacob Rumans) #1
Above: Produced by the Hellmuth Walter Werke,
the HWK 509A was originally known by the
designation II-211. It was a notably compact
engine, with a weight of just over 100kg and a
length of 2.13m.

Left: A member of the groundcrew completes the
hazardous task of refuelling the Me 163 with
C-Stoff propellant.

Below: A direct comparison between the Me 163
A and B. The photograph was taken soon
after the first of the Klemm-built aircraft were
delivered to Bad Zwischenahn in January 1944.

rocket research establishment on the Baltic
coast, and was here equipped with the I-203
rocket engine. In this configuration the aircraft
was flown in summer 1940, and demonstrated
speeds of almost 340mph in level flight. After
completing a successful test campaign an order
was received for six prototypes, designated
Me 163A. The challenges of high-speed flight
were just one of the many problems to be
overcome in the Me 163 test campaign. While
aerodynamic demands could be met through
design changes, the issue of the extremely
volatile liquid rocket fuel was one that would
remain with the aircraft throughout its career.
Equally troublesome was the undercarriage
configuration, in which the aircraft took off on
a jettisonable, wheeled take-off dolly, before
recovering on a retractable skid-type gear.
Dubbed Komet (comet), the Me 163B
production version had a more powerful
engine and appeared in service with
I./Jagdgeschwader 400 at Wittmundhafen in
the spring of 1944, although introduction was
slow, and it was July before the first USAAF
bomber crews would encounter the radical
rocket-powered fighter.

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