The scientific tourist #354 — the Me 163 revisited

I talked a bit about the Me 163 some time back — but a recent trip to Washington D.C. left me with a bit of time for the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center, which meant I was able to get some shots of their copy of the “Komet:”

Me 163 B-1 "Komet"

This is a B1 model of the craft — so, in the middle of its development history, and the only variant to see operational (if ineffective) use.

The odd collection of plumbing to the Komet’s right is its rocket engine — to be specific, a KWK 109-509 A-1.  The original rocket engines used in Komets had a single throttle setting — full on.  The A-1 allowed for some degree of throttling, extending the Komet’s flight time past 8 minutes, and allowing the pilot more control over the speed at which he approached his adversaries.  As a result, the A-1  was the first variable-thrust rocket engine installed in an aircraft.  Subsequent models would have multiple thrust chambers for even greater throttle control — but still, the Komet’s powered flight time never exceeded 12 minutes.

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