Pavla 1/72 Me-163S
|REVIEWER:||Carmel J. Attard|
|NOTES:||Short run injection moulded kit with metal etch parts and vac form canopy|
rocket-powered Me-163 Komet owed its existence to Dr Alexander Lippish who had
begun design tailless gliders in 1926. Over the years, Lippish had designed
several successful tailless gliders, a few of which featured a delta wing
design. In 1939 Lippish was asked by the German Air Ministry to come up with a
design to utilize a new secret, rocket engine, the Walter J-203 that produced
882 lbs of thrust.
The new rocket propelled plane
never developed as it had been hoped. Instead of metal fuselage, Lippish fitted
an all wood airframe design called
was equipped with two 30mmcannons mounted in the wing roots. The aircraft
featured a revised 16B gun sight, a 90mm armoured glass beneath the plexiglass
canopy and armour behind the pilotís back over the nose cone. Nearly 300 Me-163s
were in front line service at the end of the war but the aircraft gained only 9
victories. Although casualties were high in the Me-163 units only 14 of the
aircraft were lost in combat. A full 80% of the losses came during landings and
take offs. The Me-163 was an exceptional aircraft many years ahead of its time
in many of its features. Undoubtedly it was much better psychological weapon
than it was an interceptor.
Editor's Note: I think Carmel's information on the 163S might be a bit out of date. According to 'Me-163, volume 2' by Classic Books, 2003, the Me-163S mock-up was not initially inspected until 23 June 1944 with the first towed flight taking place on 29 December 1944. Most of the few 163S airframes were converted from B models as the contract for 30 163S planes was cancelled in November 1944 after only two examples had been built. The handling qualities of the aircraft were said to be good, but the instructor's inability to see during landings (the primary purpose of developing the two seat version) made the aircraft unacceptable to operational units and the type was was never used in training. Apparently what few flights made in this aircraft were towed and the book could not find instances of powered flights undertaken either the Luftwaffe or by the Soviets who captured several of these aircraft.
Pavla has made its name with successive release of WW2 combat aircraft and I believe was also the first to issue the Me-163S to the 1/72 scale market and to include brass etch parts in its kits on an almost regular basis. The Me-163S was built in a very limited numbers, a practically underpowered conversion trainer that was used to familiarise the rocket interceptor pilots with take offs and landings of the little winged aircraft.The Pavla kit comes in a box with two views of the Me-163S trainer in colour on the outside cover. Opening the box reveals a fret of short run material with 22 grey coloured plastic pieces, two clear vac form canopies (one of which being spare), 27 brass etch items on a single fret, and a decal sheet for two aircraft, a Luftwaffe machine and a captured Soviet one. A 4-stage, easy to follow instructions comes with the kit with the last of four pages dealing with colour information and decal emplacement.
The first stage of construction deals with the assembly of the two separate crew offices. The front instruments and side consoles are the first items to start with, and then add the crew seats complete with the seat straps in brass. At the back of the rear seat there is a firewall item, which is then fixed in place. More interior detail comes in form rudder pedals, control sticks, and control handles to fit to sides of cockpit. A side view section drawing clearly show how the two cockpits are staggered making the seating arrangement at different level so that the rear instructor seat is more elevated giving an unobstructed view.. The vac form canopies are very clear and it is a pity to leave these in the closed position since some of the interior detail comes hidden. The wings, which come into four parts, may contain a trim tab to the aileron and this applies to the German version only. There is a choice of assembly to the tail wheel in faired or unfaired position. This has to conform to the position of the undercarriage skid, which can be fitted either retracted or extended. The skid carries the main wheel dolly.
A long antenna is fitted to the port wing leading edge. This I replaced with one made of steel since it is prone to breaking. This had equal length and thickness to the plastic kit antenna. I experienced no difficulty with the fit of parts and if one elects to fix the skid in the extended position as it should be when the aircraft is in landing mode one should make use of super glue to fix the brass etch bracket details that go with the skid. The rudder trim tab also comes in form of a rectangular brass piece, which gives the scale effect. The wing joints to the fuselage needed a little filler followed by smoothening with wet and dry.
As often is the case with Pavla kits there is a spare
canopy. Like I did in previous Pavla kit builds I took advantage to use the
extra items like the spare canopy and spare decal option that comes with these
kits. In this case I went out of my way to update and convert a Lindberg Me-163B
into a 163S. Apart from some superficial detail I modified the kit by cutting
the upper part of the fuselage deck to take the new two-seat canopy. In fact
this proved to be a much simple task than I thought as it only involved marking
with a pencil the line at which the trimmed vac form canopy had to join the
area marked was then carefully cut with an Exacto saw blade. The
interior of the two cockpits was then built up using thin plastic card and crew
seats from spare box etc.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
cockpit interior basically consists of floor; bulkhead and side panelling are
Grey RLM2, the rest in RLM66 Schwartzgrau and the seats in RLM71 Dunkelgrun. The
camouflage colours for the two me-163s differed. The Soviet 163S, made from the
Pavla kit has Russian Green Humbrol 114 upper camouflage while the lower
surfaces were Russian blue Humbrol 115. The German one was finished in RLM 81,
82 and 76. For the splinter camouflage I used Compucolor CG25 (RLM 81) Brown
Violet and Compositor CG 26 (RLM 82) Dunkelgrun. The lower surfaces were
airbrushed in Compucolor CG 19 (RLM 76) Hellgrun. The airbrushed models were
given a coat of Klear prior to sliding on the decals.
The Pavla Me-163S is a tiny little aircraft kit and
an easy short run type to build. It had a peculiar history whose power plant
with all its complex chemical fuel mixtures was probably more lethal to the crew
who flew it than it was to the enemy. Nevertheless they proved a good start of a
new concept in rocket-powered interceptors, which was later, evaluated further
when the war ended.
If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.
Back to the Main Page
o the Reviews Index Page