Testors/Hawk 1/48 Me-163 Komet

KIT #

7625

PRICE:

$6.00

DECALS:

See Review

REVIEW &
PHOTOS :

Grenville Davies

NOTES:

 Decals show some incorrect colours for the Tstoff and Cstoff labels.

The kit is barely recognizable as a Komet with many inaccuracies.

Most of the cockpit was scratch built 

 

Editors note: This is the first of a two part series on building a pair of  Komets.

HISTORY

The Komet began life as a tailless glider, the brainchild of Dr Alexander Lippisch. Lippisch took up the idea in 1920 with very little in the way of experience in tailless airplanes, making it true pioneering work.

The first manned flight of a tailless glider was made in 1929 when Günther Groenhoff flew the all-wing glider, named “Storch” (Stork), immediately after Lippisch’s firstborn son had been baptized “Hangwind”.

In 1928-29 this design had matured to become the “Storch IV”, a tailless sailplane and the “Storch V”, a motor glider with a 2-cylinder 8 horsepower motor. This latter design had such good flying characteristics that Lippisch presented it to government representatives and the press at Tempelhof Airfield, Berlin. The pilot was Groenhoff. He was later killed in a separate glider accident in the 1932 Rhon competition.

Work continued and the predecessor of the Me 163, the DFS 39 (DFS- German Research Institute for Glider Flight), in the hands of Groenhoff’s successor, Heini Dittmar proved the aircraft to be a good reliable plane for courier and overland flights. A 75-HP Pobjoy motor powered this aircraft.

In 1937 Lippisch received news that shocked him when the Reich Air Ministry’s research office issued a contract for a second prototype of DFS 39 with a slightly changed fuselage to allow the installation of a “special power plant”. This unit was a liquid-fuel rocket being built by Hellmuth Walter at Kiel. This power plant had 750 kp of thrust and an exhaust gas temperature of 800 degrees Celsius. (The Me 163B’s engine had an exhaust temperature of 2000 degrees Celsius

This aircraft was designated DFS 194 and the development was conducted at the Messerschmitt works in Augsburg. The construction of the world’s first rocket powered, combat-ready, airplane had begun. On October, 1941 with Heini Dittmar at the controls of the rebuilt DFS 194, now a Me 163A (V3), crossed the 1000 kph barrier for the first time.   

THE KIT

 This kit is probably one of the worst 1:48 scale models that I have ever attempted to build. At the time I purchased the kit there were very few offerings at 1:48 scale and I decided to attempt changing this “sow’s ear into a silk purse”! 

One of the first things that become apparent is that the canopy scales out at about 0.30 metres in thickness and is represented as a single piece with the armoured screen as two lines inscribed on the inner surface. It also becomes painfully apparent that if you like building cockpits, (and who doesn’t?), then this kit gives you almost nothing to use. A single laughable pilot is supplied on a rudimentary seat that is attached to the fuselage on two locating pins.

The overall dimensions of the kit are close enough when compared with the scale drawings available, provided you don’t look too close. There are no ejection chutes for the wing root cannons and the trolley/skid arrangement is pathetic. The tail wheel is firmly in the landing position, tough if you wish to display the model in take off mode. The only sensible thing to do is to hack the thing off and scrounge parts elsewhere.

Boy! What a challenge! Thankfully I had a Dragon Me-163S-1 and the Hasegawa kit to draw upon for spares.

CONSTRUCTION

The Cockpit

 I simply discarded everything presented in the kit, which amounted to four parts – the pilot (hahaha), the pilot’s seat, the console and, of course the canopy. I then used the Hasegawa kit as a template for the plastic card required to build up the floor pan, back seat plate and the two fuel tanks that make up the cockpit tub. I scavenged a spare seat from the Hasegawa kit (it has two!) and used the Eduard Photo etch to make up a new instrument console and scratch built the dials and control levers that sit on both sides of the cockpit. Other incidentals were built using pieces of rod and wire to match my photo references. I did manage to grab a control stick from the ‘spares’ box, although it is not similar to the one represented by the Hasegawa kit.

Once the cockpit had been completed it was painted in Model Master RLM 66 Schwarz Grau. Various knobs and levers were painted in red and the whole thing was dry brushed with silver to simulate wear and tear.

The canopy caused me sleepless nights and after much deliberation decided to cannibalise my Me-163S-1 kit for the pilot’s canopy, Revi gunsight and the armoured plate-glass screen. Why have the aftermarket vacuum canopy makers not built a 1:48 Komet canopy, I ask!

The final bit of scratch building involved the top of one of the fuel tanks that sits behind the pilot – a curved piece into which the aerial is glued. It is visible from either side of the aircraft and has a brace on top that commences at the back of the pilot’s seat and ends at the fuselage sides – This is given as metal etch in the Hasegawa kit (I needed that one) and also in the Me-163S-1 ‘Habicht’ Dragon kit (this one is not used, due to the trainee sitting directly behind the pilot so I opted to knock this one off!).

The Fuselage and Wings

This kit has a separate leading edge flap that needs attaching prior to joining the wings to the fuselage. No fit problems to speak of, although the wing has a lot of detail missing, especially when compared to the Hasegawa kit and reference photographs. One thing that shows up is a glaring error in having no ejection chutes on the lower side of the wing root for the MG-151/200 cannons. Although it does have the lower air brakes, which may be displayed open or closed. They are very thick and I opted to close them and cover them with the photo-etch parts.

I drilled a hole in each wing root and inserted a length of brass pipe to simulate the barrels and left it to extend outside the leading edge as this aircraft was to be a Me 163B-0 V41 (PK+QL), an all surfaces RLM 23 (Rot) as flown by Wolfgang Spate – Erprobungskommando 16, Bad Zwischenahn, 1943. Photographs of this aircraft don’t confirm the extended barrels, although the reference material shows a plan with both barrels protruding out from the leading edge. My local hobby store has a Me 163 “nutcase” named Bernie, who assures me that the barrels did NOT protrude – I bow down to superior knowledge and will eventually cut them off flush with the leading edge. For now the photos show the cannon barrels protruding!

The wings were connected to the fuselage halves prior to joining the whole thing together. I checked and corrected the fit problems as most of the cockpit was cobbled together with bits and pieces of photo etch and plastic card. The whole thing seemed to go together well enough.

 I did end up using the foot thick side windows behind the cockpit. As these are fixed I figured it did not matter whether they were effectively the same thickness as the armour plated glass screen or not!

Undercarriage

Once again this is very basic with the connection to the fuselage being via a simple plastic rod that allows the assembly to move up or down. I elected to have it up, although this is the position during flight and landing.

The skid itself is simply a flat piece that should be stepped down at the rear. It should also have some ridges that aid in keeping the aircraft in a straight line upon landing. None of these facts appear to have been considered in this kit.  Likewise the dolly that holds the wheels is very basic and as such received no further enhancement. The skid was painted Model Master Gunmetal and the wheel hubs RLM 02 Grun with Gunze Sangyo Tire Black.  

The tail wheel did get some extra treatment. It was cut away and the Hasegawa one was used instead! The rear wheel has a fairing shown on the reference photos for this model and hence I used the spare fully faired version. This required shaping to conform to the narrower fuselage of the Testors kit and some plastic rod was added as the extending arm for the assembly. The rear wheel was painted in Gunze Sangyo Tire Black and the hub was painted in Model Master RLM 02 Grun.  

PAINT & DECALS

The Spray Painting Phase

As mentioned above I had decided to paint the Me 163B as a ‘B-0’ variant, specifically V41 (PK+QL), Werk No. 16310050, which was flown by Wolfgang Spate during 1943 at the EK 16 (Erprobungskommando 16) based at Bad Zwischenahn. This aircraft had been specifically repainted in a “tomato” red colour (RLM 23) for Wolfgang’s birthday. Some present!

I used enamel Model Master RLM 23, (Rot) all over the aircraft with the exception of the skid and the insides of the tail wheel housing. The spinner, which supplied electrical power during the flight, was painted silver.  

Using a very thin wash of black highlighted the panel lines and, after the decals were applied the paint was “chipped” by dabbing silver at appropriate (?) locations on the airframe. The entire aircraft was finally sprayed with Humbrol Satin Clear Finish to protect the decals and the paint.

The Decals

The decals for the most part came from the Testors kit. This was more due to the fact that the decals supplied with the Hasegawa kit were for a single model as part of the Cockpit series. The only useful decals from this kit were the various aircraft insignia such as the T-stoff, C-stoff decals, put trestle here (albeit in German!), etc.

  The Testors decals are very well printed and quite thin without much register loss. I encountered a small problem with the colour for the T-stoff symbols. There are four such symbols and they are positioned next to the relevant fuel cells. They are supposed to be white circles with a black “T” in the middle. I ended up cutting circles out of white decal sheet and then slicing up some black cross decals to form the “T” – problem solved! 

 I used the decals supplied from the Testors kit to finish both models, although the numbers for the II. /JG400 machine were pilfered from my yet to be built Dragon Me 163S-1 ‘Habicht’. This kit has supplied a decal sheet with a range of numbers that far outstrips those needed to build the model.  

I also purchased a set of crosses and swastikas from Aeromaster Decals in 1:48 scale and used some of the decals where I did not have sufficient in the kits in my possession.  

CONCLUSIONS

  I enjoyed building this fantastic little aircraft and both models are a great contribution to my expanding WWII collection of aircraft. I still have the ‘Habicht” to build and, as a resin kit is now available for the HWK 109-509A Walter rocket in 1:48 scale I will definitely end up building another Komet.

Despite the obvious problems with the Testors kit it does provide a challenge and that is what keeps us going. I guess it is good value for money, although I would probably have not purchased the kit in favour of the much better presented Dragon kit. There have been some later additions to companies offering this aircraft in 1:48 scale, so I may just choose another manufacturer for my next kit. 

Grenville Davies

 If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

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