Me-163 Rocket Interceptor: Volume 2
by Ransom and Cammann


Classic Publications, 2003


$54.95 from Specialty Press


Scott Van Aken

Notes: Classic #9

The long awaited second volume of the Me-163 saga has finally been printed and it is well worth the wait. This volume takes over from where the initial one left off and goes into the operational history of this most interesting interceptor. As was the norm with projects like this near the end of the war, other than a short moment of glory, things did not go at all as planned. After some initial success, including the destruction of a number of bombers during October of 1944, the 163 was inexplicably prevented from doing bomber interception and the rest of the war for 163 crews was a rather confusing exodus of moving from base to base intermixed with a few sporadic attempts to bring down recce birds.

All of this is provided in diary form as we go through the day by day operation of JG 400 and later of the EKdo 16, the 163 training unit. Also included in this are the various glider types and training required to fly the 163. You see, the Luftwaffe didn't want regular aircraft pilots for the 163, but wanted those who could land the plane on the first attempt as there was no way to do a 'go around' if something wasn't right. This meant trained glider pilots. Specially developed gliders that would give high landing speeds were developed just to give the proper sensation of landing the high speed Me-163.

Also included in the book are sections on the Me-263, a later development of the aircraft and the Japanese J8M1 Shusui. In addition, there are chapters on the Me-163S trainer and on surviving aircraft and their locations. The usual fine appedicies are provided that include unit organization, production summaries, flight log of production aircraft, and other tidbits of information on the 163. All of this makes for a most fascinating read.

This volume with the previous one provides the most accurate and complete history of one of the Luftwaffe's most interesting aircraft. If your interest is in the Luftwaffe or the Me-163, then this is a must have for your library shelves.

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