Dragon 1/48 Me-163S






One aircraft


Scott Van Aken




Messerschmitt's Me-163 was really a brilliant design. It was a super fast interceptor that could go from the ground to 40,000 feet in just a few minutes. However, it had a few problems. First of all, it did not carry enough fuel for a really useful mission. About 5-6 minutes was it. Though the plane had originally been designed to cruise, the technology was so new that it was not ready when the planes first started flying. As a result, the pilot had to get airborne, make an attack or two and then glide back to base after his fuel had run out. It also meant that the 163 had to be based right near a likely target.

Other problems arose from the severely caustic  and dangerous fuel that was used. Many more aircraft and pilots were lost when their 163s crashed and blew up than were ever lost in combat. The plane was also very tricky to land. The large wings and light aircraft meant that the plane tended to 'float' near the ground and had to be literally flown down to a landing.

As a result, it was decided to build a trainer version. This was done by modifying existing airframes for a second cockpit above and behind the first. 42 aircraft were to be modified, but perhaps only 7 were actually completed and used. One was captured by the Soviets and used briefly by them.


The kit is most typical of a Dragon kit. Superb detailing, many small parts and etched metal frets. Much of the kit is exactly the same as the single-seat Me-163, but has a new upper fuselage section as well as new clear bits and all the rest of the accoutrements needed for the twin-seater. Molding is flash free and there are minimal ejector pin marks. If this is like other Dragon kits I have built, it is not a slap-together model and will require careful construction as well as probably some filler.

The options you have are for the canopies to be open or closed, for a faired in or bare frame tail wheel and strut, and for the landing gear to be up or down. You also get a crew access ladder and two crewmen. The plane was not armed, but there is no indication in the instructions if you should close up the gun ports or not. The etched metal frets  are for some interior bits like shoulder harnesses and for the inside of the main skid well.

Instructions are excellent as on all Dragon kits. Though only one camouflage option is shown, there are a variety of different decals on the sheet, so you can make up any coding that you wish. The 163S is a very rare bird and finding references on this variant will be difficult to say the least. However, it should make for a very interesting aircraft to add to your display. 

Review kit courtesy of me and my wallet!

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