Academy 1/72 Me-163 Komet
|PRICE:||$10.00 SRP when new|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Incluldes recovery tractor and trailer.|
The Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet was a German rocket-powered interceptor aircraft. Designed by Alexander Lippisch, it is the only rocket-powered fighter aircraft ever to have been operational and the first piloted aircraft of any type to exceed 1000 km/h (621 mph) in level flight. Its performance and aspects of its design were unprecedented. German test pilot Heini Dittmar in early July 1944 reached 1,130 km/h (700 mph), an unofficial flight airspeed record unmatched by turbojet-powered aircraft for almost a decade. Over 300 Komets were built, but the aircraft proved lackluster in its dedicated role as an interceptor and destroyed between 9 and 18 Allied aircraft against 10 losses. Aside from combat losses many pilots were killed during testing and training.
The Me-163 has been fairly well taken care of by manufacturers in all three scale. While the only other ones that come to mind are the A model by PM and the B model by Heller and Academy, there are probably more. What sets this kit apart are two things. One is that it comes with the tractor and lifting trailer. The other is that you can build an S model two seat trainer. This latter plane was never power flown by the Germans, but was by the Soviets. It crashed on its first powered flight, killing the pilot.
Academy's kit is nicely molded and up to modern standards. One has to decide early which version to build and once the cockpit, which consists of seats and sticks, is built, then the instrument panel(s) are installed in the upper fuselage half while the skid attachment point is glued into the lower. Attaching the interior allows the halves to be closed.
The kit has a separate fin/rear fuselage piece. One can then install the appropriate tail gear for the markings scheme you choose. After assembling the wing halves, those and the tail can be attached to the fuselage. The wings have separate slats. The landing skid can be modeled with or without the wheel assembly. Last option is to install the clear bits with the canopies open or closed.
The little tractor is a model in and of itself and looks as if it will build fairly quickly. Keep in mind that your plane probably would not have the wheels attached while mounted on this vehicle for most of the time on it.
Instructions are well done with generic color information and RLM references. All three options are shown in RLM 81/82/76. The decal sheet is nicely printed but does not include swastikas. It does, however, include a number of additional white numbers for other aircraft. Academy decals are not the greatest on the planet, but do work well enough.
I've yet to build one of these smaller Academy kits that has not gone together well. Some comment on shape issues, but unless you are well steeped in the aircraft, you won't notice most of these (pro tip, do NOT buy their 109E as the nose is horrible). A quick google shows that the kit is probably not in production at the moment as all I found were 'used' examples for around $20.00. Regardless, it looks like a very nice kit.
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