Author Topic: Me 163 V-tail  (Read 4413 times)

Pen-Pusher

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Me 163 V-tail
« on: October 31, 2016, 11:35:46 AM »
The Messerschmitt Me 163 'Komet' was initially designed by Alexander Lippisch as the first of a series of German rocket-powered fighter aircraft. It ended up being the only rocket-powered fighter aircraft ever to have been operational and the first piloted aircraft of any type to exceed 1000 kph (621 mph) in level flight. Its design at the time was revolutionary and its performance unprecedented. German test pilot Heini Dittmar reached 1,130 km/h (700 mph) in June 1944, an unofficial flight airspeed record unmatched by turbojet-powered aircraft for almost a decade. A further flight was claimed to achieve 713.5 mph - close to breaking the sound barrier. Over 300 aircraft were built though the early Komet proved ineffective in its dedicated role as an interceptor and was responsible for the verified destruction of some nine Allied aircraft. American sources claim eighteen losses recorded to the 163 but these cannot be verified.

Work on the Komet's design started under the aegis of the Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Segelflug (DFS), the German Institute for the Study of Sailplane Flight. The first design was in fact a conversion of the earlier Lippisch Delta IV known as the DFS 39 and used purely as a glider test-bed for the airframe and design. A larger follow-on version with a small propeller engine started as the DFS 194 but this used wingtip-mounted rudders which Lippisch felt would cause problems at high speed. Lippisch changed the system of vertical stabilization for the DFS 194's airframe from the earlier DFS 39's wingtip rudders, to a conventional vertical stabilizer at the rear of the aircraft. The design included a number of features from its origins as a glider, notably a skid used for landings, which could be retracted into the aircraft's keel in flight. For takeoff, a pair of wheels, each mounted onto the ends of a specially designed cross-axle, were needed due to the weight of the fuel. The wheel assembly was released shortly after takeoff.

DFS seemed incapable of building the prototype fuselage and Lippisch asked to leave DFS and join Messerschmitt. On 2nd January 1939, he moved with his team and the partly completed DFS 194 to the Messerschmitt works at Augsburg. The delays caused by this move allowed engine development to catch up so once installed at Messerschmitt, the team was able to move directly to a rocket-powered version. The first airframe was completed in Augsburg and in early 1940 and shipped to be mated with its engine at Peenemünde-West, one of the quartet of Erprobungsstelle-designated military aviation test facilities of the Reich. Although the engine proved to be extremely unreliable, the aircraft performance was impressive reaching a speed of 550 km/h (340 mph) in one early test.

On the Me 163B and 163C a windmill generator was fitted on the nose of the fuselage providing the electrical power for the radio, the Revi16B/C or D reflector gunsight, the direction finder, the compass, the firing circuits of the cannons, and some of the lighting in the cockpit instrumentation.

In service, the Me 163 turned out to be difficult to use against enemy aircraft. Its tremendous speed and climb rate meant a target was reached and passed in a matter of seconds. Although the Me 163 was a stable gun platform, it required excellent marksmanship to bring down an enemy bomber. The Komet was equipped with two 30 mm (1.18 inch) MK 108 cannons which had a relatively low muzzle velocity of 540 meters per second (1,772 feet/sec), and were accurate only at short range, making it almost impossible to hit a slow moving bomber. Four or five hits were typically needed to take down a B-17.

Development continued throughout the remaining months of the war and one proposal was the V-tail to improve stability in flight and allow provision for a parachute housing to further aid recovery on landing - the source of most 163 losses. The aircraft was never built except for a wind tunnel model but enough details remain to build a 'what if' model.


« Last Edit: October 31, 2016, 11:48:12 AM by Pen-Pusher »

Pen-Pusher

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Re: Me 163 V-tail
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2016, 11:45:41 AM »
Using the Lone Wulf resin set, I then decided to use the Academy kit which I believe to be the most accurate in 1/72 scale. Photo #1 shows the main components for the conversion. To make it more interesting I hope to extend the leading edge flaps (Photo #2). A dry run with the cockpit before paining indicates the fit is pretty good. I used some plastic to block off the rear bulkhead which, although it will probably not be seen on the complete model, adds some potential for detail during painting (Photo #3).Finally, I've hacked and sawed a bit and the final photo gives some idea of what the completed conversion will look like?

Pen-Pusher

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Re: Me 163 V-tail
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2016, 09:52:20 AM »
The Lone Wulf resin conversion gives no information on the configuration of the tail wheel but the Academy kit provides the much improved tail wheel as fitted to the 163 'S' trainer version. If this projected V-tail had ever gone into production I would guess the latter to be more likely! Fiddly job but with a little 'clean-up' it should suffice?

Pen-Pusher

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Re: Me 163 V-tail
« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2016, 03:21:40 PM »
Instrumentation detail almost complete. Using Me.109 instruments as these are closest as far as I can make out. the red panel covers the firing switches for air-to-air rockets that were fitted to late 'B' models and would most likely be fitted to later variants. The red lever on the left of the joystick was used for lowering the skid on landing. Previously is was operated by a wheel on the console. Seat and complicated armour windshield not fitted yet

Pen-Pusher

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Re: Me 163 V-tail
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2016, 04:11:11 PM »
Belts and buckles have never been my strong point as frequently noted following 'spilled' luggage at several airports!! Anyway, have got this far in 1/72....?

Pen-Pusher

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Re: Me 163 V-tail
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2016, 03:54:47 PM »
Finally securing the cockpit interior between expectant fuselage halves, it was a bit of a relief to get on with some of the major component building. The resin (Lone Wulf) rear fuselage wasn't as complicated as I had feared. though a bit of extra care was needed as always when using super glue especially when lining up the tail-evators and getting that 'V' just right! The only surviving documents refer to an angle of 45 degrees from the vertical and horizontal so even I could cope with making a 90 degrees template for the 'V' and the lesser 45 one for the horizontal. With the tail complete the usual image of the Komet becomes much altered I think my reader will agree....?
« Last Edit: November 05, 2016, 04:48:43 PM by Pen-Pusher »

Pen-Pusher

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Re: Me 163 V-tail
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2016, 11:53:09 AM »
...and wings

Pen-Pusher

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Re: Me 163 V-tail
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2016, 01:45:17 PM »
What started as a simple (ha ?) modelling project, stimulated some additional research into German (Messerschmitt) design thinking for more advanced fighter aircraft. I have since found the V-tail proposal wasn't limited to the 163 but (for trials) was fitted to the Me.109, Me.110 and indeed the Me. 262. No doubt these were directing design teams toward te projected 'triple one' series of rocket/jet aircraft like that below...

What a stimulus modelling can be....?

Haddock

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Re: Me 163 V-tail
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2016, 04:09:12 PM »
That looks quite modern-ish.
Haddock.

Pen-Pusher

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Re: Me 163 V-tail
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2016, 04:38:32 PM »
Yes, there were a lot of designs which appeared in the late 50's which claimed to be from the German aircraft design bureaus. It was not until 1962 onwards when captured documents and photos of prototypes or wind tunnel mock-ups were released, we could gauge the accuracy of previous claims. Prof. Leo Seikovitz, formerly of Messerschmitt (who worked for both Hawker in the UK and later Northrop in the US) published the 'bible' of German designs and proposed aircraft types (Aldus publications) but it's as rare as hen's teeth these days. The Me.1110/1111 and 1112 (illustrated) were all well advanced and mock-up's did exist, were captured and then in many cases shipped to the UK and/or USA. One, I can't recall which bore an uncanny resemblance to the Supermarine Swift? - Thanks for the comment though!

Pen-Pusher

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Re: Me 163 V-tail
« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2016, 03:25:07 PM »
As the cockpit will be left open I have attempted to add some minor detail in the form of supporting struts to the bullet-proof windshield. (At 1/72 these additions are causing some considerable difficulty and excessive demands on my vocabulary!!) I have also added heavier armament as this version would have carried 2x30mm cannons and not the usual 2x20mm. Hey Ho, on we go!

Pen-Pusher

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Re: Me 163 V-tail
« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2016, 08:53:34 AM »
The main problem facing anyone building a 'what-if' model must surely be the painting? Oh I know one could go wild but in this case I’m trying to imagine what and where this particular version of the Me 163 would have fitted in, had it got beyond the wind-tunnel or half-scale mock-up stage. I’m led to believe that German colours were registered as RLM’s (Reich Luftfahrt Ministerium) but few 1938/45 colour chip/samples remain in existence today. What makes things more complicated is that most aircraft appear to have been delivered in a standard camouflage (depending on role) but heavily modified at squadron level. Deciding not to finish the model as a test aircraft but one newly delivered and preparing for it’s first operational sortie, I’ve opted for a conventional scheme, not too far removed from others of this type but one colour in particular is proving elusive - RLM 81 Braunviolett!!!

We know this tended to vary according to the manufacturer and there are factors of finish, fading and ‘flipping’ frustration; but a trawl through the model paint companies has only yielded more confusion. Mr Model’s Brown Violet (121) appears to my poor eyesight more of a Grey Violet whereas Tamiya’s  XF75 is certainly too red. Vallejo’s 093 and/or 154 appear to be a better bet and I await a sample of Ammo’s Luftwaffe ‘specials’ with some anticipation. Gunze, Testors, JPS, Life-colour and several others do RLM 81 but budget overruns have already delayed the first flight long enough….?
« Last Edit: November 16, 2016, 08:55:20 AM by Pen-Pusher »

Haddock

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Re: Me 163 V-tail
« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2016, 10:18:21 AM »
If you visit the "cyber-modeller" website, there is a section devoted to choosing the nearest "pot" colour using RAL, RLM and other colour systems, it could be helpful though it's still a work in progress.
Unfortunately, I don't know how to insert a link so you may have to mess about.
Haddock.

Pen-Pusher

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Re: Me 163 V-tail
« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2016, 02:05:46 PM »
Will do - thank you for that!

Pen-Pusher

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Re: Me 163 V-tail
« Reply #14 on: November 17, 2016, 09:03:17 AM »
Whilst Vallejo's 'oily steel' was well suited to the 'skid' - using 'Mr Colour' paints with Vallejo ended up in disaster! This 'unique' camouflage is the result of me having to remove the entire upper surface after finding overnight there had been a reaction between the aforementioned paints where they overlapped. Fortunately, my month long endeavours with the cockpit remains unharmed....

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH
« Last Edit: November 18, 2016, 04:03:37 PM by Pen-Pusher »