The Epic Failure of the Rocket Powered Messerschmitt Me-163 Komet

Karma works in mysterious ways. And in the case of the Nazi Germany, it was Hitler’s own obsessions with futuristic killing toys that helped topple such evil regime. The world should be thankful that the Fuhrer pushed the developments of Wunderwaffe, or wonder weapons, to help them turn the tide of war after the Allies gained the upper hand. It looked good on paper, with design concepts exceeding the performance of existing technology of that time. In reality, testing and developments of such revolutionary hardware required time and lengthy period of works, something the Nazi Germany never had. And the cost, from money to manpower drained their resources. Hitler should just push for more conventional bombers, tanks, ships and fighters that could yield realistic tactical advantages, not underdeveloped exotic toys. There are few successful designs and it were the Allies that benefited the most with those captured technology. And as a friend noted, it was this particular aircraft that perfectly summed up the Wunderwaffe in a nutshell.

Rocket powered planes with blinding speed were the stuffs of science fiction, and the Nazi Germany successfully fielded one, in the shape of the Messerschmitt Me-163 Komet. It was meant to intercept incoming planes, with their speed unmatched by any Allied bombers or fighters. The concept looks good, but real-life performance showed disappointing results.

How It Started
The DFS-194.

The idea behind the Messerschmitt ME 163 Komet was to build an aircraft that could outperform existing fighters and bombers. And during those time, Alexander Martin Lippisch, a German aeronautical engineer was working on the DFS-194. Now, Lippisch was known for his delta wings and tailless aircrafts, and the DFS-194 was based on these configurations, and during March 1938, he already completed an airframe. It then attracted the interest of the RLM (Reichsluftfahrtministerium), the aviation ministry of Nazi Germany. They felt they just found what they were l