Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet
The Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet is a German interceptor aircraft designed for point-defence. It is the only operational rocket-powered fighter aircraft in history and the first piloted aircraft of any type to exceed 1,000 kilometres per hour (620 mph) in level flight. Designed by Alexander Lippisch, its performance and aspects of its design were unprecedented. In early July 1944, German test pilot Heini Dittmar reached 1,130 km/h (700 mph), an unofficial flight airspeed record unmatched by turbojet-powered aircraft until 1953.
|Me 163 Komet|
|Me 163B on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force|
|First flight||1 September 1941|
|Developed into||Messerschmitt Me 263|
More than 300 Komets were built, but the aircraft proved lackluster in its dedicated role as an interceptor, having destroyed between nine and 18 Allied aircraft against 10 losses. Aside from combat losses, many pilots were killed during testing and training, at least in part because of the highly volatile and corrosive nature of the rocket propellant used in later models. This includes pilot Josef Pöhs, a fighter ace and Oberleutnant in the Luftwaffe, who was killed in 1943 by exposure to T-Stoff and injuries sustained during a failed takeoff that ruptured a fuel line.