Riding on A Canon-ball! Me 163B Komet (V35) – Kit: Testors/Hawk 1/48th.
I happened recently to re-read some of the material on Hanna Reitsch’s flights in the Me 163 B. On YouTube I then revisited her famous description of ‘riding on a canon-ball’ in an interview and clip that related her 5th flight in the Komet (one of the first production models), when the dolly would not release after take-off, making the plane difficult to fly and impossible to land safely. This resulted in her worst crash; a long stay in hospital; plastic surgery to reconstruct her nose and a terrifying near-death experience. All of which tempted me to carry out this quick build (not really my style) of a much vilified kit! After all what is not to like about the only rocket-powered fighter aircraft ever to have been operational and the first piloted aircraft of any type to exceed 1000 km/h?
I am pretty keen to build a more conventional version of this aircraft in a larger scale at some point, and to use a classic comet camo scheme, so I thought I could try something different with the Testors kit I had in the cupboard. This 1/48th kit – my preferred scale, however has been described as showing little resemblance to a Komet. Essentially a rebox of a Hawk kit from 1960, it has very few parts and little detail. As such it allowed me the freedom to experiment and to build it like I had nothing much to lose! As far as I know this was not an airframe that Reitsch piloted, but is a reasonably well known Komet.
The cockpit interior was minimal so I butchered some unused photo-etch from various Luftwaffe planes to make consoles (something I wasn’t over-rigorous about since I was leaving the thick plastic canopy closed). The skid, which was missing from this second hand kit when I opened the box, was replaced using a that of the Tamiya 1/48th Fieseler Storch (another Reitsch-related project for a later date), that I cut in half lengthwise and sanded and that actually made a reasonable enough fit without much more effort.
To paint the Komet I used Alclad lacquers (various Aluminium shades) over a base of RLM 78 that had been lightened, and used some pre-shading in dark grey. Some panels were painted individually. Decals came from a variety of sources (Tamiya Salamander, Xtradecal Bf109D) – the numbers are actually meant to be used on a Mirage! They seemed similar in shape to those of V35 and about the right size!
I don’t know when I’ll get to build another Komet, but this has certainly whetted my appetite. And while I couldn’t particularly recommend this kit to anyone interested in a well-detailed model, in the short term it was a fun way to blow away the cobwebs after the resin-induced trauma of the Midway group build!
9 additional images. Click to enlarge.