Testors/CMK 1/48 Me 163B Komet Build Review
|Date of Review||October 2004||Manufacturer||Testors/CMK|
|Subject||Me 163B Komet||Scale||1/48|
|Kit Number||7625||Primary Media||Styrene, Resin|
|Pros||Testors: Simple build; CMK: Nice cockpit||Cons||Testors: No cockpit, needs aftermarket (CMK)|
|Skill Level||Intermediate||MSRP (USD)||Out of Production|
The Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet was perhaps the most unusual and dangerous warplane to ever see series production. Designed by Alexander Lippisch, the Komet was basically a high speed glider fitted with a rocket motor. Prior to the war Lippisch was involved in designing tail-less and all-wing aircraft, most of them gliders.
In 1937 the German Air Ministry's research department asked Lippisch to design a plane to take a rocket motor being developed by Helmuth Walter. The Me 163 was originally intended as a high speed research plane, but its spectacular performance coupled with the exigencies of war soon demanded that it be developed into a fighter plane.
The Me 163B was designed from the outset as a fighter. Fitted with two cannons and armor protection for the pilot, it was supposed to break up the Allied bomber formations. The small size and incredible speed of the Komet caused much fear among bomber crews, as well as making it a difficult for their fighter escort. Fortunately, the Komet was only produced in small numbers. Its only weaknesses were its short endurance and the highly volatile fuels used to propel it, which sometimes exploded upon landing.
The Komet was a true pioneering aircraft. The war forced its accelerated development despite its drawbacks. Its performance far exceeded anything of its time. The Komet was the first plane to scratch the sound barrier with a max speed of 596 mph and its design parameters were soon to pave the way to the "jet-age". You can find more information on this fantastic airplane at http://www.sml.lr.tudelft.nl/~home/rob/me163.htm.
The Me 163 Kit
The kit is comprised of 24 parts and one decal sheet; this kit has been around for over 30 years it was first produced by Hawk and is very inexpensive to purchase. It's not too bad for accuracy, the fit's not bad, but it lacks finesse compared to the DML kit. The fuselage is quite accurate in shape, apart from the turtledeck, which has the wrong cross-section. Panel lines on the fuselage are recessed. The wing has some big problems. The trailing edge is wrong because it does not taper enough; tip chord is some 20 to 30 percent to large. This makes the wings look massive. The leading edge slots are represented nicely.
Panel lines on the wing are raised. Cockpit detail is just about nil. The original Hawk issue had a piece of orange translucent plastic to simulate the rocket exhaust. This is not included in the Testors issue. The canopy is molded in very thick clear plastic and the armor windshield is molded into the canopy. The landing gear skid is very basic in detail. Only 2 sink marks were found on my kit, they were located in some rivet detail and need to be fixed very carefully without loosing the rivets.
The instructions are very good and include 2 detailed profile paint schemes to include the 7/JG 400 at Scheswig-Holstein, May 1945 and 1/JG 400 (training staffel) at Merseberg, May 1945. The decals are in register but thick.
The CMK Interior Detail Set
This set is comprised of 8 resin pieces, one photo etch fret with seatbelts, rudder pedals, and instrument panel, a clear acetate instrument and a vacuformed canopy, the resin is very crisp and detailed. No detail was left unnoticed and I found everything match my references completely down to the external wire running from the trigger on the control stick. The instructions are very detailed including RLM paint references.
The instructions call for the installation of the small instrument panel, seat and pilot, I discarded these items in preparation for installation of the cockpit tub that supplied with the CMK kit. I removed the location tabs and thinned the cockpit side walls of the fuselage halves test fitting the CMK cockpit tub, I thinned the bottom floor the tub to make it fit. Next I super glued the resin side instrument panels and filled any gaps in the sill to Tamiya polyester two-part putty and sanded smooth.
I assembled and painted the CMK cockpit tub as per the instructions. Paint detailed was completed with the help of my trusty lighted magnifying lens. The photo-etch instrument panel was assembled with the clear acetate instruments and a piece of plastic stock sandwiching the acetate in between the photo-etch and plastic. The cockpit tub and instrument panel was test fitted and the tub fit was perfect. However, the instrument panel would not fit, as it was too wide, so I had to remove both extreme sides of the instrument panel.
Next I fabricated 2 MK.108 gun barrels out of aluminum tubing and installed these in the proper location in the wing roots, then I use canopy glue to glue the aft two window. The fuselage halves were glued together and very little putty was used on the seams. Two large dimples in the fuselage was filled with polyester putty and sanded carefully to prevent from losing some rivet detail.
The wings were assembled as per the instructions, I didn't like the raised panel lines to I re-scribed the panel lines and sand down the raised detail, and then I use the Verlinden 1/72 scale panel template to scribe the access panel on the wings. Next I sanded the trailing edge of each wing to bring the thickness to more realistic look. I installed the wings to the fuselage.
A noticeable step was present between the fuselage fillet and the wing, so I filled step and wing seam with polyester putty and I sanded everything smooth and I leveled out the step clearance on the fillet joint. I glued the flaps on the bottom of the wing open and I the landing gear skid and wheels in the retracted position. I glued and filled the separate leading edge slots on top of the wings.
I sanded and prepped the model for paint. I fashioned the rocket tailpipe out of then copper stock. The armor-plated windscreen PE frame was bent and the windscreen itself was cut from clear sheet stock from Squadron mail order, everything was glued together with clear canopy glue and attached on the front glare shield, front supports were made from thin wire.
Painting & Finishing
I wanted to paint my Komet to represent the 1/JG 400 training staffel at Merseberg in May 1945 with the large White 54 on the tail. This was one of the Komets that was captured and sent to Freeman Field in the USA for testing. Apparently some tail swapping was done between the White 42 and the White 54 so the exact Wr. Number for the aircraft is unknown, you can read more about this at: http://www.sml.lr.tudelft.nl/~home/rob/me163/wh54.htm.
I painted my Komet with Testors Model Master Acryl RLM 76 Lichtblau, RLM 82 Dunklegrun, and RLM 81 Braunviolett. I airbrushed the wings and the fuselage demarcation and I mottled the fuselage side with a brush. I gloss coated the finish with Future floor was and I applied the decals supplied with the kit, they need Solvaset to get them lay down nicely then I lightly airbrushed a final coat of Model Master Acryl flat coat to give a semigloss look. Most Komets were sprayed at the factory with a special clear varnish to help improve streamlining. This finish was applied directly over the camouflage and resulted in a semi-gloss appearance.
I cut the dipped the vacuformed canopy in Future then I scratchbuilt two hinges and grab handle out of copper stock and wire, then I fashioned the canopy stop out of stretched sprue and copper stock.
I enjoyed building this kit and using the CMK detail set that was originally designed for the Revell kit, I little modifying was required to install the CMK detail set. Recently DML has re-released their Me 163 kit, so I will look for it at Squadron Mail Order and build it next.
- Warplanes of the Third Reich by William Green
- Me 163 Komet Website