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1:32 Messerschmitt Me 163B


Jim H
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1:32 Messerschmitt Me 163B


Meng
Catalogue # QS-001
Available from Hannants for £44.99

 

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Messerschmitt's Me 163 Komet was designed as a point-defence interceptor, designed to lay at rest in various locales around the Third Reich, and then to zip almost vertically towards bomber streams as they approached. The simply astounding rate of climb of this diminutive aircraft enabled the bomber streams to be almost overhead before the Komet had to actually take off. That same speed advantage became very much a disadvantage in combat, with the Me 163 frequently overflying its target before it had a chance to open up with its wing root mounted MK108 cannon.

 

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Designed by Alexander Lippisch, the tailless Komet was soon seen to be pretty ineffective as a fighter aircraft due to its limited flight time, relatively high speed, and resultant wide turning circles. The Komet first flew in 1941, although it didn't see operational status with the 'B' variant, until almost mid-1944. Powered by a Walther HWK 109-509 liquid-fuel rocket engine, which saw an injection of two fuels into its combustion chamber (T-Stoff and C-Stoff; Hydrogen Peroxide and methanol-hydrazine water mixture), the Komet took off conventionally before ejecting its dolly undercarriage and climbing almost vertically upwards. The aircraft would later return to earth as a glider, and land on a skid which would be deployed under the fuselage centerline.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=fuA2fKHStRw

 

The Komet was a lethal weapon, literally. Most Komet losses were in take-off and landing accidents, with the Komet usually then exploding due to ruptured fuel tanks or the inadvertent mixing of the fuel vapours. It is true that the Komet was a menace for Allied streams, but perhaps more psychologically that due to actual kills. The Komet didn't actually destroy more than a dozen or aircraft, but despite this, further developments were planned and even tested, such as a Komet which could fire upward facing projectiles, triggered with a photocell which detected the bomber's shadow. Further prototypes were also built, with retractable undercarriage. In all, the Komet project was an expensive and dismal failure, and indicative of the wastage of men and materials which the Third Reich seemed to excel in the last 2 years of the war.

 

Well, here it is! Meng's 1:32 Messerschmitt Me 163B Komet. We now finally have something to perhaps replace the now aged Hasegawa kit, which until now, had been the only injection moulded kit of this interceptor that had been available. The Hasegawa has long held out its position and with some work, builds up into a truly gorgeous model of this famous aircraft. But, as that kit needed a generous dollop of resin and PE, plus a total re-scribe in order to bring it up to standard, have Meng finally brought the Komet into the 21st Century? Well, we'll not take a look at this finally.

 

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Meng's Me 163B, their first release in 1:32, is packed in a sumptuous, satin-finished box, with a box art image showing the Komet diving away from a B-17 stream, post attack. On top of this, a white sleeve is slid onto the box, containing a cutout of the Komet which cleverly just displays the aircraft. For me, the box art is all part of the kit experience, with good box art certainly being an inspiration for the forthcoming build, and here, Meng excels.

 

Inside the box, the Komet is broken down into SIX sprues, with five of these being in medium grey, one in black, and the last one in clear plastic. Even Zoukei-mura ditched the multi-colour styrene in favour of just grey. I hope Meng follow suit with their releases in future. All sprues are individually bagged, minimizing risk of scuffing or parts being broken from the sprues.

Take these sprues out, and I swear you'll have difficulty fitting them back in. I suppose there's only one thing to do then.....build it!. Underneath those sprues, a single decal sheet is to be found in a clear wallet, and two PE frets. Oh, some vinyl tyres too, but we'll come to them later.

 

SPRUE A

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Looking at the first sprue, you can see that Meng have also followed Hasegawa's lead by moulding the rear fuselage separately to the font, in order for the modeller to display the detailed Walther rocket engine. In fact, that's not the only interior detail present with this kit. Meng have also recreated the fuel tanks and weapons bays. That pretty much buries the old Hasegawa kit, without even looking further.

The fuselage isn't just moulded with a separate rear section; the entire wing root it also separate, with the forward wing root being attached to the wing parts, and the rear root being an insert which is to be found on the next sprue. In fact, the whole forward wing root area is a gaping void, into which you fit the underneath fuselage skin, forming the root wall. Onto this of course, you will build the weapons bay. As this kit includes those internal T-Stoff and C-Stoff tanks, the upper forward fuselage is moulded separately, giving the modeller the option to pose this 'open'.

 

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The rudder is also moulded separately to the rear fuselage, allowing you freedom to pose this as you wish, as the rudder itself is hinged. As the rear section can be removed, Meng have moulded constructional detail within this area which you will see if you look into the rear shell. In order to fit the two fuselage sections together, a couple of wing root inserts are provided to act as plugs. When you display the parts separated, you just pull the plugs out again. A very nice touch!

 

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The nose cone, as with the Hasegawa kit, is also moulded as a separate part. The only similarity here with the Hasegawa kit is that Meng have chosen not to include the detail which would hide behind that cone. There are in fact two slightly different styles of electrical generator impellor on this sprue. You will also find the canopy framing (yes, no pesky masking to do!), wing slats, interior fuselage panels, whip aerial and keel.

 

SPRUE B

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This sprue contains the 4 largest parts of the Komet, namely the upper and lower wing panels. Moulded in grey styrene, these incorporate the wing root fairing into which the upper panels have the gun bay access panels in an open attitude. Underneath the wings, the ejection chute openings are also open. There isn't much overall detail on the Komet wing, as these were mostly wooden, but the access posts are cleanly scribed, and the wing root fairings have excellent fastener detail.

 

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Meng have chosen to make the ailerons and elevons separate too (and moveable), as also with the large plate airbrakes which sit below the wing. These are supplies as photo etch parts.

 

SPRUE C

 

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Essentially, this sprue carries a mish-mash of both interior and exterior parts, including rudder, ailerons and elevons, inner wing root fuselage walls (gun bay walls), external fuel tank covers, gun bay covers, and two different ammunition saddles, depending on whether your model will be fitted with MK108 or MG151/20 weapons. You will also find the ammunition belts here too, moulded separately from the saddle.

 

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SPRUE D

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Oddly enough, this sprue is moulded in black styrene. The remit of this sprue is clear. On here, you will find the extendable tail wheel parts, the retractable landing skid, and also the jettisonable dolly undercarriage. The Komet can be modelled with the skid in both a retracted or deployed state. The tailwheel assembly is also moulded here, and again you can choose from a retracted or deployed tailwheel, and options are included to build this with a fairing or without. Wheel hubs are moulded as an inner and outer plate, into which you'll insert a poly cap in order that the dolly axel can grip, whilst allowing free rotation.

 

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SPRUE E

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Another grey sprue, this time we have many internal parts here, including the superbly detailed cockpit. The cockpit parts here are the actual tub, with integral side console fuel tanks, rear bulkhead, detailed separate side walls, and two instrument panel options. These provide for a fully detailed panel, or a plainer panel onto which you'll assemble a number of photo etch panel parts. The cockpit detail is superb, although our reference material at Large Scale Modeller, does perhaps show that a little extra detail could be added within, such as pipework and push/pull handles and levers. The Eduard set might just have a few parts you can use to enhance this further.

 

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Displaying the Komet with the engine on show means you will need to find a way of supporting the parts, and Meng have included a stand to hold the rocket pipe up, and a cradle for the rear fuselage.

Both MK108 and MG151 armament in included here, with slide moulding employed in order to make those gun muzzles hollow. The guns and muzzle aperture are very finely defined, and they look excellent. Meng have tackled the armoured windscreen by moulding the frame exterior separately to the actual glass panels. Nice touch.

 

SPRUE F

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This sprue contains the very large T-Stoff tank which sits to the rear of the pilot. Meng have split this into an upper and lower half, with circular end caps. The Walter rocket engine parts are on this sprue also, and the detail here is superb, leaving the old Hasegawa kit very much in the shade. A good number of individual plumbing pipes are included, and these look a little fiddly to line up and pipe the engine, but I suppose the proof of the pudding will be on the eating. I'll be starting this kit shortly, and I'll find out.

 

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SPRUE G

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This is the clear sprue, and includes TEN parts. Meng have seen fit to also encapsulate the sprue in a slightly tacky film in order to protect it. I wish more manufacturers would do this. These include the canopy glazing, inner and outer armoured windscreen plates, quarter-light windows, and the small inner, rear cockpit windows. You'll also find the gun-sight and wing landing lights here too.

The whole kit is superbly moulded, with next--to-zero flash, no visible sink marks and with minimal ejector pin marks. A few pin marks can be seen on some parts, but these areas generally aren't visible.

 

PHOTO ETCH

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TWO PE frets are included with this release. Produced from bare brass, the largest fret contains the wing airbrake, seatbelt parts and fuel tank cover latches. The second fret is exclusively instrument panel sections, comprising the main panel, raised main panel and side panels. Etch quality is superb with excellent detail definition.

 

WHEELS

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Unusually, Meng have chosen to include rubber/vinyl tyres on this release. Whilst some modellers like these, I don't. The seams can be awkward to remove, as can the sprue gate. Thankfully, seams aren't really too much of an issue here, but I would rather have seen the wheels supplied as plastic parts. The only real downside to this kit for me. Poly caps for the undercarriage are also moulded here.

 

INSTRUCTIONS

This kit contains a sumptuously produced, multi-lingual instruction manual, again adorned with that excellent box artwork. A history of the Komet is included within, followed by the kit construction, over 24 cleanly drawn stages. All illustrations are sharp, but take care in the engine stage as some pipework location looks a little ambiguous. Colour scheme illustrations are presented at the end of the manual. Colour call-outs are given throughout, with Vallejo codes being given.

 

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DECALS

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A single decal sheet is included for all THREE schemes available to you. Printed by Cartograf, the decals are thin, have minimal carrier film, and are in perfect register. Thankfully, the colours aren't too vivid also. As well as the various national markings, a full range of stencils are also supplied, as are instrument panel decals.

 

Where markings run over a panel or joint, Meng have supplied these in sections. Swastikas are also included, but these are supplied in parts, so as not to offend any delicate political sensibilities.

 

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The three schemes offered are:

  • Me 163B, 2./JG 400, Brandis, early 1945
  • Me 163B V-41, Major Wolfgang Späte, 13th May, 1944
  • Me 163B VF241, test flown by Eric Brown, 7th July, 1945

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I think I might just build the British evaluation machine, as I once met the pilot who flew that aircraft, Eric 'Winkle' Brown.

 

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Me 163 Komet, from Large Scale Modeller 'Walkaround'

 

Conclusion
Well, we've certainly waited a few decades for another 1:32 Komet to be released in mainstream injection plastic form, but has it been worth it? A resounding 'YES'! The whole package is of the high quality we have now come to expect with Meng releases, and for their first foray into 1:32, this is an exceptional release, teeming with detail and buildability. It's great to see this aircraft finally released in a format for which you can really respect the architecture of the real thing. With the rear fuselage section removed, you can look into the fuselage of the Komet and see the engine, tanks etc. The detail is both refined and superbly executed, and the engineering is intuitive. Some clever engineering enables you to be able to pose the model split into two, without the need for ugly locating pips.

 

All I can say is 'what a fabulous kit', and I really can't wait to start her. I see myself ordering one of these myself, to satisfy a cunning plan I have ;-)

 

VERY highly recommended

 

Our sincere thanks to Meng Model for the review sample used here. To purchase directly, click THIS link.

 

James H

 

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What a beautiful release out of left-field...

 

It seems as though they've missed the early side windows particular to the 20mm-armed Versuche Komets. But this should be an easy fix. Otherwise, it's all there and looks fantastic.

 

S

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Great review.

One wonders if aircraft claimed more kills among the Luftwaffe pilots than the Allies. The tanks are in the cockpit

As well. It has happened that upon landing the aircraft crashed and the contents slowly dissolving the poor pilot trapped

Inside. Later the pilots were issued with a special flightsuit.

Cees

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www.sealmodel.com

 

This is Ericyy's new site. I know he's run out of stock at the moment, and due to the parcel weight, he advised I could add other items and not increase postage, so I asked for another 163 to add to the original one. 

 

Ericyy is a good guy and a little different to deal with, but he always does the deal!

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