Powered Replica Me 163 Komet to Fly in Germany

After several years of work a flying, powered replica of the iconic Luftwaffe last-ditch interceptor is set to be unveiled in Germany

[Photo via Philipp Prinzing, Klassiker der Luftfahrt]


As reported by Klassiker der Luftfahrt,  the leading German aviation magazine, an ambitious project has been conducted in Germany for the last few years. Heinz-Dieter Sippel has been working on building a flying, powered replica of the Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet and plans to unveil it at 2024 AERO Friedrichshafen, Europe’s most important trade show for general aviation which will take place in April on the shores of Lake Constance at the Friedrichshafen exhibition center right next to Friedrichshafen Airport, Germany.

[Photo via Philipp Prinzing, Klassiker der Luftfahrt]

The Messerschmitt Me 163 was intended to counter the overwhelming flow of bombers against Germany’s cities.  It was the first aircraft to break the magic barrier of 1,000 km/h – and in doing so became the fastest aircraft in WWII. The Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet, designed by Alexander Lippisch, was one of the most spectacular aircraft to appear in the German skies before 1945. The radical interceptor with a rocket engine was denied great success but it still became famous.

Me 163B Werknummer 191907 is part of the collection of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. [Photo by James Kightly]
Me 163B Werknummer 191907 is part of the collection of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. [Photo by James Kightly]
Most of the aircraft produced did not survive long after the end of the war; only a few were even preserved. It has been claimed that at least 29 Komets were shipped out of Germany after the war and of those at least 10 are been known to have survived the war to be put on display in museums around the world. Most of the survivors were part of JG 400 and were captured by the British at Husum, the squadron’s base at the time of Germany’s surrender in 1945. According to the Royal Air Force Museum, 48 aircraft were captured intact and 24 were shipped to the United Kingdom for evaluation although only one, VF241, was test flown albeit unpowered (Wikipedia has a very detailed section describing the survivors).

The Me 163 glider replica being towed for takeoff at the 2009 airshow at La Ferté-Alais, France. [Photo via Wikipedia]
The Me 163 glider replica being towed for takeoff at the 2009 airshow at La Ferté-Alais, France. [Photo via Wikipedia]
An unpowered replica (registered D-1636) was built in the 1990s by former Luftwaffe pilot Joseph Kurtz and flown for several years, but it has been a museum piece at the Flugmuseum Messerschmitt for some time. But now the silhouette of the Me 163 is set to return to the sky – this time as a self-launching replica.

[Photo via Philipp Prinzing, Klassiker der Luftfahrt]

The new 1:1 scale replica is the work of Heinz-Dieter Sippel. After years of work, he built his Me 163B entirely from composite materials in a lightweight sandwich construction. Sippel received support from the German Society for the Preservation of Historic Aircraft and the company Silence Aircraft.

Like the original, the replica measures 5.99 meters from nose to tail and the wingspan is 9.3 meters. However, the weight of the real Komet, which was 4.3 tons, was far more than Sippel’s Me 163B. The replica should weigh only 240 kilograms. The speed also seems quite comfortable at around 140 km/h. A JetCat turbine type P1000-Pro with a kilonewton of thrust provides propulsion. It is powered by kerosene (Jet A-1), diesel, or petroleum. The start is either in F-tow or self-start.

Position of the Walter HWK 109-509A-1 rocket motor in the original Me 163. [Image via Wikipedia]
Many thanks to Philipp Prinzing of KLASSIKER DER LUFTFAHRT  for providing the details and photos.

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36 Comments

  1. Am I reading this wrong, or is the statement backwards? “…the weight of the real Komet, which was 4.3 tons, was far less than Sippel’s Me 163B…” Shouldn’t Sippel’s Komet weigh far less than the real Komet? Otherwise, excellent article!

  2. It never weighed 4.3 tons , that was probably the power of the rocket engine , the airframe was less than 2000 kg

  3. I will NEVER be able to dream as big and as fantastic as Heinz-Dieter Sippel! To dream of building a flying 1:1 replica of an Me-163B!! Even if it is built out of completely different materials and has only a fraction of the original’s perf!

  4. Wingtip washout is quite noticeable in the production 163, when comparing the wing tip to the wing root. The replica appears to not only eliminate the negative camber wash out, but appears to go positive compared to the wing root. This is never done to my knowledge, so I assume my sights are at fault. I’ve only dreamed of building a very light look-a-like

  5. A true replica needs to have the Swastika on its tail to be historically correct. No I’m not a believer in the Nazi Party, I’m just saying for historical correctness.

    • Germany is one of several nations where the marking is outlawed on flying aircraft. Some museum and other aircraft preserved statically in Germany do display it as part of their historical context.

    • Agreed. If it’s a “replica,” then replicate. A swastika on a WW II German airplane js NOT the same as a swastika being carried by a skinhead today.

      • It is a matter of law, not originality or opinion. It is not legal to have an airworthy aircraft with the outlawed Nazi party symbol on the tail in Germany, Elvis B.

    • The aircraft is to fly in Germany; the Hakenkreuz is not permitted on flying aircraft there. (An ingenious substitute, four narrow grey rectangles at angles to each other, appears on 109s and 190 replicas flying in Germany…)

  6. The article leaves me with questions, is it piloted, or radio control. I’ve seen larger RC aircraft. Who’s flying the bird?

  7. Didn’t know ME263 weighed 4 tons, sounds kinda heavy considering small size. Nice to see replicas gliding/flying in friendlier skies now..

  8. Fascinating design however such a death trap for the pilots with the courage to fly it for the few minutes it was powered. If you were able to even get it off the ground you still had to survive the mission and land it!!!

  9. Jesus those things were death traps!,any article you read about them basically say if they didn’t kill you on take off there was certainly a good chance it would get you on landing….it only had a skid!!! Oh and the fuel it used would eat you alive.Eric whincle brown wrote great articles about it
    And I’m not sure,but may have flown one using its own rocket motor,he certainly did tests gliding one.

  10. Excellent news with flying repro ME262s now gracing the skies what better news to see a Komet also returning to the skies? An Arado 234 Blitz perhaps?
    Cannot wait to see this luftwaffe legend rejoin the airworthy ranks.
    Good luck in first flight.

  11. Great! My compliments. The interest in the unique ME 163 would have thrilled my deceased father, Wilhelm (Willi, Eli ) Elias, who was part of the Lippisch group from the earliest R&D until the War‘s end. Heini Dittmar, Rudi Opitz (Pitz) being the first & second test pilots, the latter became my sailplane instructor in Dayton, OH. Best wishes for successful events!

    • Hi Karl..My father would also have been happy to see one flying again, even if the weight and performance are lacking. As for all of the “death trap” people, my father would just say that Dittmar and he were the two primary test pilots on that aircraft from start to finish, and somehow they made it out alive. Yes, there were some close calls in testing for them, but his opinion was that a number of the accidents could be attributed to overconfident experienced piston pilots trying to circumvent the normal transition training process. They didn’t respect all of the new technologies that were incorporated in this aircraft in order to achieve the performance it had. On an aircraft like this, that lack of respect can kill you.

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