Encyclopedia Astronautica

German manned rocketplane. Flown 1941-1945. The world's first and only operational pure rocket fighter. Awesome performance, but killed more of its pilots than the enemy.

The rocket-powered Messerschmitt Me-163 represented the culmination of Alexander Lippisch's years of research in rocketplanes, tail-less aircraft, and high aspect ratio delta wings.

As a weapon, the Me-163 had tremendous speed but very limited range. Due to the dangerous nature of its propellants and incomplete development before being put into production, it was said to have killed more of its own pilots than the enemy's...

The Me-163 had a maximum speed of 960 km/hr; a cruise speed of 800 km/hr; and a landing speed 80 m/s. Range was only 80 km during a 7.5 minute mission. The aircraft could reach 12 km altitude 3.3 minutes after takeoff. Armament was 2 x Mk 118 x 60 rockets.


Crew Size: 1.

Gross mass: 3,995 kg (8,807 lb).
Height: 5.70 m (18.70 ft).
Span: 9.33 m (30.61 ft).
Thrust: 16.60 kN (3,732 lbf).

More... - Chronology...

Associated Countries
See also
  • Emme, Eugene M, Aeronautics and Astronautics: An American Chronology of Science and Technology in the Exploration of Space 1915-1960, NASA, 1961. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Michels, Juergen and Przybilski, Olaf, Peenemuende und seine Erben in Ost und West, Bernard & Graefe, Bonn, 1997.
  • Dornberger, Walter, Peenemuende, Moewig, Berlin 1985..

Me-163 Chronology

July 1938 - . Launch Site: Peenemuende. LV Family: V-2. Launch Vehicle: V-2.
  • Rocket fighters - . Nation: Germany. Related Persons: Dornberger. Spacecraft: He-176; He-122; Me-163. The first rocket fighter, the He-176, powered by a Walther engine, was tested at Peenemuende. In competition, Dornberger's team developed a 120-second duration engine to power the He-122. However loss of control in unpowered flights of the latter resulted in it crashing and being eliminated from further consideration. Dornberger's team left further rocket fighter engine development to Walther, and concentrated on the A4 and follow-on ballistic missiles.

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