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  1. ME-163 Komet 1:48 Testors The Messerschmitt Me-163 holds the distinction of being the worlds first (and only) rocket powered fighter to see operational service. Designed by Alexander Lippisch and built by Messerschmitt AG, the Komet, as it was known in Luftwaffe Service, was the unofficial holder of the world air speed record for some time after World War Two. The aircraft was highly unconventional by the standards of the day. Apart from the unique rocket propulsion system, it featured a swept wing and no horizontal tail. Operationally the Komet was less than successful. As cutting edge design, it was not as easy to fly as a conventional fighter. Its combat record was also rather hit-and-miss, with the fighter accounting for relatively few Allied aircraft. Legendary British test pilot Eric Winkle Brown managed to arrange an unofficial powered flight in a Komet immediately after the end of the war in Europe. Although wary of the aircraft because of its reputation and cutting edge design, he was suitably impressed with its sprightly performance. Despite the relatively high profile of the Komet in military aviation history, there have been relatively few kits of the aircraft in 1:48 scale. Aside from a number of resin and vacuum formed kits, the choice boils down to this kit, originally released by Hawk in the early 60s, and the Trimaster kit (re-released by Dragon, Hasegawa and Revell) which dates back to the early nineties. Unsurprisingly the more modern kit is the pick of the pair, but the older sibling is not without some merit, not least because of the relatively low asking price. The kit is made up of just 24 parts moulded in grey and clear plastic. Surface detail is made up of recessed panel lines and raised rivets. The overall effect is actually rather effective. The kit is no spring chicken and there is a little flash in places and a few sink marks here and there, most notably on the upper fuselage and under the wing root. Construction begins with the cockpit, such as it is. Detail is comprised of a basic seat, an instrument panel and a pilot. There is really nothing kind I can say about the pilot as he is quite misshapen. His legs are joined together in one piece and he has a large sink mark in his abdomen. Not only that but he is gripping something with his left hand that I can only presume is the control column. Thankfully the canopy is pretty thick! Before you can join the fuselage halves together, you will need to add the landing skid and the generator drive propeller. The wings are comprised of upper and lower halves. There are separate underwing flaps and leading edge slats, which is quite nice, but the chord of the wing is too broad. This is the major weakness of the kit in terms of accuracy. Finishing details include the detachable main gear, the wing mounted pitot tube and the FuG radio aerial. The take off gear is as basic as the rest of the kit, but will do the job. The canopy is pretty thick, which is just as well given the sparse nature of the cockpit. A generous choice of four options is included on the decal sheet, although none of the aircraft are identified by pilot or unit. Wolfgang Sp├Ątes bright red aircraft is one of the choices, but Im not an expert on the type and couldnt tell you what the other options represent. The decals are very nicely printed and look thin and glossy. Conclusion I was quite surprised at the paucity of options for Komets in this scale, and in some ways that makes this kit a little more likeable. It isnt particularly accurate and it is quite crude by modern standards, but the treatment of surface details is pretty good and it shouldnt take too long to put together. Review sample courtesy of UK distributors for
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