Me-163B Komet was not only the first rocket powered fighter aircraft, but also the first rocket propelled fighter that deployed in combat units and saw action in the world. It came as a solution for a fast climbing fighter that could be deployed near strategic targets in order to defend them from the allied bomber swarms that flew over Germany.
Me-163 origins began in 1937 by DFS Company. DFS-39 was a Lippisch Delta IV glide plane that first tests took place. Work followed by DFS-194 and tests were conducted with a propeller engine although it was planned that aircraft would be propelled by a rocket engine.
In 1939 Messerschmitt joined the project and by 1940 the first air-frame was sent to military aviation test facilities at Peenemünde.
By 1941 the first prototype of the aircraft was build given its designation name Me-163A. In 2 October 1941 Me 163A set a new world speed record reaching 1004.5 Km/h smashing the 1000 Km/h barrier.
December 1941 marked the appearance of the production version of the Komet, Me-163B. A couple of pre-production prototypes were build followed by 30 Me-163B-0 and about 400 Me-163B-1a. B version incorporated all the necessary changes and simplifications that had to be made in order of mass production including armament. Me-163B-0 were armed by a pair of MG 151/20mm cannons but this changed to the more powerful pair of MK-108 30mm cannons in the Me-163 B-1a version.
As an aircraft, Komet looked very promising and had a number of features to support that. It had an outstanding climbing rate of 4800 m/minute, making it possible reaching bomber operating altitude in just 3 minutes. Speed was well over 300 km/h of any allied fighter making it impossible to pursue it . Compact size, light weight construction and large wings for its size, gave it excellent maneuverability characteristics.