Me 163B radio controlled model

Lee Coleman sent this account of his experiences with a radio-controlled Me 163B model. Enjoy!

A few years ago I modeled the Me 163B in 1/6 scale. It flew with a .60 engine with a tuned exhaust and 5 channel radio. It had a detachable dolly at first that jettisoned with a glider towline release. It worked once but was unreliable as one time it didn't release and caused an extreme nose heavy condition that was untrimmable. I bought the Kit from Bob Holman plans service in California. It has a epoxy/glass fuselage, vacuformed canopy, and fiberglass turtledeck. Elite plans are the compliment for the pieces and match perfectly. I flew it 7 times. I socked it 2 times. And retired it after a test flight following its last repair.

It is the finest model I ever built and flew. I used the documentation in the Trimaster kit to replicate every detail of panel line, inspection plate, and control surface. I was going to paint it the 'White 18' in Top Secret Bird. I got as far as the national markings and had to fly it. It is (I forget the RLM numbers) Olive drab and Dunkelgrun on the darker light blue. I painted the national markings on the overall blue plane just as they were shipped to the bases. I then painted the fuselage mottled and wings in smooth camo. I painted around the previously applied markings (except for wings). That was how they did some of them.

Flying it was wild on takeoff as any crosswind had the plane seeking its direction, even with a steerable tailwheel! After it left the ground it did climb strongly at perhaps up to a 60 angle. In flight it exhibited all of the excellent handling of the original design. Effortless, round loops, fantastic roll rate, and it tracked very fast. Some experienced fliers at our club that flew ducted fans said it was going 150mph+. Landing it was hairy. Grey hairy. On approach you could slip it in and drop altitiude fast. It landed best with a strong head wind to slow it. It needed spoilers like the full size one. On a gentle sweeping curving approach the thing would never drop. The glide ratio was fantastic. I never did figure out how far I had to be out on approach to make a spot landing in a no wind condition.

One time I was on approach and I asked my spotter "was that a tree?" and WHOP! I hit the next cedar bush down the line. It didn't hurt the wings much but I had to buy a new canopy and reconstruct the front end. I flew it one more time after the rebuild. It flew perfectly but the detachable canopy flew off and I had to land it with it off. On turning it, it gave off a horriffic aerodynamic drag sound on account of the hollow fuse top being open wide. Thus, it turned in sharply when turning. I was very gentle on the turns then on, getting it down reasonably safely.

Usually, I flew it until it ran out of fuel. A few times, when the engine would cut out suddenly, it was always nose heavy because of the full fuel tank and a fast landing would result. One time it went a quarter of a mile bouncing, skidding and then drifting over a knoll out of sight. We retrived it unscathed.

I lived the Me 163B in 1/6 scale! I then quit with honor.

The sequel

Some time later Lee sent an update:

Yesterday I test flew my Me 163B model that is published on your page. Flaps had been added since I flew it around 5 years ago. Takeoff was a little spooky as it was an untrimmed plane. It only needed a slight bit of right elevon and a huge amount of up elevon (full trim). I had to keep a tiny bit of back pressure on the stick. I had an audience of about 5 people. They were amazed at the speed of the plane. It had a fantastic vertical climb. I mainly turned it around by doing Immelmans and Split-S's. After about 6-7 minutes of flight, I decided to try a landing approach. I lined it up into the wind pretty far out. I throttled back and deployed the new spoilers. It came down like a graceful bird. It sank at a very pleasant rate, much better than without the spoilers as I remember five years ago. It had no ballooning whatsoever in the flare. It skidded along the grass about 15 yards, hit a small bump, then nestled back down and stopped. I even had the engine idling on this landing. The feeling I had after landing it was dreamlike. Everybody at the field congratulated me. I was blessed and elated.

It is a very bizarre sight in flight. It makes conventional planes look outdated, cumbersome. Especially when I flared the plane to nestle in the short grass. My mind flashed for a moment to say "It looks like a bird gliding." A fantastic rigid bird that goes over 100mph. I need to get a radar gun on this plane. I fielded all of the audience's questions while inspecting the plane. The only things we found broken were the prop (tiny nick, as I didn't stop the engine) and the tailwheel mount that must have been weak in the first place. It broke during wiping the plane down. I fixed it today.

I suspect I will fly it a lot more. It really does groove. It is a precision flying machine even at 1/6 scale!

See also Lee's Quality Fiberglass (Bob Sealy) Me 163B Komet

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