Revell 1/48 Me 163B Komet


Although the vast majority of my aircraft models are in 1/72 scale, I couldn't resist the Me 163B in 1/48 scale. I thought it would make a great desk model, flying on a column of rocket smoke. And so another project was started! It would be my first model with displaced control surfaces too.



Model quality and accuracy

See the short reports on the Trimaster, Dragon and Revell issues on my Komet website. I planned to correct the nose cone fit problem, the gun bay hatch edges, and the thick trailing edge of the wing roots.



Construction

The wings of model Komets are often difficult to build correctly: the problem is their strong twist, of some seven degrees between root and tip. The twist makes it difficult to judge the dihedral of the wing. It has zero degrees dihedral measured at the main spar, but it's easy to install them at a different angle, because the leading edge appears to have a little anhedral (negative dihedral), and the trailing edge a strong dihedral.

I tried a technique to combat this problem, but it isn't perfect. If you attach the upper wing halves to the upper fuselage, you will have several flat surfaces that can be used to align things properly, and that's what I did. The problem with this approach is that the upper fuselage is quite flexible, so one can still create dihedral if the lower fuselage is a little too wide, for example. Anyway, I attached the upper wings to the upper fuselage, taking extra care to avoid steps that would require sanding. The small seams were filled with a little Milliput (white in the photo).
Because I wanted to maintain a rigid wing while removing the control surfaces, I created a 'rear spar' before closing the wings. This was done by laying down a 'sausage' of Milliput near the trailing edge and squashing that with the lower wing surfaces, wetted to avoid sticking. After hardening of the Milliput the the lower wings were attached, with epoxy glue for the Milliput areas. This construction method avoided floppy wings during the subsequent cutting.
I wanted to try displaced control surfaces on this model. The elevons were easy to removed, since there is a gap between them and the wing. Only the inboard edge required sawing with a JLC razor saw. The trim flaps had to be cut out all the way with the JLC razor saw. Since I wanted to depict an early Komet with short-span trim flaps, I made the inboard cut some 8 mm further outboard. The remaining panel lines and fabric effect were filled.

All gaps were filled with Milliput and sanded flush. In the photo the left trim flap has been reattached, using a small strip of plastic to create a small leading edge radius. The trim flap is turned down as was common in high-speed flight. The panel line on the main spar was filled with super glue, since there is no joint there on the real aircraft.
The elevons were made movable. First I drilled a hole on the inboard attachment point, and a piece of wire was inserted and fixed with superglue. A corresponding hole was drilled in the elevon itself, assuring that an 0.4 mm gap would remain between the wing's trailing edge and the elevons (this measurement was taken from a Messerschmitt drawing). Next I cut out the hinge slot in the elevon, and also cut a corresponding slot in the wing. A laminated piece of plastic card strip was glued in the slot, and cut to size. It was easier than expected.
This photo shows the 0.4 mm slot between the wing's trailing edge and the elevons. During construction I checked it with a suitable piece of plastic card.
Trimaster added a strange raised strip around most of the lower gun bay panel. The real thing doesn't have it, so it had to go. To avoid losing the fastener detail, I first drilled out all fasteners with an 0.3 mm drill. The raised strip was then removed by scraping with a small scalpel, followed by a light sanding. The panel is still slightly raised, as museum photos show.
My strange building sequence had an unexpected advantage when I first tried to fit the lower fuselage. I turned out the wing root was thinner than the wing itself. To make the wing root thicker, I made numerous sawcuts in the edge of the lower fuselage part, so it could be curved a bit more. Next I glued thin plastic card strips on the upper fuselage, until the wing root was thick enough to match the wing. The fuselage now required some force to be closed, but nothing that the glue can't handle.
The leading edge under the leading edge slot required a bit of filler. Maybe my alignment of the wing halves was not perfect.
I found the slats (B5 and B6) very tricky to install, and spent a lot of time aligning them correctly and evenly. After installing the slats, I did not like the appearance of the leading edge: the slat's lower edge sat too high. Therefore I took a piece of 1 mm rod, flattened it on one side, and glued it to the lower side of the slat's leading edge. A lot of sanding later it looked nice.
In front view the modification is clearly visible. I think it matches photos of real Komets a lot better now. Unfortunately I had to sacrifice the pitot tube mounting point, but I prefered having a well-installed slat.
A round of painting and sanding followed, to eliminate small build defects. The next layer of paint showed a wing that was getting close to being smooth. The modified slots looked good too.
A problem that most built Trimaster / Dragon / Revell models show is that the nosecone does not fit properly on the fuselage. The fit is good in side view, but in top view it is pinched at the joint. I attacked the problem by gluing 0.5 mm plastic strip to rear edge of the nose cone, and then sanding the strips to a fine taper near the top and bottom. Next I applied Apoxie to build up the nose cone, in effect making it slightly oval. I then switched to Tamiya putty and then paint to fine-tune the shape modification.
The model comes with a pilot climbing the boarding ladder, but I want a pilot in the cockpit. I could not find an alternative resin figure that had a leather cap and goggles, so I decided to convert the standing figure to a sitting one. Since I wanted to pose the model in a left turning climb, I had the figure look that direction. Shown here is the first results after one night of work. Still lots to do.

Only later, while watching a Komet video of Rudy Opitz strapping in, I saw I forgot something important: the parachute and the parachute harnass. Back to the drawing board!


Colors and markings

Although I love the mottle camouflage of the Komet, I want to paint this one as a 'Versuchs' Komet, as flown early 1944. And of course I picked my favorite Komet, V45, that was first flown as PK+QP and later as 'White 05'. However, the exact color of these early Komets is not documented. It's a choice between RLM 02, 65 and 76. I decided to use RLM 76. RLM 02 looks much warmer and darker in black & white photos. Alps/OKI decals are planned for the few markings



Modeling links

Some other Revell Komets:





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