Me 163B 191904 (Colerne, St Athan, Oldenburg, Berlin)

Concise history from Phil Butler's "War Prizes":

AM 219 Messerschmitt Me 163B WNr 191904

Coded '25' of JG400. Surrendered at Husum and shipped to the RAE. Despatched from Farnborough to No.6 MU, Brize Norton on 8th August 1945. Recorded at No.6 MU in the Census of 21st March 1946. It was transferred from No.6 MU on an unknown date and eventually ended up in the Station Museum at Colerne being one of the earlier exhibits there. When Colerne closed it 1975 the aircraft went to RAF St Athan where it was put on display in the Station Museum. The aircraft received the ground maintenance serial number 8480M after arrival at St Athan. On 5th May 1988, the aircraft was handed back to the Luftwaffe to use as on exhibit in the Luftwaffe Museum at Oldenburg.

Husum 1945

Reported to be captured on 8 May 1945 by British forces. Original markings reported to be 'Yellow 25'

Colerne ~1949 - 1975

RAF Colerne housed one of the main RAF engineering units. Colerne was also the store for some twenty aircraft of the Air Historical Branch. The collection was reportedly started in 1964, but the Me 163 and He 162 arrived much earlier. The book 'Wrecks & Relics - Lost Aviation Collections of Britain' from 2011 reports that the Komet arrived at Colerne circa 1949. John Phillips first logged it at a 'Battle of Britain' day in September 1956. 'Mark12' saw it on his first visit to RAF Colerne, again at a 'Battle of Britain' day in September 1959. It was also noted on 16 September 1965, on display outdoors next to a Javelin. Another show was likely held on 4 July 1970, with the Komet on display.

By 1970 the collection held at least sixteen aircraft: Anson, Canberra, Hunter Mk2 and Mk3, Javelin, Meteor Mk4 and Mk8, Mosquito, Sea Fury, Valetta, Vampire Mk3 and T11, P1052, Supermarine 510 (prototype), Heinkel He 162 and Messerschmitt Me 163. The aircraft could be viewed by the public on a monthly Sunday afternoon, or by groups on request. The aircraft were displayed in the open air during the bi-annual 'Bristol RAFA' air display. The Colerne 'museum' was closed in 1975, and the airbase was later turned over to the Army.

The Colerne museum showed some of its exhibits at RAF Open Days, as a traveling exhibit. The following places and dates are known for the Komet:

The Komet shows a low-contrast two-color upper camouflage, appearing to be dark green and brown. Markings during the exhibition tour were 'Yellow 25' and lettering 'MESSERSCHMITT Me 163 'KOMET' ' on left side of the nose only. It appears that at some moment the lettering 'ME 163 KOMET' was removed and a yellow nose ring was added. In 1971 it had no yellow ring around the nose, but it did have a grass green patch on the forward right wing root. The Werknummer was either absent, in black or in white over the life of the aircraft.

The picture shown below was most likely taken at Colerne. It was sent by Bert Hartmann, but the source is unknown.

The photo below, found by John Buckley in an old Scale Models magazine, shows the Komet on display at an air show, alongside Javelin XA634. The Komet now has a yellow nose band. Note that the dating of this photo is unknown. Javelin XA634 was reported at Colerne in 1968, 1969 and 1972.

Another photo taken at an undetermined location shows again different painting details: the swastika has no white outline, and the camouflage demarcation on the nose is soft instead of hard.

Finningly 1976

It was previously assumed that the Komet went directly from Colerne to St Athan. But according to 'Wrecks & Relics No.5' from April 1976, it first went to Finningly, arriving by road. This does not agree with other sightings of this Komet though.

St Athan 1977 - 1988

RAF St Athan houses (housed ?) a large maintenance facility of the Royal Air Force. It opened in 1938 with the 4th School of Technical Training (4 SoTT) taking up residence. It the seventies 19MU, 32 MU and 4 SoTT were based here. A number of museum aircraft were stored there too (among others from the RAF Museum), taken care of by 4 SoTT. Many foreign machines were among the collection, such as CR 42, Ki 46-III, He 111, FW 190T, Ju 87, Bf 109E, Bf 110G, Ju 88R, Fi 156C and a V-1. The collection was open for the public one or two times per month. This lasted until 1979, after which it was only open to the public on open houses. Two known open houses where the Komet was reported present are 20 September 1975 and 10 September 1984. However, 'Wrecks & Relics No.6' from April 1978 reports that the Komet was first noted at St Athan at the 1977 'Battle of Britain Day'. Further details of this Komet's stay at St. Athan are largely lacking at the moment.

Grant Newman of the Museum of Flight at East Fortune found the following picture in the Museum's archives. It was part of a series of photographs taken at St. Athan, so it can be assumed this picture was taken there too. The photo is dated August 1975. The Komet's appearance is largely identical to that at Colerne.

Andrew Walker, who maintains his own Me 163 Home Page, kindly supplied the following photos he took at St. Athan in August 1983. They show quite a lot of differences with the previous photos: the tail is painted light grey with mottles, the lower front fuselage is mottled, and the code '25' changed from yellow to white.

Hugh Rees provided a photo (on the left) that his late father Anthony Rees during a family visit to the St Athan air tattoo in september 1978. The photo on the right was found in a book, and appears to have been taken at the same occassion, note the similarities of the hangar and the shadows.

Graham Davies photographed the St Athan Komet around 1980. Judging from the position of the Komet with respect to the hangar, the photo was taken on a different occasion compared to the photos above.

A restoration was undertaken at St. Athan before it was transferred to the Luftwaffe.

Oldenburg 1988 - ?

Handed over to the Luftwaffe on 5 May 1988. The following two pictures were kindly supplied by George Lucas, builder of the 'Planes of Fame' Komet replica. They show the Komet in the condition it arrived from the UK. The cockpit is missing quite a few parts.

It was displayed in the 'tradition room' of the Oldenburg Luftwaffe Alpha Jet Geschwader, JBG43. Before or during this display, it was further restored. Many cockpit instruments were donated by a German woman, whose late husband had gathered, probably just after the war. Most of the equipment and parts of the engine are replaced. The engine parts were manufactured by the machine shop owned by Reinhold Opitz (who also is the contact person of the Traditionsverband JG400). The completely restored engine was shown at the 1992 JG400 reunion. George Lucas also supplied the following pictures, showing the fully restored cockpit.

When JBG43 was disbanded in 1992 (to be checked!), it appears that a small museum was created, named 'Luftfahrtgeschichtliches Zentrum' that probably also displayed other aircraft formerly used on the base (monuments, gate gaurds, battle damage repair trainers, decoys). The museum probably didn't survive for long.

'Luftwaffenmuseum' Berlin-Gatow 1997 - current

The German Luftwaffe moved its official Luftwaffenmuseum from Appen to a new location at the former RAF airfield Berlin-Gatow in 1997 (or possibly earlier). The airfield is now de-activated, partly because government officials housing was built on the runway end. Part of the collection is shown indoors (Me 163B, MiG 21, F-104G, Bf 109, Alpha Jet and a WW1 replica), and the rest is parked on the de-activated runway and taxiways. These include almost all aircraft used by the former West German Air Force (Bundesluftwaffe) and East German Air Force (NVA/LSK). For a complete overview see Das Virtuelle Luftfahrtmuseum

191904 was first reported at the Berlin-Gatow museum in September 1997, but it could have arrived before that. It was initially displayed in a bare room lacking any atmosphere. Later a Walter HWK109-509 engine and unit badges were added. The Komet looks to be in a very good condition. Curiously, this Komet has a swastika painted on the tail, something rarely seen in Germany, where very strict laws forbid Nazi symbols almost erverywhere. The WWII aircraft in the Deutsches Museum, including their Komet, lack swastikas.

The following pictures were made by Ingemar Melin from Sweden. They were made in September 1998:

The photographs below were made by Grant Newman of the Museum of Flight at East Fortune. The left picture was taken in September 1997, whereas the other two were taken in December 1998 when the engine and other things had been added to the display.

The photographs below were kindly supplied by Lars Nötzold, who lives near Brandis in Germany, but currently studies in the USA. The pictures were made in October 1999.

Christoph Westhaus wrote in July 2000 that the museum is enlarging the display with a large diorama that shows Arado 234 operations. It is planned that extensive documentation will inform the visitor of both Me 163 and Ar 234. Planned opening is September 2000. The photos shown below were made in June 2000.

Jürgen Peter Esders visited the Gatow musuem in late summer 2000 and kindly supplied the following photo set.

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