Me 163B 310044/V35/GH+IN

Komet V35/GH+IN was the subject of a piece of Luftwaffe film showing a Komet landing and sliding to a stop. The photos below are stills from this film from various sources, in the correct order. I don't know of any other film or photos showing this particular aircraft.

The stills show a pretty standard early Versuchs Komet. It is painted in a light grey color overall (take your pick from RLM 02, 65 or 76, my best guess is 76), with a faired tail wheel and a rounded air inlet on the rear fuselage. It has many similarities with 310054/V45/PK+QP. Very unique however its the DF loop just in front of the Morane radio antenna; the installation in this position differs from the other two Komets known to be fitted with a DF loop. Of further interest is the alignment of the upper wing cross, which appears to spanwise at about 30% chord. Strangely, the skid and tail wheel appear fully retracted in the photos, contrary to those of 310054/V45/PK+QP. Armament details, such as the type of ammo hatch and gun muzzle are not visible unfortunately.

A puzzling aspect of this aircraft is its rudder: is it painted in a dark color or not? All photos except the middle one strongly suggest it had a dark-painted rudder, but the middle one suggests it's just like the rest of the airframe. I had some interesting discussions about this subject with fellow Komet fan Michael Schulpen. At a time when I only knew of the right three photos, I tried to explain the 'not-painted' scenario with the position of the sun. Note that the pilot uses the rudder amply to keep the Komet level during the later half of the slide, and the sun is in the aircraft's 7 to 8 o'clock position. In the third still, the rudder is deflected to the left, and lit by the sun. In the fifth still the rudder is deflected to the right, creating a darker shadow for itself. The fourth still however shows that the theory is flawed, the rudder is deflected to the left, yet appears dark. With the additional first and second photos, with the rudder in the neutral position, it became more clear that the rudder was painted in a dark color.

I always thought the landing was filmed at Bad Zwischenahn, with the Komet landing parallel to the NE-SW runway, because the background closely matched the hangars and woods shown on the Bad Zwischenahn map. Brandis and Peenemunde don't fit very well. But the position of the sun, almost straight behind the Komet, requires a *very* early morning flight. Alternatively, it was filmed at other bases like Venlo or Lechfeld. To be studied some more!

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