Me 163B 440165

Mano Ziegler's book 'Raketenjäger Me 163 / Rocket Fighter' contains a dramatic description of the misfortune of JG400 on 7 October 1944. No less then four Komets were lost, killing two pilots and injuring another. The injured pilot was Fritz (Friedrich Peter) Husser, flying Komet 440165.

According to Ziegler, five Komets stood on alert on the runway end, fully tanked. Then the wind suddenly changed direction, but there was no time to move the Komets to the other runway end. Eisenmann and Husser started with tailwind, to intercept a large bomber formation. Three Komets were left waiting on the (wrong) runway end, ready to be launched, with Glogner, Strasnicki and Rolly waiting in the cockpits. Some time later, Eisenmann and Husser returned from a fruitless intercept. Wisely they chose to land with headwind, on the grass next to the runway as usual. The three Komets were still parked on the runway, and their crews observed the Komet coming in from the other end.

Husser was much lower than Eisenmann, probably too low to make another circuit, but too high for a proper landing. He pushed his Komet on the grass, bounced up at high speed, and touched down again close to the end of the runway, near the three parked Komets. Of course he had way too much speed, and ran off the airfield, into farmland, and then into low bushes. His Komet flipped over, but did not explode. Husser was trapped in the cockpit but rescued quickly. He suffered a dislocated arm, a broken nose, and his head was bleeding profusely. The Komet was 75% damaged. The account of Eisenmann's landing and subsequent death can be found on the Komet 440013 page.

The photo below shows the wreckage of Husser's Komet. It should be noted that no Werknummer is visible, so we have to rely on the book's caption that this really is 440165. The photo shows a Komet on its back, with the vertical tail broken, which largely agrees with an overturning Komet, slamming down on its tail. Otherwise the damage appears to be quite limited. The aircraft's direction is strange however. If it flipped over in a straight line, it was coming from the far end, over the elevated road (or railroad track?) in the background.

This Komet with Werknummer 440165 is one from the second batch built by Klemm. It is roughly the 95th Komet built. The wreckage shows quite a few interesting details. The trim flaps are turned a few degrees up, just as the manual says for a landing. Also, the trim flaps are of the large span type, as opposed to the smaller span trim flaps of the Komets from the first Messerschmitt production block. The right landing flap is shown in its down position. I can't see the left landing flap. Interesting is the original type of air scoop on the rear fuselage, as seen for example on 'White 05'. The wreckage shows no signs of an explosion. Most likely Husser had exhausted all his fuel before landing, or dumped the few remaining liters before landing.

Possibly more photos of WNr 440165 exist: take a look at this photo on the camouflages page and decide for yourself what you read in the WNr on the tail. It is also shown in Ransom & Cammann's Me 163 Volume One on page 159 in a slightly different quality. Originally my best guess was 440166, but the longer I stare the more possible numbers I see..

Like Eisenmann's WNr 440013, this Komet has a mottled fuselage. T-Stoff and C-Stoff markings on the lower fuselage, and an underwing iron cross are the only markings to be seen on the aircraft. Sister aircraft 440014 is shown in Ransom & Cammann's Me 163 Volume One on page 191, and it too has a very similar camouflage.

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