Academy 1/72 Messershmitt 163 Comet – Steve Nelson

A quick bit of history from Wikipedia, for those not acquainted with this little Luftwaffe hotrod:

The Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet, designed by Alexander Martin Lippisch, was a German rocket-powered fighter aircraft. It is the only rocket-powered fighter aircraft ever to have been operational. Its design was revolutionary, and the Me 163 was capable of performance unrivaled at the time. Messerschmitt test pilot Rudy Opitz in 1944 reached 1,123 km/h (698 mph). Over 300 aircraft were built, however the Komet proved ineffective as a fighter, having been responsible for the destruction of only about nine Allied aircraft (16 air victories for 10 losses, according to other sources).

This is the Academy 1/72 kit, which is a real jewel.  The fit was nearly flawaless, with petite scribed panel lines.  The only additions I made were tape seatbelts in the cockpit, the “porthole” bulkheads inside the rear windows, and a wire antenna and pitot tube.  The kit also comes with the Scheuch-Schlepper towing vehcile, and the option to build the two-seat training glider.

To recap a bit of my “in progress” article, the paint scheme is reasonably authentic, but I used a bit of guesswork.  No two references seemed to agree on the camouflage pattern, and photos show that no two Komets were painted alike anyway, so I just went with a generic “splinter” scheme on the wings, and heavy mottling on the fuselage and tail.

For the colors, I used Gunze Sanyo Acrylics..my favorite paint for airbrushing for the past 25 years.  For some reason they’ve stopped importing it into the U.S., but you can still get it from overseas online vendors.  Fortunately I’ve built up quite a stash of the stuff over the years.  I used their RLM 76 Lichtblau and RLM 83 Dunkelgrun straight from the bottle, but I didn’t like their take on RLM 81 Braunviolet (it was much too green to my eye) so I mixed my own; a two-to-one mix of Olive Drab and Chocolate Brown.

I used the kit decals, despite the poor reputation of Academy decals (and my own disastrous experience with them.)  There really wasn’t any alternative for the unit markings and stencils anyway.  Fortunately the kit decals went on surprisingly well, with a bit of Mr. Mark Softer (suggested by Larry C.) and some Solvaset for the tougher spots.  I did have to carefully run an X-acto along the panel lines under the larger decals to get them to conform.  As is common, the kit didn’t come with swastikas for the tail; those were sourced from an old Superscale sheet.

Once the decals were on, I used a wash of artist’s oils to highlight the control surface hinge lines (Payne’s Gray on the underside, and a mix of Pthalo Blue and Burnt Umber on the upper surfaces.)  I may do a little weathering by adding a few paint chips around the fuselage access panels with a silver Prismacolor pencil.

I didn’t bother with the transporter vehicle, since the model was build for a contest at the Grand Rapids club in which the model has to fit on a three-inch base.  A quick word about said base; it’s a cheap wooden one picked up at Michael’s or Hobby Lobby.  I gave it a light sanding and spray-painted it flat black, then painted the top green.  I then liberally slathered the green area with a 50/50 mix of white glue and water, and sprinkled on a couple different colors of turf from Woodland Scenics.

All in all, this was a fun little project. I can highly recommend the kit to modelers of all skill levels.

 

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