Our new bi-monthly series, examining in depth an aspect of aviation technology or tactics. For the first subject we detail the Walter HWK 109-509A rocket motor, as used in the Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet fighter


A period view of the HWK 109 engine’s Brennkammer, or combustion chamber, in the foreground, with the tube holding the fuel pipes.

The infamous Messerschmitt Me 163 rocket fighter was unique as World War Two’s only operational aircraft of its type, but it proved to be far more dangerous to its pilots than it was to the enemy. With remarkable flight handling characteristics, the majority of the risks were related to the engine, as well as the difficult high-speed dead-stick landings.

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