The rocket-powered Messerschmitt Me-163 was the world's first and only operational pure rocket fighter and represented the culmination of Alexander Lippisch's years of research in rocketplanes, tail-less aircraft, and delta wings. As a weapon, the Me-163 had tremendous speed but very limited range. However the concepts developed by Lippisch contributed to the Space Shuttle and Buran orbiters of a quarter century later.
The Me-163 had the following characteristics:
Powerplant: one 1,700 kgf thrust Walter 109-509A-2 rocket motor
Max. Speed: 960 km/hr; cruise 800 km/hr; landing speed 80 m/s
Range: 80 km during a 7.5 minute flight time. 12 km altitude reached in 3.3 minutes
Dimensions: span 9.33 m; length 5.70 m
Takeoff mass: 3995 kg loaded with 2 x Mk 118 x 60 rockets
Payload: 250 kg. to a: 12 km trajectory. Liftoff Thrust: 1,700 kgf. Total Mass: 3,955 kg. Core Diameter: 2.8 m. Total Length: 5.9 m.
Friedrich Stamer made first manned rocket-powered flight in a tailless glider from the Wasserkuppe in the Rhön Mountains of Germany. Takeoff was made by elastic launching rope assisted by 44-pound thrust rocket, another rocket was fired while airborne, and a flight of about 1 mile was achieved. This flight was a part of experimentation directed by A. Lippisch.
Messerschmitt Me-163A powered by "cold" H. Walther rocket successfully flown at Augsburg, Germany, development of which had begun in 1937, but "cold" engine proved unreliable. Flights were also made in October which reached speeds of 1,003 km/hr, or Mach 0.85.
Messerschmitt Me-163B rocket interceptor powered by Walther "hot" engine successfully flown at Bremen, Augsburg, and near Leipzig, Germany. Over 300 Me-163B's were produced by Junkers by the end of 1944.
German Me-163B Komet rocket-powered fighters first attacked American bomber formations over Europe. The Me-163 had sweptback wings, Walther liquid-fuel rocket motor, speed of 590 mph, and powered flight duration of 8-10 minutes.