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Messerschmitt Bf 163: Wikis


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Bf 163
Role STOL reconnaissance and observation aircraft
Manufacturer Messerschmitt
First flight February 1938
Primary user Luftwaffe
Number built 1

The Messerschmitt Bf 163 was an aircraft built by Messerschmitt before World War II. Only one prototype was ever completed and flown.

During the autumn of 1935, the considerable potentiality of the Fieseler Fi 156 project for the tasks of short range reconnaissance and aerial observation had prompted the RLM to draw up a requirement for an army co-operation and observation aircraft using the performance parameters anticipated for the Fi 156. The requirement stipulated the use of the Argus As 10 or the Hirth HM 508 engine, and placed emphasis on short field performance, maximum possible all-round view for the two crew members, and a wide range of speed. It was intended that the resultant aircraft would be evaluated in competition with the Fi 156.

The Bf 163 followed closely the formula established by the Fi 156 in being a high-wing braced monoplane with a metal structure, automatic leading edge wing slots, double slotted flaps, and an exceptionally tall undercarriage. The aircraft's most interesting feature was the provision for varying the incidence of the entire wing which swivelled on its mainspar, the bracing struts being attached to the fuselage by ball joints and changing their angle with movement of the wing. First flown on 19, February 1938 and powered by the Argus As 10C, the Bf 163 V1 proved to have similar performance characteristics to those of the Fi 156 but was more complex and expensive than the Fi 156. Although some components for a second prototype were manufactured, the Bf 163 V2 was not completed and further work on the Bf 163 was terminated in favor of the Fieseler Fi 156.

In a very rare decision, the RLM later reused the designation number 8-163, which was only done a handful of times in the Nazi era. Even more confusingly, the new aircraft was also a Messerschmitt design, the Me 163 Komet rocket-propelled interceptor. The two aircraft names are distinguished by the abbreviation: the earlier Bf 163, and the later Me 163. The new "Me" prefix was adopted for all newer designs of Messerschmitt aircraft, after the company's official name of Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (BFW) was changed to Messerschmitt AG in July of 1938, when Willy Messerschmitt acquired the BFW firm for himself.

Specifications (Bf 163 V1)

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 9.75 m (31 ft 11¾ in)
  • Wingspan: 13.58 m (44 ft 6⅔ in)
  • Height: (N/A)
  • Wing area: 22.80 m² (245.41 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 995 kg (2,193 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 1,310 kg (2,888 lb)
  • Powerplant:Argus As 10C 8-cylinder inverted-vee air cooled engine, 179 kW (240 hp)



  • Green, William Warplanes of the Third Reich. Galahad Books, 1986.

See also

Comparable aircraft

Related lists



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