Me 163 Ejection

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by johnbr, Nov 9, 2011.

  1. johnbr

    johnbr Well-Known Member

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    Found this on the net I have no info on it.
     

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  2. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    aaaah, one of my favourite aircraft, purely because of its exoticism. This series of images shows Lt Fritz Kelb of I/JG400 bailing out after his '163 caught fire after take off on 9 September 1944 at Brandis. Apparently Kelb was to do a demonstration of the type to a Japanese delegation at the airfield. There are also pictures from this series that show the
    '163 with smoke pouring out of the underside just after leaving the ground. A film crew was also present to capture the event. Kelb survived.
     
  3. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    Oh yeah, the Me 163 didn't have an ejection seat.

    163 seat.jpg

    If ever there was an aircraft designed with the intention of killing its pilot, the '163 was it!:twisted:
     
  4. Siegfried

    Siegfried Banned

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    #4 Siegfried, Nov 9, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2011
    The Me 163 had a droque to slow the aircraft down to the point that the pilot could egress. However it was standard German practice to fit an ejection seat to test aircraft so the Me 163 'may' have had an ejection seat during test; the seats were considered to heavy for opperational aircraft some He 219, the Do 335, some He 177 and the He 162 aside, the He 162 had a lightweight pryrothechnic ejection seat rather than the heavier compressed air type.

    The Me 163 dangers are somewhat exaggerated, Rudy Opitz, one of the test pilots recounts how the pilot could survive and over turned aircraft without a fuel/oxidiser spill.

    The main problem with the Me 163B was the skid like landing gear which just couldn't handle the sink rates required and often injured the back of the pilot.

    The future variants, the follow on and actually built Me 263/Ju 248 therefore had a conventional undercarriage, a more efficient rocket motor and considerably more fuel.

    The Me 163 had been conceived of as a recon interceptor and was short about 3 mintues extra endurance to form up and attack on a bomber formation. the Me 263 was intended to provide this.
     
  5. vanir

    vanir Banned

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    I wouldn't say the dangers were exaggerated. If the fuels even leaked fumes into the cabin, it was so corrosive that it melted flesh. This happened to a pilot, on record. The ground crew found him literally melted to death in the seat, his organs and parts of his flesh just spilling around the place.
    I'd say there's no possible way to overstate the horrific nature of a death like that. If there was less chance of mishap than the plane beside it, the plane beside is still far less inherently lethal.

    And anyway, using those fuels in that design is unairworthy by law. Not to say nations don't ignore that in wartime, the Spit MkIX was initially unairworthy (the Ministry says if it wasn't wartime they'd never have cleared the two-stage Merlin in the MkV airframe, they would've forced them to wait for the MkVIII airframe).
     
  6. Ratsel

    Ratsel Banned

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    Maybe its my eyes, but arn't those RAF roundels on the wings?
     
  7. vanir

    vanir Banned

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    lol no the white balkankreuz.
     
  8. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    I always thought the melting pilot thing was an urban myth. I am no chemist so I dont know how Hydrogen Peroxide works at the concentrations they used but surely to melt a human body in such a short time is impossible even concentrated acids take hours if not days to dissolve a body. I once used Peroxide (40% concentration iirc) and the main hazard we were warned about was eye protection and to avoid contact with skin. There was no mention of the dangers of dissolving into a puddle of human soup.

    Never come across Hydrazine Hydrate but the safety data on google says it is a carcinogen not a corrosive.

    Is there anyone on this site who is a chemist and could tell me what would happen if the 163 fuels got onto the pilot.
     
  9. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    #9 nuuumannn, Nov 9, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2011
    Hi Siegfried,

    Really? I've never heard of Me 163s being fitted with ejection seats of any kind at all. I haven't found anything that refers to a drogue either and I've examined one of these aircraft (Nr 191659) in considerable detail. If this is the case, from where did the drogue deploy on the aircraft?

    At the time this footage was made, Fritz Kelb was a member of I/JG400 on active duty at Brandis. His aircraft was a production Me 163B-1a.

    I'm also with Vanir on the exaggerated dangers. Beside the seat in the image I submitted are the two peroxide tanks. These were made of ceramic and were coated with a fireproof coating. In heavy landings or severe jolts the aircraft received they cracked, spilling their contents onto the hapless pilot, which would then cause him to burn. In Mano Siegler's book Rocket fighter, he speaks of the understanding that becoming a member of the unit (JG400) was by choice and many pilots dropped out because they found the expectation that they might not return from a flight too much for them. This is a great book and well worth a read.
     
  10. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    #10 nuuumannn, Nov 9, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2011
    Hi Fast Mongrel,

    I'm not a chemist either, but I am aware that the HTP (T-Stoff to the Germans or High Test Peroxide) mixture was corrosive; it had the tendency to combust when exposed to certain metals or organic materials. This explains why it was kept in ceramic tanks. You are probably right about humans decombusting, but the risk of fire in the cockpit was extremely high if it leaked. Nevertheless, there are recorded instances of pilots landing safely and surviving with T-Stoff vapour entering the cockpit.

    Despite the inherent dangers, however, the British developed a generation of rocket motors using HTP as an oxidiser. Perhaps the best known instance of the dangers of HTP is the Kursk submarine disaster. One theory is that the Russian torpedoes used HTP and one of these leaked, which caused a fire in the forward torpedo room. This happened to a British sub in the 50s, HMS Sidon, which was fitted with experimental HTP torpedoes (the Mk.12 'Fancy') and sank with all hands.
     
  11. Ratsel

    Ratsel Banned

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    hmmmm :/ LOL!
     
  12. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Well I was a chemist and suspect that the 'human soup' story may be a bit embellished. Both chemicals are corrossive,hence the protective PVC suits worn by the pilots. You may see the material of the suits called 'Mipolan' which is a trade name. The reaction of T-Stoff (concentrated hydrogen peroxide) with any organic material,basically bursting into flame, even led to the Luftwaffe pilots dispensing with their identifying arm bands.

    The fuel system maybe 'unairworthy' but hydrazine is used in the maneuvering thrusters of spacecraft and also powered the space shuttle's auxiliary power units,amongst many other uses.

    Cheers
    Steve
     
  13. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    Very interesting, thanks for explaining that Steve
     
  14. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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  15. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    That's a good link Milosh. I noticed this quote.

    RO: pilots, me included, survived overturned Komets, and an overturned ship would not necessarily leak fuel into the cockpit. When fuel contacted organic material, including skin, it ignited after only a few seconds. Our protective nylon suits would not ignite but were porous, and fuel could sop through to the skin.

    Which sounds about right. Hydrazine will cause dermatitis and Hydrogen Peroxide will burn like a bleach. Neither will turn you to jelly anytime soon!
    The suit was PVC which has been around since the 19th century, not nylon which was a new material in the 1930s. I have read elsewhere that the suits were not really porous but leaked through the seams. That's splitting hairs though.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  16. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    I interviewed Rudi O by phone and letter several times before his passing. no ejection seats and the death of the pilots through enemy action or just plain sad landings was terrible if any fuels were still intact within the death trap Komet. Lets just say it seems probable the poor chaps died as a result of more than just a few burns.
     
  17. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    My understanding of the suits the pilots wore were to protect them in case of fire as much as the HTP itself. I have to dig out Mano Ziegler's book again, which gives a good description of operations with the lethal fuel mix, although from what I vaguely remember they weren't very effective at either job.
     
  18. johnbr

    johnbr Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for all the good info.
     
  19. Siegfried

    Siegfried Banned

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    #19 Siegfried, Nov 9, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2011
    It's common to use 27% hydrogen peroxide as a pool chemical you can pick up and transport in your car and around 33% as a very widely used cleaning and disinfecting agent that is used in the food industry; the nice thing about H2O2 is safe to injest in low doses (yes it can cure stomach ulcers caused by heliocobacteria) and of course doesn't leave nasty chlorine based residues that could cause cancer. Solutions of 3% to 6% are domestic grade and if diluted used in hair bleaching, cleaning, oral hygene etc. No longer used as a topical disinfectant due to damage it does to skin/flesh but better than nothing. To my knowledge the Me 163 used rubber lined tanks, as did the Walther u-boats and planed for Torpedoes. H2O2 is stable if pure though the germans added stabalising chemicals as achieving modern levels of purity at mass production levels was difficult. It can catalytically decompose in contact with certain materials: brass is one incompatible material and it was this that caused the explosion of an experimental British torpedo; they had left a few brass fittings in the torpedo. Pay attention to material compatibillity! Stainless only! The Swedes used peroxide on their torpedos and RB05 missiles without mishap for nearly 50 years.

    These hypergolic chemicals are probably safer than non self igniting ones which can build up and cause and explosion as well.

    BMW 003R jet engine had a clutch driven pump to feed a small rocket motor that effectively doubled thrust as sea level and trebbled at 11000m. The propellant was normal fuel with the oxidiser being nitric acid. Climb rates were a Mirage III beating 1.5-2 minutues to 11,000m for Me 262 and He 162. The acid was extremely dense (so easyier to store safely) and did not require much space. This is the kind of climb rates the Luftwaffe needed to get an intercept and cut through enemy fighters to get to the bombers.

    Certainly Me 163B propellants weren't friendly but with precautions, clothing and oxygen mask it was usable.

    It would make sense to have an He 162 style ejection seat on the Me 163, it was certainly small enough. However I don't know if the seat was ready by the time the Me 163 was in opperation, possibly only the compressed air types being in use.
     
  20. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    Siegfried, that's really interesting! Quite a useful chemical, not to forget a little blonde highlight to your flowing locks!

    You are probably aware that the Brits also utilised the Walther closed cycle motor to power two of their submarines based on captured technology they acquired from Hamburg at the end of the war. Also a U-boat they called the Meteorite. These subs were called HMS Explorer and Excalibur, or nick named Exploder and Excruciator! The perhydrol was contained in plastic lined tanks with open tops to prevent gas build up and spontaneous combustion. They also could be flooded in case of any emergency since water neutralises the HTP.

    Regarding the ejection seats; I'm surprised the Germans didn't fit them due to the nature of the thing. As you said, it would have made sense and perhaps lives would have been saved.

    The thing that surprised me on examination of the '163 close up was just how contemporary it was in execution, with the exception of its powerplant and unconventional fuel. Wooden wings and fabric covered control surfaces for an aircraft that could reach 600 mph.
     
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