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Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

German fighters packed a wallop

  • An Mk 108 autocannon from the Messerschmitt ME 163 Komet, next to a smaller American .50 caliber aircraft gun.

    Photo by Cory Graff

    An Mk 108 autocannon from the Messerschmitt ME 163 Komet, next to a smaller American .50 caliber aircraft gun.

When you are hunting big game, you need a big gun. The Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet carried two Mk 108 autocannons. Each weapon fired 650 rounds a minute and each explosive round was over one inch in diameter. That's a lot of punching power. The American .50-caliber aircraft gun seen next to the Mk 108 in the photo is decidedly smaller and lighter.
Making a quick and brutal attack was the only way for a Komet to succeed. Rocketing along (literally) at over 500 miles per hour, the Me 163 had about 8 minutes of fuel to climb, move into position, and make a pass or two at an Allied bomber formation before gliding for home. In those rare moments — split seconds, really — where the hunter and prey are converging at almost 700 miles per hour, a peashooter isn't going to cut it. You need a knockout blow.
Story tags » General Aviation

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