How much glass does it take to stop a speeding .50-caliber bullet? Judging from the Messerschmitt Me 163 B Komet, I’d say a little more than three inches — eighty millimeters to be exact. The Komet was built as a bomber destroyer. And plunging into formations of American B-17s and B-24s meant having a whole arsenal of Browning machine guns pointed right at you. As a German pilot worked to quickly do his job, feisty bomber crews showed their displeasure by peppering the skies around a Komet with a storm of hot lead. And that’s why, under that thin plastic canopy, every Komet carried a heavy blast shield that was thicker than a bank teller’s window.
Wednesday, October 4, 2023