Walter 109-509A rocket engine, c 1943.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The Walter 109-509A rocket engine was used on the first flight of the German Meserschmitt Me163B Komet interceptor aircraft in 1943. It burned a fuel mixture of methyl alcohol and hydrazine in hydrogen peroxide. Copper salts were added to the fuel as a catalyst to decompose the peroxide. The engine's combustion chamber is to the upper left in this photograph. The Komet was the first rocket-propelled aircraft to be introduced in quantity and the first to be used in operational service. It took off under its own power on a wheeled undercarriage, which was jettisoned when the landing skid was retracted. Although capable of a speed of 593 mph, the Komet only carried enough fuel for 7 1/2 minutes of powered flight.