Meserschmitt Me 163B Komet, c 1944.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The Komet was the first rocket propelled aircraft to be introduced in quantity and the first to be used in operational service. The first squadron was formed by the German Luftwaffe near Leipzig in 1944. The main task of the Komet equipped units was the defense of strategic targets and the interception of high flying Boeing Flying Fortreses of the US Air Force. The Komet took off under its own power on the wheeled undercarriage, which was jettisoned when the landing skid was retracted.