The Messerschmitt Me 563 is a delta winged jet fighter aircraft designed in Germany during the late 1950s, and manufactured in Germany and several other countries. It was a highly successful aircraft, and earned a great reputation in the Vietnam War and in the Second Falklands War.
The Allied Powers received several copies of the Me 563. The first was a Cuban Me 563 C flown by a defector to the United States in 1965. The second was an Me 563 E flown to Saudi Arabia by an Iraqi defector. A reconnaissance version was flown to India by a Pakistani Hindu in 1967. Many were left in Vietnam after the German withdrawal and South Vietnamese defeat.
It was the first pure jet in a series of delta-winged aircraft designed by Alexander Lippisch, and it was by far the most successful. The others in the series include:
- Messerschmitt Me 163
- Wartime rocket fighter, 370 used between 1944-1946
- Messerschmitt Me 263
- Wartime rocket fighter prototype, first glide 1944, cancelled 1945
- Messerschmitt Me 363
- Mixed-power (rocket/turbojet) interceptor prototype, first flight 1954, cancelled 1954
- Messerschmitt Me 463
- Ramjet powered interceptor prototype, first flight 1957, cancelled 1957
- Messerschmitt Me 1108
- Germany's first supersonic bomber. In essence, an enlarged Me 563. First flight 1959. Service entry 1964. Retirement 2006.
- Messerschmitt Me 663
- Fourth-generation turbofan powered multi-role fighter. First flight 1978, service entry 1982.
Although it is no longer considered first-rate equipment in most European nations, nevertheless it remains in service due to the lack of enough aircraft to fulfill the EU's crushing military requirements. Smaller European states, and countries outside Europe still find the aircraft highly useful. In addition to its front-line roles, it fulfils a valuable training role as an Aggressor aircraft for members of the League of Democracies. Pakistan and Egypt tend to purchase Me 563s whenever they can, and Pakistan possesses aircraft from all manufacturers except F+W Emmen of Switzerland, due to the Swiss refusal to export arms. It was extensively exported and produced under licence in several countries. Messerschmitt used the name Mirage, although the Luftwaffe never used that name officially. Upgrade programs have kept the aircraft up to date. It is one of the few aircraft to be used by both major military alliances, the Axis and the League of Democracies due to its operation by Argentina and Vietnam.
Me 563 AEdit
The Me 563 A was a pre-production version. Ten were made and evaluated successfully between 1958 and 1961.
Me 563 C and Me 563 BEdit
The Me 563 C was the first major production variant. It entered service in 1961. It was designed as an interceptor carrying two LLR-I-2 heat seeking missiles and one LLR-HR-5 radar guided missile in addition to the built in MG 213 cannons. Provision for a rocket engine was included, but in practice the rocket engines were never used by operational Luftwaffe units. The Royal South African Air Force did use the rocket engine from certain hot and high airfields.
The Me 563 B was a two seat training version of the Me 563 C. It was approximately 1 metre longer than the Me 563 C and had no radar, guns, or provision for a rocket motor.
Me 563 E and Me 563 DEdit
The Me 563 E was the most widely produced version. It entered service in 1964. It was a multi-role strike version of the Me 563 C. It had an improved version of the Me 563 C's radar, and other avionics to aid it in the attack role. It had a 30 cm fuselage extension to accommodate the extra avionics. It had a pulse-doppler navigation radar under the cockpit and a radar warning receiver on the tail. To carry air to ground weapons, two extra stores pylons were provided, with one on each wing. Provision for a rocket booster was not provided.
It was used extensively in Vietnam as an escort fighter, and close support aircraft. It was supplemented in the early 1970s by the SEPECAT Jaguar. It continued with the Luftwaffe until 1989.
The Me 563 D was a two seat training version of the Me 563 E. Like the Me 563 B, it had no radar, no guns, and an extended fuselage.
Me 563 PEdit
The Me 563 P was a reconnaissance aircraft built on the Me 563 E airframe. It carried no radar, replacing it with a camera nose. Some export customers acquired the camera nose as a modular pack, replacing the nose of the Me 563 E. It was Germany's primary tactical reconnaissance aircraft in Vietnam.
Me 565 F, Me 565 D, Me 565 PEdit
The Me 565 F was a simplified, radar-less, ground attack version of the Me 563 E. It had a long, slender nose giving a more elegant appearance. It was primarily an export product, but ended serving in large numbers with the Luftwaffe. It was a valuable close support aircraft in Vietnam.
The Me 565 D and Me 565 P are identical to the Me 563 D and Me 563 P respectively. The designations are added for marketing purposes for customers which are users of the Me 565 F.
Me 563 ZEdit
The Me 563 Z is a target drone converted from any of the previous Me 563 variants. The Z stands for Zieldarstellungsdrohne (Target drone).
Me 563 VEdit
The Me 563 V was a VTOL prototype based on the Me 563 C. In addition to the BMW 004C "cruise engine", the Me 563 V had eight Junkers Jumo lift engines. The latter were arranged around the BMW 004C. Only one prototype was built, and the project was deemed a failure due to the inefficiency of engine arrangement.
The Atlas Cheetah is an extensive upgrade of the BAC Mirage for South Africa. The changes are as follows:
- A completely new avionics suite
- Glass cockpit
- A more powerful engine (BMW 004G)
- New ejector seat
- Two more stores pylons
- Refueling probe
- Fly-by-wire control system
- Canard foreplanes
- A new main wing spar along with a new "drooping" leading edge
- A dog-tooth incision on each wing
The upgrade is being offered to most Me 563 operators.
The FMA Mirage-79 is an Argentine upgrade for several versions of the Me 563. The requirement for the Mirage-79 came out of Argentina's departure from the Axis alliance following the Second Falklands War. It is offered both as an upgrade, and as a new build aircraft. The Mirage-79 adds American technology to the German airframe. The most prominent change is the use of a General Electric J79 engine to replace the BMW 004C. This shortened the aircraft, and required the addition of an air intake at the base of the fin to provide additional cooling for the engine. Canards were added for extra agility. The Mirage-79's primary users are Argentina and Vietnam. Several variants are offered including:
- FMA Mirage-79 D
- J79 powered Me 563 D
- FMA Mirage-79 E
- J79 powered Me 563 E
- FMA Mirage-79 R
- J79 powered Me 563 R
- FMA Mirage-79 F
- J79 powered Me 565 F
- FMA Mirage-79 K
- Single-seat Mirage 79 with APG-67 radar, modernised cockpit, and refueling probe.
- FMA Mirage-79 L
- Twin-seat Mirage 79 with APG-67 radar, modernised cockpit, and refueling probe.
- FMA Mirage-79 M
- Single-seat Mirage 79 with APG-67 radar, fly-by-wire, modernised cockpit, and refueling probe.
- FMA Mirage-79 N
- Twin-seat Mirage 79 with APG-67 radar, fly-by-wire, modernised cockpit, and refueling probe.
- F-21A Mirage
- Unarmed Mirage-79 K used as an aggressor by the USAF, USN, and USMC
- TF-21A Mirage
- Unarmed Mirage-79 L used as an aggressor by the USAF, USN, and USMC
- Argentina: Fábrica Argentina de Aviones
- FMA Mirage
- FMA Mirage-79
- China: Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group
- Chengdu J-7 (F-7 for export)
- France: Aerospatiale (formerly Sud Aviation)
- Aerospatiale Mirage
- Italy: Aeritalia
- Aeritalia Miraggio
- Switzerland: F+W Emmen
- F+W Emmen Mirage
- United Kingdom: British Aircraft Corporation (English Electric)
- BAC Mirage
(Bold indicates current operator, Italics indicates license construction)
- Argentina (FMA Mirage-79)
- Brazil (FMA Mirage-79)
- (Canada - secret evaluation only as the CF-99)
- Nationalist Republic of China (Chengdu J-7)
- Egypt (German, French, British and Chinese manufacture)
- Finland (FMA Mirage-79)
- French State (Aerospatiale (formerly Sud Aviation) Mirage)
- Italy (Aeritalia Miraggio)
- Independent State of Korea (Messerschmitt Me 563 and Chengdu F-7)
- Myanmar (Chengdu F-7)
- Pakistan (German, Italian, French, British and Chinese manufacture)
- Portugal (Aerospatiale Mirage)
- Rhodesia (BAC Mirage)
- South Africa (BAC Mirage, designated Me 563 CZ, Me 563 BZ, Me 563 EZ, Me 563 DZ, Me 563 RZ, Atlas Cheetah C, Cheetah D, Cheetah R)
- Spanish State (Aerospatiale Mirage)
- Switzerland (F+W Emmen Mirage)
- United Kingdom (BAC Mirage F.1, T.2, FG.3, T.4, R.5)
- United States - F-113 (secret evaluation), F-21 Mirage (FMA Mirage-79 aggressor)
- State of Vietnam (until 1975)
- Republic of Vietnam (FMA Mirage-79)
Specifications (Me 563 E)Edit
- Crew: 1
- Length: 15 m (49 ft 3.5 in)
- Wingspan: 8.22 m (26 ft 11 in)
- Height: 4.5 m (14 ft 9 in)
- Wing area: 34.85 m² (375 ft²)
- Empty weight: 7,050 kg (15,600 lb)
- Max takeoff weight: 13,500 kg (29,700 lb)
- Powerplant: 1 × BMW 004C afterburning turbojet (13,230 lbf (58,800 N))
- Maximum speed: Mach 2.2 (2,350 km/h, 1,460 mph)
- Range: 2,400 km (1,300 NM, 1,500 mi)
- Service ceiling: 17,000 m (56,000 ft)
- Rate of climb: 83.3 m/s (16,400 ft/min)
- Wing loading: 387 kg/m² (79 lb/ft²)
- Guns: 2× 30 mm (1.18 in) Mauser MG 213 cannons with 125 rounds per gun
- Rockets: 2× JL-100 drop tank/rocket pack, each with 19× R5M 6.8 cm rockets and 66 US gallons (250 liters) of fuel
- Missiles: 2× LL-I-4, LL-I-7, LL-I-8, LL-I-10, or LL-I-11 missiles plus 1× LL-R-6 or LL-R-9, 2× A3.34 Kormoran anti-ship missiles
- Bombs: 4,000 kg (8,800 lb) of payload on five external hardpoints, including a variety of bombs, reconnaissance pods or drop tanks;