An extremely rare aviation artifact popped up on an online auction site earlier this week: an ME163B Komet salvaged from Nazi Germany. According to Wikipedia, the Komet was the only rocket-powered fighter aircraft ever to be operational.
The item is described as an original example of the airplane "with original controls, engine, drive train...everything down to the mk canons-and it is completely functional." The seller says the airplane is fully documented and is currently stored in Germany.
The seller says that following a mission in early 1945, the airplane caught fire just after landing. However, the fire was quickly extinguished and caused only minor external damage.
The airplane was reportedly moved to a salvage area, and was hidden by a group of Luftwaffe officers until after the end of the war. It has been reconstructed, he says, with "all original materials" unless none were available. In that case, the materials used ware fabricated according to the manufacturing processes used during the war. The seller says the plane is "85 percent complete," with only the tail section left to restore.
The seller claims that there are only seven of the planes left in existence. The current "Buy Now" price on the airplane is just under $1 million U.S. Shipping to the United States is estimated at between $15,000 and $20,000. The seller estimates the plane's value between $3.2 and $4.5 million. There is no reserve, but the seller has asked that the bidding start at $650,000 ... no takers so far. The auction will end on March 17th. (Image: Komet on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Dayton, Ohio.)