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Review of the SPEED 400 ME 163C KOMET - My favourite plane


(This is my favourite - these planes are so compact yet nippy ...... read on..)

Nippy little models, excellent for "instant flying" on the way home from work.


Type of plane: Anything driven by a Speed 400 Motor.

(A speed 400 is a basic type of electric motor, it is 4cm long (hence the "400") and costs A$15-20.)

The advantages and flexibility of Speed 400 is heavily under-recognised in many quarters. They are easy "keep in the boot" models that are perfect for flying at the field on the way home from work as they require an absolute minimum of setup. They are also worth bringing to the slope when the wind dies.

Planes can possibly be split into:

  • Aerobatic models (including scale aerobatic and "warbirds") - generally with ailerons and generally with a direct drive setup. Span 0.8 to 1.2 metres.
  • Pylon racers - always with ailerons (some only have one!) and direct drive, very fast. Span about 0.8 metres.
  • Gliders - being in essence smaller versions of the 7 Cell polyhedral gliders mentioned elsewhere on this site - these will often have a gearbox to maximise the efficiency of the motor - and a span of about 1.5 metres.
  • Docile "park fliers" (although too big to fly in many parks) which stooge around the sky - some are to scale, some not. The most successful will have gearboxes, some will have direct drive with smaller propellers. Some with landing gear, some not. Span about 1.2 to 1.5 metres.
  • Multi engined models - whatever configuration you choose - and can either be direct drive or geared.

Power train: 400 motor, either 6 volt or 7.2. 18 amp speed controller with BEC (Battery Eliminator Circuit means no receiver battery need be carried) and 7 to 8 cell battery packs, usually around 600mAh, sometimes larger. 5-6 inch prop on a direct drive model, some are folding, some not.

Construction: various. Mentoring usually required to assist with building, installation of radio, balancing and trimming..

Weight: between 350 to 600 grams

Buying ARF (Almost Ready to Fly): Growing number available - various prices.

Flight Times (See also Catching Thermals article)

This will depend on your propulsion unit, weight, size and setup of the plane, the conditions, the thermals and your ability to stay in them.

Expect 4 minutes minimum for an aerobatic model, or up to 15 minutes for a well set up light docile model.

Don't feel 4 minutes is a short time - with a nippy plane your brain will be ready for a rest after 4 minutes!!

Radio Gear: multi-channel radio. Computer radio has advantages but is not essential.

Speed 400 Komet (also see Review of SPEED 400 KOMET


Glenn holds another Speed 400 model from S & B Models


Another fine example of a small scale model


Speed 400 Pylon Pilots await a start

Cost of first plane and gear - around A$800 including radio; plus club fees

Items required and approximate cost (Australian Dollars):

Items for a Speed 400 model

(Will depend on plane purchased)

Approx Cost A$

Your Cost $

Kit - (or do it yourself)



Covering - Solar Film or paintable Oz-Cover



A couple of rolls of packing tape for foam models



Glue - CA (Note - you can't use normal CA on foam)



Glue - 5 minute Epoxy



3M77 - now sold as 3M-Multi-Purpose spray in the GREEN can - for spraying on foam wings before covering with tape






Motor - 6 v recommended for most applications



Gearbox - (if applicable)

25 - 50


Speed Control - about 18 amps with BEC



Propeller, (including centrepiece if folding, or adaptor if required)



Spinner (if applicable - for safety, looks and to keep out dirt)



Deans Plugs, 2 pin (don't forget a male plug is required for charger)



Battery pack - 7 or 8 cell Sanyo



Charger, peak detector, to charge from car battery



4 channel FM computer radio, basic A$300, to A$800 plus



Small servos (almost mandatory on a small plane like this)



Certification of radio



Extra Crystals FM - per pair (optional)



Frequency key



Club fee (including insurance)



Extra Battery packs each






Location requirements: Large amount of space for launches and landings and to safely hoon around the sky (aerobatic) or in search of thermals (for gliders), few trees to crash plane into, grass to land on if hand launched.

Weather: Calm days strongly preferred for gliders and slower planes, aerobatic can cope with more wind.

Degree of difficulty: This depends on the model you have chosen. The faster the model, the more difficult.

Fun factor: HUGE


There are about a dozen of us at Doncaster (Melbourne) flying direct drive pusher prop ME 163 Komets made by S&B Model Aircraft in Queensland. These are have damage resistant EPP fuselages, EPP on the leading edges of the wings and polystyrene for the rest of the wings. The fin and full length skid is made from a signal piece of corflute or correx (the "plastic cardboard" that real estate signs are often made of. Covering is coloured packing tape and power is from an 8 x 600mAh pack through an 18 amp speed controller to a standard 6 volt speed 400. (I use a A$3 push-on Gunther prop.)

Despite their simplicity they are exceptionally aerobatic and damage resistant when crashed as they have an EPP nose, the expensive electronics are protected in the EPP cockpit and the propulsion unit is down the back. We fly together and do circuits of the field inverted. They are an essential at the slope for when the wind dies and a review is included on this site.

Moving on to other planes:

    • Variations on planes within your chosen Speed 400 category
    • Higher performance model of similar size (more aerobatic)

Further reading on this type of flying:

THE SPEED 400 ME 163C KOMET - My favourite plane

Further investigation:

  • Do a web search on "Speed 400"
  • Check out the growing number of kits and Almost Ready to Fly planes in the magazines and in your local hobby shop.
  • Most importantly - speak to other fliers

The detail on Glenn's Speed 400 model - all done with a felt pen.

James Gibbins with his Speed 400 Pylon Racer

John Kounellis displays his colourful Speed 400 model at an Australian Electric Flight Association (AEFA) Meeting in Melbourne

Peter Pine's Speed 400 ARF (Almost Ready to Fly) Pico-Jet from Multiplex

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Review of the SPEED 400 ME 163C KOMET - My favourite plane