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The Rheinmetall Borsig Mk108 cannon, better known as the Pneumatic Hammer due to it's distinctive firing sound, was the staple weapon of both the Me262 and the Luftwaffes latest and fastest machine, the diminutive Me163 rocket propelled interceptor. To the 262, 4 of these weapons were fitted in the nose of the machine, and could be fired in banks of either 2 or 4 simultaneously, with a rate of fire of approx. 11 shells per second. The Borsig wasn't the only small nose mounted weapon to be tested during the final year of the war. The addition of 2 Borsig Mk103 cannons were also evaluated, but never used, possibly due to shortages of raw materials within the closing years of the Third Reich.

The Borsig was developed as a private venture around 1940, and was electrically operated, with pneumatic (compressed air) triggering/resetting of the breach.

   Examples of the 30mm Cannon shells, fired by the Borsig Mk108   

Incendiary Shell

High Explosive shell

Muzzle Velocity 30mm Borsig

Metric Scale

1890 km/hr

Imperial Scale

1160 m/hr


   Diagram showing the weapon layout of the Borsig Cannon   

   Removal of Weapons Pack *   

The view to the left affords a rare glimpse into the removal of the nose section of an Me262. This view clearly shows the electrical firing systems and bulkhead assemblies, including the forward bulkhead, through which the cannon barrels protruded into the outer skin apertures. Also seen, towards the bottom right of the picture, are the spent cartridge chutes which exit towards the underside of the pack. The 2 reinforcing rods can clearly be seen at either side of the cannon, towards the top of the photograph.



     Views of the Schwalbe`s Control Column *    

To the left is a diagram of the Me262`s `stick`. The arc of travel of the safety firing cover for the `hat` firing switch is shown. The small box about halfway down the stick (facing forward away from the pilot) was a wiring box, at which the ends of the control cables were terminated. Below, is a photograph of the same stick, camera pointing towards the starboard side of the cockpit, clearly showing the firing cover in it's `safe` position.

* These images were used with express permission of Classic Publications.


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