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Flamethrowers on the Range

Seriously, who wouldn't want a flamethrower?

Sissies and hippies and the people who favor all bathrooms for everyone, that's who. The rest of us know good fun when we see it.

As you my recall, we reviewed a modern flamethrower back in issue #22, when RECOIL editor Iain Harrison grabbed some fuel, a fireman who wasn't busy working out or baking cookies* and an XMatter X15 to get some fiery range time in.


Flamethrowers on the Range

The XMatter is based on the 1906 German Flammenwerfer Kleif (they werf flammen), a fact I was reminded of when I read today's Forgotten Weapons post about the Japanese Type 100 Flamethrower.

Says FW's Ian McCollum (this is a different Ian from RECOIL's, one who doesn't say shedyool or put the letter U in armor),

“The Japanese Type 93 and its slightly-improved sister the Type 100 were the standard flame weapons of the Imperial Japanese Army for its fighting in China and the Pacific. They are a smaller and handier design than the American weapons, and less user-friendly. The Type 100 uses a rotating valve to fire, paper incendiary cartridges for ignition, and is not equipped with a pressure regulator. This means that as the fuel is consumed, the range and pressure steadily drop. This is a significant difference from the American M2, but in conjunction with properly planned tactics it could be quite effective.”

Forgotten Weapons on Flamethrowers -1

This might engender further curiosity about the subject of flamethrowers, including a burning desire to learn more about the US version (see what I did there?). If so, you're in luck. Ian discusses that very weapon in this article.

After a dismal first attempt at designing a flamethrower (the M1) in 1941, the US Chemical Corps along with several universities and industrial partners put in a lot of research to develop a more usable and effective flamethrower. The result was the M2, which went into production in early 1944. It would prove to be an exceptionally effective weapon in the island-hopping campaign towards the end of the war.

The M2 was arguably the best flamethrower fielded by any military during the war, with a number of excellent design features. These included:

  • A constant-pressure regulator to ensure that the range stayed the same from the first to the last shot of a tank of fuel
  • An on/off main valve easily accessible to the operator
  • A supremely waterproof and reliable pyrotechnic cartridge ignition system
  • An auto-shutoff valve which sealed at the nozzle, preventing dribble (and cutting off fuel flow should the operator lose control of the weapon)

The M2 would see service into the Vietnam War even as its successor the M9 was being issued. It was a truly outstanding design, and remains viable to this day.

Make sure you to check this article out too — and watch both videos. Much learning will occur.


Learn more about flamethrowers.

If you're interested, there's a great “Flamethrower Q&A” online here. In it they address such critical questions as

•What was the most effective use of the flamethrower in combat?

•What is the common pressure and nozzle diameter for military flamethrowers?

•What are the chances of ignition of the fuel tank when hit by a rifle’s bullet?

•Is a flamethrower-assigned soldier expected to do field maintenance on a level on par with a gun carrying soldier?

•Is there still a role for flamethrowers in modern war?

•When lighting a cigar with a flamethrower, is there a concern about leaving a poor-tasting residue on the cigar as there is with cheap butane lighters?

*This jibe is specifically targeted at a couple of hose draggers the author knows from the Tulsa and Broken Arrow (OK) FDs. It's just a joke, don't get butt hurt about it.

About Forgotten Weapons.

If you have an interest in militaria and historical weapons, you really ought to be following Forgotten Weapons. I don't read it every day, but I don't miss a post unless I have to. To call a resource like this just a blog is too damn it with faint praise. Ian McCollum is an extremely knowledgeable and affable man who is passionate about he does, and it shows. FR is a great resource, and one that is worth supporting. You can do that, if you are so inclined, right here on Patreon.

You can follow Forgotten Weapons on Facebook (/ForgottenWeapons/). They're online here.

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