Flamethrower Manuals

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For your files: TM 3-378 and TM 3-1040-221-12; see also these other related resources.

Sure glad this technology can’t be built in a garage workshop.

That might be dangerous.

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19 responses to “Flamethrower Manuals

  1. Um hmmm. Esp. to the amateur soldier trying to use the thing. And besides, if we don’t use such terrible weapons then neither will OpFor. Right? Right??

  2. Semper Fi, 0321

    I was one of the last guys trained on a flamethrower in the USMC. I went to Infantry Training School San Onofre CA in Jan’73 and as a MOS 0351 AntiTank Assaultman my primary training was on the 106mm RecRifle and 3.5″ Bazooka; LAAW’s, XM202’s, flamethrowers and demo were also lumped in under that MOS.
    We did however spend one day on the old flamethrowers, we first mixed the fuel with gelling powder from 1 qt. cans. It was stirred in a 55 gal drum with a boat paddle, no shit, and then hand pumped into the flamethrower tanks. Other guys were filling the air bottles from gasoline powered compressors. Most everything came packed in OD plywood foot lockers. We then took turns firing, one man would shoulder the flamethrower, and an instructor followed him to the firing line, keeping his hand on the fuel shutoff valve the entire way. I don’t remember wearing anything special, even goggles, just my steel pot. The instructor would turn on the fuel flow brace his other hand on your opposite shoulder and ask if you were ready, then tell you to wet the target. We would squeeze the rear handgrip, wetting the target down for 1-2 seconds, then release. It had a very heavy push, like a big pressure washer. We would strike a match in the front handgrip, like a giant lighter flint, and then squeeze the rear grip again, igniting the target and almost singeing your face off. The heat was incredible, hold the flame on the target another 2-3 seconds, and quit. The instructor immediately turned off the fuel again. I guess somewhere in the past, students had either tipped over or lost control of the hose, so they insured that it got turned off in a hurry. A 70 lb flametank held about 9 seconds of fuel, no more. Flamethrowers were soon thereafter dropped from USMC inventory, along with the M-14 and M-3 Greasegun.
    One of those moments in life you’ll never forget.

    • So you pressurized the propulsion cylinders with compressed air, not a pure inert gas, like nitrogen?
      Do you recall what the operating psi of the propulsion tank was?
      Do you remember if you stepped pressure down via an adjustable regulator or by a simple orifice? Between the payload tank and the propulsion tank, I mean.

      I’m curious for purely academic reasons, of course… 🙂

      • Semper Fi, 0321

        we used plain old air, I used portable scuba compressors for years, the flame thrower compressors were just about the same thing but older and no fancy air filters.
        No, I can’t remember the psi we used, ours used the round air bottles which locked on with a bayonet lug on the bottom of side tank, the other tank was full length. I do not believe we had any pressure reducer. The air tank locked on, then a shutoff valve was turned and the entire tanks pressurized as one unit.

  3. I too am glad that this type of project can be made at home.
    Fire is such a terrific purifier!

  4. As bored 13 year olds in the summer of ’63, the Pulman brothers and I made molotovs mixed w/ Tide detergent. We’d take them down to an abandonded quarry and let fly. Interesting effect. Just sayin’………….

  5. Semper Fi, 0321/0351

    Thinking back to my scuba career, an old out of spec aluminum scuba tank would be a perfect choice for some tinkering, they’re rated at 3,000 psi, and could be joined up similar to what we had for flame tanks. Find a scuba shop, see if they’ll sell you some old scrap tanks that won’t pass inspection, tell them you want them for air reservoir on your jeep or something.
    Just thinking out loud.

  6. The US military dropped the flame thrower because it killed more of our men than the enemy during WW-2.(no shit- go look it up) All it takes is one round of ball ammo to detonate the napalm, and the damn things killed everyone nearby. Men who had been in combat where flamethrower men were used dreaded having them in their Higgins boat, as they knew that one round would kill all of them. Something like 90% of ALL flamethrower men in WW-2 were KIAs. Most of them (something like 60%) never got off the beach. The rest had a life expectancy measured in seconds. Add to that that the first gen. flamethrower (the ones in your PDF) malfunctioned A LOT and often killed the operator(even a minor leak in a seal is a casualty) and you can see why the guys using them were a bit unpopular in a combat zone. Not a weapon I’d want in my squad.

    • Semper Fi, 0321

      Ray,
      Ever flown in a helicopter?
      They fall out of the sky, killing people.
      Ever been in a tank?
      They blow up, killing people.
      Ever been on a ship?
      They sink, killing people.
      Yes, flamethrowers blow up, killing people. There’s a photo from Iwo Jima that shows 3 blown up Marines, one was carrying a flame thrower and got hit, BOOM, all 3 dead. But sometimes the job calls for weapons that are dangerous. If I had to take out an MRAP and didn’t have a few Panzerfaust handy, damn right I’d use a flamethrower. It may be antiquated, but it may still get the job done too.
      How many guys have been blown up by their own hand grenades?, and we still use them.

  7. Wow Ray, talk about being stuck somewhere in between 2nd and 3rd generation warfare. I suppose lining up smartly to push the Redcoats into the sea with the bayonets of our Mattel manufactured mouse guns is a bad idea too? As far as “The US military dropped the flame thrower because it killed more of our men than the enemy during WW-2” Not purposely dishonest to validate your perspective Im sure. Flamethrowers were bullet magnets from snipers because the flamethrower was very efficient at killing the enemy fighting from inside of caves and bunkers. They were limited by the fuel capacity a soldier could carry, and the vulnerability of a soldier on a battlefield with a bunch of bullets flying around. Soooo the military mounted larger capacity flamethrowers into Tanks, because they were still very efficient at killing the enemy fighting from caves and bunkers. The flamethrower works by not only setting fire to said bunker or cave but by sucking up all the air inside and choking whatever you wanted dead. But massed formations of combatants is so last war and the cool kids no longer need nation states backing them for their mayhem. But how would a hypothetical self financed, self trained, small group of intrepid adventurers operating on the leaderless resistance model of 4th generation warfare stop an MRAP type vehicle lacking the explosive material needed for an EFP or an anti-tank launcher of useful size? Being that a mass amount of burning fuel would consume the air needed for an internal combustion engine to function along with the burning fuel finding its way into the nooks and crannies of an engine compartment…….do I really need to waste any more time? I will sum it up with screwdrivers. They were intended to be used to drive screws into things. But how many times have they been used for scrapers, chisels, pry bars, hole punches, etc? Not as efficiently as the purpose built tools would, but for lack of a better tool it will do in a pinch.

  8. Sure glad this technology can’t be built in a garage workshop.” – Thanks, CA! I almost fell out of my chair laughing at this line”

    We can always use a good laugh.

  9. Al_in_Ottawa

    There are much better pressure bottles available now. The standard fire-fighter backpack has a composite aluminum-kevlar O2 bottle which is much lighter and should be more resistant to penetration than an old scuba bottle. Perhaps the pressure cylinders could be housed in a bullet-proof enclosure?

    An alternative might be a re-purposed hydraulic accumulator. Picture a 3″ tube with a floating piston, sealed with O-rings, which can slide from one end to the other. On the dry side of the piston is compressed air, on the wet side is the fluid charge. A cable actuated valve on the wet side cap allows the fluid to exit the nozzle. Ignition would be by a piezo-electric ignited propane flame essentially a barbecue lighter that has been made more rugged, or by means of incendiary fire from another team member. This would be a cheap, light, one-shot secondary weapon holding 1 or 2 quarts of fluid which is enough to set a vehicle on fire (sucks when the MRAP you’re taking cover behind starts to burn).

    Don’t confine your thinking to the infantry. Google ‘crocodile flame tank’, it was a very effective weapon.

    With today’s readily available machine tools, remote controls such as electric solenoid operated valves, etc the possibilities are limitless.

    • Semper Fi, 0321

      I used to fill the Scott air bottles for the local fire dept when their compressor went down, they are aluminum with a fiberglass wrapped center, and not rated as high, I think they were 2250 psi vs 3000 psi for a aluminum scuba tank. Steel scuba tanks run 2450-2600 psi.
      The point is, these tanks are available and don’t have to be backpack mounted either, you could mount a tandem set behind a dozer blade, or any other armor plate, you get the idea.