FLAMETHROWERS By Cashel Martin

Flamethrowers are a weapon that was used in WWI. The flamethrower - or Flammenwerfer - was first used by the Germans. It was first used in 1914 and 1915 during the early stages of WWI. The flamethrower wasn't a very innovative weapon and it was pretty basic. The idea of the flame thrower is to launch burning fuel and spread fire. Early versions of the flamethrower used as far back as the 5th century B.C. These early flamethrowers were just a long tube that was filled with some sort of burning solid. The early flamethrowers were used a lot like a blow gun where you blew the burning solid out the other end at the enemy.

Early Flamethrower

The flamethrower was used by the Germans in WWI. The Germans made to models of the flamethrower, one bigger one and one smaller one and they were both developed by Richard Fiedler. The smaller lighter flamethrower was made for portable use and could be carried by one man. It used a pressurized gas to throw a stream of burning oil as far as 18 meters.

Smaller Flamethrower

Fielders larger model worked pretty much the same way as the smaller one but, a single person couldn't carry it. The maximum range of this bigger flamethrower was twice that of the smaller one. It could also shoot the flames for a then impressive forty seconds. It's purpose was to terrify the opposing side. It also made it really hard for the opposing side to advance. The flamethrowers proved to be very effective in short range, but there wasn't a very wide range of use.

Larger Flamethrower

The first and one of the most notable uses of the flamethrower was against was a surprise attack against the British. The life of a flamethrower operator was a dangerous one. Obviously it could be scary handling a machine that spews out burning fuel. It was also possible the cylinders holding the fuel could explode. The opposing side would often fire into the flame causing the life expectancy of flamethrower operators to be very short.

The British became interested and started designing there own models. The British made four big models weighing two tons each. The flamethrowers had to be painstakingly put together peace by peace and although effective at short range the flamethrower didn't have much use other than short range. The idea was eventually abandoned.

Large British Flamethrower

The flamethrower was used a lot more in WWII after the success in WWI. Flamethrowers were extensively used by the Germans in urban fights in Poland. Other countries including Poland and the U.S. The vulnerability of these infantry flamethrowers caused many countries to experiment with tanks mounted with flamethrowers called flame tanks.

Flame Tank

Flamethrowers are still used in the military today. Flamethrowers have advanced a lot from the world wars. flamethrowers are used even more commonly now for burning plants and starting fires. Of course the kind used for burning plants isn't as big and doesn't shoot flames everywhere. The flamethrower had an impact on WWI but they had a really big impact on the WWII. It was mainly used to keep the opposing side back and cause confusion in the world wars.

Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flamethrower http://www.firstworldwar.com/weaponry/flamethrowers.htm

Created By
Cashel Martin
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Created with images by Marine Corps Archives & Special Collections - "1st Marine Division Flamethrower, 5 May 1951"

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