US marine with an M2-2 flamethrower, light a pipeline while gallons the gasoline and also nitrogen space strapped come his back. Iwo Jima, February 1945. Colorized by Jecinci

Though concerned as a an extremely inhumane and also cruel weapon, that was also seen as being an extremely effective at clearing trenches, buildings, and also fortifications, especially bunkers.

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By the finish of the war, it remained in widespread use among combatant nations.

By world War 2 you there were two species of flame-thrower delivery systems:

1) motor vehicles, typically a tank convert to carry a flame-thrower, like the Churchill Crocodile tanks or the Italian L3 tankettes.

2) The various other was a man-portable version, which normally included one or two cylinders strapped to the operator’s back. Castle were normally heavy and cumbersome however effective at brief range.

German soldiers operation a flame-thrower in 1917. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 104-0669 / CC-BY-SA 3.0German soldiers operating a flame-thrower in 1917. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 104-0669 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

A Churchill tank fitted v a Crocodile in action. This flame-thrower can produce a jet of fire exceeding 150 yards (137 meters) in length.A Churchill tank fitted through a Crocodile in action. This flame-thrower might produce a jet of fire exceeding 150 yards (137 meters) in length.

A question often asked is: execute flame-throwers indigenous WW2 explode as soon as they space shot?

Well, to answer the question, very first let’s collection out part parameters.

The flame-thrower in concern is being shot at by a typical weapon of civilization War Two: the typical U.S. Business rifle, the M1 Garand.

Over five million Garands to be made. The fires a .30 caliber round and for our scenario it is using the typical ammunition. For the services of argument, our target is 100 feet (30 meters) away, just out of variety of the median flame-thrower.

The Garand, v its muzzle velocity of 2,800 feet (853 meters) and an effective selection of about 1,500 feet (457 meters) should have the ability to hit our target conveniently enough and also with some far-reaching kinetic force.

In relation to the kind of flame-thrower to be used in our experiment, there were 2 different typical versions: the American M2 from the ally inventory, and the German Flammenwerfer 35.

US naval Private Kenneth R. Hoger v his pin-up decorated flame-thrower pack, off Iwo Jima, February 1945.US marine Private Kenneth R. Hoger through his pin-up decorated flame-thrower pack, turn off Iwo Jima, February 1945.

M2 Flame-thrower (US- an initial introduced in 1943)

Weight: 68lbs effective Range: 65ft Fuel Capacity: 4 Gallons

The American M2 was a one-man flame-thrower consisting of two cylindrical fuel tanks include gasoline.

On optimal was a smaller tank that was pressurized and contained non-flammable nitrogen gas or air. A hose associated the nitrogen/air tank come the fuel cylinders. A longer hose brought about a nozzle through an ignition system and also trigger, used by the operator come fire the weapon.

A soldier native the 33rd Infantry division uses one M2 flame-throwerA soldier from the 33rd Infantry division uses one M2 flame-thrower

 Flammenwerfer 35 (German- presented in 1935)

Weight: 79lbs efficient Range: 80ft Gallon: 3 GallonsGerman soldiers with Flammenwerfen 38 in Stalingrad, Soviet Union. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-083-3371-11 / CC-BY-SA 3.0German soldiers with Flammenwerfen 38 in Stalingrad, Soviet Union. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-083-3371-11 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

The FmW 35 to be a one-man German portable flame-thrower. It contained a single cylindrical fuel tank containing three gallons that gasoline and tar mix, with a hose and trigger operated nozzle.

Piggybacked come the fuel tank was the nitrogen propellant in a small pressurized tank. It was considerably heavier than its counterparts, being 11lbs heavier 보다 the American M2 and also 22Ilbs heavier than the Japanese form 93.

So it had actually the same simple layout as the American M2 flame-thrower. The propellant to be fed into the fuel tanks climate the pressurized mixture was compelled through a heavy duty hose to an ignition built into a nozzle.

The operator can then aim at a target and activate the weapon v the trigger.

Riflemen lead the means as flame-throwing Marines of the 5th Division, crouched with the weight of your weapons, move up to occupational on a concentration that Japanese pillboxes. Photo: USMCRiflemen lead the method as flame-throwing Marines of the 5th Division, crouched with the load of your weapons, move up to occupational on a concentration the Japanese pillboxes. Photo: USMC


So us have developed that the 2 weapons room sufficiently similar the being struggle by a bullet would have the same outcome.

If the Garand cartridge hit the fuel tanks, it could not necessarily permeate the thick metal wall of the cylinder. But if the did beat a hole with it, the many likely an outcome would simply be fuel leaking out.

Since there is no ignition event, there would certainly be no explosion.

Although a bullet could be an extremely hot for a few moments after the is fired (due come the friction and also the to explode that propelled it in the very first place), that is temperature would be much too short to ignite anything.

John Garand points out attributes of the M1 to army generals.John Garand points out attributes of the M1 to military generals.

And in the an extremely unlikely event of the bullet leading to a spark as it ruptured the metallic fuel tank, that the spark can not be adequate to reach the voluntary ignition point of gasoline which is simply over 530 degrees Fahrenheit (which is roughly 80 levels Fahrenheit higher than paper).

Of course, if the weapon did by opportunity explode, the would carry out so with destructive effect, specifically if the tanks were full of gasoline. The most likely outcome is that it would kill or seriously damaged the flame-thrower operator.

Resistance fighter equipped with a flame-thrower, august 22, 1944.Resistance fighter equipped with a flame-thrower, august 22, 1944.

But the real risk was indigenous the nitrogen pressurized tank. Though nitrogen is non-combustible, if the tanks were penetrated it would certainly explode lot like one aerosol can.

The pressure of the explosion and also the following shrapnel can easily kill the operator of the flame-thrower.

Of course, the real game changer would certainly be if our Garand-armed shooter was utilizing armor-piercing incendiary rounds such together the .30-06 Springfield M14 cartridge.

German Soldier through flame-thrower, what in Russia, 1941.German Soldier with flame-thrower, somewhere in Russia, 1941.

This would result in it quickly penetrating any kind of of the tanks and also would almost certainly ignite the gasoline together the cartridge is designed come be used against lightly-armored, flammable targets.

So the answer come the concern is the it is possible but challenging to reason a flame-thrower to explode utilizing small-arms fire unless you have actually a most luck or distinct ammunition.

U.S. Troops using flame-throwers to clear brush.U.S. Troops making use of flame-throwers to clear brush.

But the real danger to the flame-thrower operator was that he had to obtain within a relatively short range of his target to use his weapon, offering the the contrary ample time to shoot at him first.

What made operator even more vulnerable was that they to be slow-moving targets and had to stand approximately use your weapon. Operators likewise found the more difficult to utilise cover because of the nature of the weapon.

Marines clean Japanese cave with flame-thrower top top Okinawa.Marines clean Japanese cavern with flame-thrower ~ above Okinawa.

Read an additional story native us: transforming Up the heat – 26 photos of the Flammpanzer II/III Flame-Thrower Tanks

However, in the best situation, flame-throwers might be devastatingly effective and psychologically terrifying, regularly clearing bunkers that seemed just moments prior to to be entirely impregnable.

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And that is precious noting that flame-thrower operator were hated so lot by every sides that they to be rarely ever taken prisoner.