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mechanism for shooting a burning stream of liquid or semiliquid fuel at enemy troops or positions. Primitive types of flamethrowers, consisting of hollow tubes filled with burning coals, sulfur, or other materials, came into use as early as the 5th cent. B.C. Modern flamethrowers were introduced by the Germans in 1915 during World War I. They were not widely used, however, until World War II, when the Americans found them especially useful, either hand-carried or mounted on tanks, in attacking Japanese fortifications in the Pacific Islands. After World War II improved flamethrowers, lighter in weight and with greater range, were developed and used in combat.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a portable pneumatic device for igniting heaps and piles of cuttings to clean up logged areas and for clearing soil cover and surface vegetation when using a backfire to put out forest fires. The device produced in the USSR consists of a backpack tank that holds 8 liters of kerosine, a pneumatic pump, and a hose with a nozzle. The flamethrower works on the blowtorch principle. While the fuel is burning, the temperature of the flame reaches 1000°C. Lumber cuttings burn four times faster when ignited with flamethrowers than with torches made of various materials.



a weapon designed to destroy the enemy with a stream of burning incendiary mixture.

Flamethrowers are portable (backpack), self-propelled, or tank-mounted. The flamethrower consists of containers for the incendiary mixture, a canister of compressed gas (air or nitrogen), a flexible hose, a nozzle equipped with a safety device to prevent accidental firing, and a mechanical ignition device. The current American ABC-M9–7 backpack flamethrower weighs 22.7 kg (outfitted), has a flame-throwing range of 20–55 m, and operates continuously for five to seven seconds. The self-propelled M132 American flamethrower was designed in the 1960’s on the basis of the M113 amphibious armored personnel carrier, on which a small turret with a M10–8 flamethrower device and machine gun are mounted. Containers for the incendiary mixture and compressed air are located in the body of the vehicle. The flame-throwing range is up to 180 m, and the flamethrower can operate continuously for 30–40 seconds.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


A device used to project ignited fuel from a nozzle so as to cause casualties to personnel or to destroy material such as weeds or insects.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
The bike's handlebars are fitted with a specially-designed flame-thrower to fire towards vehicles that get too close.
"Wannabe James Bonds will be disappointed to hear that we have no plans to sell the BOND Bike, but it shouldn't be necessary for cyclists to resort to flame-throwers to get a little consideration on the roads," the Telegraph quoted Andrew Davis, director at ilovemybike.co.uk, as saying.
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However, Furze will not be legally allowed to use the flame-thrower on the road.
Miss James's hair and head were both burnt after a naked flame was used to convert two aerosol cans into a "flame-thrower".
This is a guy who can take a team to the World Series and if his flame-thrower arm is fuelled up in Seattle, the result is not in doubt.
One driver told how he was undergoing psychiatric counselling and another said he had been attacked by a pupil armed with a lighter and aerosol to form a mini flame-thrower.
In a panic, the father-of-two decided to use a can of deodorant as a flame-thrower to incinerate the critter.
The victim herself, who spent two weeks in hospital and has had two skin graft operations, said it was like being "hit by a flame-thrower".
Short of using fingernails or a flame-thrower, how on earth do we get them off?
Throw in doubt over the pitch conditions (ground staff used a flame-thrower in an attempt to dry the wicket, but scorched the marquee covering the track) and you have a far from ideal betting proposition.
Kurt Russell straps on a flame-thrower. John Carpenter's chilling horror masterpiece is a thing so bleak it was shunned in the year of ET.