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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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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.
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