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The Illustrated Manual of U.S. Portable Flamethrowers (Schiffer Military History Book) Hardcover – July 28, 2010
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Top customer reviews
This book is extremely in-depth, covering the history, use of, development and problems with the use of the different flame-thrower models up until being eliminated from the U.S. arsenal in 1985.
The book is loaded with pictures and diagrams of various U.S. models, as well as models from other countries, such as Germany, Japan and England.
My one complaint is the book contains many spelling and grammatical errors, showing it was not well "proof read" before going to print.
With that said, if you love flamethrowers, you will love this book!
CHARLES S. HOBSON
SCHIFFER PUBLISHING, 2010
HARDCOVER, $49.99, 114 PAGES, PHOTOGRAPHS, CD-ROM, ENDNOTES, APPENDIX, ILLUSTRATIONS, DIAGRAMS, DRAWINGS, COMPARISONS
Fire in all its guises has been an established weapon of war since ancient times, but when the flamethrower appeared in its modern form on the battlefields of World War I, it seemed that a new aspect of its horrors had arrived. Despite the outcries of disgust that arose on all sides, the flamethrower quickly became an established military weapon and by World War II most armies either had the flamethrower in their armories or were making active plans to place them there. These early World War II flamethrowers were very different beasts from those that came later in the war, for they were usually not much different from World War I models and in some cases, such as the improvised designs rushed out in the United Kingdom during 1940, virtually identical. Flamethrower tanks had also been developed, although few armored commanders knew how to use them to best effect when they first encountered them. Portable flamethrowers had many tactical uses as well, but generally speaking the portable equipments lacked the range and impact of their vehicle-borne counterparts. Fire is a frightening weapon, for not only are its effects dreadful to bear and behold but it has a powerful effect on morale. Mankind has an instinctive dread of fire in all its forms and when it is used offensively in the form of the flamethrower, its impact on the enemy can be considerable. At times during World War II, the mere sight of a flamethrower in action was enough to make the enemy break and run-often towards the flamethrower's operators in order to surrender. There are certain battlefield targets which the flamethrower has no effect, but they are few and far between. When the U.S. Army requested a new portable flamethrower in July, 1940, the Chemical Warfare Service had absolutely no knowledge base upon which to work, and so had to start from scratch. Using a model known as the Flame-Thrower E1, gradual development reached the stage where the E1R1 was ready for troop trials, some of which were carried out under combat conditions in Papua. The E1R1 was far from perfect for it was easily broken and the controls were difficult to reach, but a more rugged version was accepted for service as the Portable Flame-Thrower M1. This M1 was much like the E1R1 in that it had two tanks, one for fuel and the other for compressed hydrogen. The M1 went into production in March, 1942, and the weapon first saw action during the Guadacanal campaign in January, 1943. It proved something of a disappointment, for the M1 was prone to all manner of production faults, and these often meant that the weapon failed in action. The ignition circuit used electrical power supplied by batteries that often failed under active service conditions, and the tanks were liable to pin-hole corrosion spots that allowed pressure to escape. A special repair and inspection service had to be established to ensure a serviceable reservoir of M1s ready for action. By June, 1943, a new model was in use. This was the M1A1, of which 14,000 were manufactured. The M1A1 was a modified M1 manufactured to make use of the new thicker fuels produced by placing additives in the gas-based fuels previously employed. This thicker fuel gave better flame effects and a range of up to 45.7 meters (50 yards) compared with the maximum of 27.4 meters (30 yards) of the M1. Unfortunately the troublesome ignition system wasn't altered in any way and the previous problems persisted to the point where troops in action sometimes had to ignite the flame jets with matches or pieces of burning paper. M1A1s were used in Italy and the Pacific and their use in Western Europe after June, 1944, appears to have been somewhat restricted once the Normandy campaign was over. By mid-1943, the Chemical Warfare Service had a much better idea of what kind of portable flamethrower the troops required and set about designiting a new type. Based on an experimental design known as the E3, the Portable Flame-Thrower M2-2 evolved, and this featured several improvements over the old M1A1. The M2-2 continued to use the thickened fuel but it was a much more rugged weapon carried on a back-pack frame (very similar to that used to carry ammunition) but the main improvement was to the ignition. This was changed to a new cartridge system using a revolver-type mechanism that allowed up to six flame jet shots before new cartridges had to be inserted. It proved to be much more reliable than the old electrical methods. The M2-2 was first used in action on Guam in July, 1944 and by the time the war ended, almost 25,000 had been manfactured; more than the totals of M1s and M1A1s combined. However, manufacturing wasn't easy and some troops in the Pacific continued to use the old M1A1 until the war ended. It was March, 1945, before the first M2-2s arrived in Italy. M2-2s were used by armies other than that of the United States. Some were passed to the Australian Army, bringing to a halt the development of an indigenous Australian flamethrower known as the Ferret. Although the M2-2 was an improvement over the M1 and M1A1, the U.S. Army still considered that it wasn't what was really needed, and development continued to find a better and lighter flamethrower. Some work was carried out to evolve a single-shot flamethrower that could be discarded after use. A model that used a combustible powder to produce pressure to eject 9 litres of thickened gas-based fuel from a cylinder was under developmentr as the war ended, but the project was terminated soon afterwards. It would have had a range of 27.4 meters or 30 yards. THE ILLUSTRATED MANUAL OF U.S. PORTABLE FLAMETHROWERS is the most comprehensive book ever written on the development and use of the flamethrowers that were carried into battle. The book details the development of each model, the prototypes, failures, and standardized models and the history of their use in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and up until 1985 when all flamethrowers were removed from the U.S. arsenal. This well researched book also covers the stages of development, experimental models, foreign models, and combat usage. It is further complimented with illustrations, photographs, drawings, diagrams, and comparisons of features copies from other countries. When photographs weren't available for certain models, flamethrowers were restored, fired, and photographed. How flamethrowers work is also covered in detail-both in the main book and in the manuals reproduced on the enclosed Mac and PC compatible CD that come with the book. This book is a must for any serious collector of flamethrowers as well as any student of military history.
Lt. Colonel Robert A. Lynn, Florida Guard