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"Most controversial military weapon ever invented ..." Topic

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1,189 hits since 10 Aug 2017
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP10 Aug 2017 3:42 p.m. PST

…the flamethrower.

"The U.S. Department of Defense decided in 1978 to stop using flamethrowers. They have been removed from the U.S. weapons arsenal and are not currently used by American soldiers. The decision by the U.S. Defense Department to ban the use of flamethrowers was voluntary. At the time, military officials stated that flamethrowers were not effective in modern combat scenarios.

Prior to dropping flamethrowers, the weapon had been widely used by U.S. soldiers in both World Wars, Korea, and the Vietnam conflict. In those combat environments, flamethrowers were used to destroy forts, bunkers, and vehicles. They were also used to inflict psychological terror on enemy soldiers who were terrified of being burned alive. Modern flamethrowers can be mounted onto vehicles or a soldier's back. Some flamethrowers can project fire 100 meters and incinerate targets within seconds…"
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Legion 410 Aug 2017 4:03 p.m. PST

Yeah the thought of becoming a "crispy critter" would scare the heck out of anybody !huh? Just like with Napalm. The instructors that served in SE Asia told/taught us about that. And used the "descriptive" term "crispy critter" often …

The ARMY had a man packed 4 tube incendiary rocket launcher, the M202 Flash. Only saw it fired once in @ '79 at the range during training. It was supposed to be a "replacement" for a flame thrower, IIRC. It was phased out a few years later, again, IIRC … old fart

Personal logo Waco Joe Supporting Member of TMP10 Aug 2017 4:10 p.m. PST

Why risk getting up close and personal if you can just call in air support and thermobaric ordinance.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP10 Aug 2017 4:36 p.m. PST

Most controversial weapon ever invented? I thought that was the atomic bomb. Or the crossbow. Or possibly the catapult.

skippy0001 Supporting Member of TMP10 Aug 2017 5:21 p.m. PST

The crossbow-the Pope tried to ban it.

Wolfhag10 Aug 2017 6:50 p.m. PST

It would have come in handy in Fallujah. It sure beats being the first guy in a stick running and gunning through door with bad guys waiting for you.


gamershs Supporting Member of TMP10 Aug 2017 10:11 p.m. PST

The Pope did not ban the crossbow. During jousts unemployed crossbow men and archers would show there skills in order to be hired. The problem was too many did a William Tell and the bolt landed 6 inches too low. The Pope did a ban on such demonstrations (I suspect only for the use of live targets).

Wargame mags can come up with interesting articles.

Skarper Inactive Member10 Aug 2017 10:37 p.m. PST

Is anybody using flamethrowers these days?

I understand the deficiencies of man-packed short range flame throwers was already identified in late WW2. The British and most other armies started to work with armoured platforms that had greater range and more protection.

Napalm has also become less used.

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP10 Aug 2017 11:19 p.m. PST

I think China and North Korea still have it in their arsenals.

Funny that the Germans introduced the weapon in WWI complained very loudly about the US using shotguns in combat.

Andy ONeill11 Aug 2017 6:36 a.m. PST

Whilst very scary, the man pack flamewthrower isn't a great weapon really. It's ungainly, heavy, low capacity and short range.
Thermobaric weapons are now widely considered to do a similar sort of job on enclosed spaces like bunkers, caves or houses and can be rather handier.
The headlines tend to go to massive bombs but there are small versions as well.
The US has a 40mm grenade, the xm1060 which is supposed to be very good at blowing up mud brick buildings.

Legion 411 Aug 2017 7:12 a.m. PST

Yes, I'm of the thought to keep your distance and call in FA or CAS, etc. But that option may not always be available for a few reasons.

As Andy points out it has all the things most guys who would be carrying it would find "less than satisfactory", I'd think.

Napalm has also become less used.
Yes because of it's bursting radius, etc. it can be a little inaccurate. But, IIRC, in '67 the IAF used it on Egyptian armored columns in the Sinai.

And IIRC, the US used it to a limited extent on Iraqis in GW II. Who were defending a critical concrete bridge a one point. The Napalm would kill the defenders, but leave the bridge mostly undamaged. And able to be crossed fairly rapidly after the strike.

But as pointed out there are "better" more high tech weapons options today than in the past.

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP11 Aug 2017 7:50 a.m. PST

I once read a report from an ordnance unit charged with collecting gear from the US Normandy beaches. They collected hundreds of discarded flamethrowers and most of them had never been fired.

Mobius11 Aug 2017 8:03 a.m. PST

I thought it was the neutron bomb.

Roderick Robertson Fezian11 Aug 2017 9:15 a.m. PST

Great, we don't have flamethrowers any more, so when the mutant 20-foot ants or creatures to 40,000 fathoms attack, what are we goi9ng to use? Huh? HUH???

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP11 Aug 2017 10:18 a.m. PST



badger22 Inactive Member11 Aug 2017 10:57 a.m. PST

Withdrawn from arsenal and not used is not the same as destroyed. It would not surprise me at all if we dont have warehouses of them out i the desert somewhere waiting to be issued at need. Armys are like that.


Mobius11 Aug 2017 11:11 a.m. PST

Withdrawn from arsenal and not used is not the same as destroyed. It would not surprise me at all if we dont have warehouses of them out i the desert somewhere waiting to be issued at need. Armys are like that.

More than likely. A co-worker of mine was in the reserves in the early '80s. Every summer he had to spend 2 weeks in Utah sweeping out huge warehouses. One was filled with WWII jeeps stacked 3 high.

14Bore11 Aug 2017 11:51 a.m. PST

The main problem with flamethrowers is range, and they are legal to own in the US.
There is a expert on flamethrowers in a YouTube interview and he says they were not used on D-Day

Blutarski11 Aug 2017 2:20 p.m. PST

The flamethrower is a specialist precision weapon for a specialist precision task – eliminating/suppressing enemy cave and bunker positions. The USMC employed flamethrowers very effectively in that role during its WW2 Pacific island campaigns.

If you want to talk about really controversial (and pernicious) weapons systems, lethal chemical nerve and biological agents qualify to a far greater degree.

Strictly my opinion, of course.


Wolfhag11 Aug 2017 2:51 p.m. PST

My vote is a trained sniper. Someone who can coolly and methodically be judge, jury, and executioner in selecting his prey and then calmly putting a bullet into them without blinking and feeling only the recoil is a different kind of cold hearted individual. It's no wonder they were executed when taken POW.

Woody is still alive and my brother met him last year in Miami.


Andy ONeill12 Aug 2017 3:02 a.m. PST

Yep, snipers and flamethrower guys were both widely loathed.

Interesting link that.
Particularly the bit about bullets bouncing off the flamethrower fuel tanks.

Legion 412 Aug 2017 7:23 a.m. PST

Flame Throwers in WWII, especially were very useful in the PTO. As the enemy had the "unique" predilection/habit of holding up in a bunker, cave, etc., … And let themselves be immolated for their leader. Whom they thought was related to their God. We even see such "mindsets" today. In some locales.

But again IMO, for all the reasons we have mentioned, makes a flame thrower a less than "efficient & effective" choice with all the other new tech available.

My vote is a trained sniper.
Mine too generally, but for larger targets, I'm more of a fan of CAS, FA, etc., …

christot Inactive Member12 Aug 2017 8:13 a.m. PST

"and they are legal to own in the US."


Legion 412 Aug 2017 9:18 a.m. PST

I'm sure they'd do a heck of a job clearing out all the underbrush, weeds, etc., around the property … evil grin

UshCha13 Aug 2017 2:58 a.m. PST

I looked at the Flash. As I recall it was retired as nobody was a dedicated operator and the ammo could be unreliable if stored incorrectly and had a relatively short shelf life. If I recall it was a favorite Hollywood action Movie weapon. You could fire 3 Dum and the last Live so it did not light till you sent the last one in. The fact is was abandoned means it was not that much of an advantage so not really a weapon of note,

Legion 413 Aug 2017 7:27 a.m. PST

As I recall it was retired as nobody was a dedicated operator
The M202 was issued like the M72 LAW or hand grenades. It was a piece of expendable ordinance. And as with all weapons in the Infantry Squad, etc., all would be trained to use it. It did not have a dedicated operator, just like the M72, hand grenades, M18 Claymore mines, etc.

As I have said before, and some gamers some times seem not get this[not saying anyone here, just in general]. If your MG gunner is KIA'd. Anyone else in the squad/unit can pick it up and use it. As again, all members in the unit are cross-trained to use all weapons organic or issued to the unit.

The M202 was also known to be a bit "hinky" for the reasons all ready mentioned.

Just like the original M72 LAW. We were trained to look at the LAW tube. It was supposed say, "M72A2 w/coupler". As the original M72 had the annoying habit of the warhead falling off the rocket when fired. huh?

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