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See Also: Jap Flame Tank

"Portable Flame Thrower" from Intelligence Bulletin, February 1945

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover: February 1945]  
The following report on the WWII Japanese Model 93 and Model 100 portable flame throwers originally appeared in the February 1945 issue of the Intelligence Bulletin.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Intelligence Bulletin publication. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


The portable flame thrower, a standard weapon of pillbox assault teams, has not been used extensively by the Japanese. However, the enemy is known to be equipped both with flame throwers and with flame-thrower troops, and must be considered capable of using this weapon extensively in future operations. Thus far he has used them only in isolated instances ever since the start of the present Pacific war.

Two types of portable flame thrower are standard throughout the Japanese Army—the Model 93 and the Model 100. However, since there is so little difference between the construction of the two types, they may be regarded virtually as identical weapons. Each model consists of three principal groups: fuel unit, fuel hose, and flame gun. A modification in the construction of the flame gun is the only difference between the two types of flame thrower.

[The Japanese flame thrower, showing the fuel and pressure tanks, the flame gun, and the disassembled igniting-cartridge magazine.]
The Japanese flame thrower, showing the fuel and pressure tanks, the flame gun, and the disassembled igniting-cartridge magazine.


The flame-thrower fuel unit consists of two 15-inch cylindrical tanks, each of which is 6 inches in diameter. Hemisphere-shaped at both ends, the tanks are connected at the top and bottom by a welded pipe which permits fuel and pressure to flow evenly in both tanks so that they may operate as a single unit. The total fuel capacity is 3 1/4 gallons.

A third tank, slightly smaller but of the same shape, is included in the fuel unit, and contains nitrogen or air under pressure. This pressure cylinder is attached to the back and center of the two fuel tanks. Air pressure, which forces the fuel from the tanks into the flame gun, is let into the fuel tanks through a tube running from the top of the pressure cylinder to the top of the left fuel tank. This pressure is controlled by a manually operated needle valve, one on the top of each of these two cylinders. The top of the right-hand fuel tank is fitted with a screw cap for filling the containers with fuel.

This three-tank unit is fitted with straps which permit it to be carried on the operator's back like an infantry pack.


The fuel hose, 45 inches long, is made of reinforced fabricated rubber tubing, with brass fittings on both ends. One end is attached to the bottom of the right-hand fuel tank, and the other is fitted to the flame gun.


The flame gun, which is either 3 or 4 feet long, consists of a fuel tube 1 inch in internal diameter. The fuel ejection handle is located near the fuel hose connection, and the 1/4-inch nozzle with the firing mechanism is attached to the other end of the tube.

The firing mechanism is a 10-chamber magazine resembling the magazine of an ordinary revolver. Loaded with 10 rimless cartridges, it rotates around the nozzle, and, when fired, ejects an ignition flash parallel to the spurt of fuel. The cartridges are loaded into the front of the magazine, and are held in place by a threaded retaining cap with holes in line with the cartridge chambers.

The fuel ejection handle, which fires the cartridges when it opens the fuel ejection valve, is in the closed position when it is parallel to the fuel tube. When this handle is turned at right angles to the tube, a continuous jet of fuel is released and a cartridge is fired, thus igniting the fuel. When the handle is returned to its position parallel to the tube, the flow of fuel stops, and the magazine revolves to place a new cartridge in the firing position.


The Japanese flame thrower may be carried easily. When filled, the tank assembly weighs 55 pounds. The fuel tanks will hold 3.25 gallons of fuel—a mixture of kerosene, gasoline, and fuel oil. This fluid can be thrown to a maximum range of 25 to 30 yards. The duration of a continuous discharge is from 10 to 12 seconds.

To operate the flame thrower, the operator first opens the valve on the pressure tank. The valve on the left fuel tank then is opened, and the gun is ready for firing. To fire, the operator aims the gun at his target, and turns the fuel ejection handle on the gun 90 degrees to the right. This simultaneously ejects the fuel and ignites it when the igniting cartridge fires. To shut off the fuel, the fuel ejection handle is returned to its original position.


It is known that flame-thrower companies exist in the Japanese Army, and that Japanese infantry also have used this weapon. Division engineer regiments are equipped with from six to a dozen.

Like other armies, the Japanese Army employs flame throwers principally in assault operations against pillboxes and similar fortifications.

The Japanese also use the flame thrower as an antitank weapon. Experiments have convinced them that a flame thrower either can temporarily stop a tank and thus leave it vulnerable to destruction by explosives, or—if the weapon is used to full effect against the air intakes—can put the tank and crew permanently out of commission.


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