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 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.
CHARACTERISTICS AND OPERATION
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.
JAPANESE FLAME-THROWER TROOPS
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.