Since the beginning of the war, the German portable
flame thrower has undergone a number of
modifications. Each successive model has represented an
attempt to provide a less cumbersome weapon without
decreasing its effective range. The various models
are discussed in the following paragraphs.
1. MODEL 35
The German portable flame thrower, Model 35,
which was in use at the start of the present war, is
a modified version of the 1918 German flame thrower.
The fuel container is a commercial-type pressure
cylinder which also holds the compressed nitrogen used
to propel the jet of fuel. Fuel ejection and ignition
are controlled by a trigger lever on top of the flame
gun. This weapon weighs 79 pounds. It has a fuel
capacity of 2.6 gallons and a flame range of 25 yards.
2. MODEL 40
This so-called "Lifebuoy Type" portable flame
thrower has a fuel unit consisting of two concentric
ring-shaped containers, which are carried flat on the
operator's back. The total weight of this flame
thrower is 47 pounds. Its fuel capacity is only
1.5 gallons. The flame range is approximately the same
as that of the Model 35.
3. MODEL 41
The German portable flame thrower, Model 41, introduced
about August 1942, and its later modification,
the portable flame thrower, Model 42, are equipped
with flame guns of two different types. The rest of
the equipment is the same for both models and can be
used with either type of flame gun.
Figure 1 illustrates the Model 41, and figure 2
illustrates the Model 42.
Fuel capacity, weight, and flame range of the two
most recent models do not differ much from those of
the Model 40. The following table supplies basic
|Maximum range||25 yd||25 yd|
|Total weight, charged||approx 47 lb||40 1/2 lb|
|Total weight, empty||32.2 lb||29 lb|
|Fuel capacity||1 1/2 gal||1 1/2 gal|
|Fuel pressure||368 lb/sq in||368 lb/sq in|
|Nitrogen capacity||218 cu in||218 cu in|
|Hydrogen capacity||28 1/2 cu in||_ _ _ _ _|
The flame gun of the Model 41 is the same as that
used in the earlier types of German portable flame
throwers. The jet of fuel is ignited by a hydrogen
flame, which itself is ignited by a battery-actuated
electric device. The hydrogen cylinder, 16 inches long
and 1 1/2 inches in diameter, is mounted on the flame
gun. The rubber fuel hose, which has an inside
diameter of approximately 1 inch, is wire-braided on
the outside. The fuel tank and the pressure cylinder,
each charged with compressed nitrogen, are 13 inches
long, their diameters being 7 inches and 5 inches,
respectively. Both containers are carried on the
operator's back, in a horizontal position and with the
pressure cylinder placed above the fuel tank. The
fuel valve, which controls the flow of fuel to the flame
gun, is so placed that the operator can rotate the
hand wheel with his left hand.
The tank carrier consists of a fabric-covered
quadrangular frame, fitted with two metal cradles. Each
cradle consists of a horizontal bar with a semicircular
metal strip at each end. The fuel tank and the
pressure cylinder are held on the cradles by a metal band
fitted with a quick-release clasp and cotter pin. The
tank carrier is provided with two shoulder straps.
4. MODEL 42
Except for the flame gun, this equipment is the same
as the Model 41. Although shorter, the flame gun of
the Model 42 is otherwise similar in appearance to that
of the Model 41. The essential difference between the
two models is in the ignition method. In the Model 42
flame gun, the fuel jet is ignited by the flash from a
blank cartridge, instead of by a hydrogen flame.
The principal parts of the flame gun are a fuel tube
with a fuel-discharge valve at the rear, an ignition
device, and a removable protective cover for the
The fuel-discharge valve is controlled by a trigger
lever, which can be folded flat when not in use.
The protective dust cover is a steel tube, 1 1/2 inches
in diameter, and constitutes the forward outside part
of the flame gun. Removal of this cover discloses the
ignition device. This consists essentially of a tubular
spring-loaded cartridge magazine, mounted above, and
parallel with, the fuel tube. The breech and the firing
rod cartridge-ejection mechanisms are at the forward
end. The magazine holds 10 blank 9-mm (0.35-inch)
The normal position of the breech is such that the
mouth of the cartridge is about 0.4 inch from the fuel
jet and inclines at an angle to it, so that the flash
is directed into the fuel jet.
The firing mechanism is operated by the same trigger
lever that controls the fuel-discharge valve. When
this trigger is moved to the rear, the fuel discharge
valve begins to open. At the same time, the breech
of the firing mechanism swings back into line with
the magazine. Ejection of the spent cartridge takes
place, a fresh cartridge is inserted by spring pressure,
and the striker pin is withdrawn, thereby allowing
the breech to swing forward into an inclined position.
Percussion takes place with the fuel valve wide open.
When the trigger is released, the fuel-discharge valve
closes, and the firing mechanism is again ready.
The Model 42 flame gun weighs 5 1/2 pounds, or
about 2 1/2 pounds less than the Model 41. It is
cleverly designed, but is very complex and requires
a number of expensive small parts.
5. HOW THE GERMANS USE THEM
Only the engineers carry and employ flame
throwers. However, the engineers in the German
army are regarded as combat troops, and engineer
elements are frequently attached to small infantry
units, down to the smallest assault detachments.
These elements may be anything from an engineer
platoon attached to an advance guard to two
engineers with a flame thrower supporting a raiding
Flame throwers are used only against static targets,
preferably in inclosed spaces. They are used most
of all against pillboxes. In such instances the flame-throwing
detachment begins the final assault on the
pillbox itself by engaging the embrasures at close
range after infantry detachments have cut any
communication wire. (The flame throwers usually
advance to within effective range under cover of smoke
or of fire from machine guns, antitank guns, or single
The effect of the flame thrower is chiefly
psychological. Moreover, the men carrying the equipment
are good targets, once they have been spotted. Experience
has shown that casualties in German flame thrower
detachments are high.
 Although the German tables of organization represent such a platoon
as consisting of 60 men with 2 flame throwers, it should be noted that
for special missions the number of flame throwers may be increased.