Top 5 Things You Don't Know About Flamethrowers



Top 5 Things You Don't Know About Flamethrowers

Script written by Thomas O'Connor

Intimidating? Check. Dangerous? Check. But legal? From their history, to their questionable usefulness in warfare, to where they were invented, these flamethrower facts will fry your brain! WatchMojo counts down five things you didn't know about flamethrowers.
Script written by Thomas O'Connor

Top 5 Things You Don't Know About Flamethrowers

Intimidating? Check. Dangerous? Check. But legal? Welcome to, and today we’re counting down the Top 5 Things You Don't Know About Flamethrowers.

For this list, we’re bringing you five interesting facts you may not have known about these flame-spewing weapons of war.

#5: They're Not That Useful in Warfare

These hardcore weapons don’t cause nearly as many direct fatalities as you’d expect when they’re deployed in combat (modern combat, in particular). Most deaths attributed to the weapon happen when enemy soldiers are flushed out of cover, which opens them up to be shot or blown up by far more conventional weapons. Add in the fact that a hit on the flamethrower’s fuel tank can cause the entire contraption to go up in flames, including the operator, and they aren’t actually very safe or practical when it comes to warfare. Most major armies don’t even use them anymore.

#4: They've Been Around Since Ancient Times

You’d think weapons like this are an exclusively modern invention, but you’d be mistaken. Obviously, the use of fire as a weapon has been around forever; but devices that shoot a stream of fire, by propelling a flammable substance, have actually been around for quite a long time. Around 900 AD, the Chinese employed a pump device called the Pen Huo Qi, which worked pretty much exactly like a modern flamethrower, but was mounted on a ship and used exclusively for naval warfare. Even earlier, one was used by the Greeks in the Peloponnesian war, way back in 400 BC.

#3: The Modern Version Was Invented in Germany

The flamethrower as we know it today was invented in Germany circa 1901, courtesy of a scientist named Richard Fiedler. When World War 1 broke out, Fiedler’s invention proved very useful (and terrifying and awful), thanks to its ability to burn out enemies who were dug into foxholes and trenches. The weapon proved so useful at that type of attack that England and France got in on the action, producing their own powerful variants: the Livens Large Gallery Flame Projector and the Schilt flamethrower, respectively. Following the end of The Great War, the Treaty of Versailles banned the German army from using the weapon in future conflicts.

#2: Their Design Was Refined During World War II

When World War II began, however, Germany broke from the treaty, and the flamethrower became a tool of their army once again. Over the course of the war, both Germany and the United States made extensive use of them, both refining the design and experimenting with new applications. Before long, tank-mounted flamethrowers like the German Flammpanzer or the American M67 “Zippo” tank became regular sights on the battlefield. In the Pacific theater, backpack-mounted units were widespread thanks to their usefulness in trench warfare. They may not have been military game changers, but they effectively sowed terror and death.

#1: You Can Own One

Despite what you may imagine (or whether you think it’s insane), it’s entirely legal to own a flamethrower, or similar weapon, in most of the United States. California and Maryland are the only two states to put laws in place prohibiting the sale or ownership of such devices. Everywhere else, however, it’s completely lawful, and surprisingly easy, to get your hands on one (in stark contrast to places like the UK, where private citizens are prohibited from owning them). In early 2018, Tesla guru Elon Musk even began selling his own, which ran for 500 dollars a pop and sold out relatively quickly.