Flaming Hell

Flame thrower tanks were found to be highly effective at clearing Japanese bunkers during the war in the Pacific. Craig Moore investigates their development

The Byzantine Greeks first used a flame thrower in the first century and fire has been used as a weapon by armies around the world for more than 2,000 years. Modern flame throwers were first used in World War One by all sides involved in the conflict.

In 1918, the US Corps of Engineers demonstrated its Steam Tank prototype in France. It was armed with a flame thrower as its main weapon and the tank was powered by two, two-cylinder steam engines. The war ended before production could start.

Flame throwers were also used in World War Two. The M42B1E9 Sherman flame thrower tank that is now on display at the Museum of American Armor, Old Bethpage, New York, US used to be part of the nowclosed Museum of World War Two in Natick, Massachusetts. There are only seven surviving examples of this version of the Sherman tank, and they are all in the US.

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