M2 flamethrower

M2 Flamethrower
A soldier from the 33rd Infantry Division uses an M2 flamethrower.
Place of originUnited States
Service history
In service1944–1978
WarsWorld War II
Korean War
Vietnam War
Production history
DesignerUS Army Chemical Warfare Service
No. built14,000 (M1A1)
VariantsM2A1-2, M2A1-7
Mass43 lb (19.5 kg) empty
68 lb (30.8 kg) filled

Rate of fireAround 0.5 US gal (1.9 l) a second
Effective firing range65+12 ft (20.0 m)
Maximum firing range132 ft (40 m)
Feed systemTwo, 2 US gal (7.6 l) Napalm/gasoline tanks (fuel)
One Nitrogen tank (propellant)
United States Marines demonstrate an M2 flamethrower (2012)

The M2 flamethrower was an American, man-portable, backpack flamethrower that was used in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. The M2 was the successor to the M1 and M1A1 flamethrowers. Although its burn time was around 7 seconds long, and the flames were effective around 20–40 meters, it was still a useful weapon. With the arrival of flamethrower tanks, the need for flamethrower-carrying infantrymen to expose themselves to enemy fire had been greatly reduced.

Though some M2s were sold off, the majority were scrapped.

Combat use[]

Second World War[]

The M2 flamethrower saw combat use in the Pacific theater, being deployed to combat strongly fortified and entrenched Japanese positions. Following the success with the M1 flamethrower, the M2 was developed and put into combat use in 1943. Towards the end of the conflict, later models of the M2 were equipped with the fuel-thickening agent known as napalm.[1]

Variants of the M2[]

The M2 was the WWII model had hexagonal gas caps and hourglass frames. It was also called the M2-2, M2 for the tank groups and -2 for the wand type.

The M2A1-2 is the variation of the M2 devised during the Korean War. These had straight sided backpack frames, vented gas caps, a cylinder sized regulator and a safety valve. These are much more common today than WWII models.

M2A1-7 was a flamethrower used by the American troops during the Vietnam War. It is the updated version of the M2A1-2 unit used during The Korean War.

It has four controls:

The M9A1-7 was the most common model used in Vietnam and is much lighter and easier to use. Tanks for this weapon are commonly[when?] found[where?][by whom?], but most wands were destroyed after the Vietnam war.

Some U.S. Army flamethrowers have a front handgrip with the same shape as the rear handgrip. In these models the igniter controls are on the front handgrip, arranged in the same way as the rear handgrip controls. The M2 was replaced by the M9A1-7 flamethrower which was used in Vietnam. The M9A1-7 was replaced by the M202A1 FLASH.


Map with former M2 flamethrower operators

Former operators[]


See also[]


  1. ^ Van Wyck, David (2020). "Beyond the burn: Studies on the physiological effects of flamethrowers during World War II". Military Medical Research. 7 (1): 8. doi:10.1186/s40779-020-00237-9. PMC 7045602. PMID 32102691.
  2. ^ "Flamethrowers. Hated feared and used by all". diggerhistory.info. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  3. ^ "携帯放射機(火焔放射機)" (in Japanese). Retrieved 22 November 2015.

External links[]