M1 FlamethrowerWiki info
World War I saw the initial deployment of flamethrower systems. The Germans fielded the Kleinflammenwerfer and Wex flamethrower unit to complement its specialist battalion Stormtrooper ... Read more units and tactics. Used first in a battle on July 30, 1915 at Hooge in Flanders, the Germans surprised the British and French forces in an assault that inflicted almost 800 casualties. The British and French responded in kind with the fielding of flamethrower systems copied from the Germans. Initial uses of the weapon startled opposing forces, but tactics were developed to counter flamethrower elements including concentrated fire on known flamethrower positions and keeping safe distances. The arrival of the Americans in December 1917 provided American troops with first hand experience in the fielding of flamethrower systems. The Americans experimented with and developed flamethrower systems during the war, but were curtailed by the signing of the armistice. The previously aforementioned tactics against their deployment and the extreme danger of the flamethrower system contributed to the American forces regarding it as a total failure. General Amos A. Fries, chief of CWS from 1920 to 1929, of the American Expeditionary Forces commented that flamethrowers were: "one of the greatest failures among the many promising devices tried out on a large scale in the war. " The American perception of the system as a failure in the interwar years saw no research or development of flamethrowers. The assessment ran counter to other nations and reappeared in the Abyssinian war of 1935-1936 and the Spanish Civil War. In the Blitzkrieg efforts of the Germans in the years of 1939 and 1940, intelligence reports of German troops utilizing flamethrower equipment circulated. The efficacy of the Blitzkrieg and deficiency of corresponding flamethrower capability prompted the Secretary of War to charge the Chemical Warfare Service department on August 12, 1940 to develop a flamethrower system.Read less
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