Flamethrowers are a significant piece of military weapons history which are very widely misunderstood, as flamethrowers have never been the subject of nearly as much collector interest as other types of small arms. The US military removed its flamethrowers from inventory in 1985, and all other major national militaries have done the same. In the US, the lack of general interest led to most of the surplussed weapons being destroyed as scrap, and few survive in private collections. At the same time (and for the same reason) a great deal of the information on these weapons was also discarded and lost.
One of the people who has done a tremendous amount of work to recover practical information on historical military flamethrowers as well as restore, service, and operate them is Charlie Hobson. He has worked extensively with the US military museum system as well as the entertainment industry (if you have seen a movie of TV show using a real flamethrower, is was almost certainly done under his supervision).
Today I am discussing the basic of flamethrowers with Charlie. The goal is to provide a good baseline foundation so we can go on to look at a couple specific historical flamethrowers and understand them in context. So sit back, relax, and enjoy a chat with a man who is truly passionate about this underappreciated aspect of military history!
You can reach Charlie through his web site, www.FlamethrowerExpert.com if you are interested in the purchase, restoration, or testing of military flamethrowers. I also highly recommend his book, US Portable Flamethrowers. It covers not only the whole sequence of US flamethrowers from WWII through the 1980s, but also includes experimental models, vehicle-mounted units, and foreign designs as well.