CMBN 3.0 Flamethrowers

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http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=113&t=14386

Some good info. I just wonder how often the man-pack types were really used. I suppose German combat engineers and other engineers used them especially in city and town fighting. I doubt many infantry types could be persuaded to don them. Given the short range, even the distance between hedgerows in the bocage means coming forward and being seen to get within shot distance. Most of these early designs had issues. Perhaps because they sat so long in storage.

The use of thickened fuels certainly made them deadlier. One poster at BF said that most of the fuel is consumed before hitting the target. Perhaps with the unthickened fuels but that is not true at all for the later models. Actually, most things about flame and molotovs etc. is incorrect at BF. Molotovs used against tanks can immobilize them rather quickly if the hit is near the engine air intake. The fuel and lack of oxygen stalls out the motor. The tank will quickly come to a halt due to rolling resistance and further molotovs can target the engine further or the fans on the tank.

FT operators were well aware of their special target status. In fact, many FT would douse down a target before setting it alight. This way, the initial flame is intense and target shock increased and firer exposure is limited. Perhaps a great way to attack a tank. I have read of one account of a Japanese FT dousing down an allied tank, coating one tanker with an open hatch, yet his FT failed to ignite and the operator was killed. Marine FT guys were held back and carefully brought forward to secured areas and then only brought forth when a suitable target was encountered.

I suppose that the Market Garden module will get the most bang with the flamethrowers. Historically, they were used and it will be interesting to see if they change play balance.
 

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The Portable Flame Thrower in the ETO

Normandy

Pre-Normandy preparations included more effort directed toward the training of flame thrower operators and the preparation of tactical and logistical procedures for the weapon than had been attempted before the invasion of Italy. In October 1943 Headquarters, ETOUSA, published detailed instructions for all units under its control in the tactical use of the portable flame thrower. This training memorandum suggested the assignment of three men-operator, assistant operator, and refill carrier-to each weapon and urged that twice that number be trained. This document stressed the tactical necessity of covering the flame thrower operator with small arms and smoke, but it did not specify the exact composition of the assault party.

As the date of the invasion approached, ETOUSA increased the tempo of its flame thrower preparations. New instructions, in the form of another training memorandum, did little more than reiterate the memo which it superseded. Of more help was the allocation of 150 portable flame throwers to each of the assault divisions of First Army, a number far in excess of the 24 flame throwers which the theater suggested for an infantry division in normal operations.

The assignment of such a large number of flame throwers to the assault regiments naturally increased the problem of training. In general, the status of flame thrower training within the divisions in England was poor. Engineer battalions had received limited doses, but infantry division troops, even of the veteran units, were generally unfamiliar with both the technical and tactical aspects of the weapon. Divisions of the First U.S. Army conducted schools in an effort to correct this deficiency. Third Army units, slated for commitment later than those of First Army, suffered from a lack of flame throwers



(in August 1944 Third Army's supply of the weapon was described as "practically nil"), and a consequent lack of trained operators.

These preparations went for naught; there is no record that the flame thrower was used during the Normandy landings. Many of the weapons were lost in the rough surf, and infantrymen perforce abandoned others in the struggle to get across the beaches in the face of heavy enemy fire. The 14th Chemical Maintenance Company, which landed in Normandy at the end of June, repaired and returned to depot stock over 100 portable flame throwers which it had picked up from salvage piles on the beaches. In any event, German positions encountered on the beachheads usually were not suitable flame thrower targets.

As the initial weeks of the campaign wore on and units moved inland, some flame thrower targets did appear. Cities and towns presented obstacles which occasionally called for flame thrower action, although the 1st and 2d Infantry Divisions reported that the weapon was not particularly useful in ordinary street fighting. The V Corps stated that the limited range of the portable flame thrower restricted its usefulness in fighting in the hedgerows, that ubiquitous feature of the Normandy terrain.
http://www.history.army.mil/html/reference/Normandy/TS/CWS/CWS16.htm
 
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