M2-2 / M9A1-7 History

The M2 flamethrower (M2-2) served as the standard flamethrower of the US military during and after World War 2, replacing the M1 and M1A1 series. The M2 would go on to see service in the upcoming Korean and Vietnam wars and still play a role in today's modern military (used in field testing). Production of the M2 series was more than that of the M1 family and totaled nearly 25,000 examples.

It goes without saying that fire had always maintained a prominent place on the battlefield even dating as far back to ancient times. It was readily available and the only issue revolved around its adequate delivery onto the heads of enemy formations. "Liquid fire" was nothing new by the time of World War 1 and the Germans used such a flame-spewing weapons to good effect in the trenches against their French enemies. While these systems were large and cumbersome components, they instilled much fear against their intended targets in the fire zone and served as a tremendous psychological presence nonetheless - fire, it seemed, had a way of motivating any living thing to move from its held ground. By the time of the 1930s, the Germans had more or less perfected a man-portable backpack flamethrower (the "Flammenwerfer") that saw good use from it, leading to an ever-growing list of improved forms. It was only a matter of time that the Allies followed suit and developed their own serviceable models. For the Americans, the M1 became such a development - itself being loosely based on the original German design.

When the M1 was pressed into evaluation service by 1941, it was quickly shown to have some reliability issues in both design and operation. The system was hardly robust enough for the rigors of the battlefield and the ignition system - relying on hydrogen being ignited by the spark of a battery - often failed its users to the point that soldiers would use whatever means necessary to ignite the flame gun - burning bits of paper, cigarette lighters etc. . . The M1A1 was unveiled as an improved, more robust form in 1943 but the system still had a ways to go. Additives were now being added to the fuel stores to produce a "thicker" stream compound, increasing the weapon's range and damage cone. The weight was further "lightened" from 70lbs to make for a more portable system at 65lbs. However, the ignition system originating in the M1 remained unchanged in the M1A1, leading to some of the same problems during combat use.

Design of the M2 began in 1940 and continued on into 1941. With extensive use of the M1 and M1A1 systems, the Chemical Warfare Service - the group responsible for design and delivery of the original flamethrowers - used this experience to develop a more refined weapon system. The prototype came under the designation of "E3" and formed the basis of a new line of more robust and reliable flamethrowing systems. The experimental E3 was eventually accepted into service as the "Portable Flame-Thrower M2-2". The weapon system eventually entered service in 1943 and succeeded both the M1 and M1A1 when numbers made it possible. However, where it was not so, Army and Marine personnel continued use of the M1 family.

The M2 retained the same thickened fuel format as the M1 family but the biggest addition was the new cartridge-based ignition system. The old battery-actuated spark system was dropped from the design, instead replaced by a new five-shot, revolver-type magazine fitted to the end of the flame tube. Each revolver well held an ignition cartridge (for a total of five possible ignitions before reloading). The new system proved much more reliable under combat conditions than the original method, requiring reloading only after all five cartridges had been spent.

M2-2 / M9A1-7 Specification

BASICS

Service Year

1943

Origin

United States

Classification

Man-Portable Backpack Infantry Flamethrower

MANUFACTURER(S)

State Factories - USA

OPERATORS

Australia; Brazil; Japan; Philippines; United States

ROLES

Special purpose weapon for a specially defined battlefield role.

DIMENSIONS & WEIGHT

Empty Wgt

67. 90 lb

30. 80 kg

Sights

None

ACTION

Rotary Cartridge Ignition Flame Jet

(Material presented above is for historical and entertainment value and should not be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation - always consult official manufacturer sources for such information)

CARTRIDGE & FEED

Caliber(s)*

4. 7-gallon Nitrogen Fuel Canister

Rounds / Feed

7-Flamethrows Possible

*May not represent an exhuastive list; calibers are model-specific dependent, always consult official manufacturer sources. **Graphics not to actual size; not all cartridges may be represented visually; graphics intended for general reference only.

PERFORMANCE

Max Eff. Range

65 ft

(20 m | 22 yd)

VARIANTS

M2 - Base Series NameM2-2 - Initial Service Model; World War 2M2A1-2 - Korean War model; straight-sided backframe frame; safety valve. M2A1-7 - Updated M2A1-2 with four-control scheme; Vietnam War use. M9A1-7 - Lightweight model; Definitive Vietnam War model.

Related stuff

1400 1514 1587 1765 1774 1775 1776 1782 1785 1786 1791 1797 1811 1813 1819 1840 1841 1842 1852 1853 1855 1856 1857 1859 1860 1861 1862 1863 1864 1865 1866 1867 1868 1869 1870 1873 1874 1875 1877 1878 1885 1886 1888 1889 1895 1896 1897 1898 1900 1901 1902 1903 1904 1905 1906 1907 1908 1909 1910 1911 1912 1913 1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 1919 1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 1928 1929 1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Contact