Chris McNab is an author and editor specializing in military history and military technology. He has already written two books in the Weapon series - Weapon 24 - German Automatic Rifles 1941-45 and Weapon 33 - Soviet Submachine Guns of World War II - and has just finished writing a book on the flamethrower.
Return of the flamethrower?
Recent video footage from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army shows that the manportable flamethrower – a weapon almost erased from most armies’ arsenals since World War II – could be staging something of a comeback. The video shows flamethrowers being used in coordinated squad attack training, burning up point and area targets at about 25m range.
Is this just Chinese forces engaging in retrograde posturing, filming a weapon that is spectacular but now lacking all tactical credibility? Perhaps not. In my forthcoming Osprey book Weapon 41 - The Flamethrower, I quote senior Western military personnel who think that the infantry flamethrower has definite applications in light of experience in Afghanistan, particularly in the classic role of defeating emplaced or underground positions in complex terrain. The question is, are tactical justifications for flamethrowers simply missing the point that these weapons are just no longer politically acceptable?
Weapon 41 - The Flamethrower is coming out in August 2015. Preorder it now!