The Italians have developed two types of flame
thrower, but neither of them has been used to any
considerable extent except in certain phases of the
Russian campaign. Like flame throwers developed by other
powers, the Italian weapons have a very limited use
on the battlefield. Their practical value is confined to
close combat, such as assaults on pillboxes, trenches,
boulder areas, caves, or other enclosed spaces. Even
under these conditions, the crew operating a flame
thrower is very vulnerable to many types of fire and
grenades. Flame throwers used in tanks have much
greater protection than those carried by hand. The
Italians have a portable type and one which is mounted
in a tank.
2. PORTABLE FLAME THROWER
This weapon, known as Model 35, has been used in
several instances by the Italian infantry as a supporting
weapon in Russia. Very little use of it has been
made in the North African operations.
The flame thrower is capable of throwing a flame
about 22 yards and making untenable a zone 38 yards
long and 17 yards wide. Fuel for only 20 seconds of
continuous flame is carried in the fuel container. The
operator is taught not to maintain the flame continuously
but to produce 10 jets of flame, each of which
should last for about 2 seconds. Approximately 20 minutes
is required to refuel and recharge the weapon
so that it can operate again.
Two men, comprising a team, are required for each
flame thrower. No. 1 carries the weapon on his back
and operates it, and No. 2 carries on his back all the
necessary supplies. No. 1 wears noninflammable clothing
and a respirator.
It is not considered good tactics to use flame throwers
in units smaller than a group. The latter consists of
one leader, an assistant leader, and six squads. Each
squad has two of the weapons—two teams.
The flame thrower consists of two cylinders, a length
of reinforced and flexible tubing, and a jet or flame
tube, to which is attached the trigger and the ignition
arrangement. The cylinders are identical, and each
contains the same type and amount of fuel. The fuel
usually is ignited at the base of the jet, by a coil and
spark gap—with a wick at the gap. The electrical
current is produced by a dry-cell battery. Some are
said to be ignited by means of a friction tube and a
wick, which burns for 2 minutes.
Each of the cylinders contains nitrogen under pressure
and fuel oil. The oil ordinarily used is believed to
be a mixture of benzine and light motor oil. Some of
the fuel captured was a mixture of kerosene and
lubricating oil, or fuel oil.
3. FLAME-THROWER TANK
The flame-thrower tank, technically known as L3.33 L.F.,
is a light tank which weighs 3 1/2 tons. One was
captured in the North Africa operations and has been
examined in the British Isles.
The flame-thrower projector is mounted at the front
of the tank, replacing one of the two 8-mm machine
guns in the turret. It throws a flame 40 to 45 yards. At
a continuous rate, the flame will burn for 2 minutes
and 15 seconds. It can be cut off and on at will, and
generally is operated only a few seconds at a time.
The tank has a fuel trailer, which consists of a two-wheeled
chassis with a tow bar connecting with the
tank. Fitted to the bar is an armor-plated shell which
houses a rectangular light steel fuel tank. At the rear
end of the tank, under a hinged cover, is mounted a
semirotary hand pump with necessary connections for
refueling, defueling, and mixing the substances which
form the fuel.
A second and larger pump, to force the fuel from the
trailer to the flame projector, is located in the rear part
of the tank, immediately behind the engine fan. The
pump, operated by power from the engine, is connected
to the projector by two pipes—one to deliver fuel and
the other to return any not used.
An electric ignition system is used to start and stop
the functioning of the flame thrower. The current is
generated by power from the tank engine.