The M2 flamethrower is an American man-portable backpack flamethrower developed by the United States Army Chemical Warfare Service used during World War II, and succeeds the M1 flamethrower.
The M2 was used during World War II and the Korean and Vietnam Wars by American, Australian, Brazilian, Filipino and Japanese Troops. Despite setbacks being its burn time only being around 8 seconds and the flame only being effective out to around 20–40 meters, it was still considered a useful weapon. With the arrival of flamethrower tanks, the need for flamethrower-carrying infantrymen to expose themselves to enemy fire was substantially reduced, making them a little bit more relevant for the time. However, by the 1960s, the M2 was declared obsolete due to the introduction of the M202 FLASH, an incendiary rocket launcher, but even that was declared obsolete in the 1980s. After the war, most M2s were scrapped but some managed to survive. While still "used" today, it is no longer in active service and only used for testing or for entertainment purposes.
The M2 is a man-portable backpack flamethrower connected to a backpack containing two tanks of fuel and a nitrogen propellant. To ignite the diesel fuel in the M2, an igniter cartridge is used and placed in the nozzle; once the nozzle is screwed tightly onto the wand, it secures the cartridge in place and cocks the spring used to puncture the igniter. Pulling the front trigger causes the spring to be released from its cocked position and punctures the igniter, setting off a small flame that can be seen from the nozzle that lasts for approximately eight seconds; the manual for the M2 states that the duration of the flame going off is eleven seconds. This ignites the diesel fuel and allows for the flamethrower to be used. The backpack was fitted with quick-disconnect buckles on both backpack straps that allowed its user to quickly ditch the weapon if required, such as when a sniper hits the wand and causes it to vent gas. This allows them to quickly drop the wand and backpack and run for safety. Interestingly, some M2s can be found with quick-disconnect buckles from different eras, like one from the Vietnam War-era and another from the World War II-era, which is mainly attributed to the various rebuilds and variants the M2 has had over its years of service.
Had a hexagonal cap and an hourglass frame.
Variant of the M2 developed during the Korean War. Had straight-sided backpack frames, vented gas caps, a cylinder-sized regulator and an added safety valve. It has four controls: a firing safety catch located at the back of the rear pistol grip, a trigger located on the rear pistol grip, an ignitor safety catch on top of the nozzle of the wand and an igniter trigger located on the front pistol grip.
The most common version used during the Vietnam War. While tanks are easily available, most wands were destroyed and scrapped after the end of the war.