Military Review

PLA infantry flamethrowers: obsolete but modern


Soviet LPO-50 - subsequently appeared the same "Type 58". Photo

To date, the leading armies of the world have recognized the jet flamethrower hopelessly outdated and abandoned it. The exception is the People’s Liberation Army of China, which is still armed with similar systems. However, these samples differ in respectable age, and no replacement is created for them.

Soviet aid

It is known that the first Chinese flamethrower incendiary systems appeared in the XNUMXth century A.D. and then used for several centuries. However, then similar weapon forgotten, and the revival of this class occurred only at the end of the fifties of the XX century.

At that time, the USSR actively shared with young PRC ready-made military products and its production technologies. Among other things, light and heavy infantry flamethrowers LPO-50 and TPO-50, as well as documentation for their release, went to China. These deliveries predetermined the development of Chinese flamethrower weapons for several decades to come - up to our time.

Heavy TPO-50. Wikimedia Commons Photos

Soviet aid provided for the delivery of several thousand finished products of two types. In addition, the Chinese industry was able to master their independent production, and by the beginning of the sixties in the arsenal of the PLA there were two flamethrowers with the general name "Type 58". Soon, relations between the two countries deteriorated, as a result of which the supply of imported weapons ceased. However, China already had the opportunity to independently provide its army.

First samples

The light infantry flamethrower LPO-50 and its Chinese version, Type 58, were a knapsack-type system designed to destroy manpower in open areas or in shelters. The flamethrower appeared in the early fifties and by the middle of the decade took its place in the army; a little later he went to China.

LPO-50 included a knapsack block with three cylinders for the fire mixture and a launching device in the form of a “gun” with a bipod. The flamethrower had three cylinders with a capacity of 3,3 liters, each of which was equipped with its own pyro cartridge-pressure accumulator and was connected to a common pipe system. When you press the trigger, the electrical system ignited the cartridge, and it emitted gases, pushing the flame through the pipes and the starting device. For ignition, there were three separate pyro cartridge in the muzzle of the "gun".

Experienced flamethrower tank with the use of barrels from the "Type 58". Photo

A flamethrower with an equipped mass of 23 kg could make three shots lasting 2-3 seconds. The range of flamethrowing, depending on the type of mixture, is 20-70 m. After using up three cylinders, reloading with filling the flame mixture and installing new cartridges was required.

The heavy TPO-50 was a towed high-explosive system. Three identical trunks were fixed on a common carriage, each of which was made in the form of a cylinder with a head equipped with the necessary devices. A powder chamber was attached to the head, in which a charge was burned with the formation of gases. Gases entered the cylinder and acted on the piston, pushing the mixture through a siphon to the hose.

The weight of the combat-ready TPO-50 was 165 kg, which excluded carrying. It was proposed to move the flamethrower using a tractor or rolling by calculation forces. When firing direct fire, the range of the flame thrower reached 140 m, on the hinged one - up to 200 m. During the shot, the barrel completely consumed its charge, and without reloading the flame thrower could only make three shots.

Chinese improvements

As far as we know, the Chinese military appreciated the Soviet flamethrowers and introduced them widely enough in infantry and engineering units. In addition, almost immediately, work began on improving designs and finding new options for their application.

Flamethrower with "Type 74" is preparing to fire. Photo

The bulk of such work affected only the production of two Type 58 products. Technologies improved and the design was optimized, including with a slight increase in basic characteristics. At the same time, fundamentally new projects were proposed. In particular, self-propelled versions of heavy TPO-50s were developed.

Flamethrower prototype is well known. tank based on the T-34, located in one of the Chinese museums. On the sides of the tower of this vehicle, two swinging armored boxes are installed, each of which holds six trunks from TPO-50 / “Type 58”. Horizontal guidance was carried out by turning the tower, the vertical drive was organized using a gun. However, this application of the flamethrower did not reach the series and mass use in the army.

New generation

Light flamethrowers Type 58 / LPO-50 were quite actively used by the PLA until the early seventies, when it was decided to replace them. It was proposed to carry out a deep modernization of the existing model, improving its operational and combat characteristics, as well as using modern technology. The work was completed in 1974, as a result of which the flamethrower entered service under the designation “Type 74”.

Flamethrowing process. Photo

In terms of general architecture, principles of operation, etc. “Type 74” is as similar as possible to the previous “Type 58”. The most noticeable external difference is other means of storage of the mixture. The number of cylinders was reduced to two, but their volume increased slightly. This improved ergonomics and increased jet mass, but reduced the number of shots. The starter has lost one of its cartridges for ignition and has undergone some other changes. The chemical industry has developed new gasoline-based flame mixtures. Modern additives and thickeners have improved the range and quality of flamethrowing.

“Type 74” has two cylinders with a capacity of approx. 4 liters each and can make shots lasting up to 3-4 seconds. The total mass of the product is 20 kg. Simplified and accelerated reloading with fluid filling and the installation of new squibs.

Outdated and modern

PLA actively used several types of flamethrowers in infantry and engineering units. Such weapons were intended to defeat enemy manpower in open areas and inside various structures. In general, the Chinese tactics of using infantry flamethrowers were based on Soviet developments and did not undergo any special changes in the future.

Pair flamethrowing. Photo

Until a certain time, “Types 58” and “Type 74” were used only at training grounds and exercises. The first episodes of their actual combat use relate to the Sino-Vietnamese War of 1979. Probably, based on the results of these events, conclusions were drawn that influenced the further use of infantry flamethrower incendiary weapons.

According to various sources, it was during that period that two Type 58 products began to be removed from service. The light flamethrower based on LPO-50 was replaced with the modernized “Type 74”, and the heavy TPO-50 / “Type 58” was not replaced - they refused this class of weapons. As a result, only one model of a jet flamethrower remained in service with the PLA ground forces.

In the early eighties, the People's Armed Police of China (internal troops) was formed, whose task was to protect important facilities within the country. A variety of infantry weapons came into service with NVMK, including knapsack jet flamethrowers.

Clear perspectives

Oddly enough, the "Type 74" to this day remains in service. Such systems are used in the engineering forces of the PLA and in the units of NVMK, and training of flamethrower fighters is still being carried out. From time to time, press services of law enforcement agencies publish photos and videos of training events, and they always attract attention. Particular interest in such materials is shown in foreign countries where jet flame throwers have long been abandoned.

Checking the materiel. Photo

According to known data, so far only one type of jet flamethrower has remained in the arsenal of China. Other developments of this class were either considered obsolete and withdrawn from service, or did not reach the series. Over time, the tactics of the army and internal troops are changing, and the place of flamethrowers in them is reduced.

It can be assumed that in the foreseeable future Type 74 products will follow their predecessors and will also be removed from service due to moral and physical obsolescence. Apparently, a replacement for them is not being created due to the lack of need.

However, the timing of the complete abandonment of the “Type 74” remains unknown. And therefore, China is the last developed country in the arsenal of which there are jet flamethrowers.
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  1. polpot
    polpot 9 June 2020 18: 28
    Thanks for the article, the T 34 rework is impressive.
    1. igordok
      igordok 9 June 2020 19: 16
      Quote: polpot
      Thanks for the article, the T 34 rework is impressive.

      1. Did they shoot at once or in turn?
      2. And where are the Soviet tank flamethrowers?
      1. K-612-O
        K-612-O 10 June 2020 06: 21
        Pinocchio and Soncepec will suit you? Although by the way, we also did not refuse backpacks, but did not upgrade. And they went to pump action.
        1. igordok
          igordok 10 June 2020 06: 41
          I meant ATO-41 on OT-34 and KV-8.

        2. EvilLion
          EvilLion 10 June 2020 08: 43
          Now there are flamethrowers that do not throw out a jet, but that "sausage" of incendiary composition. In fact, a kind of grenade launcher, like various "Bumblebees", which can be equipped not only with incendiary shells.
    2. svp67
      svp67 9 June 2020 19: 56
      Quote: polpot
      Thanks for the article, the T 34 rework is impressive.

      Look at the Soviet options for installing FOGs (high-explosive flamethrowers) in the early years of the Second World War on the T-34 and HF, there it is no less interesting ...
      1. K-612-O
        K-612-O 10 June 2020 06: 37
        There were also OT-26 and KV-8, flamethrower tanks in their pure form.
        1. svp67
          svp67 10 June 2020 06: 55
          Quote: K-612-O
          There were also OT-26 and KV-8, flamethrower tanks in their pure form.

          There were MUCH more of them, but these were specialized tanks, and here the conversion of a linear into a flamethrower
  2. cat Rusich
    cat Rusich 9 June 2020 20: 34
    FmW.35 German Flamethrower Model 1934. Weight 36kg, 11,8 liter cylinder, "pusher" compressed nitrogen, range up to 40m, BC up to 35 "shots" (at one filling). "Double-shot" Type 74 I think is outdated because of the "small" BC.
    1. Lopatov
      Lopatov 9 June 2020 22: 42
      Soviet ROKS - up to eight short "shots" It was replaced by LPO-50 for three shots. Mentioned in the article.
      That is, vice versa. In the process of development, the number of charges was reduced.
      1. svp67
        svp67 10 June 2020 06: 57
        Quote: Spade
        That is, vice versa. In the process of development, the number of charges was reduced.

        But they increased the range and ease of handling
  3. Klingon
    Klingon 9 June 2020 22: 11
    archaic system, another thing RPO type Lynx, Bumblebee and all their fashions. "Zvezda" somehow showed a reportage - I don't remember what kind of system was demonstrated there, shoots out something like a lump of silicone, this garbage ignited on contact with air ... maybe who knows?
    1. Lopatov
      Lopatov 9 June 2020 22: 33
      Quote: Klingon
      I don’t remember what kind of system it was demonstrated there, it shoots with something like a lump of silicone, this garbage ignited on contact with air ... maybe someone knows?

      SPO "Varna-S"?
      1. Klingon
        Klingon 9 June 2020 22: 38
        most likely, it is very similar and this thing sticks well to sticky surfaces. Thank! however, few links to this unit! .. commissioned in 2005, development of the Tula Design Bureau
        1. K-612-O
          K-612-O 10 June 2020 06: 50
          Well, in this regard, nothing beats the ZB-250 and ZB-500, dumping at shaving or cobranding 2 tanks and 2 sq. Km are burned out, plus the possibility of equipping with mixtures of different thickening and adding "additives" when equipping
    2. K-612-O
      K-612-O 10 June 2020 06: 40
      There were such experiments, even when I was studying at VARKHBZ, but they played with thickened mixtures, saturated the mixture with magnesium-aluminum powder plus additives. A better option is pump-action LPO. LPO-97
  4. The comment was deleted.
  5. Lopatov
    Lopatov 9 June 2020 22: 55
    There, by the way. sickly return

    And so they train
  6. Nikolaevich I
    Nikolaevich I 9 June 2020 23: 40
    Somewhere, in the 80s of the last century, I came across a "note" about a Belgian hand-held disposable flamethrower, "shooting with phosphorus fire mixture ... Some time ago, I tried to restore the information on this flamethrower, but on the internet, this time, nothing I didn’t find it! As if it didn’t exist! Maybe, who came across such infa, except me?
    1. Ironcity
      Ironcity 10 June 2020 01: 34
      Rather German. Handflammpatrone DM34.
      1. Nikolaevich I
        Nikolaevich I 10 June 2020 01: 48
        Quote: Ironcity
        Rather German. Handflammpatrone DM34

        Yes, nii ... We know about the "German" ... here is something different ...
    2. Free wind
      Free wind 10 June 2020 02: 53
      White phosphorus, termite and some other flame mixtures, as it were forbidden to use, are equated with chemical weapons, maybe therefore there is no information.
      1. igordok
        igordok 10 June 2020 06: 53
        Of the above, only white phosphorus is banned as incendiary, but allowed as smoke. Termite seems to be prohibited in small-caliber incendiary bullets, but allowed in tracer compositions in bullets.
  7. sen
    sen 10 June 2020 05: 39
    Curiously, the American publication Popular Mechanics notes that the Chinese military use jet flamethrowers to destroy the Vespa mandarinia hornet colonies. The bite of the world's largest insect subspecies is very painful and can kill an adult.
    1. EvilLion
      EvilLion 10 June 2020 08: 49
      Military flamethrowers have liquid and sticky charges. It is quite dangerous to use this, in films, for example, gas flamethrowers are used, it is clear that this is not a jet, but a torch, just for safety. All kinds of household incendiary devices, which can destroy insects, are also gas.
  8. riwas
    riwas 10 June 2020 05: 52
    Who is interested in flamethrowers - there is a good book, although in 1983 Grabovoi I. D., Kadyuk V. K. "Incendiary weapons and protection against them"
  9. Free wind
    Free wind 10 June 2020 11: 00
    The flamethrowers were not taken prisoner, shot on the spot, or burned.