2023 Author: Katelyn Chandter | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 13:08
Flamethrowers have proven to be very effective weapons. The history of the emergence of flamethrower weapons. Greek fire has become the oldest human weapon.
Flamethrower weapons were invented before firearms, but they have survived to this day thanks to the ability to put the enemy to flight by its very appearance.
All land animals, with the exception of insects thoughtlessly diving into the flames, are terrified of fire. The greatest fear of a forest fire was experienced by humanoid creatures: throwing their primitive tools with shouts, they sought salvation from the incinerating heat and suffocating smoke. Until one day one of them plucked up courage and approached the smoldering smut. From this, according to the remark of Friedrich Engels (Freidrich Engels, 1820-1895), and began the history of mankind.
This brave deed allowed for a lot of discoveries. With the help of fire, it was possible to illuminate dark caves and survive in the harsh conditions of the Ice Age, defend against ferocious predators and drive big game into traps, cook food, make dishes, tools, and building materials. Even the onset of the Copper, and then the Bronze and Iron Ages would have been unthinkable without fire - on which metals were melted.
At the same time, fire became the most ancient weapon of man. A simple torch could be brought down on the head of the enemy - or it could burn his hut with it. And a skillfully arranged fire could stop an entire army: for example, in 1687, the Tatars, having set fire to the steppe, thwarted the Crimean campaign of the 100-thousandth Russian army led by Prince Vasily Golitsyn (1643-1714).
|One of the most famous medieval images of "Greek fire" is given in miniature in the so-called Madrid manuscript of John Skylitzes (11th century)|
Such shells, used from Antiquity to the very late Middle Ages, were usually divided into two categories. First, these were fragile ceramic vessels filled with a liquid combustible mixture. Its composition varied, depending on the ingenuity of the authors and the availability of ingredients. For example, in the Middle East, oil and its derivatives were mainly used, and in Europe, vegetable and animal fats, and pine resin. Upon impact, the vessel broke, the liquid spilled and ignited from the wick (a smoldering rag or rope wound around the vessel). The second type of fiery projectiles were balls woven from rods and filled with straw or rags, soaked in the same mixture. They were set on fire at launch and flew at the enemy like meteorites from Hollywood films.
Photo: Simon Quinton
The famous "Molotov cocktail" got its name from the Finns, on whose heads our pilots dropped Molotov cocktails - but the honor of this invention belongs to the insurgents of the Paris Commune. In 1941, the USSR decided to use them as anti-tank weapons, and launched mass production. Some bottles were set on fire with the help of special matches, others - with chemical fuses (acidic or phosphoric). However, not everyone could throw the bottle so that the burning liquid (gasoline or kerosene thickened with special additives) gets into the engine compartment of the tank. And having spilled on the side or frontal armor, it quickly burned up, causing neither the car nor the crew any harm. Although this simple weapon was very effective against German armored personnel carriers that did not have a roof, and was also widely used in street battles.
However, quite often the military needs to immediately set up a sea of raging flames where there is almost nothing to set on fire. And here they cannot do without such a notorious substance as napalm.
It appeared in 1942 in the course of attempts by American chemists to thicken gasoline used as fuel in jet flamethrowers. Having tried for this aluminum salts of naphthenic and palmitic acids, they obtained a mixture that, depending on the concentration of the thickener, could be a viscous liquid or a shaking jelly, adhered perfectly to any surface, and slowly burned with a hot flame (up to 1100 ° C). Later, new variants of napalm were created, including those with the addition of magnesium and nitrate, the combustion temperature of which reached 1600 ° C, as well as napalm, which ignites from contact with water, with the addition of alkali metals. In a word, the real "Greek fire" in the American performance!
The Americans, on the other hand, have found new uses for the fiery mixture of napalm. They arranged napalm mines, detonating them under the feet of the advancing enemy, used napalm jelly, sprayed when detonated, in incendiary bombs, and also used napalm bombs and tanks dropped from aircraft to destroy fortifications, accumulations of manpower and equipment, and buildings. So, when a napalm tank with a capacity of 624 liters exploded, the flame covered an area of 2000 m².
It is possible that it was napalm bombs that suggested the creation of a new type of fire weapon - thermobaric ammunition, also known as volumetric explosion ammunition (BOV). Their essence lies in the fact that a combustible substance is sprayed in the form of an aerosol cloud, which ignites in a second, rising upward as a fireball. In this case, everything that falls into the area of the explosion is exposed not only to high temperatures, but also to the pressure of incandescent gases that arises - hence the name of this weapon.
Well, the last step was the crossing of modern incendiary ammunition with modern delivery vehicles. In particular, this is how the domestic hand-held infantry flamethrower RPO-A, also called "Bumblebee", was put into service in the mid-1980s. It is a typical rocket-propelled grenade launcher (of the "bazooka" type), the projectile of which carries a thermobaric warhead. As they say, all ingenious is simple! At the same time, the aiming range of the shot is up to 600 m, and the projectile itself can fly up to 1000 m - which is several times farther than that of the most powerful jet flamethrowers!
The passion for fire is costly for humanity. The path taken by flamethrower weapons from Antiquity to the present day brought it as close as possible to the civilian population. "Greek fire" poured on the heads of pirates and foreign invaders, and napalm was poured over the villages of peaceful peasants. Here there is a reason to think: if Engels is right and mankind owes its birth to the ability to handle fire, then will the abuse of this skill become the cause of his death …