When actions of World War 1 (1914-1918) proved the viability of man-portable flamethrowers on the battlefield, these terrible weapons were adopted by many world armies. The deadly nature of the flamethrower, as cumbersome a weapon as it was to wield, provided infantry with a means to dislodge dug-in enemy troops by fear of burning alive. In this way, the weapon became as much a psychological tool as it was a physical weapon and, as such, its value in trench warfare was not lost on commanders.
The flamethrower remained in service during the lead-up to World War 2 (1939-1945) where it was featured through various designs put forth by the Germans, British, Soviets, and others. The Empire of Japan, having observed modern tactics and weapons in Europe during The Great War, carried this knowledge back to Japan and a new indigenous flamethrower weapon was devised in 1932 designated as the Type 93.
The Type 93 debuted in 1933 and was quickly put to use against Chinese forces during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1931-1945). The weapon found success in the early going, thanks in large part to the many fast-burning, straw-based structures used throughout the Chinese mainland. The Type 93 was largely conventional as flamethrowers of the period went - it utilized a well-accepted design arrangement that featured its fuel stores and propellant unit (pressurized nitrogen) set across a frame showcasing shoulder straps for infantry transport. A 45-inch long rubber hose connected the fuel and propellant canisters to a flame "gun" which was used to project the ignited flame mixture of tar and petrol at target areas. The flamethrower did not project "flame" as much as it did a flaming mixture - not that this fact eased the mind of those unfortunate enough to be caught under the stream. Engagement ranges were out to 30 yards in ideal conditions and the weapon could produce a steady stream for twelve seconds before giving out. The entire system weighed 57 pounds and the flame gun itself weighed 10 pounds and measured 47 inches long. The ignition action used a blank pistol cartridge. The nitrogen propellant was later given up for compressed air.
After some time in use, it was realized that the flame gun's ignition system became too sensitive under colder operating environments so a new gun component was ordered. The revised projector was slightly shorter in length at 35.5 inches and somewhat lightened to 8.5 pounds while showcasing a removable nozzle outlet. The changes promised better field performance and brought about a whole new series designation in the "Type 100" during 1940 - though the weapon was more or less the same flamethrower.
Despite its value during the early campaigns - when Japanese troopers were primarily dealing with defenders - the Type 93 and Type 100 systems saw considerably less use towards the later stages of the war in the Pacific as Japan was put on the defensive by Allied gains. Flame-projecting weapons took a backseat to more conventional ranged infantry arms such as rifles, grenades, and anti-tank systems by the end. Flamethrowers were always specialist weapons to be used under special circumstances and often within the range of enemy rifle and machine gun fire. Flamethrower infantry were easily identified on the battlefield and targeted when possible by the enemy all the while requiring something of a protective entourage when plying their battlefield trade. Interestingly flamethrowers were used by the Japanese against enemy tanks (though with limited success) - mostly due to the fact that the Japanese Army managed no better substitute for stopping a well-armored tank.
The weapon was abandoned after the end of the war in August of 1945.