How to make friends and incinerate people, 100 years ago today

American soldiers wearing captured German “donut” flame throwers, Ménil-la-Tour, France, 6 March 1918, described as “liquid fire machines” recovered from No Man’s Land.

Front view…

The device, dubbed the Wechselapparat M1917 or Wex in German service, was a small, portable flame device, replacing the troublesome Kleinflammenwerfer M.16 (“Kleif”), and was reintroduced in German service in the late 1930s.

This advanced flamer was captured by all of the Allies in the latter stages of the war, and the British cloned it and put it in service in WWII as “Flame-Thower, Portable, No. 2 Mk I” in 1941, commonly just referred to as the “Lifebuoy” or “Sombrero.”

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