The flamethrower was invented in 1901 by Richard Fiedler. This weapon was created to chase opposing soldiers out of the trenches. The German army had tested different models of the flamethrower in the early 1900’s.
One of the models, the kleinflammenwerfer was a smaller and lighter flamethrower designed to be portable and carried by a single soldier, could reach a distance of 18 meters. Another model tested was a larger version, the grossflammenwerfer that took two soldiers to operate, where one would carry the canisters of fuel and the other would aim the hose of the flamethrower. The grossflammenwerfer had the ability to reach twice the distance of the kleinflammenwerfer and the flame could last much longer but it was far too expensive to maintain because of the fuel costs.
It spreads fire by shooting a stream of burning fuel that ignites in the air. This weapon was specifically assigned to soldiers known as Assaultman, men who were accustomed to using weapons such as explosives and rocket launchers.After the successful development by the Germans, it caused the French and British military to create their own units of flamethrowers. First used in World War 1 on February 26th,1915 by German soldiers against French trenches near Verdun, France. The advantages of using a flamethrower are that it could be used to attack defenders in unknown positions, expose enemies from hiding in places such as caves and tunnels located in the trenches. But the disadvantages of using this weapon was that it was very unstable, ineffective at a distance and the fuel capacity is limited. The type of injury that this weapon caused was burns.
The main impact that flamethrowers had to WWI was that it changed the way that soldiers invaded opposing sides bases. The way opposing armies would try to prevent the casualties due to this new weapon was for their snipers to target the men with flamethrowers because of how deadly and explosive the flamethrower was. Towards the end of the war, the flamethrowers were also used on tanks, this carried onto WWII.