The Beginning of the FlameThrower
The German army tested two models of flamethrower - or Flammenwerfer in German - in the early 1900s, one large and one small, both developed by Richard Fiedler.
The smaller, lighter Flammenwerfer (the Kleinflammenwerfer) was designed for portable use, carried by a single man. Using pressurised air and carbon dioxide or nitrogen it belched forth a stream of burning oil for as much as 18 metres.
Fielder's second, larger model (the Grossflammenwerfer), worked along the same lines but was not suitable for transport by a single person, but whose maximum range was twice that of the smaller model; it could also sustain flames for a (then) impressive forty seconds, although it was decidedly expensive in its use of fuel.
How the Flamethrower Functioned/ Advantages
The first large scale use of the Flammenwerfer came in a surprise attack launched by the Germans upon the British at Hooge in Flanders. Springing forward on 30 July 1915. The Germans made effective use of the portable Flammenwerfer, with gas strapped to the back of the men responsible for using the instrument, a lit nozzle attached to each cylinder.
The effect of the dangerous nature of the surprise attack proved terrifying to the British opposition, although their line, initially pushed back, was stabilised later the same night. In two days of severe fighting the British lost 31 officers and 751 other men during the attack.