We know what a flamethrower looks like and how it was used to clear out the enemy trenches of World War I. This weapon that could be traced back as far as the 5th century BC was one of the most terrifying and devastating weapons on the battlefield. So terrifying that rules were set in regards to using it in warfare. Here are some other lesser-known facts about it.

Originally an Intimidation Weapon

Although movies usually portrayed flamethrowers as a weapon to annihilate the enemies, the truth was that it was more of a psychological weapon. Its 20 to 30 feet projected blaze was no question terrifying, and the fear of burning to death or watching others be consumed by the 3000 degrees blazing fire was something you definitely would not look forward to.  Oftentimes, the mere appearance of a flamethrower on the battlefield was enough to send troops occupying a position to bolt.

However, it was more of a tool to incapacitate than to kill. Not to be mistaken, it could definitely annihilate troops hiding in the trenches.

The Majority of the Flamethrower Casualties Were Not From the Flames

The first time the flamethrowers were used in modern warfare was at Verdun during World War I, when the Germans terrified and shocked the French with their new incendiary weapon. Many were no doubt injured and killed with this unpleasant introduction, but only a small percentage of these casualties were victims of the fire itself. Most of them were terrified soldiers who scurried out of their trenches in fear of getting burned alive, which resulted in their cover being broken and them being exposed to enemy fire. As mentioned above, it was an effective psychological weapon, so it was known to be more effective in scaring the troops out of their positions than killing them in many cases.