A recent story shared by a Chinese media site has showed a slide of photographs consisting of Military Police from the anti-chemical warfare unit in Guangxi Province shooting a 1960s era flamethrower developed by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (most likely called the Type 74). Why the older flamethrower was brought out isn’t clear, even with a translation of the text (it mentioned training, but not why this model choice). Due to the digital camouflage scheme that has been painted on the pack mounted fuel tanks, it would appear that this might be a demonstration of the device that has either been brought back into use (or never actually left service). Rather than a simple historical demonstration of a critical weapon system. According to the text, the TPO-50 actually saw combat service in the Chinese excursion into Vietnam in 1979, used to clear out bunkers and possibly in some of the house to house fighting that occurred during the war.
Much less an indigenous Chinese design, the TPO-50 is actually based on the Soviet LPO-50, which was developed in 1953 to replace aging Second World War flamethrowers. A rough translation of the information provided is as follows (bold lettering is author’s addition)-
The text says this is a training demonstration of a flame thrower in use by the ChineseArmed Police (paramilitary police) anti chemical warfare unit in Guangxi province, where because of the high temperatures the exercise were particularly scorching hot. It says the film clip is courtesy of the Chinese Military Network. Talks about the effectiveness of using such flame throwers against enemy activity.Says that since WWII the effective range of such things was only 20 meters. The model of this flame thrower is TPO-50. It uses a gunpowder piston to eject and ignite the bottle of flammable petroleum liquid. Three of these petroleum bottles can be ejected three times, and it (the bottles?) weigh164 kilograms (most likely miswritten as 164 KG would be more than twice the weight of an average Chinese male!) …The unit is capable of shooting flames as far as 200 meters (again, most likely wrong, Russian LPO-50 range is 40-50 meters). Says that in 1962 the Chinese military madea unit called the model 58 flame thrower, based on the Russian model LPO-50, but thatwas modified as too heavy, resulting in the development of the Chinese Tyope 74flamethrower. This new model weighs 20 kilograms and is 850 millimeters longwith a 14.5 millimeter barrel opening and has three tubes for the flammable liquid,a range of 45 meters, and a recoil strength of 65 kilograms. It can be reloaded inabout four minutes. It was used in the 1979 war against Vietnam, deployed at morethan 1,200 bunkers and other sites.
It would appear in the photograph below that the flamethrower operator was undergoing training in how to attack an adjoining building or room while parallel to it.
A significant note about this flame thrower’s deployment are the presence of bipods. Many Western flamethrowers tend to be light on the barrel, intending them to be used as handheld weapons as opposed to being operated in the prone.
Elsewhere in China the Type 74 is used to clear out hornet nests–
And to clear out caves in the western province of Xinjiang (watch towards the end)-