Flamethrowers are gruesome, horrific weapons. All weapons can be deadly, but rare is the infernal device that achieves horror by its appearance on the battlefield. One such flamethrower was the Lanciafiamme modello 35, the Italian fire weapon of World War II.
Every nation of the Second World War fielded such flame weapons and for the most part they were backpack mounted affairs. However, a series of flamethrowers were turned into mechanized weapons in the form of the Flammpanzer II/III, Wasp or the Churchill Crocodile; as well as the Lanciafiamme modello 35 e 40.
The standard flamethrower of Mussolini's forces, first seeing service with grisly effectiveness in Abyssinia, was mounted to a tankette for more aggressive use. Similar to the British Crocodile system, the Italian flamethrower tank mounted the flamethrower assembly in the turret of a L3/L38 series of armored tracked vehicles.
Replacing the machinegun in the turret of the tankette, the Lanciafiamme was fed through a series of pipes from a trailer towed behind the tank. Inside the trailer, weighing a half ton, was the propellant and fuel for the flamethrower. A spit of flame from the Italian tankette could reach 25 yards and last on average 20 seconds.
The reason for towing the potentially dangerous fuel and propellant, rather than mounting inside the tank, was due to the tremendously tight confines of the two man fighting vehicle. Towed several feet behind the tank, their destruction posed a reduced danger to the tankette operators. However, the tankette itself was so lightly armored its place on the battlefield was limited.