The M240 Incinerator Unit, also known as the "Flame Unit" or "flamer" is a lightweight, single-unit flamethrower designed for use in close combat at the squad and fireteam level as part of the weaponry of the Colonial Marines.
Using pressurized, ultra-thick napalm fuel as a base ignited by a nozzle burner, the M240 can shoot flame at targets up to 30 meters. Once a target has been hit, fuel droplets from the flamethrower will stick and continue to burn for approximately thirty seconds. With sufficient fuel in a standard fuel reservoir for a burst of up to 30 seconds, the M240 is undoubtedly one of the most fearsome weapons in the Marine inventory, and has proven especially useful in close combat and exomorph 'critter' cull operations. It is ideal for use against fortifications because of the ability of the flame to be directed through defensive apertures. However, it is unpopular with many of its operators, partly because of its short range, and also because of the tendency of the fuel reservoir to rupture violently when hit by shrapnel or small arms fire. The weapon comes with a green 1000 denier nylon shoulder strap.
The M240 is 88cm long and weighs more than 2.7 kg with a full reservoir. A valve at the rear of the incinerator is used to refuel the weapon; alternatively, the reservoir can be screwed off and refilled or replaced separately. A twist-valve on the flamethrower regulates the fuel flow and a thumb switch on the handgrip electrically ignites the nozzle burner when depressed. The weapon is fired by squeezing the handgrip trigger (which is a pressure pad built into the grip), and will continue firing until the trigger is released. The range of the M240 can be increased by making a high angle shot, firing the flame unit up at an angle of 45 degrees - the burning fuel then descends onto the target in an arc. In this way, shots can be made up to a range of 50 metres, though it is far less effective than direct fire in penetrating an armoured firing slit or aperture.
One option for the firer is the 'wetshot', where the nozzle burner is switched off and a stream of thickened fuel fired towards the enemy, which 'mists' as it reaches the end of its trajectory. If the nozzle burner is clicked back on, a subsequent shot can ignite the fuel vapour, creating an intense fireball. Another option is the blind angle burst, used during close-in fighting, such as within a built-up area - a flame burst from an M240 can be 'bounced' off facing walls or surfaces to attack an enemy around a blind corner.
Since the thickened fuel is difficult to extinguish, a commander must carefully consider the tactical area before authorising the use of flame. The amount of kindling and burnable debris must be assessed, as well as the environment. It is very important to note that naked flames should not be permitted in any pressurised environment with a high oxygen content. The potential for collateral damage is a serious constraint on the use of incendiary weapons like the M240.
The M210 Flamethrower was the arm-mounted version of the M240.
Offering fire control superior to that of its predecessor, the Flamethrower Marine’s next-generation flamethrower excelled at simultaneously searing multiple enemies in its fiery blast cone. The weapon performed better against closer targets, as its flame was more concentrated at the launch nozzle. The weapon’s fuel was somewhat adhesive and therefore continued to heat even non-flammable targets after the Flamethrower itself had ceased firing.
Behind the Scenes
The flamethrower props in Aliens were constructed from M16 rifles.
- In the film Aliens and the game Aliens: Colonial Marines, Ripley's and Frost's Flame throwers are used: in the film Ripley's Flame Thrower was configured with the Pulse Rifle on the right as the counter was on the right but in the game both the Pulse Rifle and counter is on the left (referred in the game as Ripley's Pulse Rifle), Frost was the only marine which was equipped with a Flame thrower, in Aliens: Colonial Marines, Frost's Flame thrower is collectable in the level Derelict Reclaimed.