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M202A1 FLASH: Wikis


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Launcher, Rocket, 66mm, 4-Tube, M202A1
Type Multishot incendiary rocket launcher
Place of origin  United States
Service history
Used by See Users
Production history
Designed 1970s
Produced 1978-Present
Variants M202, M202A1
Weight 11.5 lb (5.22 kg) empty
26.6 lb (12.07 kg) loaded
Length 27 in (686 mm) closed
34.75 in (883 mm) extended

Cartridge M235 Incendiary TPA
Caliber 2.6 in (66 mm)
Action Single shot
Muzzle velocity 375 ft/s
Effective range 22 yd (20 m) minimum
Maximum range 820 yd (750 m) (area target)
219 yd (200 m) (point target)
Feed system 4 rocket clip[1]
Sights Reflex

The M202A1 FLASH (Flame Assault Shoulder Weapon) is an American rocket launcher, designed to replace the World War II-vintage flamethrowers that remained the military's standard incendiary devices well into the 1960s. The M202 is based on the prototype XM191 napalm rocket launcher that saw extensive testing in the Vietnam War.



The M202A1 features four tubes that can load 66 mm incendiary rockets. The M74 rockets are equipped with M235 warheads, containing approximately 1.34 pounds (0.61 kg) of an incendiary agent. The substance, often mistaken for napalm, is in fact thickened pyrophoric agent (TPA).

TPA is triethylaluminum (TEA) thickened with polyisobutylene. TEA, a organometallic compound, is pyrophoric and burns spontaneously at temperatures of 1200°C (2192°F) when exposed to air. It burns "white hot" because of the aluminum, much hotter than gasoline or napalm. The light and heat emission is very intense and can produce skin burns from some (close) distance without direct contact with flame, by thermal radiation alone.

As the caliber is shared with the contemporary M72 LAW antitank rocket launcher, it would have been theoretically possible to fire HEAT anti-tank rockets in lieu of the incendiary payload, and the XM191 was in fact capable of this. In the event, no such round was ever developed for the M202.

The weapon is meant to be fired from the right shoulder, and can be fired from either a standing, crouching, or prone position. It has a trigger mode to facilitate firing all four rockets at once, not just one at a time. After firing, it can be reloaded with a clip housing four rockets.

The M202A1 was rated as having a 50% chance of hit against the following targets at the noted ranges:

  • Bunker aperture - 50 meters
  • Window - 125 meters
  • Weapons position or stationary vehicle - 200 meters
  • Squad-sized troop formation - 500 meters

The 50% hit chance assumed all four rockets fired at the same time.

The M202A1 was issued as needed, generally one per rifle platoon, although the headquarters of rifle companies were authorized nine M202A1s. As with most RPGs, no dedicated gunners were trained, the weapon instead being carried in addition to the rifleman's standard weapon. While vastly more lightweight than the M2 flamethrower it replaced, the weapon was still bulky to use and the ammunition suffered from reliability problems. As a result, the weapon had mostly been relegated to storage by the mid-1980s, even though it nominally remains a part of the US Army arsenal.

In recent conflicts, U.S. forces have used thermobaric munitions[2] as well as pyrophoric weapons. The M202A1 has been taken by U.S. units to the War in Afghanistan.[3]



  1. ^ TC 23-2 66 mm Rocket Launcher M202A1
  2. ^ thermobaric grenades
  3. ^

See also

RPO-A Shmel (Bumblebee)


Pyrophoric flame composition: United States Patent 4230509

External links

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