Jet Flamethrower: RPO-A test drive from Popular Mechanics

“The biggest impression is the Bumblebee infantry flamethrower, ” our special operations consultant Dima, who, in my opinion, shot from all over the world, was dreamily silent for a minute. “There will be an opportunity - do not miss it.” The opportunity presented itself quickly - the Ministry of Defense kindly invited us to Shikhany, the former family estate of the hero of the Patriotic War of 1812 Vasily Orlov-Denisov, and now the place of deployment of the 33rd Central Research Institute of the Ministry of Defense, or the Central Scientific Research Institute of Chemical Forces of the Ministry of Defense. Where we were able to experience these same jet flamethrowers.

For those who did not serve in the army, we recall that flamethrowers - jet, knapsack, jet, multiple launch rocket - in our country historically go along the lines of chemical troops. The fact is that army chemists were engaged not only in toxic substances and means of protection against them, but also in many other interesting things, for example, the creation of new incendiary mixtures and compounds. And of course, the means for their use - jet flamethrowers. A flamethrower for T-34 and KV tanks, a knapsack flamethrower for infantry, a high-explosive flamethrower, anti-tank incendiary bottles (Molotov cocktails) and the corresponding aircraft bombs - all this was created and tested by military chemists. It has been documented that flamethrower weapons destroyed more than 3200 enemy tanks and assault guns during World War II.

In the early morning we were already at the training ground, and Major Maxim Khomenko gave us the necessary instruction in front of the boxes with flamethrowers. “We will shoot both from the already legendary infantry flamethrower RPO“ Bumblebee ”, and from its more modern analogue - the small-sized jet flamethrower MPO“ Borodach ”, as well as from the jet infantry flamethrower SPO“ Varna ”. In addition, the newest reactive infantry flamethrowers of increased range and power RPM PMD-A "Bumblebee-M", or simply "Prize", are tested at our institute, and I will tell you about them too. "

Bumblebees are coupled in packs for easy carrying. To disconnect them, you need to pull out the safety pin. Their first check is usually kept as a keepsake.

Dangerous insect

The most legendary flamethrower is, of course, RPO-A "Bumblebee". Index "A" means that a thermobaric charge is used, as warned by two red stripes on the flamethrower body. There is also an incendiary RPO-Z (one red strip), which is used to create fires in rooms and in open spaces, and a very rare smoke RPO-D (yellow strip) for instantly creating a smoke curtain with an operating time of 80-120 seconds, which creates intolerable conditions for infantry and fires.

In the drawer “Bumblebees” are coupled by packs of packs for easy carrying. To disconnect them, you need to pull out the safety pin. Major Khomenko says that the check from his first Bumblebee is usually kept as a keepsake. Needless to say, I now hang out on a bunch of keys instead of a key fob. By the way, each “Bumblebee” comes with a pair of excellent ear plugs.

RPO-A is brought to the fighting position simply: the front handle is straightened, the body is placed on the shoulder, the aiming bar rises, the firing distance is set, the fuse closing the trigger is pulled up with the thumb of the right hand. Take aim through the diopter sight and press the trigger. Shot! And after a second - a shock wave from a thermobaric explosion.

When shooting from RPO, you need to consider several points. Firstly, you need to hold your left hand very firmly, since when shooting a flamethrower tries to “peck your nose”, and if you relax completely, you can shoot yourself under your feet. In addition, immediately after a shot from the pipe, the spent jet engine flies out, which falls a few meters from the shooter. Some who shoot for the first time are scared, thinking that it’s the charge itself, which in an instant will create “intolerable conditions for the infantry”.

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