The M202 FLASH (Flame Assault SHoulder Weapon) is an American rocket launcher, designed to replace the WWII-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 66mm incendiary rockets. The M74 rockets are equipped with M235 warheads, containing approximately 1.34 lbs of an incendiary agent. The substance, often mistaken for napalm, is in fact TPA (thickened pyrophoric agent).

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; the XM191 prototype was capable of this. No such round was 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% of hit against the following targets at the noted ranges, assuming all four rockets were fired at the same time:

  • Bunker aperture: 50m
  • Window: 125m
  • Weapons position or stationary vehicle: 200m
  • Squad sized troop formation: 500m
220px-M202 FLASH

A U.S. Marine aims an M202A1 during the Siege of Khe Sanh.

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.

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