Flamer Weapons are flamethrower weapons, capable of unleashing a liquid incendiary chemical that bursts into flames as it leaves the weapon. Flame-based weapons are used by several of the intelligent races and their militaries across the Milky Way Galaxy, and are valued for their ability to destroy many enemies at once with a burst of expanding flame, regardless of any protective cover they possess. The most common forms of Flame Weapons are Flamers and the more compact Hand Flamers, both of which are considered assault weapons due to their relatively short range. Loyalist Space Marine and Chaos Space Marine Flamers work by firing a mix of highly volatile liquid chemicals which ignite with the use of a pilot light. This flaming chemical sticks to its target and continues burning on its own accord - those who are not killed instantly die horribly as the super-hot chemical continues to burn through their bodies. The most common flammable substance used as Flamer fuel is Promethium, which is a petroleum-like jelly that can stick to a target and is very similar to the twenty-first century incendiary called napalm.
A Heavy Flamer is a larger version of an Imperial Flamer, and possesses two nozzles, which can unleash a deadlier inferno. Heavy Flamers are often used by specialist weapon operators in dense conditions, such as during jungle or urban warfare, or by Space Marine Terminators who make good use of them during cramped ship-boarding actions. The Sisters of Battle of the Adepta Sororitas' Orders Militant also often carry Heavy Flamers in their squads. Heavy Flamers are most commonly seen mounted on many Imperial armored vehicles as secondary weapons, although the Sisters of Battle use twin-linked Heavy Flamers as primary weapons on their Immolator tank. More powerful Flamer-type weapons such as the Inferno Cannon also exist, and are available to the Collegia Titanica as weapons for Warhound-class Titans.
The origin of Flamer Weapons lay in Mankind's past, to at least the early 2nd Millennium, in its precursor, the flamethrower -- a mechanical incendiary device designed to project a long, controllable stream of fire. Since this bygone age, Flamer Weapons, in one form or another, have been a part of Humanity's wars. By the late 30th Millennium, these deadly weapons were a valuable addition to the arsenal of the Legiones Astartes. Hand Flamers were common amongst the Legion Tactical Squads and Legion Assault Squads, whilst Heavy Flamers were a common weapon amongst Legion Terminator Squads assigned to boarding actions and similar "Zone Mortalis" engagements, where contact with numerous enemies in confined battle zones was anticipated. In the modern 41st Millennium, these ancient and formidable weapons are often feared by the foe at close quarters, and still play a valuable role in the military forces of the Imperium.
Imperial Flamer Variants
- Astartes Flamer - The Flamer is an ideal weapon for flushing out enemies in cover and cleansing areas with purifying flame. The typical pattern employed by the Space Marines of the Adeptus Astartes accepts fuel through a pressure seal that can attach to a backpack feed for longer uninterrupted usage or a smaller canister for quick refuelling in bursts.
- Astartes Hand Flamer - The Astartes Hand Flamer is a smaller and more compact version of the standard pattern Astartes Flamer that is still capable of unleashing large blasts of flame, but is good for only a few shots before the fuel canister must be swapped out.
- Astartes Heavy Flamer - While the size and weight of Heavy Flamers makes them an unpopular choice among many Imperial forces, these are hardly deterrents to a Space Marine in Power Armour. Terminator Squads and many vehicles make frequent use of the large saturation area of Heavy Flamers. Their twin nozzles produce huge gouts of fire, enough to purge the densest terrain of xenos.
- Balefire Gun - Brutally effective against Orks and other xenos with natural regeneration, this Flamer uses highly refined promethium fuel mixed with a number of radioactive compounds to both burn and irradiate foes. Only rarely deployed due to the collateral environmental damage it causes, Balefire Guns are used solely by the Deathwatch to cleanse particularly resilient xenos. They are particularly effective in controlling and eradicating Ork infestations.
- Cognis Flamer - A Cognis Flamer is an Imperial Flamer Weapon used by the military forces of the Adeptus Mechanicus which has been outfitted with a Cogitator. The spark-like anger of the Cognis Flamer's artificially intelligent Machine Spirit has been fanned to a roaring blaze. When under duress it will fight with incendiary wrath, even should its wielder be distracted.
- Flamer - The Flamer, or "flame gun", comes in a wide variety of designs and patterns, but all are ideal for flushing out enemies in cover and putting groups of foes to the torch. The two most common variants of flamers either have a detachable fuel canister under the barrel or a hose connecting to a backpack canister.
- Flamestorm Cannon - Flamestorm Cannons are double-barreled and very larger Flame Weapons mounted upon the turrets of various Adeptus Astartes vehicles. These powerful weapons spout a billowing tide of burning Promethium into the thick of the foe.
- Hand Flamers - Hand Flamers (also called "Burners") are more compact pistol versions of the Flamer, requiring only one hand to wield. Along with possessing a lower-capacity fuel tank, a Hand Flamer has a much reduced range, which makes it suited for assault and close-combat purposes only, incinerating foes at short range. The weapon is most commonly used by Imperial assault squads, such as the Sisters of Battle's Seraphim units which employ them in pairs.
- Immolation Rifle - Not a Flame Weapon in the strictest sense, the Immolation Rifle is an ancient, exceedingly rare, and barely understood weapon possessed by Deathwatch of Watch Fortress Erioch in limited numbers. It is a brutal anti-personnel weapon that fires a seething, short-range beam of intense heat. When used on lightly armoured or unarmoured targets, the beam sears and blisters exposed flesh. This causes a target intense pain and, with enough time, these weapons can cook enemies alive. While they are incredibly lethal when used against organic foes, the beams cause no damage to inorganic objects like machinery, bulkheads, and weapons. This makes them extremely useful in boarding actions for use against massed crew, as well as in any situation where collateral damage needs to be minimised.
- Incinerator - Utilised by the mysterious Grey Knights Chapter, the Chamber Militant of the Inquisition's Ordo Malleus, Incinerators are actually Heavy Flamers that use a psychically impregnated form of Promethium that burns hotter and more fiercely, and is particularly damaging to Daemon. These weapons are fueled by the purest consecrated Prometheum, and, like Psycannons, are useful against Warp entities. These weapons are amongst the most effective in the Imperial arsenal, and are capable of forgoing the enemy's heretical armour, their cowardly cover, and their Warp-spawned magics.
- Inferno Cannon - Inferno Cannons are large weapons that are most commonly found as the primary weapons of Hellhound Flame Tanks and Space Marine Siege Dreadnoughts. The Inferno Cannon is most effective against hordes and swarms, where the weapon's superheated Promethium fuel tears through the enemy's ranks with devastating effect.
- Inferno Gun - Inferno Guns are immense Flame Weapons used by Imperial and Traitor Titans. This weapon is commonly mounted on Warhound-class and Warlord-class Titans but they can also be mounted on the carapace hard points of an Imperator-class Titan. This weapon is also the primary weapon system of the Imperial Guard Malcador Infernus super-heavy tank. An Inferno Cannon is composed of three linked barrels that propel the liquid incendiary chemical known as Promethium.
- Flamers are effective in breaking the cycle of Ork infestation of a world by destroying the fungal spores exuded by Orkoid corpses.
- Flamers are an invaluable tactical choice in conditions where spotting the enemy is difficult due to dense terrain (such as jungles), during urban fights and bunker assaults.
- Field commanders must always remember the devastating impression made by a well-used Flamer -- a single shot has the potential of destroying an entire enemy squad along with the morale of the whole enemy force.
- The most fanatic adherents of the Imperial Cult employ Flamers against mutants and heretics as the weapon's flames are seen to cleanse sin and impurity from body and soul alike.
- The Flamer is the preferred weapon of the more fervent worshipers of the Emperor such as the fanatical Red Redemptionists and the associated Fanatics of the House of Cawdor of the hive world of Necromunda.
- Among the Adepta Sororitas (Sisters of Battle), the Flamer is favoured as a purifying weapon, and for a Sister to be entrusted with one is a great honour.
- The Salamanders Chapter of Space Marines make wide use of Flamers and Melta Weapons due to their preference for close-ranged combat.
- The Catachan Regiments of the Imperial Guard are often deployed to areas of heavy jungle, where enemies can make as much use of the ever-present cover as the Catachans themselves. Accordingly Flamers and Heavy Flamers are especially valued by the Catachans for their ability to rob the enemy of the benefit of the tropical terrain.
Chaos Space Marine Use
The Traitor Legions are able to carry larger-bore flame weapons with greater fuel reserves. These weapons can spit out more Promethium at a time, and thus deal more damage. Flamers and Heavy Flamers are widely used among the Chaos Space Marines with the same tactical use as the Loyalist Space Marines except in some notable cases:
- The Thousand Sons seem to fight only with the standard Bolters, even in conditions where the wise use of Flamers and other weapons (such as Heavy Bolters) would be more effective.
- Among Khornate Berserkers, Chainaxes and other bloody melee weapons are preferred over Flamers.
- The Noise Marines of the Emperor's Children Traitor Legion often opt to use exotic weaponry (such as sonic devices), which share some of the Flamer's tactical advantages.
- In the Orks' warlike culture, Burna Boyz are seen as foolish but also really potent Greenskins, as only a very courageous Ork would carry into battle the large amount of highly flammable fuel needed to operate a Burna -- Greenskin Flamethrower that can spray a cloud of oily fire over everything the Ork sees. A Burna is also fitted with a special nozzle fed by valves that when activated unleashes a small blue arc of flame instead of the standard roaring orange conflagration. This small flame is similar to that produced by a Plasma Cutter and is hot enough to slice through even the thickest armour. However it has a much smaller range than the Burna's standard effects and to use it, the Burna Boy must get very close to the enemy.
- Among the Eldar, Flamer Weapons are utilised by Storm Guardians, Wraithlords, and the deadly Fire Dragons Aspect Warriors.
The Tau Empire's Earth Caste has developed Flamers designed for use as a weapon system for Tau XV8 Crisis Battlesuits. XV8 Crisis Battlesuits can also choose to use twin-linked Flamers, in which case it will take up two of their three available system hardpoints. Most often equipped when Battlesuit teams are expected to be fighting massed, lightly-armoured opponents, Tau Flamers are lethal weapons when used against foes in dense terrain.
The Phased Plasma-Flamer is a large Tau triple-barrelled rotary Flamer Weapon capable of generating temperatures so hot that the emitted flames are in a plasma-like state capable of even vaporising ceramite. As such, the weapon is deadly to even the most heavily armoured infantry. The Phased Plasma-Flamer can be fired in two modes: single canister which only uses a single barrel, and full rotation which uses all three barrels to generate an extended flame burst with the drawback of a small potential for danger and damage to the Battlesuit itself. All XV109 Y'vahra Battlesuits wield a Phased-Plasma Flamer as part of their standard armament.
- Black Crusade: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 158
- Codex Adeptus Mechanicus - Cult Mechanicus (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), pg. 236
- Codex: Blood Angels (5th Edition), pp. 57, 59
- Codex: Dark Angels (4th Edition), pp. 48-49
- Codex: Eldar (6th Edition), pg. 34
- Codex: Eldar (4th Edition), pp. 32, 57, 62
- Codex: Eldar (3rd Edition), pp. 10, 20
- Codex: Eldar (2nd Edition), pp. 9, 23, 37, 40, 74
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- Codex: Orks (3rd Edition), pg. 36
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pg. 98
- Codex: Space Wolves (5th Edition), pp. 57, 59
- Codex: Tau (3rd Edition), pg. 17
- Codex: Tau Empire (4th Edition), pg. 26
- Dark Heresy: Blood of Martyrs (RPG), pg. 115
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- Dark Heresy: Daemon Hunter (RPG), pg. 132
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- Deathwatch: Rites of Battle (RPG), pg. 135
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- Imperial Armour Volume Eight - Raid on Kastorel-Novem, pp. 32, 93, 111, 119, 140, 193
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- Imperial Armour Volume Ten - The Badab War, Part Two, pp. 78, 128
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- Imperial Armour Volume Twelve - The Fall of Orpheus, pg. 146
- Inquisitor (RPG), pp. 78, 127
- Only War: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 180-181
- Only War: Hammer of the Emperor (RPG), pg. 113
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- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (6th Edition), pp. 51, 56
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- Warhammer 40,000: Wargear (2nd Edition), pg. 23
- White Dwarf 389 (UK), pg. 71
- White Dwarf 173 (US), "Eldar Pheonix Lords", pp. 6-9
- White Dwarf 127 (US), "Eldar" by Rick Priestley, Jes Goodwin, William King & Lindsey D. Le Doux Paton, pp. 13-52
- Forge World – XV109 Y'vahra Battlesuit Experimental Rules Datasheet