The M202 FLASH (FLame Assault SHoulder) is a US-made 66mm infantry multiple rocket launcher that entered service in the late 1960s. Designed to replace obsolete and dangerous WW2-era infantry flamethrowers with a safer and longer-ranged delivery system for incendiary rounds (as indeed was its Soviet counterpart the RPO "Rys," ancestor of the RPO-A 'Shmel'), it firede M74 rockets whose M235 warhead was filled with with 1.34 pounds of thickened pyrophoric agent (TPA), which consists of triethylaluminum (TEA) thickened with polyisobutylene. This substance burns at around 2,200 degrees F (1,200 degrees C), far hotter than conventional flamethrower fuels, and is quite capable of burning underwater. While sometimes said to be derived from the experimental XM191, the XM191 designation actually refers to the "weapons system" of M202 launcher and M74 rocket clip, a designation dropped by the time the weapon was standardized in early 70s. The launcher itself has always been known as M202.
The suitcase-like weapon body is loaded with a large four-round clip inserted into the rear which holds four complete rockets and their fiberglass exhaust tubes; this clip can be slid into the body for easier carrying. The M202 features an integral folding reflex sight with range markings, and a folding pistol grip with a trigger that fires one rocket at a time (not technically semi-auto, since a different firing pin is used for each rocket). The handle on the front cover of the weapon can be used as a foregrip, while the rear cover is used as a shoulder rest.
The maximum range of the launcher is 820 yards (750m). Effective range (hit probability >50% from firing all four rockets) is about 547 yards (500m) against a squad-sized target, 219 yards (200m) against a point target, 137 yards (125m) to hit an average-sized window, and 55 yards (50m) against a precision target such as a bunker vision slit. The M235 warhead is armed by inertial forces at 5 to 14 yards (5-13m) from the launcher, but the bursting radius of the rocket is approximately 22 yards (20m), meaning it cannot be safety fired at its minimum range: in addition, since the filler is pyrophoric, if the rocket strikes a hard object and splits open it will ignite even if the warhead has not armed. The launcher also has a 50-foot backblast "danger zone," with another 82 feet in the "caution zone" where debris may be hurled by the backblast.
In media it is normally shown firing ordinary explosive rockets, which is incorrect as only incendiary rockets were ever issued. XM96 CS gas rockets were trialed, but were never standardized and quickly withdrawn from use.
The M202A1 is visually identical, with the only modification being internal alterations to prevent firing pin hangs. It is unclear what changes the most current version, the M202A2, incorporates. The M202 was never particularly popular with troops due to its weight and bulk, and there were reports of an extremely dangerous tendency for rockets to spontaneously ignite while the weapon was being loaded. While the M202 was regarded as obsolete in the late 1980s and was slowly being phased of stockpiles, in particular due to the tendency of the M235 warheads to leak highly volatile liquid when placed in storage, there is some documentation indicating that M202 launchers were still in service with US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The M202 FLASH and variants can be seen in the following films, television series, video games, and anime used by the following actors:
- Type: Incendiary multiple rocket launcher
- Caliber: 66mm
- 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
- Capacity: 4 round clip
- Fire Modes: Single-shot
|Commando||Arnold Schwarzenegger||John Matrix||Prop replica, missing front and rear covers, shown firing explosive rockets||1985|
|Commando||Rae Dawn Chong||Cindy||Prop replica, missing rear cover, shown firing explosive rockets||1985|
|The Expendables 3||Soldier||2014|
|Show Title||Actor||Character||Note / Episode||Date|
|MacGyver (1985) - Season 1||"The Gauntlet" (S1E04) / Seen on table, same prop as Commando or identical replica||1985|
|Mad Bull 34||Chinese assassin||Referenced from the prop from Commando||1990|
|Hellsing||Luke Valentine||2001 - 2002|
|Case Closed: The Fist of Blue Sapphire||Pirates||2019|
|Resident Evil||as "Rocket launcher"||1996|
|Time Crisis II||Unusable||1997|
|Half-Life||Modified version, on a tripod||1998|
|Resident Evil 3: Nemesis||as "Rocket Launcher," referenced from the prop launcher from Commando||1999|
|The World Is Not Enough||as the "AT-420 Sentinel", capable of full auto unguided or semi-auto laser-guided fire.||2000|
|Time Crisis II||Unusable||2001|
|007: Nightfire||as the "AT-420 Sentinel" in the PC version of the game, capable of firing unguided rockets or remote controlled with the help of a camera to help guidance||2002|
|Resident Evil (2002)||as "Rocket Launcher", referenced from the prop launcher from Commando||2002|
|Time Crisis 3||Unusable||2003|
|Time Crisis: Crisis Zone||as "Missile Launcher", depicted incorrectly with a lock-on and homing function||2004|
|Far Cry||Not a real M202 Flash, but a highly similar weapon.||2004|
|Söldner: Secret Wars||As "M202A2 MRL"||2004|
|Far Cry Instincts: Predator||as "Rocket Launcher"||2006|
|Team Fortress 2||Single-barreled weapon based on the M202 FLASH, known as the "The Black Box", capable of healing +15 HP at expense of 1 less rocket (3 out of the usual 4)||2007|
|Razing Storm||as "Rocket Launcher", incorrectly has 10 rockets when it's loaded with four rockets.||2009|
|Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker||M202A1||2010|
|Call of Duty: Black Ops||as the "Grim Reaper," incorrectly shown with a variable salvo fire function||2010|
|War Inc. Battlezone||Scope has salvo fire indicator copied from Call of Duty: Black Ops||2011|
|Payday 2||as the "Commando 101"||2013|