My not so accurate flamethrower from John Carpenter's The Thing

Don't want to see this ad? Sign up for anRPF Premium Membershiptoday. Support the community. Stop the ads.

CB2001

Master Member
Well, if you've been paying some attention over at the costume forum, you'd know that I'm currently working on a not so screen accurate R.J. MacReady costume. For those unfamiliar with John Carpenter's The Thing, I definitely recommend you check it out. But one of the most important tools used throughout the film are flamethrowers, which are useful in combating a creature that can't even die through normal means.

This post is here to serve as a bit of a placeholder and build thread for the flamethrower prop I will be constructing. I'll be posting some pictures here and possibly even do a video of the build (I don't know if I could submit it to the RPF's YouTube channel, but still, I'll be shooting it).

I should point out that despite my attempts at trying to be as screen-accurate, I may not be able to do so due to the limited amount of money I'm investing into the costume and prop together. And since my dad is insisting on helping out, my wanting for screen accuracy may be difficult due to his belief that "no one's going to notice" mentality (despite the fact I keep telling him that we're most likely to run into members of the RPF at MegaCon).

Enough about me, now it's time for some reference material and info.

Now, the flamethrower is an item that carries over from the original novella. Many have asked why a research outpost would have flamethrowers for. The answer is really simple: back in the time the novella was created by John W. Campbell Jr., flamethrowers were not only used to help melt ice and make it hard to create patches of runways for plans, they were also used to de-ice wings of cargo plans (back when they were made of metal). Below are several pictures of the flamethrower used in the film (NOTE: There is a second one featured briefly in one scene, but I'm focusing on the one used primarily in multiple scenes).

















Now, according to the Internet Movie Firearm Database, the flamethrower is listed as a M2A1-7 Flamethrower, as pictured here.



As you can see with the picture, this is only partly correct. After comparing the flamethrower, the pack appears to belong to the M2A1-7, but the thrower pictured on the site was not the same one seen in the film. After searching around more, I came across this picture below.



This flamethrower unit is called the M9 Flamethrower. As you can see, the pack is different from the M2A1-7, but the thrower's gun is the same one used with the packs in the film. Apparently, the production swapped the guns for the M2A1-7 for the ones for the M9, which (in my personal opinion) looks better than the too sleek design of the M2A1-7. The M9 itself was used primarily during the Vietnam War.

Additional Edit: After looking around, I came across a website that had information about Vietnam Era Flamethrowers. Basically, the army actually used a M2A1-7 with the M9 thrower gun during the Vietnam War (and having to seen a picture of the pack and thrower gun, it matches what is seen in the film). It could very well be possible that the production found a surplus of these particular packs with thrower gun combo.

So, in closing the M2A1-7 (which is a WWII flamethrower) pack is paired with the M9 (Vietnam War flamethrower) gun to create the flamethrower used in Carpenter's film.

This will be the pack I will attempt to assemble. So far, I have purchased an A.L.I.C.E. frame and will be purchasing and using PVC to create the pack and gun (my dad already has a hose in mind to use for the thrower). It will be assembled in a way where I can attach and detach the "tanks", so being able to use the A.L.I.C.E. frame for other purposes.

If anyone else wishes to make a flamethrower prop (of unique and similar design), Indy Mogul's Backyard FX did a video tutorial on how to make one.

If anyone else has any information to contribute about this particular prop weapon, please feel free to include it. This post will serve as both a resource and as a build thread. Thank you very much for your time, thus far.
 
Last edited:

Don't want to see this ad? Sign up for anRPF Premium Membershiptoday. Support the community. Stop the ads.

CB2001

Master Member
Im sorry i cant offer anything to help but i think its an awesome project.:thumbsup
Thanks. I'm hoping that the build will go smoothly. I've seen this film a lot, and I'm hoping to make the flamethrower as close as possible.
 

CB2001

Master Member
After watching the film a few more times, I've come up with a basic design that I'm going to construct for the flamethrower's gun. The gun will be constructed from PVC piping (I say 1 inch in diameter, 1 1/2 at most, because its not too big around. I found a male to female screw adaptor and a female to female screw coupler that can make up the business end of the thrower (and still have the ability to unscrew, like how seen in the film when Childs was forced to put his flamethrower down after MacReady breaks into the supply room). The adaptor's thread will have to be cut down a bit because of the length, so that in a few simple twists the coupler can come off. Below is the basic diagram I've had made in Photoshop. I've got two different handle designs. The first one is primarily for a more easily securable handle, which can be made from a piece of wood and use screws to drill in from the top of the PVC standard coupler at the back. The second one would be made of wood and styrene sheeting to simulate the handle seen in the film where the, but the odds of it being securely mounted to the PVC may not be as great. But, this is the basic design, without any additional detailing.

 

CB2001

Master Member
Here's a bit of an update: I've bought some PVC piping and fittings that I think are going to work well for the flamethrower's "gun". I came to realize that 1 1/4" is the best and correct size for the diameter of piping to use for the flamethrower. I tried to get a 1 1/4" Wye piece (which I know the companies that manufacture them), but neither Home Depot or Lowes carries them (the guy at Lowes tried suggesting that I used 1 1/2" Wye and use brushers to get it to fit to 1 1/4". But, with all the pieces it would have taken to make everything fit, it would have costed more to do the wye and extra fittings, so I opted for a T-joint that was 1/4 through and through with a 1/2 socket on the side).

So far, with pieces from both Home Depot and Lowes, I've spent a total of $8.50 (rough estimate).

I almost got two 4" diameter pieces of pipe to use for the tanks, but they were $5.97 each (same pricing at both stores), but I decided to hold off on them for now, as I felt getting the "gun" assembled first is a higher priority due to the amount of pieces going into the building of the gun portion (while the pack assemble will be simple to do in comparison). Plus, I'm not even sure if the T-joint I have will work for the thrower. But after consulting with my dad to see what he thinks and to check to see what PVC pieces he has (as well as what kind of hose he has that can be used with the pack), I'll begin working on the gun.
 

Don't want to see this ad? Sign up for anRPF Premium Membershiptoday. Support the community. Stop the ads.

Knightjar

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
If it helps, I've got a small collection of flamethrower images that I collected for my 'Munny Thing' project while I was researching the tank configuration.
 

CB2001

Master Member
If it helps, I've got a small collection of flamethrower images that I collected for my 'Munny Thing' project while I was researching the tank configuration.
Shoot 'em over to me. I'll PM you my e-mail address. Never hurts to have too much reference than not enough. :)
 

CB2001

Master Member
New updates: My dad and I bought some more PVC pieces, this time for the tanks for the flamethrower. He actually listened to me with what I want to do for the "tanks", which is to make them look like real tanks. So, instead of using PVC piping and end caps, we've bought a lot of couplers and end caps, enough to make two separate big tanks and one smaller tank. We're going to glue the couplers together with small sections of piping in between then, so that we can get them drastically close enough, and then use bondo to fill in the cracks in between them, sand them down and paint them to look like one solid piece.

BTW, My dad got his hands on two green bottles that look like wine bottles, which means that I can print out the J&B label to stick onto one of them. I may not bring it to MegaCon, but I rather have it as a backup in case I can't get the flamethrower done in time.

That's about it for now, but I will be posting pictures and possible video when it comes time to working on it. That will be guarantee. But in the mean time, I'm going to get all the articles of my not so accurate MacReady costume together and take some pictures (as well as buy the wig). But since that's more costuming, that'll be in the other topic.
 

C0mmand3rC0dy

Sr Member
The level of research you put in is quite impressive! It will be neat to see your progress pics!

I'll have to watch the movie again, but maybe when I can afford to lose the sleep :sleep
 

CB2001

Master Member
The level of research you put in is quite impressive! It will be neat to see your progress pics!

I'll have to watch the movie again, but maybe when I can afford to lose the sleep :sleep
Well, like I said, it may not be screen accurate, but I'm trying to get as close as possible and when it comes to research, I tend to do the best I can at that.

Totally watch it. Honestly, I can't tell you how many times, when I was younger, that my father and I have watched the movie with the lights off, the A/C at full blast and a bowl of popcorn. It's totally worth it.
 

Don't want to see this ad? Sign up for anRPF Premium Membershiptoday. Support the community. Stop the ads.

terryr

Sr Member
A/C blasting? Oh, Florida.

I just have to go outside and live it. Although this year is very mild so far.

Usually, I could use that to de-ice my car.
 

Kerr Avon

Master Member
Since this clearly won't be used to shoot actual flames, how about installing in the gun one of those paper flames that have a light and fan behind them so it blows around looking like a flame? It might look cool, might be silly, but worth a shot.
 

CB2001

Master Member
A/C blasting? Oh, Florida.

I just have to go outside and live it. Although this year is very mild so far.

Usually, I could use that to de-ice my car.
Keep in mind, yes, I am in Florida. And some of the times my Dad and I watched The Thing in the past wasn't always during the winter. There are times we watched it during the summer months, too. But the fact of the matter is film is one of mine and my dad's personal favorites that we both happen to like.

Since this clearly won't be used to shoot actual flames, how about installing in the gun one of those paper flames that have a light and fan behind them so it blows around looking like a flame? It might look cool, might be silly, but worth a shot.
One of the primary factors is time. I'm already cutting it close as it is, since I'm planning on having during this ready to use during my one day in costume at MegaCon. Believe it or not, my Dad suggested almost the same thing, but using a ribbon with a small fan built into the thrower, so when the fan is turned on, it blows the ribbon out to make it look like it's shooting flame. But, you never know, I may decide to do a 2.0 version of the flame thrower and go that route.
 

Don't want to see this ad? Sign up for anRPF Premium Membershiptoday. Support the community. Stop the ads.

CB2001

Master Member
Just giving a bit of an update: My dad and I got the tanks fully assimbled and the thrower gun partially assembled. With the weight of the tanks, my dad said that the thrower's pack is going to weight almost as much as the real thing. We still have a ways to go. I'll take pictures of what's been assembled and upload them sometime tomorrow.

But I have posted a picture up of myself in half of my not-so-screen accurate R.J. MacReady outfit over in the my thread in the costume forum (I had gotten the wig, and I wanted to try it out).

That's about it for now. Tomorrow, there will be updates. :D
 

CB2001

Master Member
I apologize for not posting these up yesterday like I said I would, but I had a little bit of a crisis. But here are the shots. I included my cellphone in two shots so you guys have an idea on the size of these things.

The first image is of the "tanks" for the pack.



My dad and I constructed these tanks out of couplers and end caps, using regular PVC piping in between them. We're planning on buying a small can of Bondo, filling in the cracks and then sanding them down so that they somewhat look even. In fact, my dad informs me that due to the piping we used on the bigger ones (which he thought were thin-walled pieces), the pack is going to weigh almost as much as the real thing.



Here is the top half of the thrower's gun. Basically, it includes the business end, to the back end. I have an end-cap piece for the back-end, but I'm going to cut a piece of sheet styrene to stick on it (as its an adaptor piece for the pipe and it has holes in it) and glue it on. I haven't decided on what type of handle to go with it just yet.

The business end.


The back end (without end cap).


Inside the business end.


I should note that I actually had to cut the threads on the adaptor piece on the business end because the screw-on cap wouldn't even go half way. Despite cutting it down and gluing it, I'm worried about it coming off (I tested it by dropping it business end first on a carpeted floor to see if it would crack or pop off, and it didn't). However, I may attempt to re-enforce this and cover up the re-enforcement with a piece of styrene cut to fit into the hole and painted orange (so to make sure that people know it's not a functional one). But so far, things are looking up with the project.
 
Last edited:

CB2001

Master Member
New Update: Earlier today, my dad and I spent some time sanding down the PVC tanks. I came to discover the small one wasn't completely sealed up (so, I redid the PVC glue on it). We managed to sand down all three, but have only gotten one tank filled in with Bondo (to which we will sand down), possibly tomorrow. I know its not much of an update, but I figured, its better than nothing.
 

Don't want to see this ad? Sign up for anRPF Premium Membershiptoday. Support the community. Stop the ads.

Don't want to see this ad? Sign up for anRPF Premium Membershiptoday. Support the community. Stop the ads.

Top