There is another mention of flame-throwers in the same year, in the
History of the Southern Yang Dynasty, where we are told that a commander
named Ts'ao Pin 'came down upon-Chinling. He had large ships furnished with
bundles of reeds saturated with thick oil, with the intention of taking advantage
of the wind to start conflagrations ... But in urgent situations, then they
used the machines to shoot the fire-oil forwards to resist the enemy.'
The mention of ignition in the passage above brings us to the question: how was the ejected gasoline ignited as it left the flame-thrower? Obviously it could not be burning before it left, for then the man holding the machine would be destroyed by flames himself. The answer is that a lighted fuse was held in front of the nozzle, so that when the gasoline was squirted out, it was ignited after it was already on its way through the air. The fuse was impregnated with gunpowder; as mentioned in the account of gunpowder, this was the first military use of the substance. This gunpowder was so low in saltpeter content that it could not explode, but only sparked and burnt slowly in the fuse. By 1044, the flame-thrower was standard issue to Chinese armies. A military encyclopedia of that date, Collection of the Most Important Military Techniques, gives drawings of a flame-thrower with design details. The text says: 'If the enemy comes to attack a city, these weapons are placed on the great ramparts, or else in outworks, so that large numbers of assailants cannot get through.' There is a lengthy description of the device, which commences: