The Military had a problem during WWII. The C-rations that the soldiers ate came in steel cans and without carrying a large can opener into the field, how was the common soldier supposed to open a can of food? That question was answered in the summer of 1942 when the Subsistence Research Laboratory in Chicago, IL developed the P-38 can opener in just 30 days. Measuring just 1 1/2 inches long and with a hole in one end, it could be hung comfortably on the soldiers dog tag chain so that he would never be without a way to open the cans of food he needed to live on.
To purchase a P-38 Can opener for only $0.75, please go to Stamped Out's Catalog here.
Opener, Can, Hand, Folding Pre-1988 nomenclature
Opener, Can, Hand, Folding, Type I Post-1988 nomenclature
National Stock Number:
Click here to help figure out what this means.
Type I (P-38) can opener is intended for use by military personnel in the field to open combat-type rations (Commercial No. 2 cans), in-flight rations, and emergency rations.
Rockwell Hardness 47-55
|Military Specification:||Date of Spec.||PDF Available (click to view)|
|MIL-O-20582A||28 November 1956|
|MIL-O-20582C||30 January 1967|
|MIL-O-20582D||30 September 1970|
|MIL-O-20582E||24 March 1988|
|MIL-O-20582E NOT 1||14 June 1996|
|A-A-52203||06 June 1996|
|Military Drawing:||Date of Drawing.||PDF Available (click to view)|
|48148||07 February 1956|
|2-9-148||07 February 1956|
|2-9-148A||06 September 1961|
|2-9-148B||16 March 1988|
The P-38 can opener is slowly getting phased out due to the new Meal, Ready to Eat (MRE). In a MRE the food is packaged in plastic bags that do not require the use of a can opener.
The DOD adopted the MRE as the combat ration in 1975, with a large scale production test starting in 1978. Delivery did not begin until 1981.
If you have a specific question that is not answered in this information area, please contact us.
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