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P 38 Can Opener - Tips

Thu, 8 Jul 2010 00:41:48

P 38 Can Opener


Vietnam-era P-38
P-51 and P-38 openers
Australian Army "FRED". Note the spoon shaped end and bottle opener.The P-38 'Lightning' is also a WWII-era plane. The Walther P 38 is a WWII-era pistol.
The P-38 can opener is a small device found in a C-ration, the canned field rations issued in the United States Armed Forces from World War II to the 1980s. Nicknamed the "John Wayne" because he was shown in a training film opening a can of C-Rations, the can opener is keychain sized and consists of a short metal blade that serves as a handle (and also a screwdriver to the resourceful), with a small, hinged metal tooth that folds out to pierce the can lid. A notch just under the hinge point keeps the opener hooked around the rim of the can as the device is "walked" around to cut the lid out. A larger version called the P-51 is somewhat easier to operate. Official military designations for the P-38 include 'US ARMY POCKET CAN OPENER' and 'OPENER, CAN, HAND, FOLDING, TYPE I'. As with some other military terms (e.g. Origin of the term 'jeep'), the reasons for the 'P-38' designation are not clear. One claim is that, used properly, it requires exactly 38 punches of the blade to open a C-ration can. Alternatively, the name could allude to the fast performance of the P-38 'Lightning' fighter plane. P-38s are no longer used for individual rations by the United States Armed Forces as canned C-rations were replaced by uncanned MREs in the 1980s. They are, however, included with US military "Tray Rations" (canned bulk meals), and are also still seen in disaster recovery efforts and have been handed out alongside canned food by rescue organizations both in America and abroad in Afghanistan. The original US contract P-38 can openers were manufactured by Mallin Hardware (now defunct) of Shelby, Ohio and are stamped "US Mallin Shelby O.", by J.W. Speaker Corp. and are stamped "US Speaker" and by Washburn Corp and are marked "US Androck" . A similar device that incorporates a small spoon at one end and a Can opener at the other is currently employed by the Australian Army and New Zealand Army in its ration kits. It is known by the acronym "FRED" (Field Ration Eating Device). It is also known widely in its derogative term, the "F ucking Ridiculous Eating Device".[1] The advantages of a P-38 include: cheaper to manufacture than a standard can opener
smaller and lighter to carry
faster than a normal can opener if the user has sufficient experience
The device can be easily attached to a key ring or dog tag chain using the small punched hole.
[edit] "The Baby Can Opener"
A similar device was included with British Army 'Operational Ration Pack, General Purpose' 24-hour ration pack and 'Compo' Composite (14 man) Ration pack rations. At one stage they were manufactured by W.P. Warren Engineering Co. Ltd, 79 Alma Street, Birmingham B19 2RL (021-359-2808). The instructions printed on the miniature greaseproof paper bag they were supplied in read: TO OPEN CAN:
Place opener on the can with rim of can inside the slot. Hold between thumb and forefinger and twist forward to puncture. Repeat motion until can is open. Their design is similar, but not identical, to the P-38 and P-51 can openers.
[edit] Creative uses
List of P-38 Uses By Steve Wilson, MSG Proponent NCO, Dept of the Army Office of the Chief of Chaplains, The Pentagon [2] Can Opener
Seam Ripper
Clean Fingernails
Cut Fishing Line
Open Paint Cans
Window Scraper
Scrape Around Floor Corners
Clean Out Groove on Tupperware lids Reach in and Clean Out Small Cracks
Scrape Around Edge of Boots
Bottle Opener
Gut Fish (in the field)
Scale Fish (in the field)
Test for 'Doneness' When Baking on a Camp Fire
Prying Items
Strip Wire
Scrape Pans in the Field
Lift Key on Flip Top Cans
Marking Tool
Deflating Tires
Clean Sole of Boot/Shoe
Pick Teeth
Striking Flint
Stirring Coffee
Puncturing Plastic Coating
Knocking on Doors
Morse Code
Box Cutter
Opening Letters
Write Emergency Messages
Scratch an Itch
Save as a Souvenir
Rip Off Rank for On-the-Spot Promotions
Bee sting removal tool (scrape off w/ blade)
Knife sharpener

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