The U.S. military adopted the five gallon steel jerry can early in World War II. It has been used for gas, water and other liquids as a key component of military logistics, becomming a widely recognized basic item of military equipment. It has evolved from its German origins as a steel container to the modern plastic jerry cans in military use by the U.S. by NATO and many other countries. Civilian copies, by the millions, as well as surplus military jerry cans are found in every part of world.
Filling jerry cans during Third Army maneuvers in Louisiana, 1942.
The 5 gallon military gas can -- often called a "jeep can", "Gerry Can", "Jerry Can", "army gas can" or "Blitz Can" -- is one of the most ubiquitous items of military hardware in the world. Jerry cans are not only ever-present during military operations, but you will see them regularly in civilian life, mounted on a tow truck, in someone's garage, or on the back of an off-road rig. This has been the case since the jerry can first appeared early in World War II and remains so today.
These pages of Olive-Drab.com tell the whole story of the military jerry can in all its forms:
The design of the U.S. military steel jerry can was established during World War II and did not change until the introduction of the plastic 5 Gallon jerry cans in the late 1980s. The dimensions and specifications of the stell jerry can are:
13 3/4 in.
6 3/4 in.
18 3/4 in.
Weight (full w/gasoline)
5.05 gal. or 20 litres
1 cubic ft.
There is a technical manual for support and maintenance of the US military jerry can: TM 10-7200-200-13 (February 1974). An article about jerry cans appeared in Army Motors (journal of the MVPA), No. 102, Winter 2003.
Gasoline arrives by Air Evacuation C-47 to help fill the needs of Patton's 3rd Army, September 1944. Nurse Irene Steffens is carring two jerry cans at at time, about 80 pounds! Note British/German style spouts on these cans.
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