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Military Jerry Cans for Gasoline and Water

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.

Refueling with 5 gallon Jerry can during World War II
Refueling with 5-Gallon Jerry Can, World War II.

Today in WW II: 25 Nov 1941 Germans reach outskirts of Moscow but cannot sustain attack; Germans hold positions until Dec 5.  More 
25 Nov 1942 British SOE team and anti-Nazi Greeks blow up the Gorgopotamos railway viaduct, the first significant sabotage in occupied Europe [Operation Harling, Nov 25-26].
25 Nov 1943 Battle of Cape St. George between Buka and New Ireland, off Papua New Guinea, fought by US and Japanese naval forces.
25 Nov 1944 In Philippine waters, USS Intrepid [CV-11] hit by two Japanese kamikaze planes within five minute period, killing 69 and seriously wounding 85 of the crew.
25 Nov 1944 Most deadly German V-2 rocket attack in Britain happened at New Cross Road, destroying a Woolworths store and surrounding area, killing 160 people, seriously injuring 120 others.
25 Nov 1944 Japanese occupy Nanning, a transportation hub in south China, for the second time, in final stages of the Ichi-Go offensive.
25 Nov 1944 Last American airborne troops withdraw from unsuccessful Operation Market Garden positions.
Visit the Olive-Drab.com World War II Timeline for day-by-day events 1939-1945! See also WW2 Books.

All About Military Jerry Cans

Filling jerry cans during Third Army maneuvers in Louisiana, 1942
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:

Table of Jerry Can Data

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:

Length13 3/4 in.
Width6 3/4 in.
Height18 3/4 in.
Weight (empty)10.5 lb.
Weight (full w/gasoline)41.0 lb.
Liquid Capacity5.05 gal. or 20 litres
Volume1 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 can
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.

Find More Information on the Internet

There are many fine websites that have additional information on this topic, too many to list here and too many to keep up with as they come and go. Use this Google web search form to get an up to date report of what's out there.

For good results, try entering this: can jerry or gerry. Then click the Search button.

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