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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: 23 Sep 1940 After just seven weeks of development, American Bantam delivers the first prototype jeep to Camp Holabird, MD.   

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.

Click here for a new, commercial Jerry Can.

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