Plastic Military Jerry Cans

By the late 1980's the steel jerry can for gasoline was 50 years old. New technology of engineered plastics made possible lighter, stronger and cheaper cans for gasoline and other requirements for military liquids. The US military began to develop and procure the plastic containers and phase out the metal for gasoline, water, and other uses. The plastic jerry cans quickly became the new standard and have replaced the steel cans for most purposes in the U.S. military.

Olive drab Plastic Gas Jerry Can
Olive Drab Plastic Gas Jerry Can with Canadian Markings (Scepter).

Today in WW II: 28 Jul 1941 Oil agreement between Japan and Dutch East Indies suspended, part of a general order freezing all Japanese assets, pushing Japan toward war.  More 
28 Jul 1941 Soviet Union agreement with London-based Polish Government-in-exile invalidates the border negotiated with Germany and enlists Poles detained in the USSR for Allied armies.
28 Jul 1942 6000 Jews brought to pits by German SS and shot dead in Minsk, Belarus, a total of 30,000 slaughtered over four days of the Great Pogrom [28-31 Jul].
28 Jul 1944 Rapid Red Army advance through Poland overruns German defenses and captures Brest-Litovsk, Jaroslaw and Przemysl.
28 Jul 1945 B-25 Mitchell bomber, lost in fog, crashes into 79th floor of the Empire State Building in Manhattan, causing 14 deaths and extensive damage.
Visit the World War II Timeline for day-by-day events 1939-1945! See also WW2 Books.

Plastic Military Jerry Cans for Gasoline and Water

Plastic Gas Can on M-1A1 Abrams Tank, Fallujah, Iraq, 14 Aug 2004.
Plastic Gas Can on M-1A1 Abrams Tank
Fallujah, Iraq, 14 Aug 2004.

Tacom Fuel and Water Handling Equipment Team initated a program in a cooperative effort with the Canadian government to procure a plastic gasoline can, following the success of plastic water cans introduced in the 1970s. The plastic fuel container was first fielded in 1993. It is lighter and more durable than the metal can, as well as being safer in a fire. (The metal can could explode, spreading fire and hot shrapnel all around, while the plastic can will simply melt into a small pool of liquid plastic.) Furthermore, the plastic can will not corrode in any environment. It will fit in the same vehicle racks as the metal can and uses the same spout, although a new plastic spout was also developed.

Plastic Water Can Markings

Unlike the metal cans, where water and gas cans were almost identical except for the lids, the plastic water containers were made exclusively with a single bar handle while the containers for other (poisonous) liquids had the traditional three bar design. Colors were used for the plastic material of the containers that would also help avoid mixing the two uses.

Plastic cans are therefore more colorful than the olive drab steel cans. The early production water cans (1970s) were Black or pinkish Sand, developed by Scepter, a Canadian company. When fuel containers were introduced in 1993 the colors were Field Drab and Sand, still the standard issue colors. In some documents, Sand is called Lusterless Sand, Field Drab may be called Forest Drab.

In addition to the container body and lid, there is a wide plastic band that attaches the lid to the body and keeps it from getting lost. These straps can be in differnt colors to help identify the contents.

Environment Protection and Pollution Control

Plastic Can Containment and Transport Units NSN 8145-01-515-6458
Plastic Can Containment and Transport Unit (NSN 8145-01-515-6458), Fort Drum, NY.

Plastic Can Containment and Transport Units have been introduced for storage or when shipping military 5-gallon gas cans. They will be mandatory for outside storage during field operations and in motorpool storage yards. Their objective is to eliminate spills during transport and to eliminate leakage into ground from cans tipping over.

The stackable units are made of high molecular weight polyethylene material that is gas, oil, fuel and weather resistant. The unit weighs 40 lbs. empty or 175 lbs. when filled. The base has carrying handles on the ends for two personnel.

The containment/transport unit is manufactured by Bowhead Manufacturing Company, LLC.

More Information Available

Downloads with more information about safty and handling of plastic Jerry Cans in the US military:

Go to the page on Jerry Can Markings for more on how the plastic cans were marked.

Nomenclature: Current US Military Issue Plastic Jerry Cans

Rack of Plastic Water Cans on USMC HTTV
Rack of Plastic Water Cans on USMC Helo Transportable Tactical Vehicle, 20 Jan 1998.

  • NSN 7240-00-089-3827, Can, Water, Military, 5-Gallon, Plastic, Sand Color (No. 30279)
  • NSN 7240-01-365-5317, Can, Water, Military, 5-Gallon, Plastic, Field Drab Color (No. 33105)
  • NSN 7240-01-337-5268, Can, Gasoline, Military, 5-Gallon, Plastic, Sand Color (No. 30279)
  • NSN 7240-01-337-5269, Can, Gasoline, Military, 5-Gallon, Plastic, Field Drab Color (No. 33105)
  • NSN 7240-00-177-6154, Spout, Can, Flexible
  • NSN 7240-01-337-5348, Cap, Can, Gasoline, Military, Plastic, Sand Color (No. 30279)
  • NSN 7240-01-337-5349, Cap, Can, Gasoline, Military, Plastic, Field Drab Color (No. 33105)
  • NSN 7240-01-337-5351, Strap, Can, Gasoline, Military, Plastic, Sand Color (No. 30279);
  • NSN 7240-01-337-5352, Strap, Can, Gasoline, Military, Plastic, Field Drab Color (No. 33105);
  • NSN 7240-01-337-9010, Flange, 5-Gallon Gasoline Can, Military, Plastic

Use a matching plastic cap for military plastic gas or water cans
Click for larger image in two parts: left half and right half.

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: plastic can jerry or gerry. Then click the Search button.