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P-38 Engineering Drawing

Opener, Can, Hand, Folding, Type I
NSN 7330-00-242-3506


Pertinent Documents:  

A-A-52203 - 1996
MIL-O-20582A - 1956
MIL-O-20582C - 1967
MIL-O-20582D - 1970
MIL-O-20582E - 1988

Official Nomenclature: OPENER, CAN, HAND, FOLDING, TYPE I

This specification is mandatory for use by all Department and agencies of the Department of Defense.

1.1 Scope.  This specification covers a lightweight, folding, hand-operated can opener for severing tops of rimmed metal cans.

1.2 Classification.  The can openers shall be of the following types as specified (see 6.2):

     Type I - Small, for opening individual portion-sized cans in the field.
     Type II - Large, for opening group portion-sized cans in the field.

2.1.2 Other Government documents, drawings, and publications.  The following other Government documents, drawings, and publications form a part of this specification to the extent specified herein.  Unless otherwise specified, the issues shall be those in effect on the date of the solicitation.



          2-9-148 - Opener, Can, Hand, Folding, Type I; Can Opener and Directions for Use
          5-13-4260 - Opener, Can, Hand, Folding, Type II

3.2.1 Carbon Steel, sheet and strip.  The material for the can openers shall be carbon steel sheet and strip conforming to numbers 1050, 1055, or 1065 of QQ-S-700.

3.3 Design and Construction.  The can openers shall be designed and constructed as specified herein and as shown on the applicable drawing.  The openers shall completely sever the tops of circular, rectangular, or tray pack cans, as applicable, when tested as specified in  The openers shall be assembled so the knife blade offers resistance to changing from the closed position to the open position and from the open position to the closed position.  Opening of the blade shall be accomplished by use of the hand without the use of an auxiliary instrument.  It is not required that the blade be retained firmly in the open position.

3.4  Identification Marking.  Each type I and type II can opener shall be permanently and distinctly stamped with letters " U.S. " and the manufacturer's name or trademark.  Markings shall be of the size and in the locations shown on the applicable drawing.  Markings shall be applied so there is no distortion or unevenness opposite the markings or penetration through the metal.

4.5.3 Cutting.  Each sample can opener shall be tested to determine that it completely severs the tops of both circular and rectangular cans as required by 3.3.  The test for the type I can opener shall be performed on one commercial No. 2 circular can and one rectangular can measuring approximately 6-5/8 inches long by 4-1/8 inches wide by a minimum of 1-5/8 inches high.  The test for the type II can opener shall be performed on one rectangular 1001 by 1206 by 200 size tray pack can, and on one commercial No. 10 circular can.  Any non-conformance with the specified requirements shall constitute failure of this test.  Unit packing.  Each can opener, with the blade folded flat, shall be packed in an envelope made from material comprised of not less than 0.0005-inch thick polyethylene coated on not less than 25 pounds basis weight (24 by 36 - 500) unbleached Kraft paper and the seams shall be formed by heat sealing.  The envelope containing one can opener shall be closed by heat sealing.  The maximum dimensions of the envelope shall be 1-11/16 inches by 2-3/4 inches for the type I can opener, and 2 inches by 3-1/4 inches for the type II can opener.

5.4.1 Special Marking.  Each unit pack shall have printed thereon a diagram and directions for use as shown on the applicable drawing.

6.1 Intended Use - The type I can opener is intended for use by military personnel in the field to open combat-type rations, in-flight rations, and emergency rations.  The type II can opener is intended for use by military personnel in the field to open military tray pack and round can components of the 36-soldier Tray Pack Meal Modules.

6.5 Subject term (key word) listing.
     Can opener
     Meal module
     Tray pack

P-51 Engineering Drawing
Opener, Can, Hand, Folding, Type II
NSN 7330-01-289-8827



Instruction Sheet for the P-38 Can Opener
(found this on the website)

The following is a copy of an instruction sheet showing proper use of the P38 from a DoD specification MIL-O-20582A dated 28 November 1956. It gives the official name for the P38: OPENER, CAN, HAND, FOLDING.

Among many other details this specification states in Section 3.3.5 that "Marking for Identification" shall include: "The letters U.S. and the manufacturer's name or trade name..." Packaging is specified as an individual envelope which are then put in boxes of 1000 envelopes (for general use -- special purposes can differ). So if you pick up a P38 that is supposedly "genuine surplus" from the 1950s or so, look for the US and an individual envelope package.



1. Open blade.
2. Place can opener as shown in diagram.
3. Twist down to puncture slot in can top
inside rim.
4. Cut top by advancing opener with rocking
motion. Take small bites.


 Tie string through hole in opener to wash
and sterilize with mess-gear if possible.
When boiling water is unavailable, clean
opener as thoroughly as possible and hold
cutting blade over a match flame a few
seconds immediately before use.



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