Vintage P38 WW2/Nam/Korean war can opener *Rare* NOS

  • Sold for: Start Free Trial or Sign In to see what it's worth.
  • Item Category: -
  • Source: eBay
  • Sold Date: Jun 09,2011
  • Channel: Online Auction

Up for sale is a Vintage NOS and rare P-38 Military rations can opener in great condition from the 1950'swith the original paper envelope they were issued in. Here is a little information on this item:

During the WWII, Korean and Vietnam Wars when hungry GI's were ready to dive into their delicious meals of K or C-Rations they used their trusty P-38s to open the cans. No it wasn't the famous WWII fighter plane or a German pistol, it was an amazingly simple little piece of 1-1/2 inch stamped metal that was developed in just 30 days during the Summer of 1942 by the Subsistence Research Laboratory in Chicago.

It's official designation is 'US ARMY POCKET CAN OPENER' or 'OPENER, CAN, HAND, FOLDING, TYPE I', but it is more commonly know by its nickname the P-38 which it supposedly acquired from the 38 P unctures required to open a C-Ration can. It is also known by many as a "John Wayne" by those in the Navy and Marines because he was shown opening a can of C-Rations using a P-38 in a WWII training film. From then on Sailors and Marines referred to them as a "John Wayne".

Originally P-38s came wrapped in brown Kraft paper packets with a diagram and directions how to use printed on it. About a dozen P-38s came packed in a case of C-Rations but because everyone was hoarding them eventually only 3 were included in a case. These handy gadgets have adorned the dog tag chains and key rings of WWII, Korean and Vietnam war vets ever since opening their first can of C-rats with one.

Above is a 1950 US Speaker P-38 and it's wrapper. This Pre-Korean war version P-38 is identical to the modern P-38
with locking tabs and the entire length of the can cutting blade is sharpened (although it still appears to be sharpened by a grinding process rather than by stamping). The rib on the main body of the P-38 has a rounded end well above the bottom of the main body of the P-38. It is also made of a thicker metal than the WWII versions. Except for the cutting blade grinding process the evolution of the design of the P-38 seems complete with this P-38. The paper wrapper is the same size as the WWII versions although the wording is changed and there is printing on the front and back of the wrapper. Have Fun Bidding!

(coutesy of )