P-51 CAN OPENER
3 for $5.00
Issue P-51 can
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P-38 and P-51 Can Openers.
We are trying to bring to you both the technical and
humanitarian history of the "thingamajig" know as
"The Greatest Army Invention
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P-51 Can Opener History and Information
OPENER, CAN, HAND, FOLDING, TYPE
P-51 CAN OPENER
The P-51 can opener is the "big"
brother of the P-38 can opener.
Many an "expert", has
espoused as "fact" that the government never
issued a P-51 can opener and that the P-51 was some
aftermarket creation of the manufacturer to sell
more can openers. To dispel any confusion and
to set the record straight about the P-51 can opener
- the P-51 is in fact an official
Government Issue item. The P-51 was
conceived, designed and produced shortly after the
introduction of the P-38 can opener.
The P-51 can opener is still in the military
inventory and is currently assigned NSN
7330-01-289-8827. The P-51 is somewhat
obscure and elusive because military
Mobile Kitchen Trailers (MKT) are currently issued a
counter top mounted, hand crank, rotary, can opener
and a Opener, Can, Hand, For Tray Packs and Round
Cans (A-A-52202) as standard issue.
Below is listed select technical
excerpts from the military specification that
addresses the P38 and P51 can openers. The
information is reprinted here verbatim from the
actual military specification.
MILITARY SPECIFICATION -
OPENERS, CAN, HAND, FOLDING
A-A-52203 - 1996
MIL-O-20582C - 1967
MIL-O-20582D - 1970
MIL-O-20582E - 1988
Official Nomenclature: OPENER,
CAN, HAND, FOLDING, TYPE I
specification is mandatory for use by all Department
and agencies of the Department of Defense.
Scope. This specification covers a
lightweight, folding, hand-operated can opener for
severing tops of rimmed metal cans.
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.
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.
U.S. ARMY NATICK RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, AND
2-9-148 - Opener, Can, Hand, Folding, Type I; Can
Opener and Directions for Use
5-13-4260 - Opener, Can,
Hand, Folding, Type II
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
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 18.104.22.168.
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.
3.3.1 Heat treatment (hardness).
The body and the blade of the can openers shall be
heat treated to a Rockwell "C" hardness of not less
than 47 nor more than 55 and shall be verified by
the test specified in 22.214.171.124.
3.3.2 Knife Blade.
The knife blade shall have a sharp, tapered, cutting
edge formed by grinding, milling, shearing or
3.3.3 Finish (plating).
All burrs and rough edges shall be removed.
The opener shall be tin plated in accordance with
type I of MIL-T-10727. The thickness of
plating on all surfaces shall be not less than
0.0001 inch when tested as specified in 126.96.36.199.
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
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.
188.8.131.52 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
Special Marking. Each unit pack shall
have printed thereon a diagram and directions for
use as shown on the applicable drawing.
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.
term (key word) listing.
This can opener was designed to open
larger cans such a commercial No.10
institutional food can with a lid diameter of 6-3/16
inches and food tray packs and
T-Rats that are used in Mobile Field Kitchens (MKT) and mess
Much like the P-38 can opener, the
P-51 derived it's name from the fact that it took
twists to sever the lid from a commercial No. 10 can.
Government Drawing for the P-51 can opener.
Click the photo below to be taken to the drawing.
Actual copies of this drawing are available for
purchase on-line in our
Click on the Photo to the Left to see a copy of the
P-51 Government engineering
Official Drawing Title: OPENER,
CAN, HAND, FOLDING, TYPE II, CAN OPENER AND
DIRECTIONS FOR USE
Reprints of this drawing are
available for purchase.
We have had so
many requests for Original
Issue - full sized - sets of prints or engineering
drawings that we
now offer the prints for sale. Plotted as full D sized engineering drawings
these prints make great wall hangers, posters or
conversation starters. There is so much
history associated with these can openers that
almost 8 out of 10 people will instantly recognize
the can opener and the prints encourage conversation
- lead in to war stories and we guarantee at the
least they will conjure up dreams, memories and tall
We take framed
prints to all our on site shows and venues such as
car shows, gun shows, etc. The prints
themselves generate as much interest as the can
openers. Many people want to copies of the
engineering drawings after they know the history of
the P-38 or P-51.
The drawing above has been modified for use on the
web site and has been watermarked to protect our
research efforts. Purchased copies of these
prints are original copies (unadulterated) and are
delivered plotted as D sized (22"x34") engineering
NOTE: Both the P-38 and P-51 can opener is
considered contraband when traveling on a
commercial air line. These can openers will
be confiscated by airport security personnel.
See the below excerpt from a testimonial.
P-51 CAN OPENERS
3 for $5.00