Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Vietnam -- I want my, I want my, I want my P-38

It wasn't a WWII twin engine aircraft known as a P-38. It wasn't the sexiest. It was small, light and portable and when you wanted to open up a can in a C-Ration box of food, this tiny piece of equipment was the way you did it.

Developed in just 30 days during the Summer of 1942 by the Subsistence Research Laboratory in Chicago, this small but handy two piece field pocket can opener saw more war time than three generations of men.

You simply unfolded the blade from the main piece and placed it on the edge of the can so that the blade could puncture the can along the rim. The groove used the rim of the can and allowed the solider to easily penetrate the can with little effort.

Once you got the can started, pulling the can opener back to where the last incision stopped and repeating the ratcheting action is how you got the job done.

A few problems were never taken into account. 

First, No P-38 had ever been made for a left hand er.  Meaning you had to open cans with your right hand.

Second, having a lose blade that flies open while attached to the dog tag chain could cause bodily harm.

Third, wives are not impressed with us opening up cans at home with one. Post Nam dependencies on such equipment may help cut costs on electricity. But an electric can opener can open three cans of the same size in the same amount of time it takes you to do one.

Therefore, doing this more than once can cause a woman to swing a baseball bat at one's head or worse the P-38 itself vaporizes.  I know, it has happened to me!

Since the P-38 is light and easy to hide, find such a place and leave it there.  Instead of a baseball bat, when there is no electricity goes out and your can opener saves the day, you might get something else.

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