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Lance0906

John Wayne P-38 C Rat Can Opener

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Like millions of other I had my P-38 "John Wayne" from a box of C-Rations, 1965. In writing a book about USAF uniforms (Into The Blue, Amazon) I included a discussion about Dog Tags and one of the statements was how the dog tag chain held many personal items from a P-38 to religious or peace symbols. Never did I think of how the can opener received it's name P-38. There is also a larger broth from WW2 called a P-51. Being AF I thought of the P-38 Lightening and the P-51 Mustang and didn't give it any more thought.

 

Today a WW2 friend of mine asked, "You know how they got their names, don't you?" No! He told me that it was because the P-38 took 38 cuts to open the can lid! Then he told me the P-51 was for the 10-N-1 rations which were the larger cans and naturally took 51 actions to peel back the lid. I was dumb struck that I never considered it. I haven't had a chance to try it but plan to experiment on the proper size cans.

 

Question, anybody ever hear of this? How about any other stories you've heard. Let me know if you have. I'm in the middle of vol 2 and it would make a nice follow up.

 

Thanks to all

 

Lance

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I had heard the same explanation.

 

Wikipedia has this to say;

 

One rumored explanation for the origin of the name is that the P-38 is approximately 38 mm (1.5 in) long. This explanation also holds for the P-51, which measures approximately 51 mm (2.0 in) in length. U.S. Army sources, however, indicate that the origin of the name is rooted in the 38 punctures around the circumference of a C-ration can required for opening.


-Sarah

 

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Maybe it refers to the number of puncture wounds the average wearer got on his chest when the things partially opened against your body. :D

 

My wife always made me take off my dog tags because of the puncture issue.


Mark V

 

 

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"If they're not shooting at you, you're not trying hard enough. Now move out and draw fire!"

 

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Maybe it refers to the number of puncture wounds the average wearer got on his chest when the things partially opened against your body. :D

 

My wife always made me take off my dog tags because of the puncture issue.

 

Hi Devious

 

I can follow your wife's point on this issue, gentlemen should always be considerate, women have soft and tender chests :blush::lol::lol:;)

 

lewis


.

Young enough to care and enjoy militaria - Old enough to remember as surplus

 

" Life's too short for reproductions "

 

 

Life is like a tank of gas, the closer you get to a quarter tank, the faster it goes 

 

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I've heard the "number of punctures to open a can" explanation for the last 35+ years. If it ain't fact, it's at least a very persistent rumor.


The beatings will continue until morale has improved..

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And here I just assumed it was the year of introduction. Pretty interesting!


In memory of Lance Corporal Jeremy S. Lasher, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force. Killed in Action July 23, 2009, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Semper Fi

Lance Corporal's 2/8 challenge coin was STOLEN from his grave. Please see the following forum link for details: http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/210650-challenge-coin-stolen-from-marine-kia-grave/&do=findComment&comment=1654270

 



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I used these 1966-1970.

I have one on my key ring.

 

I never once heard anyone call them "John Wayne" or even "P38."

 

We just said "can opener."

 

An overlooked related item is the indestrucatble and venerable white plastic spoon supplied inside each meal of "C's"

 

A must for every GI shirt pocket in case you run into some chow or need to tunnel oiut of somewhere.

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