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P-38 Can Opener "The Real Deal"

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Having read the links in previous posts it appears my can opener predates the P38 by a year. It could thus be argued that the P38 was an adaptation of an existing idea ( wonder if there is a UK patent somewhere) rather than an invention..

 

Comments anyone?

 

Found this link below which members might find interesting:-

http://www.georgia-outfitters.com/p3851milspecs.htm


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It would seem that other manufacturers were making them too, though this one isn't dated (currently on ebay):-

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I have two original WWII examples. One came straight from its envelope out of a WWII C-ration acceossory packet. The other was attached to a pair of WWII dog tags. Both are darkened steel and completely unmarked, Ill post pics later..

 

 

 

Justin


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Here are 3 Viet Nam vintage C rat openers in the original wrappers. About 6 came in every case of 12 meals.

 

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post-20584-1307383377.jpgpost-20584-1307383458.jpg[a

tachment=402900:jacket_p38__001.jpg]Thease are some of mine the shiny one i think is repro but the speaker one i belive is korea and there is also a weird rounder one i belive to be from wwii but have no clue about

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always looking for items related to Msgt. Kenneth Gallagher WWII-Vietnam us army,air force

 

and items related to

Sgt. William J Kelly WWII active service in the aleution islands

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A lot of C-ration cases looked like a handful of them were just throne in.

I have around 20+ still in the wrapper. I have even went as far as sharpening some them so they would cut into the can better.

 

Mark


“There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.” By Ernest Hemingway

 

"Never start a fight that you can't win with everything you have right now" By Staff Sergeant Joe "Gladiator" Walker one-zero of RT California

 

"Where you look , shift your muzzle that way. If something's interesting enough to draw an eye, It is then interesting to have sway your muzzle that way"~ By S Sgt Joe "Gladiator" Walker

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Hello,

 

Sorry to revive an eight-year-old thread, but I recently acquired a couple of P-38's from different sources and I have noticed some differences in quality between them.

Here is a genuine, military surplus, Mallin Shelby can opener that I received in its original paper package ($5.00 on Ebay):

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And here it is along with a "U.S. Shelby CO."-stamped P-38 that I purchased for a third of the price of the original:

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I've opened cans with both of them, and the can rim hook on the modern P-38 bent after a single use, while the original version didn't seem to notice the can. Clearly, "they don't make them like they used to."

 

Which brings me to my first question. It seems like every modern production P-38 on the web has "Shelby Co." stamped on it. Now that the Mallin Hardware Company in Shelby, OH is out of business, is there another actual "Shelby Co." that is currently producing P-38 can openers?

 

Secondly, what type of steel (i.e., carbon or stainless) were original P-38's made from?


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Nothing to be sorry about. Glad you did. These are one of those common little things that generate interest wayyyyyy out of proportion to their rarity.

Mikie


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Here is what I have, top is SPEAKER, middle is SHELBY,bottom is GREENE, i think the date is 1960. And some unopened packages.

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"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil, is that good men do nothing." Edmund Burke



Looking for 41st INF. And older IDF Helmet, gear, insignia.


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Nothing to be sorry about. Glad you did. These are one of those common little things that generate interest wayyyyyy out of proportion to their rarity.

Mikie

I first became interested in them purely for their legendary versatility, but I've slowly come to discover that a disappointingly large portion of the "new" P-38's on the Internet are cheap (quality- and price-wise) imitations that aren't likely to hold up to the same use as an original would. So, I started looking for an original P-38 to carry with me, and I got interested in the history of them as I tried to figure out how to tell original from reproduction.

 

I'm starting to suspect that there are multiple overseas or possibly even American companies who are stamping "U.S. Shelby Co." on their cheap imitations to make them seem authentic.

 

I've decided that the only way for me to know that a P-38 advertised on the Internet is original is if it comes in the paper package.


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Here is what I have, top is SPEAKER, middle is SHELBY,bottom is GREENE, i think the date is 1960. And some unopened packages.

Wow, those are nice and salty! According to some of the articles posted/referenced earlier in this thread, I understand that Speaker received the original contract to manufacture P-38s. I understand that other companies have manufactured them as well, but Im still confused by the U.S. Shelby Co. markings on so many can openers, both P-38s and P-51s. I had originally assumed that Shelby was just the name of a company that made them, but then I found out about Mallin Hardware in Shelby, Ohio. So were there two separate companies in Shelby, Ohio that made P-38s?

 

At some point in the future, maybe P-38 collecting will become like coin or stamp collecting for military buffs. One could try to find one from each company for each production year, etc.


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It fascinates me that this discussion has continued for a decade. Just now I took out my keys and looked at the attached P38. It is marked" US Shelby." Since it has never occurred to me to pay money for a throwaway can opener, I know this piece is original GI issue from my stash of stuff from my military days. But how do I document its authenticity? If I take it to the P38 collector's convention, they'll just laugh at me and claim it is a fake. Why didn't I leave it in the original wrapper and just beat open those C ration cans on a rock?

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Here is an AJAX 51 dated and stamped US from a vets footlocker...cool litle tools...kept one in my helmet bag...

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And it took 45 strokes to open a can of libbys pumpkin filling...can is about the size of a cambells soup can...?

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It fascinates me that this discussion has continued for a decade. Just now I took out my keys and looked at the attached P38. It is marked" US Shelby." Since it has never occurred to me to pay money for a throwaway can opener, I know this piece is original GI issue from my stash of stuff from my military days. But how do I document its authenticity? If I take it to the P38 collector's convention, they'll just laugh at me and claim it is a fake. Why didn't I leave it in the original wrapper and just beat open those C ration cans on a rock?

I got a nice chuckle out of your post. You did a good job of reminding me of the reality behind the seemingly-legendary P38; namely, that it was designed as a disposable, single-purpose tool and was manufactured in the tens of millions at a cost of (almost literally) a dime a dozen. It was (probably) never intended to last through months, years, or even decades of use. When you consider it from this perspective, it does seem slightly ridiculous to pay $5 (the cost equivalent of 500 P38's when they were being made) to buy a single P38.

I would argue, however, that P38's have merit as a collectors' item, for a couple of reasons.

 

First, they are a tangible connection to America's fighting men and women and their everyday struggles with their rations (and the enemy). To those like myself who have not been in the service, the P38 is a glimpse into the daily life of G.I.'s over the decades. "What did American soldiers in World War II eat?""Well, there were these canned rations called C-Rations that they had to open with a little can opener..." etc. Plus, they were as universally carried as dog tags among G.I.'s, so they indicate (to me, at least) what the soldiers valued most: identity (dog tags) and sustenance (can opener to open food).

 

Second, they are an excellent testament to American manufacturing, as evidenced by their durability and longevity as usable tools (compared to their production cost).

 

Third, they were produced in such massive quantities that even original Korean- and Vietnam War-era P38's are relatively easy to find and cheap to acquire, making them easier to collect than more expensive items like bayonets and helmets. Try buying a factory-new, unopened M4 bayonet for $5.00!

 

Finally, they are neat, useful little gadgets in and of themselves, regardless of their history.

 

I apologize for this rant, but I just wanted to make the case for the merits of a field of collecting that I have recently become interested in.


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I pulled a few out that are in the original packaging. Reading the instructions surprised me. When I was in ( 1970's) we still had the C ration, these instructions point out the hole is used to tie a string through the hole and soak in the mess line hot water rinse bucket which you remember was always at the end of the mess line....40 years latter I found out what the hole in it was for.post-180924-0-49438900-1547414278_thumb.jpeg

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I pulled a few out that are in the original packaging. Reading the instructions surprised me. When I was in ( 1970's) we still had the C ration, these instructions point out the hole is used to tie a string through the hole and soak in the mess line hot water rinse bucket which you remember was always at the end of the mess line....40 years latter I found out what the hole in it was for.attachicon.gifimage.jpeg

So...I'm guessing that you didn't clean yours that way? Did you use a match instead?


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I have a bunch of real ones attached to dog tag sets.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


Check out my online collection of dog tags... http://historicdogtags.com LOOKING FOR DOG TAGS.... CIVIL WAR, WWI, WWII, KOREAN WAR, AND VIETNAM.PM ME IF YOU HAVE ANYTHING! I WILL LET YOU KNOW IF IM INTERESTED.THANKS,USDOG

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So...I'm guessing that you didn't clean yours that way? Did you use a match instead?

I did not know you should clean them, usually just wiped it off on my shirt sleeve. At 18/19 years old, we were bullet proof.

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never cleaned them either...hmmm

 

if anyone has Heinz P38...and does not think it is worth a mortgage payment...gimme a shout

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I thought I would share a couple more variations of the P-38 that I came across over the years. The top one is of course the US Shelby P-38 shown for size comparison. The middle one (unmarked) is that type used by the New Zealand Army circa 1977. I spent a month at Waiouru and we were issued KIWI rations which were actually pretty good.

 

The bottom one we affectionately called "the B-52" for its large size. It is from Australia. It has in addition to a can opener, a bottle opener and a spoon. Notice the arrowhead stamp. I was fortunate to work with the Aussies twice, once in 1977 and later again in 1988. Both operations were absolutely outstanding.

 

As a note, Both the Kiwi's and Aussies had at the time 24 hour ration packs which were lighter than 3 of our C-rations and yet had enough to keep you going for a full day.

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WANTED- Sterling hallmarked US Army Parachutist Jump wings:       WANTED -Combat Infantryman Badges (CIB):

Bell Trading Post Master (with star in wreath)                                        F.W. Assmann Germany full size CIB marked 191

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Military Post Supply M21/MPS-21 Senior CB                                          C.P. Company NYC 1P C. Polk New York Sterling

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So...I'm guessing that you didn't clean yours that way? Did you use a match instead?

Come to think of it, I don't think I ever cleaned mine :lol:

 

Don't have my Tags anymore though or I would of checked :lol: . I was in the Army in Jan 80-Dec 82, and kept one from the old C Rats case to put on my tags by the summer of 80 when I was in The Cav at Hood and used the same one up to Alaska afterwards on next duty station, so seeing that, mine I suppose was a 1970s P38.

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Here's my little P-38 collection. Several are still in their unopened wrapper.

 

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Rene

 

 

 

.


Never give in - never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.

 

Churchill

 

Keep buggering on.

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Just bought this today, and thought I would add it here.

Had never seen one of these, US marked in a 1970 dated package. Must had gotten some moisture in it, cause it has some rust while it was still sealed in package.

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"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil, is that good men do nothing." Edmund Burke



Looking for 41st INF. And older IDF Helmet, gear, insignia.


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