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Outfit, Cooking, 20-Man

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I recently finished acquiring and restoring the components of the 20-Man Cooking Outfit. This was a very difficult kit to assemble, and there are very few of them remaining. I believe this is the only kit that has been restored.
The stoves were completely rebuilt, the steel utensils were stripped and tinned/blued as appropriate. All items date between 1941-1944, no post war or civilian components.
There are not very many good photos of these kits, so I thought it might be beneficial to get some detailed photos posted. Hope you enjoy! :D

A short history of the stove, as read from The Quartermaster Corps: Organization, Supply, and Services Volume I 1953


Other cooking outfits for small groups of men operating away from organizational mess facilities were developed by the QMC. Among these was the 20-man cooking outfit, initially “developed on the auspices of Major Clements of the Storage and Distribution Division and later taken over and modified by the Special Forces Section of the Research and Development Branch. Designed to be used particularly by antiaircraft and searchlight detachments, it was recommended for standardization by the QMCTC on 15 September 1942. The outfit consisted of two gasoline stoves of the two-burner type; two metal cases, one for each stove, which could be used as a cooking vessel and a frying pan; a set of nested cooking vessels including two coffee pots; and miscellaneous utensils, such as can openers, paring knives, and a ladle. The complete outfit weighed about fifty pounds and was packed in a canvas carrying bag.

This 20-man cooking outfit was criticized in test reports because food, unless closely watched by the cook, burned easily. An intensely hot, localized flame was furnished by the burners, which were the same as those used in the M-1941 one-burner stoves. In addition, the frequent clogging of generators posed amaintenance problem. Within a year a considerable number of modifications had been made to overcome these difficulties as well as to redesign the components of the outfit.

Because of the inadequacy of the 20-man cooking outfit, a project had been initiated about March 1943 to develop a more satisfactory item. In the months following a considerable amount of research was accomplished, resulting in the development of the small detachment cooking outfit to prove hot meals for 20 to 30 men. Standardized at first on a basis of limited procurement, the new outfit proved superior in tests to the 20-man cooking unit. As a consequence, in the summer of 1944 the QMCTC recommended its standardization and the reclassification of the 20-man cooking outfit as substitute standard.





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First off, great job! I'm sure yours is the only one that looks like that !. Just an outstanding job! You get first place ! :)

Pvt. James H. Honey 1st Md. Eastern shore Vol. Inf. Co. D (union) Gettysburg
Pvt. George Eddie Lear 26th Inf. Co.H 1st Div .(WW1) P.H. WIA Cpl. Richard Elsea 268th C.A. Bn. Battery A. WW2 SSgt. Grant Elsea 314th Inf. Hq.Co. I.R.79thDiv. WW2
Cpl. Harry Lawrence Butler Jr 23rd Regt. WIA Korea Lt. George Olin Tilghman 111th MG. 29th Div. WW1 DIS France 1919

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Great rstoration.


Something not seen often

In Memoriam:
Lieutenant J.Kostelec 1-3 First Special Service Force MIA/PD 4 March 1944 Italy
Forget about the tips..We'll get hell to pay (AC/DC)
"If you cant get out and run with the big dogs then sit on the porch and bark at the cars going by.."

Have you Hugged a Clown Today?

You Cant Get A Sun Tan On The Moon..

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That is worthy of display at the Quartermaster Museum at Fort Lee, VA. Simply brilliant display and thank you for making it happen. You did a great job!

WANTED: I collect materials of any age related to the US Army Quartermaster Corps and from the long-defunct Commissary / Subsistence Corps. Anything goes and it doesn't have to be identified to a vet. If it's weird or unusual, please PM me! ASMIC #5650

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Thanks guys, I really appreciate it. It was a fun and difficult project, I'm glad to finally be able to have it finished up and photographed. It took a little over a year and a half of actively searching to assemble. I started with just the ladle, an it went downhill from there!

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Excellent! Thank you for sharing it!

"It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts."

*Sherlock Holmes in "A Scandal in Bohemia"*


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  • 3 weeks later...

That is very impressive. Congratulations on completing the entire set. Thanks for posting. My only question is when will chow be ready?




My thoughts exactly!


I'm ready for some $h!t on a shingle!! Just go on an slap a ladle full in my meat can!


EXCELLENT work..just awesome.







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  • 3 months later...

It is interesting to me that this set, while considered "standard" was considered such a poor design that they implemented a research program to design its replacement, the Cooking Outfit Small Detachment. Everything that I've read indicates that the 5-in-1 and 10-in-1 rations required a cooking outfit like these, and yet you almost never see either set in period photos... Anyone have photos of either set being used "in theatre"??

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First off, great job! I'm sure yours is the only one that looks like that !. Just an outstanding job! You get first place ! :)


I would like to echo what 268th just had to say, terrific effort and display, well done.






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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