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In This Section:

P-38 John Wayne
P-38 Patent Info
P-51 Can Opener
Other Can Openers
Non-US Can Openers

The P-38 gets published:

Col. Renita Foster - US ARMY was then Maj. Foster when she wrote a wonderful article documenting the P-38 can opener.

This article has been published in print as well as circulated on the Internet.  If you have not read this composition it is well worth reading.  This document is very enlightening.

We have reproduced this document for your review from a hard copy provided to us by Col. Foster.

Col. Foster is due to retire soon and she will be coming home to Texas after her separation from the US Army.

We welcome her back to Texas and we say "Thank You Renita, for your service to our country"

"The Army's Greatest Invention"


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Military Can Opener History:

The Beginnings:  Forging a Military Icon - the P-38 Can Opener.

When you mention the acronym P-38 or P38 it brings to mind several different images.

  • P-38 Can Opener
  • P-38 Lightning - Air Craft
  • P-38 German semi-automatic pistol

This web site is dedicated to the P-38 can opener.  I started out researching military dog tags and found that dog tags and P38 can openers go hand in hand.  When I looked at the history of the P-38 can opener I found that it was much more complex and interesting than I ever thought it could be so I decided to research the little can opener.  I have posted my findings here for everyone to review.

I hope you enjoy my findings.



The P-38 or John Wayne can opener . . .

This little device means different things to different people but one thing that is a fact is that this small 1"x1/2" piece of metal is one of the most recognized pieces of equipment the military every produced.  The P-38 can opener ranks among the the most identifiable military icons right up there with the Jeep and dog tags.


  The P-51 - Big Brother of the P-38.

The P-51 can opener is not as widely recognized as the P-38 but none-the-less the P-51 has been in the military inventory since the early 1950's.  

  P-38 Military Specifications

The P38 can opener is still in the military inventory and is currently assigned the National Stock Number (NSN) of xxxx-xx-xxx-xxxx.  Everything in the military inventory has a military specification, the P-38 is no exception.  Here we have published the complete military specification for your review.

  P-38 Engineering Drawings

Along with the military specifications manufacturers are issued engineering drawings to make these can openers.  We have procured the actual P-38 engineering drawings and posted them here.

  P-38 Photographs - Images

Over the years there have been many different manufactures and supplies of the P38 can opener.  We have created a photo gallery to illustrate these different can openers.

  P-38 Patent Information

- Just Released - We now have patent information and drawings for the P-38 can opener.  Interesting note is that the patent drawings date prior to WWII which up to this point was considered the time period that these can openers were conceived and produced.  The patent information is a interesting new addition to our web site.

  P-38 "In the news" - Articles and Stories

Since the P-38 is one of the most recognized icons of our military services it only makes sense that the device would be mentioned in literature from time to time.  Here we have compiled news articles, literary stories and testimonials that make reference to the P38 can opener. 

  "C" Rats or "C" Rations

No history of the P-38 can opener would be complete without the mention of "C" Rations.  After all "C" Rations were the reason for the P-38 being issued to our soldiers and becoming an integral part of every GI's kit.  Many veterans left the service with their P38 as it became an important tool for them and a memento of their service to our country.

  P-51 Military Specifications

The P51 is currently in the military inventory and is issued the National Stock Number (NSN) of xxxx-xx-xxx-xxxx.  Posted here for your review is the military specification of the current issue P-51 can opener.

  P-51 Engineering Drawings

We have procured the engineering drawings of the P-51 can opener and have posted them here.

  P-51 Photographs - Images

While the P-51 has not had the same impact as the P-38, it has seen combat and still remains in the military inventory.  We have compiled a image library of the P51 can opener.

  "T" Rats or "T" Rations

The P-38 was issued and intended for use with the C Rations but the P-51 can opener was intended for use with the T Rations or Tray Pack.  We have compiled information on the T Rat Pack here.

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