military steel gas can is a robust fuel container made from pressed steel. It was
originally designed in Germany in the 1930s for military use and
holds 20 litres
1939, an American engineer named Paul Pleiss had built a vehicle to
journey to India with his German colleague. After building the car,
they realized they didn't have any
told American military officials about the military steel gas cans, but they
ignored him. Without a sample, he realized he couldn't get anywhere.
He eventually got the car shipped to New York by a roundabout
method, and sent a military steel gas can to Washington. The War Department
decided instead to use the WWI ten-gallon military steel gas can with two screw
closures, which required both a wrench and funnel for pouring.
At the beginning of the Second World War, the British Army were equipped with simple rectangular fuel containers: a 2 gallon (9 litres) container made of pressed steel and a 4 gallon (18 litres) container made from tin plate. While the 9 litre - 2 gallon containers were relatively strong, they were expensive to produce. The 18 litre - 4 gallon containers, which were mainly manufactured in the third world, were cheap and plentiful but they were not very robust. Consequently they were colloquially known as flimsies.
adequate for transportation by road in Europe, the flimsies proved
to be extremely unsatisfactory during the Northof the fuel being
lost as the containers were easily punctured. The resultant leakages
also made the transportation vehicles liable to fuel fires.
The sides of the military steel gas can were marked with cross-like indentations that strengthened the military steel gas can while allowing the contents to expand, as did an air pocket under the handles when the military steel gas can was filled correctly. Rather than a screw cap, the containers used a cam lever release mechanism with a short spout secured with a snap closure and an air-pipe to the air pocket which enabled smooth pouring (which was omitted in some copies). The interior of the military steel gas can was also lined with an impervious plastic, first developed for steel beer barrels that would allow the cans to be used for either water or gasoline. The military steel gas can was welded, and had a gasket for a leak-proof mouth. The British used cans captured from the "Jerries" (Germans) — hence "military steel gas cans" — in preference to their own containers as much as possible. Later in 1940 Pleiss was in London, and British officers asked him about the design and manufacture of the military steel gas can. Pleiss ordered the second of his three military steel gas cans flown to London.