Original German WWII Wehrmacht 20 Liter Petrol Jerry Can by WKO - Dated 1944

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. A jerrycan is a robust liquid container made from pressed steel. It was designed in Germany in the 1930s for military use to hold 20 liters (4.4 imp gal; 5.3 US gal) of fuel, and saw widespread use by both Germany and the Allies during the Second World War.

The name of the jerrycan refers to its German origins, Jerry being slang for Germans. The design was reverse engineered and subsequently copied, with minor modifications, by the Allies during the war.

The Wehrmacht-Einheitskanister, as it was known in Germany, was first developed in 1937 by the Müller engineering firm in Schwelm to a design by their chief engineer Vinzenz Grünvogel. A similar design was used in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War, where they had a company logo for Ambi-Budd Presswerk GmbH. Among others, the Wehrmacht had specified that a soldier should be able to carry either two full containers or four empty ones, which is the reason the triple handles were fitted. To achieve the required filling and draining speed, it was fitted with a large spout and flip top closure. A hole in the closure retainer made it possible to fit a securing pin or wire with a lead seal. The rectangular shape made it stackable. The recessed welded seam stiffened the container and protected the seam from impact damage. The indentations ensured a full can would not be severely damaged when falling from a vehicle, while a dip coat of paint on the inside protected it from corrosion.

By 1939 the German military had thousands of such cans stockpiled in anticipation of war. Motorized troops were issued the cans with lengths of rubber hose in order to siphon fuel from any available source, a way to aid their rapid advance through Poland at the start of the Second World War.

In 1939, American engineer Paul Pleiss had built a vehicle to journey to India with his German colleague. After building the car, they realized they did not have any storage for emergency water. The German engineer had access to the stockpile of jerrycans at Berlin Tempelhof Airport and managed to take three of them. The German engineer also gave Pleiss complete specifications for the manufacture of the can. Pleiss continued on to Calcutta, put his car in storage, and flew back to Philadelphia, where he told American military officials about the can. He could raise no interest. Without a sample, he realized he could not get anywhere. He eventually shipped the car to New York by a roundabout method, and sent a can to Washington. The War Department decided instead to use World War I ten-US-gallon (38 l; 8.3 imp gal) cans with two screw closures, which required both a spanner and funnel for pouring.

The one jerrycan in American possession was sent to Camp Holabird, Maryland, where it was redesigned. The new design retained the handles, size and shape, but is most easily distinguishable from the German original by the simplified 'X' - stiffening indentations in the sides of the can. The US can could be stacked interchangeably with German or British cans. The German recessed welded seam was replaced with rolled seams which were prone to leakage. For fuel cans, the lining was removed and a spanner and funnel were required. A similar water can was also adopted, with a flip-top lid and enamel lining.

Offered in very good service used condition, this is a totally original 1944 dated Petrol "Jerry Can", which looks to have seen service post war, and had a very nice three color camouflage paint job applied over the original panzergrau gray blue. This has now worn away in some places, showing the original paint underneath. It also had number WH-145778 stenciled onto the side.

The side of the can is embossed with the identification and maker information:

Kraftstoff 20 L



This translates to "fuel 20 liters - flammable", and maker WKO is a known manufacturer of WWII Jerry Cans. Unfortunately at present they still remain unidentified, as with many of the WWII manufacturers, who usually did not utilize the three letter codes.

Offered in very good solid condition, the nozzle latch is still functional, and the rubber gasket is still present, though now hardened. We checked the interior, and while there is some of the original red enamel, most of it is now missing, showing oxidation on the interior. It does not look to have any areas that would leak, but we cannot guarantee that it will still hold fuel without leaking.

A very hard to find original Jerry can in functional condition with great German WWII markings! Ready to display!

Approximate Measurements: 18"H x 14"W x 6 1/2"

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