In the mid-1930s, when German military planners experimented with the new tactic known as the ‘Blitzkrieg’, it became apparent to them that one of the crucial problems of attacks would be the supply, in particular fuel, drinking water and ammunition. If the fuel and water were not carried forward with the same speed as the mechanized forces, the attack would probably stop before reaching the target.

To transport the vital liquids, the German engineers designed a container they called Wehrmachtskanister. It was a stainless steel container made of two welded rectangular pieces. Both stamped sides had a low-relief reinforcement forming an X which subsequently included a rectangle in the center to increase its strength. In addition, this particular design allowed the contents and the packaging itself, to expand or contract without breaking under the intense conditions of cold or heat.

To facilitate their handling in combat, they decided to provide it with three handles that facilitated a man to carry two containers or pass them from hand to hand without losing balance. The mouth did not use a screw cap but pressure with leak proof and an air duct to facilitate the emptying in the fastest and safest way possible. The shape of the top of the container allowed enough air to remain inside it to ensure buoyancy if thrown overboard or from a plane.

The inner part was covered with synthetic cover which was initially used in the making of beer, which allowed to use the same type of container to store the drinking water as well as fuels. The capacity of the container was 20 liters and it was painted in a variety colors to identify the contents.

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A container of petroleum or diesel fuel was marked as ‘Kraftstoff 20 l’, ‘Feuergefährlich’, the year of manufacture, manufacturer’s name and the manufacture number. The containers of the special fuel for the winter in the Front of the East also had stamped a letter ‘W that meant ‘Winterkraftstoff’ or diesel for winter.

The containers for water were marked ‘Wasser 20 l’, plus the manufacturer’s marks, year, serial number and the word ‘Wehrmacht’. On the African front, the water containers were painted with a white cross on the sides and in the center with a number 4.

Today, the jerry cans are the most common means of transporting oil and water for the militaries in many countries as well for the distant construction or some other projects.

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