Thursday, February 18, 2010

Praxis: A Question for Vietnam Veterans about the Two-Quart Collapsible Canteen

USGI 2-quart collapsible canteen with retrofitted black NBC cap suitable for drinking while in gas mask.

In 1966 a two-quart canteen was developed at the request of the Special Forces serving in Vietnam. It consisted of a square molded vinyl bladder with a threaded spout centered on the top and a pattern 1942 black resin plastic cap. The heat sealed seams proved to be too weak for the rugged conditions found in Vietnam. In 1967 a two-quart molded plastic canteen was field tested by the 4th Infantry Division. The new canteen was olive green in color with the spout located in one corner. The cap was the same as that used on the one quart canteen. The new canteen became standard in October 1968 with general production beginning in 1969. -- U.S. Army Field Mess Gear, page 19.

I just picked up a Vietnam-era USGI 2-quart collapsible canteen. Unlike the photo above it has the original cap. Made by Ideal in 1969, it has a Eastern Canvas Products cover with the Universal Sling. It has seen considerable field use but is in serviceable shape. The canteen, the cover and the strap all have the soldier's name stenciled on them. On the opposite side of the canteen from the soldier's name is a number, 1273, with a line through the seven, European style. I paid a buck fifty for the whole rig.

I tested the canteen with hot water and it has no leaks. The canteen was wrapped diagonally with "hundred-mile-an-hour tape," reinforcing each corner and forming an "X" on both sides of the canteen. This was done so long ago that the tape was uniformly dessicated and petrified to the canteen surface. When I removed it, a huge cloud of dried-out tape particles rose around it and me like a cloud.

Here's my question: Do any of you veterans recall using duct tape to reinforce the 2 quart canteen? I know from troop experience at militia FTXs in the 90s that these canteens will explode if you land on them while maneuvering. The thought of reinforcing them never occured to me before. Was this SOP in some units? Just curious.



Anonymous said...

Hey Mike,

Have had a 2 qt for years now. While in service used one while on trng exercises but never had it attcached to my web gear. Always had it on/ in my ruck. So never worried about splitting one.

I have used it lots while hunting in the natl. forest (tucked in my ruck). Great thing one can squeeze the air out as water is consumed so that noise will not be made by liquid sloshing around.

BTW it makes a great pillow for a mid-day foxhole siesta at the NTC at Ft. Irwin.

wl moses

Anonymous said...

I popped the valve out of the NBC cap and use it like a Bota Bag, been in use since the mid 80s and it still has life in the hinge of the dustcap/cover on the NBC cap.
Not sure about the Vietnam issue ones but I was issued my first one in 77 and they are sturdy, landed on it a few times rappelling out of Hueys and off the tower at Ft Campbell.
I second the pillow use, much more comfortable than the M-17 carrier.
The sloshing concern is over rated with the plastic one quart canteen and the new insulated covers. The old cotton covers and tin canteens, though....

Morry " Dick" Dees said...

wl moses - You know, when I used to stalk wildlife ( with camera - saved my 'live fire' for two-leggeds ) I used to buy a cheap imitation goatskin bota with a plastic liner inside... held about a quart, was very cheap - which was good as they would only last about one season - but they had the same silent movement effect, as you drank out of the bota, the plastic bladder inside collapsed and you eliminated the slosh.

About the duct tape - I wouldn't know first hand but would almost bet it was an aftermarket add-on. And if I ventured a second guess, I would say that it was taped either by a vet who had had one split, or a friend or family member of a vet who had witnessed the phenomenon.
But then - what do I know?

Brock Townsend said...

In 1967 a two-quart molded plastic canteen was field tested by the 4th Infantry Division.

Can't answer your question Mike, but will mention, that I went in September '66 and only used the molded plastic one, so it seems that the dates don't match up, not that it is important.

Brock Townsend said...

In 1967 a two-quart molded plastic canteen was field tested by the 4th Infantry Division.

Can't answer your question Mike, but I should state that although I went in September '66, I only used the molded plastic ones, so the dates don't match up, not that it is important.

Anonymous said...

In deployment in Italy with GLCM we never had them on our belts or packs because the top plastic loop usually got caught or spun off. I usually kept it in the carry bag to maintain temp. The problem with duct taping it, like moses mentioned, is that you can't keep the air out of it to stop the sloshing.

Justin said...

I'm not a Vietnam vet, I served as an army Cavalry Scout from '94-'03. I never had an occasion to reinforce a 2 qt with tape, nor did I hear of anyone recommending this. I have used 100mph tape to label my canteen in a pre-ranger course, where we often left them where we formed up prior to visiting "the pit" ;-).

The 2 quart is a lifesaver, I used to carry several either on my ruck, in it, or diagonally across my chest with a combat lifesaver bag strap (when traveling light).

I never babied my equipment, but I never abused it either; I am almost certain I've landed/crawled on a 2 qt before. I would worry more about punctures than a catastrophic "squish".

Hope this helps!


CorbinKale said...

Infantry SOP was always to mount it on the ruck. I never trusted them because they were so flimsy feeling. Despite my distrust of the item, I never saw one bust during my career, and that includes 5 years on jump status.

The tape reinforcement is new to me, also.

Rev. Paul said...

We used that tape for practically everything, but I suspect the original owner had lived through an explosive decompression of a previous canteen. Just my 2 cents' worth.

Anonymous said...

Think I mentioned awhile back that I didn't have much use for these things are they are a real pain to fill. We carried three canteens in the rainy season and up to five in the hot-dry - and used them up daily as we operated in the mountains. It is a straight forward process to fill a regular canteen from a stream, but since I was only a medic I guess I lacked the smarts to figure out how to fill these things up without going through a bunch of senseless time wasting contortions. Sometimes you want to minimize your exposure at the watering hole and these things just didn't cut it. That aside, if combined with a regular canteen which you use to fill them, then they can be carried as a reserve that does fit nicely in your pack as moses indicates.

Sorry I can't address your question, except to say I don't recall anyone ever duct taping one of these; it makes sense but then if they are bursting on you why the hell use them to begin with?

btw: just finished watching Steve McQueen in the 'Sand Pebbles'; it has some nice scenes of the BAR in action. At the end he straps on a BAR belt which brought back a lot of memories as although I carried an M16, that is what I used. It was given to me when I arrived in country by someone with more experience who suggested it allowed better access than the standard magazine pouches. Regarding McQueen, it was nice to see someone on the screen who obviously knew how to handle a shovel and axe for a change. Most of these Hollyweird pretty boys have absolutely no clue, and I never know whether to laugh or spit when the script calls for the dear things to engage in such mundane activities that call for a fine sense of balance, a feel for resonance, and how to apply force at a focal point. Steve was a good man.

Sean said...

In VN, 1970, saw someone doing it and watched. Sgt. walked up and told him to take it off, that it wouldn't do the good he thought it might. It was never SOP, and actually can get you in trouble, in a way. VC/NVNR used duct tape on lots of things, since they conducted war on the cheap. Ground Surveillance Radar would indicate a particular signal when it bounced off a lot of duct tape, such as when multiple people moving on a location had it on their equipment. Rifles and mags and such did the same thing, to be sure, but the reflection of a lot of duct tape gave a particular signal. Since not that much was on our equipment, voila'! Bad guys coming. Of course in the bush, we could usually smell them too(that dirty tennis shoe and wet straw smell) but by then, we were too close anyway. Duct tape also gives a distinct color to thermo-imaging cameras too.

Unknown said...

During my time in-country (66-67)we used the standard 1-quart version. somewhere along the way in my 5 years active and 4 years reserve I acquired a 2 quart canteen. In the 60's in Vietnam, I don't recall ever seeing duct tape. Not saying it didn't exist but I never saw any. We used a bright green tape to tape up our rattle equipment though.

Anyway, I still have the 2 quart canteen and it still holds water despite being neglected and abused since at least the early '70's.

I suspect that the tape was someone's idea when he had too much time and too much tape on his hands. It wouldn't work simply because water will always find a way through gaps and pores if put under enough pressure.

Anonymous said...

I've had a 2-qt for quite a few years, & have never seen or needed to tape it up (especially with duct tape).

My best SWAG would be -
1-too much time on his hands / boredom
2-a need to mark his as different from everyone else's (buddy theft?)

B Woodman

hazmat said...

Got my first 2 qt in '95 down in while deployed to El Salvador, and have been using one ever since (have two now, one on my LBE and one for backup). I've never heard of reinforcing one, but then again, I'm the only one I know who still uses one in my AO.

Interesting side note though, when using the NBC cap with a mask in a high temp/high humidity environment, it comes in really handy to be able to squeeze that puppy to increase the flow going into the mask. That's the real reason I keep them around. Much better than the single quart rigid canteens.

Anonymous said...

MSR makes water bladders that are far stronger and tougher than the 2qt canteen, and they can be used as hot water bottles for aching muscles too old to be playing soldier in the woods all day. I have one bladder than has been with me since '93 on many trips to the woods. They collapse down to almost nothing in size, so it's easy to carry ten or twelve liters worth of capacity.

Happy D said...

maybe just a place to keep some tape if he needed it?