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"U.S. Rations and Kitchen Equipment Under Desert Conditions" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following U.S. military report on British testing of U.S. kitchen equipment and rations in desert conditions was originally published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 15, Dec. 31, 1942.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


Recently, the British forces operating in the Middle East theater, were given the following American rations and equipment for testing: 24 "K" rations, 6 packages of "M" rations, one 2-piece enameled cooking-utensil, and one portable pressure stove. The results of the field tests under desert conditions are noted below.

The "K" ration was well received. Several features responsible for this satisfaction were: its excellent waterproof packing, high food value, variety, absence of waste connected with its use, and the attractive way in which prepared. The only serious questions raised concerning its fitness for use in the Middle East were its availability and the date of the canned foods.

Specifically, the report of a tank crew that used the ration was that it satisfied all hunger and energy needs, was appetizing, nothing was wasted, no ill effects were noted, the packing protected the contents from sand and oil, and the weight and size of the ration was less than the one customarily used. The only unfavorable reaction was the increased thirst resulting from eating the biscuits and graham crackers. In view of the fact that these crews were on one-half gallon a day water rations for drinking and washing, this is a serious complaint.

The comments concerning the "M" ration in general are that the packing is excellent, stands up well in transport, and under usual conditions its contents are adequately protected. The lemonade powder had attracted moisture and became hard and difficult to use. All other ingredients were in good condition for use. The amount of water required, and the time required to cook a meal, detract considerably from its value as a ration in this particular theater.

The cooking utensils proved to be an excellent set of compactly packed and easily cleaned utensils.

The portable pressure-stove was a failure. The chief defects observed were the absence of a wind screen, and the small size of the pressure chamber. In the desert, a stove must have a wind screen of some sort to prevent the flame from being blown out. Pressure could not be maintained for more than 30 seconds, and this required the attention of one man for continual pumping. The fuel used was unleaded, 70 to 80 octane gasoline. The fuel jets were frequently clogged from sand and oil.


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