NATO jerry can color Afghanistan

Was curious what color nato water cans, and fuel cans would have been in Afghanistan circa 2005. I’ve seen them online in nato green, sand, and black. I need to add two water cans and one fuel can to my leoaprd c2 build and would like to add a pop of color with sand water and black fuel cans but wanted to confirm if this is accurate

We (SF, not the 'Royal" we) mainly use tan ones in '02.


thanks for the pic!! Was that for water? And fuel in black?

Three handled cans for fuel, single handles for water. Tan for both, most of the time. I had green fuel cans as well. We burned through a lot of fuel on missions.

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Perfect! Thank you. Wasn’t sure if they would be color coded. The kit supplies both the single handled and double handles with the correct stamping on each.

Thanks for the help!

Cdn issue cans, black for water, green (olive, actually) for fuel.

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Thank you! Was gonna paint them sand tonight. Will go with the green and black

Our modern fuel and water cans are made by Scepter.

The Fuel Cans are molded in Field Drab or Tan

The Water Cans are molded in tan or black.

The colors I use for painting them are (Both Tamiya) Linoleum Deck Brown - XF79 and Buff - XF57.

Both colors work real well.


I can’t speak to everywhere, and I’m guessing each unit (or at least branch as my experience was the same in multiple units, but differs from those above); but I can say in '01 2ID and '02-'04 82nd ABN our fuel cans were black (either painted or originally molded) with painted yellow tops (the yellow started right around where the angle starts), while the water cans were all unpainted and in the original molded tan.

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My guess is that the black fuel cans w/yellow tops were painted. I have never seen black plastic fuel cans. All the ones I have seen have been the field drab color plastic.

US cans did not need to be color coded. As Skipper wrote last year fuel cans had three handles and water cans had one. The regular Army has tried to maintain a “One Fuel Forward” policy of only using a single motor fuel for all vehicles, land and air, for about 30 years, so anything in a fuel can should’ve been JP-8. The snake eaters often used commercial gasoline-fueled vehicles so they might have done something to handle their situation.

By specification the sand was approximately FED-STD-595 color number 30279, the green was approximately 34094, and the field drab approximately 33105. “Approximately” because fundamentally you can’t match the color of plastic to a paint specification.


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Never seen a black plastic fuel can myself either. But I have seen plenty of black or tan plastic water cans repurposed for fuel. In that case, they were usually marked with yellow spray paint for diesel, or rarely, red spray paint for MOGAS for things like immersion heaters and such.

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And I have never seen two-toned molded plastic cans.

Unless they are putting oil in it. 5 gal. of fuel is basically useless for a tank or big armored vehicle, 5 gal of oil is very useful. It is/was standard for tanks and other big things to carry at least one can of oil, often two (one for the engine, one for the trans).

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You’re probably right. It has been almost 20 years. Just remember the black and yellow.

What was done to distinguish the oils from fuel and each other?


Oil is hydroscopic. It’s not a good idea to transfer it from its original container to another. On the Abrams I have seen, oil is kept in oil cans. Five gallon jerry cans were of the water variety.

Note color variation - buff, tan, desert pink. I’ve shown the photos of the ones in my Zombie stash before to illustrate the difference, but I’m not going to dig them out again. Too much work.

Modern Army oil cans are just that, big sand-colored cans with a built-in spout. The label says OE
for oil, engine and a number (for the weight). I did not see oil stored in plastic jerry cans the whole time I was on active duty ('94-'17).

Trivia: In the industry those 5-gallon containers are called “pails”.


I’m an old timer, I was gone before the plastic fuel cans were common. So I can’t say much about those.
On armored vehicles, tanks, Bradleys, M113s, M577s, we didn’t carry fuel, there was no point. All we had was oil cans and water cans. Water cans were plastic (mostly) and oil cans were metal. They were usually stenciled “ENG” or “TRANS” to show what went where. The one big exception to this was the M577. That had two or three GAS cans for the generator. They were metal, with the top painted red.

Good point, and we often got issued oil, especially special oils, in their own cans. Unfortunately, most of the time the POL point in the motorpool stored everything in 55 gal drums, from which you had to fill your 5 gal can.

In this photo, lower right, is an old, beat-up 5 gal oil can:

But we also carried these:

On the Abrams, the engine is small, but uses this special oil carried in these little cans:

They were usually carried in the turret stowage box so they wouldn’t get lost or damaged. We usually had three or four on hand. We also carried a lot of grease (GAA) in a 5 gal bucket or 1 gal can.


+1 here on the metal oil cans/jerry cans . In my Mech infantry days during the 80’s, each track kept two oil five gallon cans, one of 10 weight (transmission, differential, and final drives) and one of 30 weight (engine oil) strapped on the rear plate outboard of the ramp. Each can was stenciled with the weight of the oil. Before going to the field and and after return from the field, those cans would be topped off from the appropriate 55 gallon drums of oil in the motor pool. The 113 family tended to use up a lot of oil, especially transmission and engine, during operations, so we went thru a LOT. Those round 5 gallon oil drums would be carried by the mechanic track from HHC that often was attached to our company in the field for support.
Fast forward a couple decades to the end of my career in the Guard in a LRS unit where I finished up as a commo sergeant. We still had to have fuel cans and oil cans for the generators for radio base stations. Generators were diesel, just like our M1037 shelter carriers, so those fuel cans had the yellow paint on repurposed tan or black water cans. Supply for Guard units, even when deployed overseas, never quite had all the cool new “one army” stuff, so you had to use whatever you could get your hands on to accomplish your mission(s).