Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Swedish Mess Kit, Model 1940 M40, Stainless Steel, Enmanskök Kokkärl

In my last posting, I compared the old WW2 style Swedish mess kit, the M40, to the later, post-war, aluminum mess kit, the M40/44.  Today we'll take a closer look at the Model 1940 stainless steel kit.

You can read more about these mess kits in my previous posting.  For now we are going to cut to the chase, as they say, and take a closer look at this one.

Here are a few links to some previous blog postings on the Swedish Mess Kits: 




Swedish Model 1940, Stainless Steel Mess Kit:

Clip used to hold handle down.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Swedish Mess Kits, M40 and M44 Comparison, Stainless Steel and Aluminum Versions, Model 1940 & Model 1944 Enmanskök Kokkärl M40/44

I recently added a Model 1940, stainless steel, Swedish Mess Kit  to the collection, both for display, and to use in the field.  I already have several of the Model 1944 aluminum versions from the 1960's, but I was really interested to see if the earlier stainless steel versions were comparable.

In this blog posting, we'll be taking a side-by-side look at both versions.  We'll take an inventory of the differences, and the similarities.  I hope you find it illuminating.

First off, I have to say that I absolutely love the Model 1944 aluminum versions of these mess kits, especially when they are paired with the windscreen and alcohol burner set-up.  This is my go-to, compact "one kit does it all", bushcraft pack stove and pot set.  I haven't found anything better.  There are lighter weight civilian set-ups, but nothing that is as easy to use, compact, versatile, and durable (in my opinion).

The prices for the aluminum version (model 1944) have sky rocketed, in the last 10 years.  At one time you could pick up these aluminum kits for a few dollars each, now I see them selling for upwards of $65 to $100 US Dollars!  I guess that is a testament to how great these integrated stove-pot sets are, and an indication of how a limited supply, and high demand, can drive a market........even a seemingly tiny market like Swedish Mess Kits!

If you think the Model 1944, aluminum versions are expensive these days, then you are in for a surprise when you decide to shop for the older, Model 1940, stainless steel versions.  The prices for these stainless steel kits (without a stove set) can rise to around $100 US Dollars!  Is it worth the price?  Let's take a look at the two and see if there is anything that makes these stainless steel mess kits any better, (or worse), than the aluminum versions.

First off, I personally love mess kits, so having one of each version is reason enough of a reason to buy one of each.  If you are a collector, then read no further, and get out there and buy both! If you are a "bushcrafter" looking for a single mess kit to add to your kit, then this may help you decide on which one to purchase. You can't really go wrong with either one, but there are a few differences between the two.

For our comparison, we'll be setting the "stove set" aside and just looking at the two mess kits.  The wind screen, stove sets were added in the 1960's, and prior to that, the mess kits were used as stand alone cookware.  I'll dedicate another blog posting to the history of the stove sets later.

With the exception of the metals that these are each made off, both of these mess kits are the same, and different................ The overall dimensions of the two are the same.  The same height and the same oval footprint.  They both share the same basic configuration and features.  The differences are in the details.

The first big difference you will notice, when you pick them both up, is the weight.  The stainless steel kit is HEAVY !  I put it on my trusty scale and weighs in at just under 3 pounds!  If you are going to be packing a significant number of miles, and you are trying to keep your kit weight down, then weight alone may be a deciding factor for you.  If it is, then go for the aluminum version.  With the stove set and fuel included, the aluminum version is just about the same weight!  Without the stove set, the aluminum version is "half the wight".

When it comes to the years and models that you will encounter out there, it comes down to WW2 stainless steel versions, or post-war aluminum.   From what I have seen, the stainless steel kits were all produced from 1940 through 1944.  Then there is a big gap in mess kit production.  The next block of kit years I have seen start in the 1960's.  It is my guess that the specifications for the mess kits were changed in 1944 to aluminum, but since there were a ton of the stainless steel kits in circulation, production of the new models was not started until the 1960's.  After the big production run in the 1960's, production seems to stop again.

***NOTE***  Please see the first two comments responding to this post.  One of my blog follower's, and fellow collector, "Inupiat" , has added some very relevant information on these kits.  Great information on years produced, painted colors, markings, etc.  Thanks!

Trangia invented the small alcohol burner in the early 1950's and produced a version of the alcohol burner with the mess kit windscreen set-up for the Swedish Army from 1964 to 1976.  This matches up pretty good with the 1960's dates on the aluminum mess kits.

It should be noted that either mess kit will fit in the windscreen-stove kit.  You will often find a mix of both styles of kits paired with the stove-kits when you start shopping around.  This is why it is essential that you can tell the difference between both mess kit versions!


The easiest way to immediately tell the difference between the two kits is to look at the "groove" around the top of the lower pot.  The stainless pots have one, and the aluminum ones have two.

The bails are a different shape.  The aluminum kit has a flat curved bail, and the stainless one has a squared bail with an offset.

The bail mounting lugs are different.

The handles are attached differently.  The stainless steel handle mount is pinch welded on and the aluminum kit handle is riveted.  The shape of the handle mounting plate is also different.

The angle that the handle sits at, when open, is different.  The stainless one is a steeper angle.

The side profile of the cup-lid is slightly different.  The "top oval" shape of the aluminum cut-lid is smaller.

The aluminum kits are stamped with the Swedish "Three Crowns" and a date.  The stainless versions have various maker's marks or makers names, and no dates (no dates that I have seen).

The stainless steel version fits VERY tightly together.  The aluminum version is a bit smoother and looser fit. ( Lid-cup to pot fit).

You will find these kits both "in the bright" unpainted, and in painted conditions. From what I understand, these kits were often issued out to the units unpainted and then painted, and repainted in the field, but that is unconfirmed.  I will say that every "new and unissued" kit with 1960's dates that I have seen, are bright and unpainted.

We'll take a closer look at the WW2, stainless steel, M40 mess kit in an upcoming blog posting, but for now this should give you a good idea about what you are getting in both kits.  

For bushcrafting and camping, you can't really go wrong with either one.  If you want a steel "tank" of a mess kit, that is virtually indestructible, but HEAVY, go with the M40 stainless.  If you want a lightweight "sport scar" version, go with the M44 aluminum. Choices, choices, choices......or just get one of each!  Either way you can't go wrong!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

French Mess Kit, M52, Model 1952, Gamelle Armée Française Modèle 1952, MMT Tournus 1962

Since we seem to be on a French road right now, in regards to field gear, I figured I ought to dig out another French mess kit and show it off.

Today we'll be taking a look at the Gamelle Armée Française Modèle 1952, or in English, the French Army Mess Kit Model 1952.

This mess kit was introduced in 1952, and replaced the old, pre-WW2 Model 1935 mess kit (I'm still looking for one of the old WW2 kits to add to the collection).  Basically the French took the rectangular mess kits of the United Kingdom, and made it much better!

They added a heavier handle on the main pan, built the entire kit out of heavier aluminum, and added a third inner bowl-plate.

A three of the pieces nest together perfectly, into a compact unit.  

This is the mess kit that was issued out to the French soldiers fighting in Algeria, during the Algerian War of 1954 - 1962.  These kits were also issued out to the troops fighting in Indochina during the Vietnam War era.  These kits were used all the way up through the 1980's and early 2000's.  In 2009, the Model 1952 kit was replaced with a stainless steel kit that is very similar to the old US "meat can" mess kits.

My kit is marked with the manufacturer mark of MMT, from the town of Tournus.  Dated 1962.  MMT is for the manufacturing firm of  Manufacture Métallurgique de Tournus.

As far as modern, "bushcraft", and camping kits go, I think these French Model 1952 sets have them all beat.......... with the exception of the Swedish Mess Kits with the integrated stove set.  If you get the chance to pick one of these up, then jump on it while you can!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Le Bouthéon, French Army, WW2 Squad Mess Kit, 5 liter Cook Pot, 1945, MMT, MNS, Tournus, Corps D'Armée

Today we will be continuing along our "French Thread".   We'll be taking a close look at an iconic French "Le Bouthéon", or Squad Mess Kit.

I had the unique opportunity to pick a couple of these up a few weeks ago, at a price that could not be passed up!

These "mess kits" are known in French as "Le Bouthéon", or roughly translated as "camp pot".

These are HUGE!  They hold approximately 5 liters of liquid!  

US $20 bill for size comparison!

These pots were issued out, one to a "squad" of French soldiers.  These first appeared in the French military kit back in the 1880's.  The pot was used primarily to transport hot food from a field kitchen, to the front, for the soldiers to eat.  There were may trips made with hot coffee, soup, or stew, in these pots.  From what I understand, the food was often cold when it arrived back at the squad, and had to be eaten cold, or re-heated.

The lid of the pot is equipped with a socket on the side that was used with a field-made handle for cooking, over a stove, or fire.

Originally these pots were made in a tinned steel, and later, starting in the 1930's and during WW2, in aluminum.

My particular pots are the aluminum, WW2 versions.

The most notable of my two pots is dated 1945 on the bottom, with the maker's name of "MMT" from Tournus
MMT is for the manufacturing firm of  Manufacture Métallurgique de Tournus.

The second pot is marked as made by "MNS", with no date. 

The 1945, MMT pot has the stenciled letters:  C A, with a M under them.  The C A means "Corps D'Armée", or Army, in plain English.  The "M" most likely indicates a company, but I am not sure about that.

These camp pots were used by the French Army all the way into the 1980's, and possibly later. 

They were normally carried, strapped to the back of the field pack.

If you are looking for an amazing "bushcraft pot" or field pot for your field kitchen, then grab one of these beasts when you can!  You won't be sorry!