Friday, August 16, 2019

Soviet "Kotelok" cook-pot mess kits

Three types of Soviet "Kotelok" military issue cook-pot mess kits. Soldiers on both sides of the Eastern Front made use of this piece of Soviet gear.
On the left is a pre-war model from 1927, made of aluminum, unpainted. This was a battlefield relic that was extensively restored, using argon welding and epoxy on the outside, with a new wire handle.
At center is a wartime model, made of steel. The exterior has green paint, while the inside retains traces of a bright finish. A variety of tinned and enameled steel pots were manufactured during WWII.
On the right is one from 1951, made of tinned steel, painted green, darkened with soot from use.
Aluminum melts at 1200 degrees F. It is possible to melt a pot like this with an extremely hot campfire. When I cook with this, I suspend it above the coals, and I always make sure there is food or water inside before I start cooking with it.
Steel has a higher melting point - but tin melts at only around 400 degrees F. It's very easy to reach this temperature with a wood fire, the heat of which is hard to control. When using the tinned steel version for cooking, you have to be very aware of this. The last time I cooked with the tinned steel kit, I had it 3/4 full of water, suspended well above the coals of my fire, and I still melted a very small amount of tin from the pot's rim. I have seen tin flowing inside these when placed directly on a heat source and used for roasting or frying.
Any style of Kotelok is handy for eating out of but for actual cooking, in my opinion, the aluminum version is clearly superior.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Some drinking cups of the Eastern Front

Left to right:
-German interwar paramilitary canteen cup, same as WWI style, holds 300 mL
-Pre-WWII and early war Wehrmacht aluminum canteen cup, holds 375 mL
-WWII Soviet enameled steel cup, holds 380 mL
All of these are metal and can be used to heat water for warm beverages or for shaving.
In the reality of war, German soldiers used Soviet cups and vice-versa.
Postwar or reproduction equivalents of all of these exist.
From a utility perspective, the WWII German canteen cup gets my vote for being most useful, with the best combination of volume and durability. At the time of writing, Hessen Antique has good reproductions for a cheap price.