Soviet Plastic Flask / Water Canteen (Soviet A`stan Gear #1)

When you are thinking about iconic Soviet gear what comes to mind? AKs, MIL MI-24s or telnyashkas? Yes, because we have seen it in RAMBO 3 😉 ! On the other hand, there are many small items that are definitely iconic and so I`d like to write about them, because they are part of my upcoming Afghan impressions.

While studying many, many pictures taken in the Afghanistan conflict, I encountered an unexpected huge amount of photographs showing not the typical Soviet/Russian aluminum canteen. There were these ugly looking white canteens, made out of noxious plastic (from today`s perspective) that popped up everywhere:


It seems that the oldskool-ish small canteen held not enough water that was needed in Afghanistan`s hot and harsh climate conditions, so soldiers often get an “upgrade” to these 1,5 liter bottles. Let`s take a look at some (more or less) well known pictures showing these flasks in use: (click to enlarge)







Seeing all these pictures (not only these – there are plenty more!), I had to get my hands on a bunch of these canteens. I consider this a must for every serious CCCP collector, so the postman finally rang twice and these little fellows showed up:


The picture clearly shows the differences between the flasks and their pouches. This is typical for different manufacturers and production dates and reminds me of old discussions about “the right coloration of khaki” regarding US WW2 uniforms. The left one is new (incl. its pouch), the other ones are used and their pouches pretty beaten (and shrunk to washing?).

All these pouches have typical Soviet stamps – here from the year 1982:


The bottom of the flasks feature cyrillic moldings:


Two flasks also have minimal cap molding and overall dimension differences:


Let`s do a side-by-side comparison with some other canteens to get a better feel about dimensions: (from left to right: 1000ml Nalgene, Soviet basic canteen, US GI canteen, Soviet plastic flask)


In most cases the plastic flasks were carried in their pouches on belts or attached to other parts of the webbing. They have also been stored in front breast pockets of 6B3 body armors (man on left side), in 4 cell magazine pouches (attached to RD-54 packpacks) or in any other place where the flasks fitted.

The pouches feature a drawstring (for me without sense, because the pouches are very tight) on the upper backside and a closure that will be held in place by a button. To carry the pouches they offer a wide belt loop: (click to enlarge)

Soviet_Plastik_Canteens_6 Soviet_Plastik_Canteens_8

There is also a flimsy carrying strap option I never saw in use. Check following pictures for details showing the strap and the bottom engravings (click to enlarge):

Soviet_Plastik_Canteens_9 Soviet_Plastik_Canteens_7

Here are two screenshots I took from an old Soviet documentary about troops in A`stan, showing two plastic canteens issued per soldier (the drinking cups on top seem missing already): (click to enlarge)

Soviet_Plastik_Canteens_J Soviet_Plastik_Canteens_K

I think these canteens become more and more rare these days and I am happy to have all I need (at the moment). I doubt that I will use them for actual drinking, because I`m no fan of plasticizers, so I will stick to the real men style… 🙂



~ by geardoshit on May 11, 2015.

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