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Quonset huts in front of Laguna Peak, Point Mugu, in 1946.
A Quonset hut being put in place at the 598th Engineer Base Depot in Japan, post-World War II

A Quonset hut is a lightweight prefabricated structure of corrugated galvanised steel having a semicircular cross section. The design was based on the Nissen hut developed by the British during World War I. The name comes from their site of first manufacture, Quonset Point, at the Davisville Naval Construction Battalion Center in Davisville (a village located within the town of North Kingstown, Rhode Island).

In 1941 the United States Navy needed an all-purpose, lightweight building that could be shipped anywhere and assembled without skilled labor. The George A. Fuller construction company was selected to manufacture them. The first was produced within 60 days of contract award.

The original design was a 16 ft × 36 ft (5 × 11 m) structure framed with steel members with an 8 ft (2.4 m) radius. The sides were corrugated steel sheets. The two ends were covered with plywood, which had doors and windows. The interior was insulated and had pressed wood lining and a wood floor. The building could be placed on concrete, on pilings, or directly on the ground with a wood floor.

The most common design created a standard size of 20 ft × 48 ft (6 m × 15 m) with 10 ft (3 m) radius, allowing 720 square feet (67 m²) of usable floor space, with optional four-foot overhangs at each end for protection of entrances from the weather. Other sizes were developed, including 20 ft × 40 ft (6 m × 12 m) and 40 ft × 100 ft (12 m × 30 m) warehouse models.

The flexible interior space was open, allowing for use as barracks, latrines, offices, medical and dental offices, isolation wards, housing, and bakeries.

Between 150,000 and 170,000 Quonset huts were manufactured during World War II. After the war, the U.S. military sold the surplus Quonset huts to the public for $1,000 each[citation needed] — although, when considering the prices of the time, this approaches the cost of a small (albeit complete) home — making anecdotal tales of either high or low prices subject to scrutiny. Many are still standing throughout the United States, although rarely acting as dwellings or "stand-alone" entities. Besides those that remain in use as outbuildings, they are often seen at military museums and other places featuring World War II memorabilia. Although it is occasionally claimed, such as by tour guides at the Danbury Airport, that many hangars are or were actual Huts, this is unlikely; the dates don't match, and it appears more plausible that the semi-prefab corrugated design was suited to both applications.

Many were also used for temporary postwar housing, such as Rodger Young Village in Los Angeles, California and Michigan State University's Quonset Village in East Lansing, Michigan.[1]

A number of variations on the quonset hut design use materials other than corrugated galvanised steel.[2][3]

See also


  1. ^ World War II and the expansion of Michigan State, Matthew Herek, 16 November 1999, self-published.
  2. ^ Quonset : Metal Living for a modern Age.
  3. ^ Quonset Huts,

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