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A Quonset hut is a lightweight prefabricated structure of corrugated galvanized 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, USA).
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 m × 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.
As the original design used low grade (non-strategic) steel, a more rust-resistant version was called for. The all-spruce 'Pacific Hut' was created for use in the Pacific Theater of Operations.
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 (1.2 m) 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.
Between 150,000 and 170,000 Quonset huts were manufactured during World War II. After the war, the US military sold the surplus Quonset huts to the public. Many remain standing throughout the US. Besides those that remain in use as outbuildings, they are often seen at military museums and other places featuring World War II memorabilia. Some are still in active use at U.S. military bases; for example, Camps Red Cloud and Casey near the Korean DMZ and Pohakuloa Training Area on the big island of Hawaii.
Many were also used for temporary postwar housing, such as Rodger Young Village in Los Angeles, California. Columbia Records' Studio B in Nashville was also called "The Quonset Hut", and Michigan State University's Quonset Village in East Lansing, Michigan, USA.
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