Posted by: SJS | January 11, 2012

Quonset huts

      The history of the PT boats of WWII can not be told without including a reference to Quonset huts.  It seemed that everywhere you found PT boats, you found Quonset huts.  Whether they were used to house classrooms at Melville, Rhode Island or a machine shop in the English Channel or a kitchen in the island jungles of the South Pacific, these portable, lightweight, highly versatile structures were everywhere in the world of the Mosquito Fleet.

Quonset hut

Quonset hut being put in place from a transport barge

     Made of corrugated, galvanized steel, the Quonset huts had a semicircular cross-section.  They were first manufactured at Quonset Point in the town of North Kingstown, Rhode Island (thus their name).  The US Navy needed an all-purpose, lightweight building that could be shipped anywhere and assembled without skilled labor.  The Quonset huts were a perfect match for supporting the new brand of fighting vessels that the Navy introduced in WWII–the PT boats.

      The most common Quonset hut design created a standard size of 20 ft X 48 ft with a 10 ft radius that allowed 720 square feet of usable floor space.  The interior space was flexible, allowing them to be used as barracks, offices, housing, bakeries, dental offices, isolation wards and even latrines.   Between 150,000 and 170,000 Quonset huts were manufactured during WWII.


  1. I had a course in undergraduate school that met in one of these that they were using as a temporary building.

    • Dudley, My college years included some Quonset hut experiences also; they seemed to be everywhere. Thanks for reading. Steve

  2. Steve,
    Have been in and around Quonset huts my whole life. Never gave a thought to why they were called that. Another mystery of life solved.
    Thanks, Gary

    • Gary, It was a revelation to me, also, to learn how these amazing little structures got their name. Thanks for reading! Steve

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