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Microfigs' Quonset Huts

Quonset Huts (2)
Product #
Suggested Retail Price
$8.95 Canadian

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26 December 2001page first published

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Just prior to U.S. involvement in the Second World War, the United States Navy realized that it might have a need for prefabricated buildings to use in setting up bases in remote places. Originally built in a facility outside Quonset, Rhode Island, these buildings - known as Quonset Huts - came to be thought of as a quintessential product of the triumphant Western democracies, along with such other products as the Jeep and the DC-3.

The term Quonset Hut is applied not only to the original buildings created for the U.S. Navy, but as a generic term for all pre-fabricated buildings of that general type used in the WWII. (All of which were based on the British Nissen Hut design from WWI.)

the box

Microfigs has brought out a pack of Quonset Huts in 1/285th scale. As with all their products, the huts come packaged in a reuseable plastic box that snaps open.

Microfigs tells us:

Our models reflect the Quonset Huts used by the Royal Canadian Air Force throughout the Second World War. They are based on the British Nissen type, but for practicality issues, most people (including those of the period) more commonly referred to them as Quonset Huts.

Through our research, we found that dimensions differed from both country and line of service (army/navy/air force) depending on each's specific requirements. Our models are patterned off the barracks/office and machine shop versions that were used as supplementary structures for RCAF airfields.

Two Quonset Huts in the set - large (left) and small (right)

We were very lucky in looking at their development, due to Brantford, Ontario, [home of Microfigs] having been a major aircraft construction facility during the war, with both the White and Massey plants being used to construct Halifax heavy bombers. As such, the city is littered with various sizes of these structures being used as garages, factory buildings, barns, stores, and warehouses. All of which were obviously purchased as cheap surplus after the end of the war.

(On a side note, the new facility we've moved our production into is the old White plant, and there are even a few of these structures still in existence here. One of the city's main streets is the old runway that these bombers took off from upon completion.)

The pack contains one large and one small Quonset Hut, produced in solid resin. The models have been stamped on the bottom with the company's URL.

service door end

Both the large and small huts have the "corrugated sheet metal" texture. At one end of the building there is a large service door, while the other end has an entry door and window.

The two models differ in that the smaller hut (the barracks/office model) has three windows along the length of the hut, while the larger hut (the machine shop model) has no windows along the side.

Scotia 1/300 scale Hammerhead poses by machine-shop service door

Gamers may want to employ the larger "machine shop" hut as a tank maintenance building. However, purists should note that the size of the door will only accomodate smaller vehicles.

Microfigs must be credited for the high quality of these products. The models have excellent detail, with panel lines that run straight rather than crooked. One excellent touch is the way the bottoms have been sanded down, eliminating any excess from the casting process - one of the nicest jobs we've seen.

entry-door building end, showing minor casting flaws

The corrugated texture of these models is a tough test of the technical limits of resin casting, as any casting flaws produce interruptions in the texturing. We did find some minor problems with a few of our samples. Some flaws, such as the excess material near the service door in the photo above, was easily (and quickly!) fixed by shaving down the excess with a sharp hobby knife, then rescribing the lines with a scribing tool. In other areas, there are tiny "pock marks" where a raised panel line failed to cast properly - these are harder to fix, but the defects are pin-prick sized (so small that you might choose to ignore them). The casting flaws affected only a small number of our samples, and would be difficult to spot at normal wargaming distances.

Quonset Huts would seldom be seen in WWII wargaming, as the Axis powers rarely penetrated into the behind-the-lines areas where such buildings were positioned. However, these prolific buildings could easily be part of any Cold War-era U.S. or NATO military base, or as part of a behind-the-lines diorama of a military base or airfield. As pre-fabricated buildings, they are suitable for science-fiction low-tech frontier settings.

The large Quonset Hut measures 41mm long by 32mm wide, or 38' x 30' in scale. The smaller Quonset Hut measures 40mm x 28mm, or 37' x 26' in scale.