A Little Marvel in Timber and Tin - the Military P1 Hut of the Second World War

Patrick Miller

Keywords: Huts, Military, WW2

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In the popular mind the archetypal personnel accommodation of the Second World War was the Nissen hut. Yet those highly noticeable pre-fabricated buildings were very much in the minority in Australian usage when compared with the more numerous but perhaps anonymous looking P1 hut which appeared in the tens of thousands across the continent during the years 1939-1945.

Roughly 20’ x 60’ and designed to sleep 20 men, the P1 hut was rugged, cheap to build, did not require factory pre-fabrication, used readily available materials and could be built by any modestly accomplished builder.

The P1 hut’s construction displayed standard Australian building practice of hardwood stumps, bearers, joists, stud walls, rafters and collar ties. It had a simple gable roof and was typically clad in unpainted, galvanised corrugated iron. It departed slightly, but significantly from standard practice in a number of ways that made the construction easier and simpler and also resulted in a light building of great strength, adaptability and reparability.

The P1 hut was so strong and adaptable that it far outlived its original temporary status and today, some 60 years on, there are still thousands in use either on military bases or as surplus buildings in civil use.

My paper will examine the history and development of the type showing the details of construction and materials. It will also be illustrated with numerous examples.

REFERENCE: Miller, P. 2007 A Little Marvel in Timber and Tin -The Military P1 Hut of the Second World War.  Fourteenth National Engineering Heritage Conference Perth, Australia, 18 September - 21 September 2007.  The Institution of Engineers Australia: Conference Papers.