The “Nissen” or “Quonset” huts are iconic military buildings seen all around the world, and won’t look out-of-place in any wargame set in the last hundred years.

Designed during WW1, these corrugated metal tubes popped up everywhere, and if you want to put a military camp, an airfield or even just a factory on the table one will do the job. Obviously this is not a 100%-accurate model of one, it’s far too small for a start, but given that most games have a mismatch between the figure scale and ground scale I think that’s acceptable, and besides, everybody will recognise what it is when you put it on the table, and it’s a quirky and fun-looking terrain piece.

Just like the real thing this kit from Sarissa is pretty quick and easy to build. It’s basically just two end walls attached to a base, with a curved roof supported by arches. The fiddliest bits to build are the dormer windows. The kit suggests building these first, and that’s a good idea as it’ll give them a chance to dry before you handle them again.

The kit is two sheets: one MDF and one of greyboard. Most of the pieces are bits for the windows, as well as the aforementioned dormers there are some frame bits to stick to the end windows, which is a nice touch and adds some depth to the model.

This is the basic kit. For a building that’s pretty much all roof, the roof is kinda bad.

The instructions say to “lightly fold” the roof piece, but this isn’t necessary and results in a ridged look to the roof. It looks better if you bend it into a smooth curve. The roof is thin cardboard so this is pretty easy to do, you just need to attach it to the internal roof arches with something stronger than the usual PVA.

I used superglue, and trussed the whole thing up tight with some rubber bands while it dried.

Rubber bands are endlessly useful for making MDF buildings. I grab all the ones my postman drops and have a big tangle of them in my terrain bits box.

Once your glue has dried for a bit you’ll get a nice curved roof. You can either glue this down onto the base or leave it as a lift-off, I’ve done the latter as I want to be able to use this for skirmish games where the insides of buildings matter.

The main flaw with this kit IMO is what this roof looks like. The roof piece has some very light etching in it, but everybody knows that these things were made from corrugated iron, and it doesn’t look much like that. I think you need that wriggly tin look for it to be believable. Layering something over the top of it also hides the tabs securing the roof to the arches, which you’ll be stuck with otherwise. I hate seeing those on finished buildings.

On the front page of the instructions it explains that one of the differences between the US Quonset hut and the British Nissen was that the Quonset was formed of flat panels laid lengthways, while the Nissen was made from pre-formed arches of it laid across the structure. In short:

  • Quonset = lines run along the building
  • Nissen =lines run over the top of the building

I went for the Nissen look, as I think it’s more iconic. All I did was grab a roofing texture image off the internet and tessellate it a few times to get the right size, then printed it out on paper and stuck that over the top of the roof. Easy peasy.

If you’re adding something like the plastic roofing iron sheets from 4Ground, or using corrugated cardboard then you probably want to Quonset-style and lay the ridges lengthways along the roof.

Quonset-style, with the corrugated sheets running lengthways.

Nissen-style, with the corrugations running over the top.

Going back in with a sharp knife I cut out the holes for the dormers and glued those on.

At that point you’re pretty much done apart and can add any extras and weathering you want. The kit doesn’t include a floor, it just has a frame around the walls, so I added a base from artist’s mounting board and stuck an image of some floorboards to it.

I also stuck some clear plastic in the windows. I normally don’t bother with this, but so far everything had gone together really quickly so I thought why not.

To dirty the structure up I actually used some Tamiya weathering powders. Since the roof is covered in paper I didn’t want to use anything wet like paint or inks, as it could cause the ink to run and the paper to swell and be weird.

All up this was a pretty quick and easy kit to build, although I do think you need to go a bit beyond the basic design to get the most out of it. But if you really wanted to just build it as-is you could definitely have a perfectly presentable and quite versatile little building done in an hour or so.