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Home Front Friday: Getting It Together

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Home Front Friday is a regular series that highlights the can do spirit on the Home Front during World War II and illustrates how that spirit is still alive today!

Did you know that April is National Welding Month? The secret ingredient that holds the world as we know it together, welding has sent us to the moon and back, produced monuments of steel where we work and live, and defended us in wartime!

The United States welding industry reached its peak in 1944. By then, it was producing twice the amount of war power than all of the Axis nations combined. Factories that had previously produced everyday products such as iceboxes and toasters were immediately converted to produce war machines. Auto manufacturers began producing tanks, trucks, guns, shells and parts for airplanes and ships. The aircraft industry had employed more than 2 million workers by 1944.

You may have seen the propaganda poster of the American cultural icon Rosie the Riveter gracing the walls of history classes or women’s studies classes. She has come to symbolize the can-do attitude of women left on the home front while their husbands were at war. Rosie most commonly appears on Howard J. Miller’s famous “We Can Do It!” poster for the Westinghouse Company. Another popular Rosie print is Norman Rockwell’s Saturday Evening Post depiction of Rosie, in which she is taking her lunch break while stamping on a copy of Mein Kampf.


The Westinghouse poster. (via the National Archives)

The Rockwell magazine cover. (via the Saturday Evening Post)

Did you know that Rosie has a friend? Her shipyard counterpart is Wendy the Welder, a similarly powerful woman based off of Janet Doyle, a worker at the Kaiser Richmond Liberty Shipyards. After the debut of the first all-welded ship in 1940, riveting ships fell out of style in favor of the quicker welding method.


A Wendy the Welder at the Richmond Shipyard in California. (via the Library of Congress)

Want to know more about welding during the war? Click here to find out all about the industry!

Unfortunately, we don’t know how to weld, and we don’t want to tell you to do anything where you might hurt yourself. But we can show you how to make this nifty paper tank instead:

What you need:

  • Two sheets of paper
  • Scissors
  • Dowel (optional)


  1. Start by folding your paper in half lengthwise.12962629_1076961612327037_35547372_o 12966671_1076963875660144_1144136635_n
  2. Next, unfold the paper. Then fold the outer sides of the paper inward, so that it is folded into fourths. Line the outer edges onto the middle line you made with the first fold.12922359_1076961542327044_1909564908_o12962588_1076961515660380_2014974063_o
  3. Next, take two corners of the paper (don’t unfold the two new sections!) and fold them inward, lining them up with the middle fold. 12947045_1076961498993715_2097071506_o 12970129_1076961485660383_16899144_o
  4. Once you have done that, take the outside edges and fold them in half again. Line up the outside edges with the middle fold. Some of the top triangle will get folded too – don’t worry, it’s normal!12959332_1076961472327051_143727731_o12953002_1076961458993719_661806482_o
  5. Once you have done that, take the two edges facing the middle and fold them out to the outer edges. Basically, take the flaps you have just folded and fold them again going outwards. 12970521_1076961388993726_1865959649_o 12946848_1076961372327061_343736134_o 12962601_1076961352327063_1997339267_o 12970628_1076961338993731_1969362082_o
  6. Now comes the tricky part. Flip the entire paper over so that the blank side is facing you. Now take the ends and bring them together, so that the structure is almost in thirds. Don’t fold, just curve!! The blank side should be facing inward. 12941077_1076961318993733_283770941_o
  7. Now, slide the triangular part underneath the two outer tabs on the square part. The outer tabs should then slide into the tabs behind the triangle. This part takes time! You may have to mold the tank to fit.12952841_1076961315660400_496999158_o 12970549_1076961298993735_708111433_o12952986_1076961302327068_60489715_o
  8. Now time to make the treads! Look at the bottom of the tank. There should be a fold. Gently push out the folded part so that it extends up to the top part of the tank. Again, this takes time!12959495_1076961258993739_2097885575_o12953180_1076961245660407_1634555189_o12948323_1076961285660403_886807625_o
  9. Now time for the gun. Take another piece of paper. We are going to be rolling it as tightly as we can, diagonally, from corner to corner. If you want to, you can take a dowel or other thin object to help you roll it tightly. 12952740_1076961115660420_1302511857_o
  10. Once you have rolled the paper, it will likely be too long for your tank. Simply trim away the excess and slide it under the triangular flap on the top.12941207_1076961132327085_1033263424_o 12970460_1076961188993746_757829874_o12922301_1076961145660417_1484344027_o
  11. All done!12941215_1076961122327086_112371125_o

This definitely takes practice, so don’t be discouraged if you need to try a few times to get it looking right! Here is a video showing the whole procedure to help you along. Good luck!

Posted by Katie Atkins, Education Intern and Lauren Handley, Assistant Director of Education for Public Programs at The National WWII Museum.

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