Advertisement

You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Duct tape: An idea that stuck

Born of WWII necessity, duct tape is the Swiss army knife of tape

Mar. 21, 2012 - 06:47PM   |   Last Updated: Mar. 21, 2012 - 06:47PM  |  
(Gannett Government Media)
  • Filed Under

Duct tape by any other name

Known to most in the military as 100-mph tape — the story being "whether you were transporting it in the vehicle, or [using] it on the vehicle ... it would hold at least up to 90 or 100 mph," according to the Army Quartermaster Museum’s Luther Hanson — duct tape also enjoys a few other nicknames within the services. A quick sampling:
Gun tape: When duct tape first moved from the ammo cans into general use during World War II, this was one of its first nicknames.
1,000-mph tape: Because the Air Force just has to be faster at everything.
EB green tape: Among submariners, a throwback to the old "electric boat" days.
DPE tape: Demilitarization Protective Ensemble — or nuclear tape.
200-foot tape: For its ability to hold up under 200 feet of water pressure.
Rigger’s tape: A favorite of parachute packers and sling loaders.
Missile tape: Among old missile makers.

Related reading

101 uses for 100-mph tape

Don't mess with military mothers. That's the lesson that sticks with the Duct Tape Guys after finally discovering the hidden history of duct tape's true origins. Few people know more about duct tape and its many uses than Jim Berg and Tim Nyberg. Together they have collected six books' worth of material, from the "Ultimate Duct Tape Book" to the "Duct Tape Halloween Guide."

But one mystery eluded the brothers-in-law.

"We've always known duct tape was first created for the military back in World War II," Nyberg says. "But we've never really been clear on specifically who or exactly why."

Until now.

Researching their second book, the pair had closed in on the first manufacturer of duct tape — Johnson & Johnson's Permacel division, which used it to help keep moisture out of ammo cases.

But only in recent weeks did the pair learn the full story after a fan sent them a faded old newspaper clipping.

According to the Oct. 24, 1943, article in the Chicago Tribune, duct tape's genesis began with a ticked-off Navy mom named Vesta Stoudt who worked in an ammo packing plant in Dixon, Ill.

Turns out, the military was shipping ammo using a method that made it hard for troops in the field to get to it in a hurry. She had a better idea — using a thin, cloth-based tape that would keep the bullets dry but could be ripped open in a blink. But, according to the article, her superiors shot her down.

So she wrote a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

After explaining her suggestion, she implored: "We can't let [the troops] down by giving them a box of cartridges that takes a minute or two to open, enabling the enemy to take lives that might be saved had the box been taped with strong tape that can be opened in a split second. Please, Mr. President, do something about this at once; not tomorrow or soon, but now. We packed nearly 10,000 today on my shift and all wrong."

Stoudt soon learned how quick the military can move when it's properly motivated. Within two weeks, she got a letter from the Office of the Chief of Ordnance saying her idea had been put on the fast track.

"This office wishes to thank you for your excellent suggestion and will give careful consideration to any future suggestions you may offer," read the letter. "It is cooperation of this type that will win the war."

Answers by RallyPoint

Join trending discussions in the military's #1 professional community. See what members like yourself have to say from across the DoD.

More In OFFduty

Start your day with a roundup of top defense news.

VA Home Loan
Rates

Search By:

Product Options:
Zip Code:

News for your in-box

Sign up now for free Military Times E-Reports. Choose from Money and Education. Subscribers: log in for premium e-newsletters.


This Week's Air Force Times

This Week's Air Force Times

Fat bonuses to quit now -- and keep your benefits
Guard and Reserve recruiting airmen hit by force cuts

Subscribe for Print or Digital delivery today!

Classifieds
MilitaryTimes Green Trusted Classifieds Looking to buy, sell and connect on Military Times?
Browse expanded listings across hundreds of military installations.
Faces of valorHonoring those who fought and died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
hall of valorThe Hall of Valor is a searchable database of valor award citations collected by Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran and Military Times contributing editor, and by Military Times staff.
Woman who cried rape
(3 replies)
   Last Post: TJMAC77SP
        May 3, 2014 1:32 PM
   Last Post: garhkal
        May 1, 2014 5:03 PM
Cliven Bundy
(45 replies)
   Last Post: Chief_KO
        Apr 26, 2014 9:49 AM
Handbooks

All you need to know about your military benefits.

Benefits handbook

Guard & Reserve All you need to know about the Guard & Reserve.

guard and reserve handbook