The Full Wiki

DUKW: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A DUKW, in use by American troops in France.
Place of origin  United States
Production history
Number built 21,147[1]
Weight 2.5 ton[2]
Length 31 ft
Width 8 ft 2 in
Height 8 ft 10 in w/o ring mount
Crew 2–3

Armor none
Provision for machine gun mount.
Engine GMC 6-cylinder 269 cid
91.5 hp
Power/weight 14 hp/tonne
Suspension wheels, 6×6
354 km (road), 80 km (water)
Speed 50 mph, water 6 mph

The DUKW (popularly pronounced "duck") is a six-wheel-drive amphibious truck that was designed by General Motors Corporation during World War II for transporting goods and troops over land and water and for use approaching and crossing beaches in amphibious attacks.



The DUKW was designed by Rod Stephens Jr. of Sparkman & Stephens Inc. yacht designers, Dennis Puleston, a deep water sailor born in England, and Frank W. Speir, an ROTC Lieutenant out of MIT.[3] Developed by the National Defense Research Committee and the Office of Scientific Research and Development, it was initially rejected by the armed services. When a United States Coast Guard patrol craft ran aground on a sandbar near Provincetown, Massachusetts, an experimental DUKW happened to be in the area for a demonstration. Winds up to 60 knots (110 km/h), rain, and heavy surf prevented conventional craft from rescuing the seven stranded Coast Guardsmen, but the DUKW had no trouble, and the military opposition melted. The DUKW would later prove its seaworthiness by crossing the English Channel.

The DUKW prototype was built around the cab over engine (COE) six-wheel-drive military truck GMC ACKWX (a COE version of the GMC CCKW), with the addition of a watertight hull and a propeller. The final production design was based on the CCKW. The vehicle was built by the GMC division of General Motors (called Yellow Truck and Coach at the beginning of the war). It was powered by a GMC Straight-6 engine of 270 cu in (4.4 l). The DUKW weighed 7.5 tons and operated at 6.4 mph (10.3 km/h; 5.6 kn) on water and 50–55 mph (80–89 km/h) on land. It was 31 ft (9.4 m) long, 8 ft 3 in (2.51 m) wide, and 8 ft 9 in (2.67 m) high with the folding canvas top up. 21,137 were manufactured.[1] It was not an armored vehicle, being plated with sheet steel 1/16–1/8 in (1.6–3.2 mm) thick to minimize weight. A high capacity bilge pump kept the DUKW afloat if the thin hull was breached by holes up to 2 in (51 mm) diameter. The vehicle had a ring machine gun mount, which would usually have held a .5 in (12.7 mm) Browning machine gun.[4]

The DUKW was the first vehicle to allow the driver to vary the tire pressure from inside the cab, an accomplishment of Speir's device. The tires could be fully inflated for hard surfaces such as roads and less inflated for softer surfaces—especially beach sand. This added to the DUKW's great versatility as an amphibious vehicle. This feature is now standard on many military vehicles.


The designation of DUKW is not a military pun - the name comes from the model naming terminology used by GMC; the D indicates a vehicle designed in 1942, the U meant "utility (amphibious)", the K indicated all-wheel drive and the W indicated two powered rear axles.

Although technically a misnomer, DUKWs are often referred to as duck boats. Another popular nickname was old magoo or simply magoo. Though the origin of this term is unknown, it probably refers to the odd shape of the vehicle.

Service history

The DUKW was supplied to the US Army, US Marine Corps and Allied forces. 2,000 were supplied to Britain under the Lend-Lease program[5] and 535 were acquired by Australian forces.[6] 586 were supplied to the Soviet Union, becoming the basis for the BAV 485 (see Developments).

The DUKW was used in landings in the Mediterranean, Pacific, on the D-Day beaches of Normandy, Operation Husky, Operation Market Garden in Holland, and during Operation Plunder.

After World War II, reduced numbers of DUKWs were kept in service by the United States, Britain, France and Australia with many more stored pending disposal. Australia transferred many to Citizens Military Force units.

The US Army reactivated and deployed several hundred DUKWs at the outbreak of the Korean War with the 1st Transportation Replacement Training Group providing crew training. DUKWs were used extensively to bring supplies ashore during the Battle of Pusan Perimeter and in the amphibious landings at Inchon.

Ex-US Army DUKWs were transferred to the French military after World War II and were used by the Troupes de marine and naval commandos. Many were used for general utility duties in overseas territories. France deployed DUKWs to French Indochina during the First Indochina War. Some French DUKWs were given new hulls in the 1970s with the last being retired in 1982.

Britain deployed DUKWs to Malaya during the Malayan Emergency of 1948-60. Many were redeployed to Borneo during the Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation of 1962-66.

The Royal Marines still use a small number of these vehicles for training purposes at 11 Amphibious Trials and Training Unit RM (ATTURM) in Instow North Devon.[citation needed]


Principal military users

  • United States
  • United Kingdom - approx. 2,000
  • Canada - approx. 800
  • France
  • Soviet Union - 586
  • Australia - 535[6]

Peacetime use

Although DUKWs were used predominantly for the military, many were used by civilian organizations such as police departments, fire stations and rescue units.

The Australian Army loaned two DUKWs and crew to Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions in 1948 for an expedition to Macquarie Island. Australian DUKWs were used on Antarctic supply voyages until 1970.[6] From 1945 to 1965, the Commonwealth Lighthouse Service supply ship Cape York carried ex-Army DUKWs for supplying lighthouses on remote islands.[7]

Several were used by abalone fishermen of San Luis Obispo County California to take their catch right off the boats and directly to market, neatly combining the two steps of off-loading onto smaller craft, and then transferring to trucks once they reached the beach.

Whenever a natural disaster or an emergency situation occurs, DUKWs are well equipped for the land and water rescue efforts. Australian Army Reserve DUKWs were used extensively for rescue and transport during the 1955 Hunter Valley floods.

One of the last DUKWs manufactured in 1945 was loaned to a fire department during the Great Flood of 1993, and in 2005, Duck Riders of Grapevine, TX deployed the vehicle to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The DUKW was well equipped to maneuver its way through flood waters, transporting victims stranded on their rooftops to helicopter pads set up throughout New Orleans.

The Moby Duck

Some such as the "Moby Duck" have been adapted as props by local groups such as Seattle's Seafair Pirates to be used in parades and events.


In the latter 1940s and throughout the 1950s, while Speir, now Project Engineer for the Army's Amphibious Warfare Program, worked on 'bigger and better' amphibious vehicles such as the 'Super Duck,' the 'Drake' and the mammoth BARC (Barge, Amphibious, Resupply, Cargo), a good many DUKWs were made surplus and put to use as amphibious rescue vehicles by fire departments and even, coming full circle, by Coast Guard stations.

In the 1950s the USSR copied the DUKW and the Zavod Imeni Likhacheva factory started producing the BAV 485. Production continued until 1962 with over 20,000 units delivered.

Tourist attraction

refurbished DUKW in London

DUKWs are still in use, as well as purpose-built amphibious tour buses, primarily as tourist transport in harbor and river cities, including but not limited to: Seattle; Philadelphia; Cincinnati; Pittsburgh; Chattanooga; Nashville; Boston; Branson, Missouri; Grapevine, Texas; Saugatuck, Michigan; Liverpool; London; Dublin, Ireland; Rotorua, New Zealand; Belgian coast (Blankenberge, Koksijde) ;The Netherlands; Singapore; Washington, D.C.; Stone Mountain Park, Atlanta, Georgia; and Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.

The first "duck tour" company was started in 1946 by Mel Flath in Milwaukee, WI. He moved his tour to Wisconsin Dells shortly thereafter. His company has changed ownership since, but is still in operation under the name Original Wisconsin Ducks. His family continues to operate a duck company called the Dells Army Ducks in the Wisconsin Dells Area. One well-established tour operator in the United States is Ride the Ducks. However, the vehicles used are not Army Surplus DUKWs, as used by many other companies, but are rather designed and built from the ground up by Ride The Ducks.


An accidental sinking of a DUKW in Lake Hamilton near Hot Springs, Arkansas killed thirteen passengers on May 1, 1999.

DUKWs in fiction

Two DUKWs, Gert and Daisy, are central to Ron Dawson's novel, The Last Viking: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Heist. The novel tells the story of a modern day Viking raid by a group of Birmingham gangsters who capture and loot the island of Guernsey on the tenth anniversary of D Day with disastrous consequences. The novel is probably unique in featuring two DUKWs in a post WW2 adventure.[8]

A DUKW is also central to the 2000 AD story Disaster 1990, in which the lead character, London hardman Bill Savage liberates one from a war museum to survive a futuristic flooded Britain.


See also


Technical Manuals

  • TM 9-2800 military vehicles 1947
  • SNL G501
  • TM 9-802
  • TM 9-1802A Ordnance Maintenance Power Plant for 2 1/2-Ton Truck 6 x 6 (GMC). United States Department of War. Jul 1943. 
  • TM 9-1802B Ordnance Maintenance Power Plant for 2 1/2-Ton Amphibian Truck, 6 x 6 (GMC DUKW-353). United States Department of War. Nov 1943. 
  • TM 9-1802C Ordnance Maintence Hull and Water Drive for 2 1/2-Ton 6 x 6 Amphibian Truck, (GMC DUKW-353). United States Department of War. Dec 1943. 
  • TM 9-1825A
  • TM 9-1826C
  • TM 9-1827B
  • TM 9-1827C
  • TM 9-1828A
  • TM 9-1829A


  1. ^ a b "DUKW". US Army Transportation Museum. 
  2. ^ Thomson, Harry C. (2003). The Ordnance Department : procurement and supply. Washington, D.C: Center of Military History, U.S. Army. pp. 284. Retrieved 2009-10-20. 
  3. ^ Miami Shipbuilding Corporation
  4. ^ Fitzsimons, Bernard, general editor. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare (London: Phoebus, 1978), Vol. 8, p.802, "DUKW".
  5. ^ "Battle Stations II: The 'Duck'". Channel 4. 
  6. ^ a b c "Remember when.... we sent amphibious trucks to the Antarctic?". Defence Materiel Organisation. 2006-11. Retrieved 2008-10-13. 
  7. ^ Johnson, Erika (2006), Cape Rochon - An Island Light, 9, Lighthouses of Australia Bulletin 
  8. ^ The Last Viking

External links


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address