The DUKW, commonly referred to as a Duck, was designed by Roderic Stephens of New York based naval architects Sparkman and Stephens Inc.  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 scheduled to take place a few days later.  Winds up to 60 knots (69 mph), rain, and heavy surf prevented conventional craft from rescuing the seven stranded Coast Guardsmen.   The DUKW conducted the successful rescue and the military opposition faded.   A total of 21,000 DUKWs were built for use during World War II and remained in service as late as 1974.

Check Out This Video – What is a DUKW

The DUKW was built between 1942 and 1945 by GMC.. It was an amphibious version of the 2-1/2 ton General Motors cargo truck.  This truck a with a watertight hull and propeller became a symbol of goodwill to many as they went from ship to shore. Ultimately the DUKW was a vital factor in landings in the Pacific, in Africa, and on the beaches of Normandy.   In early 1942, ships sat waiting to discharge cargo at foreign ports, sometimes for months, due to lack of port facilities.   Ships waited for barges, barges waited for trucks, and trucks waited for trains.   Planners soon found the need to deliver high priority cargo, such as ammunition and water, directly to troops fighting inland off the invasion beaches.  90% of the supplies to the liberating forces at Italy made it ashore aboard a DUKW and 40% during the invasion of Normandy.   Many officers said the invasion at Normandy would not have been a success without the DUKW.  Not only did they carry supplies but they also carried wounded soldiers from shore back to ships.

DUKW was a naming terminology used by GMC.   Here’s what it stands for:

D = built in 1942

U = amphibious 2-1/2 ton truck

K = front wheel drive

W = rear wheel drive

DUKW Specifications:

Length: . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 ft

Width: . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 ft 2 in

Height: . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 ft 10 in

Weight, net: . . . . . . . . . . 14,880 lbs

Payload: . . . . . . . . . . . . .5,175 lbs

Gross: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20,055 lbs

She’s not very fast but she’s better in water than any truck, and she’ll beat any boat on a highway! Roderic Stephens Jr., the DUKWs designer.