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6.5 t (14,320 lb)
8 ft 2 in
8 ft 10 in w/o ring mount
provision for an MG mount
GMC 6-cylinder 269 cid91.5 hp
354 km (road), 80 km (water)
50 mph, water 6 mph
DUKW for the Boston Duck Tour
The DUKW (popularly pronounced DUCK) is a six-wheel-drive amphibious truck that was originally designed inside 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.
7 External links
The DUKW was designed by Rod Stephens Jr. of Sparkman & Stephens Inc. yacht designers, Dennis Puleston, a British deep water sailor, and Frank W. Speir, an ROTC Lieutenant out of MIT. 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 (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 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 in³ (4.416 L). The DUKW weighed 7.5 tons and operated at 6.4 mph (10 km/h) on water and 50-55 mph (80 km/h) on land. It was 31 feet (9.3 m) long, 8.25 feet (2.4 m) wide, and 8.8 feet (2.6 m) high with the folding-canvas top up. More than 21,000 were manufactured. It was not an armored vehicle, being plated with sheet steel between 1/16" and 1/8" thick to minimize weight. A high capacity bilge pump system kept the DUKW afloat if the thin hull was breached by holes up to a couple inches in diameter.
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 as a DUKW is not a military pun - the name comes from the terminology used for military vehicles in World War II; 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 remains unknown, it probably refers to the odd shape of the vehicle.
The DUKW was used in landings in the Pacific, in North Africa, and on the D-Day beaches of Normandy. With the enemy holding all available ports, DUKWs carried 18 million tons of supplies ashore in the 90 days following the landing.
"Original Wisconsin Duck" in Wisconsin Dells
In the latter '40s and throughout the '50s, 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 surplussed and put to good use as amphibious rescue vehicles by fire departments and even, coming full circle, by various Coast Guard stations.
Several were used by abalone fisherman 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.
Many DUKWs are still in use, as well as modern, purpose-built, amphibious tour buses, primarily as tourist transport in harbor and river cities, such as Washington, Memphis, Boston, London, and Singapore - see article Ride the ducks. Duck tours, whether using actual DUKWs or modern amphibious tour buses, are generally very liberally spiced with humor, with drivers frequently wearing outlandish hats and/or costumes, and onboard PA systems frequently outfitted with humorous sound effects.
The Boston Red Sox celebrated their 2004 World Series victory with a parade of 17 DUKWs carrying members of the team over land and across the Charles River. The Seafair Pirates in Seattle use a DUKW modified to look like a Spanish Galleon as their primary means of amphibious transport.
Whenever a natural disaster or an emergency situation occurs, DUKW's are well equipped for the land and water rescue efforts. One particular duck built in 1945 was loaned to a fire department during the Great Flood of 1993 and in 2005, the vehicle spent 10 days rescuing survivors from Hurricane Katrina. The DUKW maneuvered through flood waters, transporting victims from their rooftops to helicopter pads setup throughout New Orleans.
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