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The History of DUKW
Amphibious Vehicle

Early in World War II, there was a problem. How could cargo be uploaded with men from ships in to land areas and docks which were destroyed or on land areas with no docks? Unloading cargo over the beach was the resolution. The question was, how?

So a vehicle was designed to be half boat and half water-tight GM truck that could go on land and water was designed. It was referred to as DUKW (pronounced DUCK). The name DUKW comes from:

"D" for the year designed.
"U" for "utility use".
"K" for front wheel drive.
"W" for two powered rear axles.

It was initially rejected by the armed services. When a patrol craft from the Coast Guard near Provincetown, MA ran aground on a sandbar, an experimental DUKW happened to be in the area. The DUKW had no trouble demonstrating their abilities. Later the DUKW would cross the English Channel showing it was up for the challenges ahead

Build for the Demand
DUKW's were crucial in European, the Pacific, and for transporting over-beach supplies in the Battle of Normandy. These amphibious vehicles were six-wheel-drive, and used for water to land attacks, transporting troops and supplies from the water on to land. They were designed to meet the demands of combat and nothing more.

After World War II, DUKW's were used in other conflicts in many other countries and settings. The former USSR added a rear loading capacity and produced 2,000 units. During the Korean War, the US Army activated and deployed DUKW's. They were used for bringing supplies to land in the Battle of Pusan Perimeter and other landings.

Even though DUKWs are used dominantly for the military, police and fire departments began to use them. Today, many have been modified to be tourist craft in marine environments.

In Literature and Movies
In Ron Dawson's novel, The Last Viking: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Heist, DUKW's were key. The story is about modern day anniversary of D-Day. In the films Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise, 2000 AD and Disaster 1990, the DUKW was central to the storyline.