What happens when you send a GMC 2 1/2 ton truck to the designer of the winning 1937 America’s Cup Yacht Race and tell him to make it float? Well, that is exactly what happened in 1941 when the National Defense Research Committee (great story in and of itself) was tasked with figuring out a way to quickly and efficiently move men and equipment onshore without port facilities.
Rod Stephens, Jr., of yacht designer Sparkman & Stephens, with the help of Dennis Puleston and Frank W. Speir, designed the DUKW (often pronounced "duck") using the "cab over engine" GMC CCKW-353 2 1/2 ton 6x6 as a platform. The military brass was unimpressed with the result until a DUKW prototype made a dramatic rescue of the crew of the Coast Guard yawl “Rose” off the coast of Massachusetts in December 1942.
The DUKW proved its mettle throughout the rest of the war in a variety of roles with over 21,000 produced. Today, DUKWs are highly collectible and still earn a living for owners as tour vehicles throughout the world.
The DUKW is a very sophisticated vehicle with numerous innovative systems. Don't be impressed with self-inflating tires on today's fancy automobiles. The DUKW could do it in 1941 to improve flotation on sandy beaches and smooth out the ride on unimproved roads.
If you own one of these fine vehicles and you are looking for operating instructions, maintenance manuals or plan to do a frame off restoration, we can provide you with the information you need to get the job done correctly. Be sure to browse our DUKW Technical Manuals for everything you need.