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World War II DUKW


The name DUKW comes from GMC model nomenclature:

  • D, Designed in 1942
  • U, Utility
  • K, All-wheel drive
  • W, Dual-Tandem rear axles


The DUKW was designed by Rod Stephens, Jr. of Sparkman & Stephens, Inc. yacht designers, Dennis Puleston, a British deep-water sailor resident in the U.S., and Frank W. Speir, a Reserve Officers' Training Corps Lieutenant from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[7] Developed by the National Defense Research Committee and the Office of Scientific Research and Development to solve the problem of resupply to units which had just performed an amphibious landing, it was initially rejected by the armed services. When a United States Coast Guard patrol craft ran aground on a sand bar 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,[8] and military opposition to the DUKW melted. The DUKW later proved its seaworthiness by crossing the English Channel.

The final production design was perfected by a few engineers at Yellow Truck & Coach in Pontiac, Michigan. The vehicle was built by Yellow Truck and Coach Co. (GMC Truck and Coach Div. after 1943) at their Pontiac West Assembly Plant and Chevrolet Div. of General Motors Corp. at their St. Louis Truck Assembly Plant; 21,147 were manufactured before production ended in 1945.