Other things I have driven #2 – the DUKW

13 Sep

The DUKW, or Duck as it is commonly called these days, is a WW2 amphibious landing craft that was used to land troops and military equipment onto the beach, or for crossing rivers. It is based on a three axle General Motors Corporation (GMC) truck chassis and was widely used in various WW2 invasions by many of the allied armies. They were still in use by the British Army as late as the Malaysian campaign of the early 1960s.

The letters DUKW are not an acronym, they are a GMC designation as follows; D- 1942 design, U – a utility vehicle, K – all wheel drive, W – 2 powered pairs of rear wheels.

The first use of a DUKW for pleasure purposes was in Milwaukee as long ago as 1946 and you can find them in many major cities where there is a river or waterfront all around the world.

My chance came in Boston, Massachusetts. The Berkshire Belle and I were spending a couple of weeks of mid 1999 around Boston, Hartford, New York and places thereabouts. During our time in Boston we had seen the Duck tours and decided to take one. Out on the Charles River volunteers from the passengers were sought to have a try at the wheel, and my hand was up like a shot.

I’ve had a little experience of steering a boat, but steering the DUKW was a different thing all together. I had three minutes or thereabouts, but it was jolly good fun. Not my first go with a WW2 piece of kit, but very enjoyable.

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