The Armed Forces History Museum in Largo, FL has a full-sized, and restored to running condition, DUKW on display in the museum’s Naval gallery.

History of the DUKW

The amphibious DUKW was manufactured during World War II by General Motors Corporation. This six-wheel-drive vehicle was originally rejected by the armed services. However, an experimental version of this amphibious truck found itself rescuing seven members of the Coast Guard when they became stranded after running up on a sandbar. High winds in the area, accompanied by heavy rain and surf made it impossible for normal rescue crews to come to their aid. The DUKW was, however, able to reach the men and return them to safety. After this rescue mission, opinions on this vehicle changed.

A variation of its predecessor truck, the deuce, the DUKW actually permitted a driver to change tire pressure on the vehicle even when inside the cab. This feature allowed the truck better traction on various surfaces – ranging anywhere from sand to hard roads. This particular feature is now quite common on several different military vehicles.

This WWII amphibious truck is probably most noted for its participation in the D-Day landings, deploying troops onto the beaches. These vehicles were used in both the Mediterranean and the Pacific. While it was mainly used to deliver supplies from the ships to the troops on the shore, the DUKW was also used to transport the wounded soldiers on shore out to hospital ships.

While the DUKW is primarily a military vehicle, it is also used by some civilian organizations such as the police, fire departments and rescue units. Some of these WWII type vehicles are used even today in cities where both land and water attractions are available for tourists. Throughout its production history, over 21,000 of these DUKW vehicles came off the production line.