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The DUKW and How It Offered a Unique Solution During WWII

The DUKW and How It Offered a Unique Solution During WWII
Most people know that wartime, despite its challenging nature, elicited innovative designs and solutions. The DUKW is a prime example of wartime ingenuity. Let’s talk about the DUKW and how it offered a unique solution during WWII.


What Is DUKW?

The US Army and Marine Corps used a six-wheel-drive truck weighing roughly 2.5-ton during World War II. Also known as the “Duck,” the DUKW was an amphibious-like utility truck mainly used to transport troops and goods. Because of its amphibious-like structure, DUKW could travel by land or water when the situation called.

What Does DUKW Mean?

DUKW is pronounced “duck,” just as its acronym implies; what’s more important, however, is what it means and how it works. Its provenance and characteristics are the stuff of legend.

  • According to GMC (General Motors Corporation), the DUKW was designed in 1942 and is a utility vehicle that features all-wheel drive, and dual rear axles.
  • Writer Donald Clarke stated in 1978 that the acronym stood for “duplex universal karrier wheeled.”
  • The alternative designation for the United States Navy and Marine Corps was LVW (landing vehicle wheeled), though this acronym is used rarely.

What Solutions Did It Offer in WWII?

When a Coast Guard craft found itself stuck in a sand bar, a mock DUKW just so happened to be in the same area for demonstration purposes. With seven guardsmen stuck at sea and a conventional craft unable to rescue, the DUKW quickly proved its seaworthiness and saved the team.

Frank W. Speir, Dennis Puleston, and Rod Stephens Jr. collectively designed a way to provide transportation between supply ships offshore and supply dumps at the beach, as well as to ferry supplies, equipment, and ammunition. When discussing the DUKW and how it offered a unique solution during WWII, one can’t overlook that it played a vital role in the troops’ ability to survive on land.

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