by Daniel Russ on March 20, 2020

Its nomenclature notwithstanding, the DUKW was one of the most successful collaborations between the US government weapons procurement mission and competent scientific and engineering experts.


The idea was to create a vehicle that could move troops from troop ships to a beachhead. It was designed by Rod Stephens who designed luxury yachts. Also Dennis Puleston and Frank Speir from MIT.


There was almost total opposition to the project until something funny, and a lucky coincidence at that happened: So an experimental DUKW happened to be in the area for a demonstration. Then 70 mph winds and rain, and heavy surf prevented conventional craft from rescuing the seven stranded Coast Guardsmen.


So the DUKW had no trouble, and in a live expedition, military opposition to the DUKW melted. The DUKW later proved its seaworthiness by crossing the English Channel.


We made more than 21,000 by war’s end.


Odd note. It allowed the operator to vary the inflation pressure of the tires so it could maximize its performance over various terrains. The change in pressure could be achieve from the drivers cabin as well.


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