Originally deemed DUKW, the DC Ducks were designed based on the Army’s GMC 2 Ton 6×6 Trucks. DUKW’s, which affectionately became DUCKS to the many servicemen who appreciated their extraordinary mobility, was the result of a naming technique used by GMC. D, for the year it was designed, 1942, U for the utility nature of the vehicle (amphibious), K because it was all-wheel (like the K series GMC and Chevy Trucks) and W for the dual tandem rear axles.
The DC Ducks have a fascinating past, which began when the armed services rejected the vehicle as a means of landing supplies on European beaches. A few days later, a tremendous storm caused a United States Coast Guard Patrol Craft to run aground on a sandbar near Provincetown, Massachusetts. Several other vessels attempted to rescue the crew members on board, but winds up to 60 knots, rain and heavy surf prevented them from getting to the boat. An experimental DUKW in the area was called in to help—and help it did. Within six minutes the Coast Guardsmen were safely back to shore.
This event was enough to convince the White House that DUKWs could become an essential element in the war- as a means to bring supplies to the Allies in places where the enemies assumed they had no seaport and thus no means to make an effective landing.
It was less than a year later that the first DUKWs landed on hostile shores during the invasion of Sicily. On D-Day, 2,000 DUKWs were brought to Normandy. They were operated by soldiers in America, Russia, Great Britain, Canada and Australia. These amphibious vehicles are regarded as the most successful of their kind ever created, with more than 21,000 of them produced by women who took over for the men during the War Effort.
When the war came to an end, the Army left tens of thousands of them in towns and villages around the world where they had been utilized. And today, the DUKWs can still be found in various countries across the globe, including the USA!
Throughout the years, the DUKWs have been used as ambulances, fire and flood rescue vehicles, and during emergency operations.
DC Duck Land and Water Tours Today
These days, the DUKWs, which have been completely restored to their original condition, offer visitors from all over the world a journey back in time and a DC sightseeing adventure unlike any other. Join us as we transport you to the most exciting Washington DC attractions, on land and in the water. Guests take a journey through the city on the DC Ducks to see various malls, monuments and museums before heading to the Potomac for a leisurely river cruise. Along the way, our expert Conducktors will amuse and enlighten with intriguing facts, historical accounts and tales about the city of Washington DC.