If it’s good enough for the Marine Corps and the United States Army then it’s good enough for us! This is a solid amphibious vehicle and would easily make a great technical vehicle. What say you? Would this be a good fit for aspiring warlords?
DUKW: the Duck Boat
November 19, 2023
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Categories: Assorted Ramblings
The Duck Boat is a vehicle that can go on land and water. It can reach speeds of 50 mph on land and about 5.5 knots on water. You will be able to see the Duck Boat in both water and land in this article. In the Second World War, the duck boats were called DUKW by the United States military.
Much of the joy associated with vintage automobiles stems from the stories behind their initial development. For any automotive enthusiasts who appreciate the historical significance of vehicles that served a greater cause, Winslow Bent’s debut of an authentic war machine that doubles as a land and water vehicle are sure to excite. Bent, host of the YouTube series This Old Truck, features a beautifully kept and preserved 1944 GMC Duck Boat known in the 1940s as the DUKW but known more in the U.S. for its significance during World War II and the Korean War. Due to the highly versatile nature of this vehicle, it’s considered one of its most successful amphibious and vital military vehicles.
“Now, the U.S. did not have any amphibious vehicles before the Duck Boat, so this is where they first cut their teeth, and they did a remarkably nice job,” comments Bent. “The idea was that these would be used in D-Day and later in the Pacific Theater. Where the Duck Boat comes in is not in that first wave of attack, it comes in as a supply boat bringing ammo, medical supplies, and whatever is needed. These vehicles were much more efficient than others in the past because it was all about the quick pace to unload supplies and equipment before heading back.”
The Duck Boat was created after World War I when there was a pressing need for utility vehicles that were tactical enough to conquer the beachfront while also hauling loads of special equipment that could easily and rapidly be unloaded for battle. General Motors took on this project by attaching a boat hull to the chassis of their dependable 2 ½ ton CCKW war trucks. GM then added a propeller to the back, creating what is known today as the Duck Boat.
With impressive capabilities for its time, this 1944 GMC Duck Boat sits 31 feet long and can hold up to 24 passengers simultaneously. This impeccably designed vehicle utilizes all-wheel drive and can reach speeds on the land of up to 35mph and 4-5 knots on the water. Powering this amazingly unique piece of machinery is a classic GMC 270 engine capable of 91 horsepower mated to a five-speed non-synchronized transmission. The Duck Boat was also the first vehicle to offer central tire inflation, allowing drivers the convenience of inflating and deflating the tires based on the terrain automatically. This technology was crucial for rapidly coming ashore and would be seen on future military and commercial vehicles because of its tremendous success.
As much as this unique driving machine has a meaningful historical significance to Winslow Bent, this particular Duck Boat holds many fond memories and sentimental value over the years due to his father’s original vehicle ownership.
“France kept using this thing 20 years after the war, along comes my old man in 1973 and he sees this thing parked at the lend lease program and goes ‘oh my god, I’ve got to have it’,” continues Bent. “My old man flopped down $2,000 of his hard-earned money, had this thing put on a semi and shipped up to Chicago. This is where I spent my birthday parties as a kid, cruising around Lake Michigan, parades etc. This thing has so many memories for me.”
The 1944 GMC Duck Boat has an extensive and interesting history that Bent explores further in this new episode of This Old Truck.
To see the Duck Boat in action, check out and subscribe to This Old Truck on YouTube.
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