The GMC DUKW 353[N 1], or the Duck was a 6x6 amphibious vehicle developed by GMC from their 6x6 truck,[2] in association with the New York City yachting firm Sparkman and Stephens,[N 2] and used by the United States during World War II.


The only crew it required was the driver and it had a GMC Model 270 engine, capable of propelling the DUKW at speeds of up to 80.4 km/h on land and 5.5 knots in water. The maximum carrying capacity is either 25 troops or 4,535.9 kg of cargo.[3] The DUKW weighed about 5,896.7 kg and measured approximately 9.4 meters in length.

The armament of the vehicle varied, typically consisting of the weapons carried on board by the crew. However, sometimes a 12.7 mm or 7.62 mm machine gun was mounted. Operational range was around 120 kilometers with a maximum of 150 liters worth of fuel being carried on the vehicle. 

Located in the rear of the vehicle was the propeller and a winch for general use. Also mounted was a bilge pump to remove water should the hull be breached. This was often called upon by the crew considering that the DUKW was an unarmored vehicle. With enough room to carry small artillery, the DUKW could in fact fire these weapons while still on the water. Furthermore, the driver could regulate the air pressure in the tires to adjust for soft or hard ground. A special canvas could also be raised should it be needed as well as the windshield be lowered.


The DUKW only had one official variant produced during its service length which was often called the "Scorpion". The main distinction that this model had over its original base was that it was capable of mounting 114mm rockets to fire at enemy positions. However, this model was only used in the Pacific.[4]

An unofficial variant consisted of three examples adapted to carry ladders, only for this modification to be abandoned when, during training exercises at West Bay in Dorset, the US Rangers discovered that it was impossible to get the DUKW close enough to the cliff to extend the ladder.[5]


The DUKW was initially developed in 1941 following a directive for an amphibious vehicle that could withstand battlefield conditions and still ferry cargo. During testing, despite horrible conditions, the DUKW surpassed all expectations, clearly showing its abilities over its opponents. The vehicle was even capable of crossing the English Channel with little to no difficulty. Production began immediately with the first vehicles being accepted for service in 1942. From then on, it became a staple vehicle serving with the British and Commonwealth as well as its native United States. It served in the Pacific and in the Western Front. Most notably, the DUKW was used to carry critical supplies to the beachhead in Normandy and to island troops in the Pacific islands.

In total, around 21,147 examples had been produced for the various countries during the war.[1]


  1. Contrary to some accounts, DUKW is not an acronym, but GMC's code for this type of military, wheeled amphibious landing craft: D=1942, U=utility (amphibious), K=all wheel drive and W=two powered rear axles.[1]
  2. It was the latter's involvement that gave the DUKW it's impressive sea-going capabilities.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Falconer, Johnathon. D-Day Operations Manual. Haynes Publishing. 2013. ISBN 978 0 85733 234 9 Page 48
  2. Template:Military Vehicles illustrated History Page 94
  5. Falconer, Johnathon. Page 49
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