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History of the DUKWs

The colourful history of the Viking Splash Tours fleet

DUK1.pngIn the early 1940s as World War II began to enter its most critical phase, the Allied Forces looked towards Europe and began planning an invasion on an unprecedented scale. Unsurprisingly, along with the intention of invading and liberating almost an entire continent, came countless logistical, strategic and tactical problems. Perhaps the most crucial problem to solve was that of troop, supplies and equipment movement. Specifically, how could the Allies transport and then land an invasion force of many thousands, in addition to military hardware, food, water and medical equipment?

An inspired solution was found through the invention and subsequent production of the DUKW by the General Motors Corporation in America. The DUKW was an amphibious vehicle that was more than capable of carrying soldiers and supplies into the European Theatre of World War II. DUKWs were designed to withstand driving onto beaches in 15 foot seas. In addition to carrying up to 30 troops or 2.5 tons of cargo, DUKWs were used in other capacities. For example, machine guns could be added to the DUKW and it could then be used as a firing platform! It was this versatility that made the DUKW perfect for the planned Allied invasion of Europe, and on June 5/6 1944, the DUKW entered into military history as the primary method of transport used by the armies involved in the Normandy landings. It was not just the invasion of Europe that the DUKW was confined to- they were also successfully used in Allied operations in the Pacific Theatre and Sicily.
For those with an interest in the technical aspects of the DUKW, it may interest you to know that DUKWs weigh about 7 tonnes, are 31 feet long and 8 feet wide. They have six wheels and can be driven in rear wheel or all wheel drive. The DUKWs were an amphibious version of the General Motors Corporation 2.5 ton, 6×6 truck and were successful in transporting troops and supplies directly to shore in both Europe and Asia.
About 22,000 DUKWs were originally built, but only a few hundred are still in operation today. Why not take a trip on our unique Viking Splash Tour and experience a truly incredible vehicle of monumental historical importance?