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Thursday, September 9, 2010
The DUKW was conceived by the military who felt they needed an amphibious truck. In the early stages of World War II the military was enlisting the help of civilians in an effort to get military product from concept to production to the theater of war as quickly as possible. To that end three men were tapped for this project: Rod Stephens, Jr., Dennis Puletson and Frank Speir, all with specific talents. The first thing they did, and a smart move on their part, was to analyze what trucks currently in production could be used as a basis for the vehicle. To that end a GMC military six-wheel truck that was already in production as a military transport was selected and modified for their purposes, thus saving months, if not years off design and development time. 20,000 of these vehicles were produced by General Motors between 1942-1945 for all branches of the military.
The three men were awarded the Presidential Metal of Freedom for their efforts, the highest civilian award presented by the White House.
Rod's forte was in training men to use the vehicles. He was also instrumental in developing uses for the DUKW. Here two are used with a cross-bracing apparatus to transport a small tank across water and that's Rod showing them how it's done (in the natty overcoat). Note the tank's barrel has been removed for shipping.
Here's an image of two units being used to transport a truck across a lake. Incidentally I believe the truck they are transporting is the very same GMC chassis used for the DUKW.
And here we see a crane in use and some jury-rigged form of stabilizers.
Here's the same set up in the water.
Here's a schematic.
If you're interested in this subject make sure to read the chapter about the DUKW in Rod's book. Click here to access the book. It's the final chapter starting on page 99.
And finally here's the vehicle in use.