The DUKW (popularly pronounced "duck") is a six-wheel-drive amphibious truck that was designed by General Motors Corporation during World War II for transporting goods and troops over land and water and for use approaching and crossing beaches in amphibious attacks.
The designation of DUKW is not a military pun - the name comes from the model naming terminology used by GMC; the D indicates a vehicle designed in 1942, the U meant "utility (amphibious)", the K indicated all-wheel drive and the W indicated two powered rear axles.
Although technically a misnomer, DUKWs are often referred to as duck boats. Another popular nickname was old magoo or simply magoo. Though the origin of this term is unknown, it probably refers to the odd shape of the vehicle.
Although DUKWs were used predominantly for the military, many were used by civilian organizations such as police departments, fire stations and rescue units.
The Australian Army loaned two DUKWs and crew to Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions in 1948 for an expedition to Macquarie Island. Australian DUKWs were used on Antarctic supply voyages until 1970. From 1945 to 1965, the Commonwealth Lighthouse Service supply ship Cape York carried ex-Army DUKWs for supplying lighthouses on remote islands.
Several were used by abalone fishermen of San Luis Obispo County California to take their catch right off the boats and directly to market, neatly combining the two steps of off-loading onto smaller craft, and then transferring to trucks once they reached the beach.
Whenever a natural disaster or an emergency situation occurs, DUKWs are well equipped for the land and water rescue efforts. Australian Army Reserve DUKWs were used extensively for rescue and transport during the 1955 Hunter Valley floods.
One of the last DUKWs manufactured in 1945 was loaned to a fire department during the Great Flood of 1993, and in 2005, Duck Riders of Grapevine, TX deployed the vehicle to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The DUKW was well equipped to maneuver its way through flood waters, transporting victims stranded on their rooftops to helicopter pads set up throughout New Orleans.
Today, we use them to transport the general public around they city of Pittsburgh. Our tour is an hour-long exploration of the city and its history, approximately 35 minutes on land and 25 minutes on the water. Our fully-narrated tour incorporates the history of Pittsburgh, the importance of our region and future of the area in a fun and fresh way. It allows our guests to have fun with the city and learn in the process!