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The Valkyries of the waterfowl world: Duck boats

Sunday, Jul 28, 2019

You probably know them as a big city tourist staples, but duck boats were actually wartime stallions in their heyday. And since we love anything on wheels, here are 5 fun facts about these amphibious vehicles of land and sea.

  • Duck boats were originally designed by General Motors and introduced during World War II as aquatic vehicles to help carry supplies and Allied troops ashore to different locations on land.
  • The boats were nicknamed the “Duck” by the U.S. Army for their serial letters DUKW (“D” = 1942 model, “U” = amphibious, “K” = all-wheel drive and “W” = dual rear wheels).
  • Weighing 6.5 tons and able to reach land speeds of 50 mph, the driving power of a duck could transfer to a rear propeller with the flip of a switch.
  • In 1943, duck boats played an instrumental role in the invasion of Sicily and other parts of Italy, as well as in Normandy on D-Day. However, because the ducks were overloaded with heavy machinery, bad weather and unfavorable water conditions caused many to sink along with the machinery they were carrying.
  • More than 20,000 ducks were produced during the war. Afterwards, they found new life as guided tour vehicles and in parades across the country. Duck tours are still very popular today in many major cities such as Boston.

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