Roll over the dots to learn more about the amphibious DUKW
The London Duck Tours are a tourist attraction in London that use old amphibious DUKW vehicles originally used in World War II to provide passengers with a unique experience, first taking them around the streets of the city before embarking on a voyage down the Thames. The concept of using original DUKWs as a sightseeing vehicle originated from Boston Duck Tours and was transferred to London for the new millennium. The old DUKW vehicles have been restored and revamped for this one-of-a-kind London tour to make them both road and sea worthy under modern-day regulations.
Starting on Chicheley Street behind the London Eye, passengers are taken on a tour past historic London landmarks on the road including Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, Downing Street and Buckingham Palace, with the lively and effervescent tour guides providing an in-depth and humorous account of London’s history complete with quirky stories and fascinating facts. The DUKWs are then launched onto the River Thames, giving passengers a unique view of the Houses of Parliament from the water in addition to other iconic landmarks.
The modern DUKWs are a world apart from their early days of operation. Here we’ve taken a look at the history of these amazing amphibious vehicles and also some of the major changes to them that have enabled thousands of members of the public to experience a tour of London like no other.
These vehicles are technically known as DUKWs (see ‘What’s a DUKW?’). They were designed because of one major problem encountered during World War II: namely how to land troops and equipment on a beach that had heavy defences or no docking port. Thus, the DUKW was born in 1942, vehicles that could drive up onto the beach and unload soldiers and cargo for rapid transportation into battle. 22,000 of them were most famously used on D-Day in June 1944 when the Allies landed in Normandy. The DUKWs allowed troops to quickly and efficiently reach the beach, and they were imperative in helping to overthrow Hitler’s armies.
What’s a DUKW?
D: This is the first year of production. ‘D’ stands for 1942.
U: This is the body style of the vehicle, with ‘U’
being an amphibious utility truck.
K: The‘K’denotes that the vehicle is
W: ‘W’indicatesthat there are two wheels
at the back to assist with steering.
Numerous additions have been made to the DUKWs to bring them into the modern era. For starters, the original petrol engine has been replaced with an inter-cooled engine with an automatic gearbox. The six wheels can now also be configured to drive either in 4×6 or 6×6 drive. In addition the electrical, hydraulic and mechanical components have all been replaced by their modern equivalents to bring the vehicles up to scratch. A number of safety features have also been added, such as jam-packing every space with high- density buoyancy foam to prevent any chance of sinking occurring even if a DUKW is full of water. An AIS digital tracking system, meanwhile, shows the location of every large vessel on the Thames on a computer screen.
To find out more about the London Ducks or to make a booking, visit London Duck Tours. You can also get a 10% discount on the London Ducks classic tour*, Sunday-Friday, from today until Friday 21st December 2012. Just phone London Ducks on 0207 928 3132 quoting “How It Works”.
*excludes family and themed tour tickets -valid for up to 6 people.