Rod Shelffo
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Brief History Of The GMC “Duck”

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GMC has a long history with the US military.

The amphibious “Duck” weighed 2 1/2 tons.
Photo: © General Motors 


There may be no better vehicle to symbolize GMC’s long history with the United States Military than the DUKW353 – or just simply “Duck” for short.

GMC built 21,147 of the amphibious “Ducks” during World War II, as part of their 59 US War Department contracts.  The 2 ½ ton vehicles were first produced on a repurposed bus assembly line in 1943.

A unique feature of the “Duck” was a specialized central tire inflation system that permitted the driver the ability to change tire pressure from his seat, depending on what terrain he was navigating. For example, on soft terrain like sand, the driver would reduce pressure to create more traction. For a harder surface like concrete, the driver could increase pressure to amplify speed.

The amphibious "Duck"

GMC produced more than 20,000 “Ducks” for the military for World War 2.
Photo: © General Motors


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The last “Ducks” were produced in 1945 and the remaining vehicles were used for military training and attractions for the tourism industry.

GMC earned the Army Navy “E” Award for Excellence in 1944 for its war effort and the “Duck” was considered the most outstanding of new ordnance weapons.

While GMC is no longer producing the “Duck,” the brand’s support of the military is still strong. They recently announced they would be expanding their GM Military Discount to all veterans – regardless of separation date – through June 30th.

The GM Military Discount makes it easier for military members and their families to purchase a new vehicle.

The GM Military Discount has been expanded to June 30th.
Photo: © General Motors

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The discount covers all 22 million active-duty, reserves, retired, and veteran service members and their spouses. The discount is available to every branch of the military, but after June 30th, the discount will only cover active-duty, reserves, retired military and spouses, and veterans and spouses within a year of separation.

  • Rod ShelffoContributor

    After four years in The Marine Corp, Rod formed a career at Hatfield Buick GMC that has spanned more than 25 years. He is married to Lori, has one daughter, Staci, and two grandkids, Kimberlyn and Kaden. He's an avid golfer and past president and active member of the Redlands Optimist Club.