Military vehicles have been put to many civilian uses, none more unexpected than as tour vehicles or entertaining rides. This page lists commercial operators who provide tours based on DUKWs (World War II amphibious truck), as well as rides in jeeps, tanks and other choices.
The most popular vehicle is the "Army Duck" or DUKW. The nomenclature DUKW was assigned by the manufacturer, General Motors Corporation, from:
D= First year of manufacture, 1942
U = Utility vehicle (amphibious)
K = All wheel drive
W = Rear tandem axle
Someone quickly noticed that DUKW could be pronounced "duck" and the "Army Duck" was born.
Today in WW II: 15 Sep 1944 US Marines invade Peleliu, beginning a long and tough battle to wrest the island from the Japanese [15 Sep-27 Nov].
DUKW Tours, Jeep and Tank Rides
Plenty of GIs had DUKW rides during WW II, but the original DUKW ride for civilian tourists was started in 1946 by Mel Flath and Bob Unger in Wisconsin Dells, WI (See Original Wisconsin Ducks, Inc. below). The rides were popular and the concept has spread to other cities in the United States and elsewhere in the world. However, there have been fatal accidents and other problems for the operators and patrons of the "Duck Tours" leading to closures of some of the businesses. However, DUKW Tours go on, sometimes using other vehicles such as the LARC-V.
UPDATE 19 July 2018
One of the Ride the Ducks Branson DUKW vehicles went down in Table Rock Lake (southwestern Missouri) during an unexpected furious squall with strong winds. The DUKW was carrying 31 people when it sank Thursday evening. At least 17 people were reported drowned, including children.
Experience Tank Driving with a range of ex-war zone machines and beefed up military vehicles for you to drive. Centres throughout the UK. Activity Voucher, gift idea.
Amphibious Duck Sightseeing Tours. City and lake tours by DUKW. 252 Central Ave., Hot Springs, AR 71901. 501-624-3825.
Boston Duck Tours. Cruise
by all the places that make Boston the birthplace of freedom and a city
of firsts in a red DUKW WW II amphibious truck. 617-723-DUCK.
Dells Duck Tours. Guided tours through Dells Glacial Park exposing you up close to one-of-a-kind rock formations. 1550 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy., Wisconsin Dells,
WI 53965. 609-254-6080
Drive A Tank where you can experience real armored US and British tanks up close and personal. Get behind the controls and attempt to navigate the densley wooded course. You can even crush a car or two! 550 W Cherry St., Kasota, MN. 507-931-7385, email@example.com
The Hawaii Duck Tours is one of the best ways to see the sights of Honolulu, Pearl Harbor, Waikiki, and much more.
Original Wisconsin Ducks, Inc. Unique park offering water rides in a fleet of DUKWs. (Dan Gavinski) 1890 Wisconsin Dells Parkway, PO Box 117, Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965. 609-254-8751
Ride The Ducks. Multi-city company offering DUKW Tours in Branson, MO, Philadelphia, PA, Stone Mountain Park, GA, San Francisco, CA, and Newport, KY (Cincinnati, OH). Overall, this company has a fleet that exceeds 90 vehicles, carrying over 1.2 million guests each year around the United States. Many of their vehicles are newly built amphibious trucks, not original WW II DUKWs.
London Duck Tours. London road and river adventure by DUKW. Departing from County Hall, the amphibious vehicles will drive past famous landmarks such as Big Ben, Trafalgar Square and
Piccadilly. The London Frog Company, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road,
London SE1 7PB UK. +44 (0)207 928 6162, +44 (0)207 928 3132 booking, +44
(0)207 928 2050 fax. Thanks to Brandon Kunicki for this suggestion.