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Book Review
U.S. WWII GMC DUKW-353 & Amphibious Trailers

by: Jim Rae [ JIMBRAE ]

Originally published on:


Without doubt, the conversion of the 2.5 Ton GMC Truck to an amphibious vehicle, was one of the more innovative technical advances of WW2. Few of the design team could have realized that more than 60 years after its entry into production, dozens, if not hundreds of vehicles would still be in service. Very few are still in military service - one of the exceptions being in the Royal Navy, however, many large cities have DUKWs in private hands - as pleasure craft, albeit painted and converted in a manner which would make the modeller shudder...

The book.

U.S. WWII GMC DUKW-353 & Cleaver-Brooks Amphibian Trailers is a 48 page book published by Tankograd Publishing. The book is actually a reproduction/compilation of the U.S. Army Ordnance dept. technical manuals. The book is edited by Michael Franz. As the title implies, two subjects are covered. The first is the DUKW, the second, the amphibious WTCT-6 'Duckling' trailer developed by the Cleaver-Brooks company. Once again, images from the technical manuals (TM 9-872 and ORD 8 SNL G-727). In this review, i'll be looking at the two sections separately, with my usual (personal) evaluation at the end...

In detail:

The book begins with a technical and historical overwiew of the rationale behind the development of the DUKW. This is reproduced entirely from the original Tecnical Manual. The next (and invaluable section for the modeller) consists of a series of high-quality reproductions of photos from the manuals, overhead, side, front and rear views are all presented in good sized photos with an impressive crispness. One of the most noteworthy aspects of this section are the photos of the tilt and cover of the drivers compartment. Also of real use, are the photos of the tilt frame, along with the positioning of the tie-downs and fenders. The next section covers the drivers compartment in VERY complete detail.

Following this is the section on the engine and engine compartment. Once again, for anyone contemplating a super-detailing project, this would be invaluable.

The next section looks at the power train and suspension. All areas are comprehensively covered - with particular emphasis on the wheels, axles, sub-frame and the interesting 'self-inflation' device attached to the tires.

The Hull is is the subject of the following section with all the relevant areas such as the windscreen, the distinctive bow 'Surf-Board' and locations of items such as the anchor, the large bilge-pump and useful detail on the tilt lashings.

Following the previous section, comes more useful material looking at the Propeller and Drive. Again, using the technical manuals, some well-reproduced images are presented.

The next three sections cover the Steering, the Winch and details of the Compass.

As a 'bonus' section, agin based on the Tech Manuals, are two pages covering the widely-used 'A-Frame' - a light crane used in conjunction with the (standard) winch.

The penultimate section on the DUKW consists of three pages of photos from a variety of sources, showing the DUKW in its 'natural' habitat - various war-zones along with two modern photos.

The final section should whet the appetite of many modellers with some details of the Scorpion - Conversion, a DUKW adapted to carry 120 4.5" rockets to provide close-in fire-support during 'Forced Entry' landings.

In Detail - the 'Duckling'

Again, taken from the technical manuals, the final seven pages of the book give an overview (in considerable detail) of the WTCT-6 Amphibious Trailer. Some invaluable images are shown of the trailer from a multitude of different perspectives. Although produced in tiny numbers (only a hundred examples were built), this trailer is an attractive modelling subject - see final section for a link to a review of the TRAKZ kit.


There are currently two kits of the DUKW available - one in 1/35th and the other in 1/72nd scale: both from Italeri. In the case of the former, it is an essentially sound kit, but some considerable work has to be done to bring it up to a modern, accurate standard. Tankograd's book, without exaggeration, is an absolutely indispensable part of beginning the process of correction and super-detailing. The decision to reproduce the technical manuals, was, in my opinion, a very sound one although there are one or two 'pitfalls' out there for the modeller. The most confusing is undoubtedly the 500 (Officially-Sanctioned) changes made to the vehicle between August 1942 and August 1945). Additional (contemporary) sources would be an indispensable back-up showing the vehicle in field configuration rather than the 'Official' configuration. The enhancements made by Tankograd have been, once again, considered and useful. This publisher, is in my opinion, creating an extraordinary standard of publications which are leaving many of the more 'established' publishers behind. Once again, and this is no reflection on Tankograd Publishing, but it would be a useful addition if the company were to publish an additional book covering the DUKW 'in-service' with plans in 1/72nd and 1/35th scale. With this book, the 'technicalities' are covered in absolutely stunning detail, the addition of the section on the WTCT-6 Amphibious Trailer, serving as a welcome bonus. Logically, for the editing and compilation of this book, those of us who are interested in the vehicle should give heartfelt thanks to Tankograd Publishing although the real 'heroes' are undoubtedly the original authours of the technical manuals whio probably would never imagine that 60 years later, vehicle modellers would be indescribably grateful for their diligence...

Acknowledgements and Further details

My copy was bought from LuckyModel in Hong Kong who provided their usual fast and efficient service.

The WTCT-6 Amphibious Trailer is available in model form (in 1/35th scale) from TRAKZ. A full review of this interesting subject by Jim Lewis, can be seen:
Despite the enormous quantity of vehicles built (over 21,000) and the surprising numbers still in service in various guises, there are simply not that many good reference books on the GMC DUKW. This recent publication from Tankograd Publishing goes a long way in helping the modeller improve the kits which are on the market...
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: 6003
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: May 22, 2006

About Jim Rae (jimbrae)

Self-employed English teacher living in NW Spain. Been modelling off and on since the sixties. Came back into the hobby around ten years ago. First love is Soviet Armor with German subjects running a close second. Currently exploring ways of getting cloned to allow time for modelling, working and wr...

Copyright ©2021 text by Jim Rae [ JIMBRAE ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


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