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Schiffer Pub. Legends of Warfare, The GMC DUKW

ISBN Number:
978-0-7643-6091-6
Published:
Monday, October 12, 2020
Publisher:
Schiffer Books
Retail Price:
USD 19.99
Reviewed By:
Chuck Aleshire

Legends of Warfare ( Ground )

The GMC DUKW

America's Amphibious Truck in WWII and Korea

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The Legends of Warfare series of books published by Pennsylvania based Schiffer Publishing is an extensive and ever growing line of volumes on the famous and well known machines of war, divided by subject into Ground, Naval and Aviation subjects. These volumes share similar formats and production values, and are modestly priced at just $19.99 USD. Books in this series that I’ve examined were all found to be well worth the modest cost, and were useful additions to the modeler or military history buff’s library.

It's interesting to note that back in 2013, author David Doyle and Squadron Signal Publications published what may be considered the Bible on the DUKW, a massive, large format volume of 304 pages. A side by side comparison of these two books would of course be unfair, and this review will examine the new book for it's own merit, but it will be interesting to see just what author David Doyle has managed to unearth on the DUKW vehicles in the past 7 years.

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Vital Statistics

Format - hardcover, square format

 Page Count - heavyweight, glossy paper,  128 pages

 Size - 9.25" x 9.25"

Photos - approximately 250 black and white, and full color images. 

Tables / Drawings / Diagrams -  one table of general data, no drawings 

All text and photo captions are in English

What's in the Book?

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Above - book's table of contacts is simple and straight to the point, telling the reader exactly what is covered by this volume. For the record and because I had no idea what the acronyms NDRC and OSRD stand for, NDRC is short for the National Defense Research Committee, and OSRD stands for Office of Scientific Research and Development. Both of these governmental entities were instrumental in determining what was needed to prosecute the coming World War II, and how best to integrate the scientific and manufacturing assets of the United States. 

In a quick two page Introduction the author provides the reader with a quick background on the earliest days of the development of the amphibious vehicle that would become the DUKW, and includes the general data table.

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Above - a representative look at the author's method of opening chapters, this is common to almost all of his works in the Legends of Warfare line of books ( if it ain't broken, why fix it? Or perhaps as accurately, don't mess with success ). The substantial text here provides some solid background on the photos which follow in the chapter.

The largest blocks of text are found at the chapter openings. The author has a gift for conveying quite a bit of information ( sometimes rather technical in nature ) in clearly written, easily read blocks of interesting and informative text.

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Above - this volume is primarily a photographic study of the DUKW, from it's developmental days all the way through post-war recreational use, so there's a quite large range of photographs in the book. As always with this author, he hasn't forgotten to include interesting assembly line images of the vehicles being built and tested, as seen in the image above.

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Above - the wide range of images found in this volume are all well chosen for their interest.

As this is a primarily photographic study, caption work provides much of the hard information found in the book. The author provides a very useful amount of information in his photo captions, covering what you need to know about the images, and he takes care to point out areas of special interest in the photos.

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Above - a couple of nice vintage cockpit views of the DUKW.

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 Photo sizes range from quarter page size, to full page sized images. Even the images on the smaller end of the size range are clear and sharp, enabling good study of photo details.

The Operational Use chapter goes worldwide, throughout the many theaters of war in World War II, as well as providing some interesting images of DUKW usage during the Korean War. The DUKW is seen in a wide variety of wartime actions and uses in this fascinating chapter.

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Above - there is a good number of very welcome full page sized images throughout this volume, invariably of really interesting subject matter. The above image tells a tale of the landings in Normandy, dejected ( or perhaps relieved? ) German POW's rounded up and ready for their eventual trip to the stateside POW camps, while DUKW's ferry cargo ashore for the buildup and breakout from the beach heads.

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Above - one of the few bonafide weapons of mechanized warfare to successfully transition to post-war civilian life, an interesting chapter covers the use of DUKWs as recreational vehicles in such diverse places as the Wisconsin Dells, Boston and others. They also have seen use in the movie industry. 

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The volume's final chapter "Modern Use" also includes some very nice crystal clear "walk around" style images of a privately owned surviving DUKW. This set of images includes a couple of nice looks into the vehicle's engine bay, as seen above right.

Conclusions

Initially, I wasn't sure if it was even remotely fair to this book to even mention it's big brother, as I did in the opening of this review. I need not have been concerned about it. This book is quite capable of standing on it's own merit very easily.

For a mid sized volume ( as compared to the author's earlier, much larger work on the DUKW ), this book is quite complete, covering as it does the very beginnings of the DUKW amphibious vehicle concept, it's development into a valuable weapon of war, it's effective combat use, and then it's continuing use in the post-war service period. There's even a very solid selection of full color "walk around" style images which are useful references for model builders.

The photographs selected for this volume are of a uniformly high quality, and are quite well selected for their interest. The authors text and caption work is also of a very high quality, conveying a great deal of information in a very "readable" manner.

This is a very good reference work on the DUKW, and well worthy of space on your book shelf!

Highly Recommended!

Thanks to David Doyle Books for the review copy

Reviewed by Chuck Aleshire, AMPS Chicagoland 

AMPS 2nd Vice President, Midwest Region

 

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