Duck restoration is not dead in the water

An ambitious plan to refloat an iconic craft for a historic commemoration is underway - but needs help to make sure the project doesn't sink.

Sunday, 28th October 2018, 5:00 am

Restorers are trying to fix the DUKW- better known as a Duck - in time for the D-Day commemorations in June next year.

The amphibious vehicle was used to transport troops and kit during the Second World War, including during the D-Day landings.

However, to repair the Duck, which is named IKE, and is one of two that families may have sailed in during holiday trips at Hunstanton beach - the team need to raise £20,000.

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The chassis as it was found

The works are being carried out by Graham Smitheringale of Glinton, Peterborough, and the money is being raised by David Cowcill.

Graham is now using a number of vehicles to get the parts to complete the Duck in time.

David said: “We got the chassis last year, but when we got hold of it, it had certainly seen better days.

“We had to find a new hull, as the old one had rusted off, and we needed a new engine too.

“It was a very complicated system - to design it they took a truck, took the wheels and axles off it, put a hull round the chassis, then had to put the wheels, axles, propellor, winch etc back on.

“Graham has quite a task - taking parts of three now very old vehicles to make one good runner.

“He has a great team to call on, and space and resources to complete the job.

“He will need welders and specialist coatings painters for the hull, mechanics for the driveline, and lots of hands-on general help to restore and fit all the specialist parts.

“The Ducks were designed for use in the war, but were used after for pleasure rides - and I know so many people will have been for trips round the bay at Hunstanton on them.”

David said the money they were raising was not only for repairs, but also for transport to Normandy for the celebrations.

Graham’s extra motivation is clear. In addition to remembrance of the D-Day sacrifices, Graham’s last childhood outing with his Dad was on a Searles DUKW Seatour in 1978, so to see Ike drive and float again will be an emotional and uplifting sight.”

Along with hoping to take the vehicle to Normandy next year, it is hoped it will also be demonstrated in Hunstanton when it is finished.

The six wheel drive vehicle was designed in 1942, and mainly used by US forces in the Second World War - although the British used about 2,000 of them - and during the Korean War. It had a top speed of 50mph on the land, and 6mph in water.

To help raise money for the project, visit