Company History


History of DUKWs

In the early 1940s as World War II progressed, vehicles were needed to transport the Allies and then land an invasion force of many thousands, in addition to military hardware, food, water and medical equipment.

An inspired solution was found through the invention and subsequent production of the DUKW by the General Motors Corporation in America. The designation of DUKW is not a military pun - the name comes from the model naming terminology used by General Motors; the D indicates a vehicle designed in 1942, the U meant "utility (amphibious)", the K indicated all-wheel drive and the W indicated two powered rear axles. The DUKW was an amphibious vehicle that was more than capable of carrying soldiers and supplies into the European Theatre of World War II. On June 5/6 1944, the DUKW entered into military history as the primary method of transport used by the armies involved in the Normandy landings. About 22,000 DUKWs were originally built, but only a few hundred are still in operation today.


The first DUKW Company was started in 1946 by Mel Flath in Milwaukee, USA. He moved his tour to Wisconsin Dells shortly thereafter. His company has changed ownership since, but is still in operation under the name ‘Original Wisconsin Ducks’. His family continues to operate a duck company called the Dells Army Ducks in the Wisconsin Dells area. However, Boston Duck Tours, probably the most successful Splash Tour in the world, is the Splash Tour identified as being the benchmark for the industry.


It was the experience of Boston Duck Tours that inspired Peter and Linda Stocks to set up Viking Splash Tours when they moved from Boston to Dublin. The business model was very much based on emulating many of the excellent features of other “Splash Tours” companies while combining it with a unique, interactive, Viking themed tour. The Company was established in 1999 and has become an institution in Dublin widely known to both locals and visitors alike.


In 2006 Rogers Group Investments, a family trust, managed by Des Rogers, purchased Viking Splash Tours from the Stocks’. RGI quickly realized from operating Viking Splash that the business model would be highly adaptable to be successful in a number of European and global markets and set out on a mission to be the global leader in the marketplace. To this end, it created European Amphibious Vehicles as the company to drive this agenda.


The Viking operation uses 7 reconditioned WWII amphibious army vehicles (DUKWS). While the DUKWs are still in excellent working order, expansion of the Dublin operation and servicing these vehicles has proved difficult due to the limited availability of DUKWs and vehicle spare parts worldwide. Rising safety standards legislation also put pressure on the requirement for a more modern vehicle. Research of the market for other alternative amphibious vehicles highlighted the absence of similarly styled EU compliant amphibious tour vehicles in Europe. Hence in 2012, European Amphibious Vehicles, established Salamander AV, to design, develop and manufacture the next generation of amphibious vehicles certified to EU road, marine, environmental, passenger and health and safety regulations.


Given the fractious nature of the sector our research clearly indicated the commercial opportunity for one international brand representing best practice standards delivering a consistent, safe, comfortable and fun experience to all customers worldwide. The ’City Splash Tour’ brand was created as the umbrella company that all city based operations would sit under.

CST are revolutionising the Splash Tour industry with the use of Salamander Amphibious Vehicles. Using the Salamander vehicle unlocks the opportunity to open Splash Tours in multiple cities across the world with a turnkey solution backed with a proven business model and experienced management support.