Amphibian vehicle

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An amphibian or amphibious vehicle, is a vehicle that, like an amphibian, can move on land as well as on water.

The first known self-propelled amphibious vehicle, a steam dredger named the Orukter Amphibolos, was demonstrated by United States inventor Oliver Evans in 1805, although it is not known to ever have travelled overland. A year later in 1806 the French Fournier blended a boat-like hull with a car frame to produce the first true amphibious vehicle.

Many modern tanks and armored personnel carriers have an amphibious mode in which a fabric skirt adds buoyancy, and the tracks provide motive power. The Sherman Dual Drive tank used in the D-Day invasion had this setup.

The most famous such vehicle in World War II was the DUKW Amphibious Truck. It was deployed in the Pacific theatre to establish and supply beachheads. It was designed as a wartime project by Sparkman and Stephens, the famous yacht design firm.

Second best known is the German Schwimmwagen designed by the Porsche engineering firm in 1938 and widely used throughout the war. The amphibious bodywork was designed by Erwin Komenda, the firm's body construction designer, using the engine and drive train of the Kübelwagen.

During the Vietnam War, the US Army used the amphibious Gama Goat to move supplies through the canals and rice paddies of Southeast Asia.

Several amphibious automobiles have been developed, including the Amphicar in the 1960s and the contemporary Aquada.

Amphibious vehicles are slowly being supplanted by air cushion vehicles in many modern militaries.

See also: amphibious assault ship.

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