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Waco Custom Cabin series
Waco EQC-6 Custom at the Calgary Aerospace Museum painted in the markings of an aircraft operated by Grant McConachie - renowned bush pilot and later CEO of Canadian Pacific Air Lines.
Role 4-5 place cabin sesquiplane
Manufacturer Waco Aircraft Company
First flight 1935
Introduction 1935
Produced 1935-1939
Number built 350+
Unit cost
1938 ZGC-8 (options unspecified) $10,495 (roughly $171,258.30 in 2012 dollars)[1]
Variants Waco ZQC-6, Waco E series, Waco N series

The Waco Custom Cabins were a series of up-market single-engined 4-5 seat cabin sesquiplanes of the late 1930s produced by the Waco Aircraft Company of the United States. "Custom Cabin" was Waco's own description of the aircraft which despite minor differences, were all fabric covered biplanes.

Design[edit | edit source]

Nearly all of the Waco Custom Cabins were powered by radial engines (there being one factory-built exception, the MGC-8) and the purchaser could specify almost any commercially available engine and Waco would build an aircraft powered by it, hence the profusion of designations, as the first letter indicates the engine installed. Some models were offered in case someone wanted a specific engine but not all were built. Fuselage structure was typical for the period, being welded steel tubing with light wood strips to fair the shape in. The wings were made of spruce, with two spars each, and ailerons only on the upper wings mounted on a false spar. Split flaps were installed on the undersides of the upper wings, though two designs were used depending on model - either mid chord (OC, UC and QC), or in the conventional position at the trailing edge of the wing (GC and N). The model N was unusual in being the only model with flaps on the lower wings while the model E was the only one with plain flaps. Wing bracing was with a heavily canted N strut joining upper and lower wings, assisted by a single strut bracing the lower wing to the upper fuselage longeron, except on the E series which replaced the strut with flying and landing wires. Elevators and rudder were counterbalanced aerodynamically and braced with wire cables. Both could be trimmed, the rudder via a ground adjustable tab, the elevators via jack screw on the OC, UC and QC, while the GC, E and N used a single trim tab on the port (left) elevator. The main undercarriage was sprung with oleo struts, and a castoring tailwheel was fitted on all versions except the VN model, which had a nosewheel.

Designation clarification[edit | edit source]

Waco had been building a series of successful cabin biplanes when in 1935, they introduced a new series of upmarket cabin sesquiplanes intended for the wealthy private individual or business. The original biplanes had been given a designation ending in C, however with the new Custom Cabin, Waco decided to differentiate the new design and existing C types that remained in production were recoded as C-S types to indicate Standard Cabin, until Waco changed their designation again in 1936 to just an S.[2] For example, the 1934 Standard Cabin YKC was redesignated as a YKC-S in 1935, and as a YKS-6 in 1936.[2] 1936 also saw adoption of a numerical suffix to indicate the model year of the design, as "-6" for 1936, "-7" for 1937, etc. Since it referred to a model and not the year of production, the "-7" was carried into 1939 for some Custom Cabins, while others were designated "-8".[3] In 1936, Waco started using a short form to refer to the types of aircraft without the engine and model identifiers resulting in C-6, C-7 and C-8 however as Waco only built one type of Custom cabin in each of those years, they refer to the QC-6, GC-7 and GC-8 series respectively.[4]

Operational history[edit | edit source]

The Custom Cabin series, with its improved performance proved to be popular and many were purchased by small commercial aviation firms and non-aviation businesses. Approximately 300 Custom Cabin Wacos of all types (excluding the Waco E series and the Waco N series), were produced between 1935 and 1939. Some were employed as "executive transports". Many served in the Canadian bush country, where they normally operated on skis in winter and EDO floats in summer. Many of these Canadian Wacos were ordered and built as freighters with additional doors. In 1936 an EQC-6 operated by Speers Airways of Regina, Saskatchewan was the first non-military government operated air ambulance in Canada.[5] With the onset of World War II, examples were impressed into the air forces of many Allied nations, including the US (USAAC and US Navy), the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Most were used as utility aircraft, however a small number were operated by the US Civil Air Patrol, conducting anti-submarine patrols off the US coastline from March 1942 to August 1943 armed with 50 or 100 pound bombs.[6] A single impressed ZGC-7 referred to as the Big Waco, RAF serial AX695, was used by the British Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) along with a Waco Standard Cain series YKC Little Waco to support their activities behind Axis lines.[7] Flight Regiment 19, Finnish Air Force (Swedish Volunteer Air Force) used one Waco ZQC-6 (OH-SLA) during the Russo-Finnish Winter War in support of Finnish military operations. Numerous Custom Cabin series aircraft of several sub-models are currently registered in the USA, and more are in under restoration. This is still a popular design among owners of classic aircraft.

Variants[edit | edit source]

Waco YOC at Virginia Aviation Museum. This aircraft was once owned by Hollywood artist Walter Matthew Jeffries who was responsible for the design of the original Starship Enterprise.

The Waco Custom cabin series included all of the enlarged-cabin sesquiplanes from 1935 and can be further divided into six basic models, OC, UC QC, GC, RE and VN, with additional sub-types differing primarily in engine installation (indicated by the first letter of the designation or by a low dash number, i.e. -1, -2) and by model year (dash numbers -6, -7, -8). Letters were not used sequentially. Each basic type was offered with almost any engine the customer wished and designations were created accordingly, however some engines were more popular than others resulting in some types being offered, but never built. Due to the wide variety of engines already offered, it was both relatively easy and common to change the installed engine, resulting in a lot of confusion as to the correct designation to use for a specific airframe.

1935 OC Series (54+ built)[edit | edit source]

210 hp (157 kW) Continental R-670-A or 225 hp (168 kW) Continental R-670-B engine. 4 built.

1935 Waco YOC

225 hp (168 kW) Jacobs L-4 engine. 50+ YOC and YOC-1 built. Built as UOC and re-engined.
285 hp (213 kW) Jacobs L-5 engine. Built as UOC and re-engined. 1 impressed by USAAF as UC-72N.

Waco CUC of 1935. Anoka-Blaine airport near Minneapolis, June 2006

1935 UC Series (30+ built)[edit | edit source]

250 hp (186 kW) Wright R-760-E engine. 30+ built of all CUC types.
285 hp (213 kW) Wright R-760-E1 engine. Built as CUC and re-engined. 1 impressed by USAAF as UC-72F.
320 hp (239 kW) Wright R-760-E2 engine. Built as CUC and re-engined.

A Waco ZQC-6

1936 QC Series (C-6) (120 built)[edit | edit source]

330 hp (246 kW) Jacobs L-6 engine. 7 built. 1 impressed by USAAF as UC-72G.
AQC-6 Freighter: At least 2 aircraft ordered through Fleet Aircraft and built for use in Canada with additional freight doors on both sides of the fuselage and equipped for floats. Engine same as for standard AQC-6. Additional aircraft may have been modified.[8]
250 hp (186 kW) Wright R-760-E engine. None built.
285 hp (213 kW) Wright R-760-E1 engine. 11 built.
320 hp (239 kW) Wright R-760-E2 engine. 20 built. USCG used 3 as J2W-1[9]
300 hp (224 kW) Pratt & Whitney Wasp Jr. engine. None built.
210 hp (157 kW) Continental R-670 or 225 hp (168 kW);hp Continental W-670-K or 220 hp (164 kW);hp Continental W-670-6. None built.
250 hp (186 kW) Continental W-670-M1 engine. 1 built.
225 hp (168 kW) Jacobs L-4 engine. 13 built. 1 ex-RAAF example re-engined with 200 hp (149 kW);hp DeHavilland Gypsy 6 inline engine.
285 hp (213 kW) Jacobs L-5 engine. 68 built. 1 impressed by USAAF as UC-72Q and 5 as UC-72H.;[10] Swedish AF Tp-8a
ZQC-6 Freighter: At least 8 aircraft ordered through Fleet Aircraft and built for use in Canada with additional freight doors on both sides of the fuselage and equipped for floats. Engine same as for standard ZQC-6. Additional aircraft may have been modified.[8]

1937-38 GC Series (C-7 and C-8) (96+ built)[edit | edit source]


300 hp (224 kW) Jacobs L-6 engine. 17 built, 2 modified to EGC-8. 2 impressed by USAAF as UC-72P.
285 hp (213 kW) Wright R-760-E1 engine. 2 built.
320 hp (239 kW) Wright R-760-E2 engine. 38 built.
same as EGC-7 for 1938. 7 built, plus 2 modified from AGC-8, and 1 used to trial 260 hp (194 kW) Menasco C-6S-4 for MGC-8. 4 impressed by USAAF as UC-72B
Menasco Buccaneer inline engine. One modified, unknown number built.
210 hp (157 kW) Continental R-670 engine. None built.
250 hp (186 kW) Continental W-670-M1 engine. None built.
225 hp (168 kW) Jacobs L-4 engine. None built.
225 hp (168 kW) Jacobs L-4 engine. Trailling edge flaps. None built.
300 hp (224 kW) Jacobs L-5 engine. 28 built. 4 impressed by USAAF as UC-72E
same as ZGC-7 for 1938, 4 built.

Waco AVN-8 at the Historic Aircraft Restoration Museum, (Dauster Field) near St. Louis, Missouri.

1938 VN Series (N-8) (20 ca. built)[edit | edit source]

330 hp (246 kW) Jacobs L-6 engine.
285 hp (213 kW) Jacobs L-5 engine.

Waco ARE at the EAA AirVenture Museum. This aircraft was operated by the New York Daily News for aerial photography, and was extensively modified for this role, including being fitted with enlarged windows.

1939 RE Series (30 built)[edit | edit source]

ARE Aristocrat 
330 hp (246 kW) Jacobs L-6 (4 built, one impressed by USAAF as UC-72A)
HRE Aristocrat 
300 hp (224 kW) Lycoming R-680-E3 (5 built, 2 impressed by USAAF as UC-72C)
SRE Aristocrat 
450 hp (336 kW) Pratt & Whitney Wasp Jr SB-2/-3 (21 built, 13 impressed by USAAF as UC-72)
WRE Aristocrat 
450 hp (336 kW) Wright R-975 - none built

Military Designations[edit | edit source]

Royal Australian Air Force designation for impressed YQC-6[11]
Swedish Air Force designation for ZQC-6. Tp-8 was a generic designation for all Wacos.[12]
US Coast Guard designation for 3 EQC-6 bought from Waco. Additional aircraft impressed by the US Navy were undesignated.[9]
US Army Air Forces designation for impressed Custom Cabin series Wacos.[10]
UC-72B   :   EGC-8   4 impressed
UC-72E   :   ZGC-7   4 impressed
UC-72P   :   AGC-8   2 impressed
UC-72Q   :   ZQC-6   1 impressed
UC-72G   :   AQC-6   1 impressed
UC-72H   :   ZQC-6   5 impressed
UC-72F   :   CUC-1   1 impressed

Operators[edit | edit source]

Civil Operators[edit | edit source]

Wacos were used in small numbers by a very large number of individual operators in many countries.[13]

Military Operators[edit | edit source]

Most operators operated either a single example, or a very small number.

 New Zealand
 South Africa
 United Kingdom
 United States

Aircraft on display[edit | edit source]

Aside from the large number of privately owned Wacos that continue to exist,[23] a number have also found their way into museums.

Museum Location Type Identity
Canadian Museum of Flight[24] Langley, British Columbia AQC-6 CF-CCW
EAA AirVenture Museum[25] Oshkosh, Wisconsin ARE NC20953
Historic Aircraft Restoration Museum[26] Maryland Heights, Missouri AVN-8 NC19378
Golden Wings Flying Museum[27] Minneapolis, Minnesota CUC-1 NC15233
Virginia Aviation Museum[28] Richmond, Virginia YOC NC17740
War Eagles Air Museum[29] Santa Teresa, New Mexico EGC-8 NC19354

Specifications (ZQC-6)[edit | edit source]

Data from [30]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Capacity: 5
  • Length: 26 ft 8 in ()
  • Wingspan: 35 ft 0 in (upper)
    24 ft 6 in (lower) ()
  • Height: 8 ft 8 in ()
  • Wing area: 168 sq ft (upper)
    76 sq ft (lower) ()
  • Empty weight: 2,023 lb ()
  • Loaded weight: 3,500 lb ()
  • Max. takeoff weight: 3,500 lb ()
  • Powerplant: 1 × Jacobs L-5 7-cylinder radial, 285 hp ()


  • Maximum speed: 166 mph (270 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: 150 mph (241 km/h)
  • Service ceiling: 17,000 ft ()

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. http://inflationdata.com/inflation/inflation_calculators/Inflation_Calculator.asp at inflationdata.com, accessdate=23 May 2012
  2. 2.0 2.1 Aerofiles 'That Waco Coding System' accessed 10 June 09
  3. Brandly, 1981
  4. Brandley, 1986, p.76
  5. http://www.wdm.ca/skteacherguide/WDMResearch/AirAmbulance_TeacherGuide.pdf Saskatchewan's Air Ambulance Service, by Janet MacKenzie, 30 September 2002 - Accessed 29 May 2012
  6. Congressional Record - Awarding a Congressional Gold Medal to members of the Civil Air Patrol Retrieved 27 June 2012
  7. 7.0 7.1 Jenner and List 1999, pp.9, 27, 45–46
  8. 8.0 8.1 Brandly, 1986, p.74
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Swanborough & Bowers, 1990, p.534
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Aerofiles - USAAF Impressed Wacos, 2009
  11. 11.0 11.1 Francillon, 1970, p.8
  12. 12.0 12.1 Annerfalk, 1999, p.188
  13. http://www.goldenyears.ukf.net Golden Years of Aviation (aircraft registrations), accessdate 29 May 2012
  14. http://www.worldairforces.com/Countries/argentina/arg.html
  15. http://www.worldairforces.com/Countries/brazil/brz.html
  16. http://www.worldairforces.com/Countries/canada/can.html
  17. Brandley, Raymond H. (1981). Waco Airplanes - The Versatile Cabin Series. United States: R.H. Brandly. p. 67. ISBN 0-9602734-2-5. 
  18. http://www.worldairforces.com/Countries/finland/fin.html
  19. http://www.worldairforces.com/Countries/netherlands/net.html
  20. Duxbury, 1987, p.57
  21. http://www.worldairforces.com/Countries/nicaragua/nic.html
  22. Brandley, Raymond H. (1981). Waco Airplanes - The Versatile Cabin Series. United States: R.H. Brandly. p. 86. ISBN 0-9602734-2-5. 
  23. *FAA Registry Search for Waco accessed 12 June 2009
  24. Waco AQC-6 Retrieved 28 June 2012
  25. WACO ARE – NC20953 Retrieved 28 June 2012
  26. Historic Aircraft Restoration Museum List of Aircraft Retrieved 28 June 2012
  27. Golden Wings Flying Museum - The Collection Retrieved 27 June 2012
  28. Virginia Aviation Museum Historic Aircraft (p 25) Retrieved 28 June 2012
  29. War Eagles Air Museum Newsletter First Quarter 2005 Retrieved 28 June 2012
  30. AirVenture Museum
  • Annerfalk, Anders (1999). Flygvapnet - An illustrated history of the Swedish Air Force. Ljungsbro, Sweden: Aviatic Forlag. ISBN 91-86642-049. 
  • Brandley, Raymond H. (1986). Waco Aircraft Production 1923-1942 - Troy, Ohio: Waco Aircraft Co. (Second ed.). R.H. Brandly. ISBN 978-0960273454. 
  • Brandley, Raymond H. (1989). Waco Airplanes - Ask Any Pilot - The Authentic History of Waco Airplanes and Biographies of.... R.H. Brandly. ISBN 0-9602734-0-9. 
  • Brandley, Raymond H. (1981). Waco Airplanes - Ask Any Pilot - The Versatile Cabin Series. R.H. Brandly. ISBN 0-9602734-2-5. 
  • Duxbury, David; Ewing, Ross; MacPherson, Ross (1987). Aircraft of the Royal New Zealand Air Force. Singapore: Heinmann. ISBN 0-86863-412-3. 
  • Francillon, Rene J. (1970). Royal Australian Air Force and Royal New Zealand Air Force in the Pacific. Aero Pictorials 3. Fallbrook CA: Aero Publishers Inc.. LCCN 76-114412. 
  • Green, William (1965). The Aircraft of the World. Macdonald & Co. (Publishers) Ltd. ISBN none. 
  • Jenner, Robin; List, David; Badrocke, Mike (1999). The Long Range Desert Group 1940–1945. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-85532-958-1. 
  • Juptner, Joseph P. (1962). U.S. Civil Aircraft Vol. 1. Los Angeles, California: Aero Publishers, Inc.. LCCN 62-15967. 
  • Kobernuss, Fred O. (1999). Waco - Symbol of Courage and Excellence. unk.: Mystic Bay Publisher. ISBN 1-887961-01-1. 
  • Simpson, Rod (2001). Airlife's World Aircraft. Airlife Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-84037-115-3. 
  • Swanborough, Gordon; Bowers, Peter (1990). US Navy Aircraft Since 1911. Putnam. ISBN 0-85177-838-0. 
  • FAA Registry Search for Waco
  • Various (26 April 2009). "Aerofiles Waco Page". http://aerofiles.com/_waco.html. Retrieved 7 June 2009. 
  • Various (26 April 2009). "45 USAAF Impressed Wacos". http://aerofiles.com/waco-usaaf.html. Retrieved 23 May 2012. 

External links[edit | edit source]

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