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WACO Aircraft Company Photographic Collection

Identifier: MS-343

Scope and Content

The collection is an invaluable photographic history of the WACO Aircraft Company from 1923 through WWII. Included are negatives and prints (mostly black and white) of aircraft and glider models, instrument panels, engines, owners with their WACOs, pilots (including Freddie Lund), company executives, and interior and exterior views of the WACO factory in Troy, Ohio. The airplanes are photographed on the ground and in flight. Also included in the collection are 17 films, several of which are training films depicting WACO gliders.

Raymond H. Brandly wrote several books on WACO, and many of the photographs in this collection appear in those publications. For an explanation of the meaning of the letters designating each WACO model, please see his book WACO aircraft production, 1923-1942.

The collection is arranged into three series, which largely reflect a photographer's numbering scheme. While the Photographer Numbers provide a sequence of order, they do not fall in order by subject. If looking for a particular plane, model, person, or place, it is easiest to view the finding aid electronically and use the keyword searching. When possible, the descriptions include registration number, serial number, WACO aircraft model, names of people and places, and picture angle.

Every effort has been made to match up a print to its corresponding negative. However, not all prints have a negative, and not all negatives have a corresponding print. As a result, the inventory is arranged by the Item Number, regardless of whether the image is a print, negative or both. Accordingly, the inventory has columns indicating the item's location in a print box, negative box, or both.

Series I: Barton Images, contains a relatively small number of prints (41) and negatives (8) that are signed in the lower corner by Barton with a number. These images, when dated, primarily date from 1924-1932. The images are arranged by Barton's number when present. When illegible or not visible, the image is assigned an item number. All of the prints are item numbered 1-38. The negative number corresponds to the print number as well. These images are in the first box of negatives and prints. A few of the Barton signed images also have a Photographer's Number on the image that would place it in Series II. When this happens, the images are cross referenced in the inventory and the image is physically filed with Barton images.

Series II: Images by Photographer Number, contains the bulk of the images. The Photographer Number is an alpha-numeric number assigned by the photographer, which appears in the lower right corner. The series is divided by 4 subseries which reflect four different, yet similar Photographic Number sequences. Subseries A includes all the images labeled A-1 through S-18. For instance, the images begin with A's, which number from A-1 to A-998, and which are followed by the B's ranging from B-3 to B-977. Next, the C's span C-5 to C-778. A few I's range from I-100 to I-104. Then the P section follows from P-1 to P-519. The subseries ends with a small run of R's from R-1 to R-23 and S's S-1 to S-18. At this point, the Photographer number takes on solely an alphabetic sequence, starting with Subseries B: A-Z, then Subseries C: AA-ZZ, and finally Subseries D: AAA-ZZZ. These alphabetic subseries tend to duplicate several images in Subseries A. Duplications are indicated when possible.

Series III: Images Without a Photographer Number consists of photographs and a few negatives that may have been taken by several different photographers. The series is divided into two subseries. Subseries A: Negatives, contains 23 negatives listed in sequential order starting with #10. Subseries B: Prints, is also arranged by an assigned sequential number and housed in three binder boxes. For the most part, these are not grouped by topic, with the exception of Box 6. Included in this series are photographs of several models of WACO aircraft, the WACO factory, military gliders, Aviatrix Lady Grace Hay, and pilots Freddie Lund and John Livingston.

Series IV: Film includes 17 films originally from the Mike Murphy estate. Murphy was an important person in the glider training and operation program. In addition to glider training films, there are home movies of the 1939 National Air Races. Murphy won the National Aerobatic Championships. The movie shows part of Murphy's aerobatic routine, and his "upside-down airplane", other race pilots including Roscoe Turner, and a stunt demonstration with a Ford Tri-motor.


  • 1923-1965
  • Majority of material found within 1923-1946


Restrictions on Access

Negatives are in cold storage, but reference prints are available in the collection. Researchers must use the prints when possible. The collection contains nitrate and safety film negatives housed in cold storage. Films 1-6, 9, and 12-15 are in frozen storage for preservation (all except film #6 have digital access copies available).

Restrictions on Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

History of WACO Aircraft Company

The WACO Aircraft Company was founded in 1920, as the Weaver Aircraft Company, by George 'Buck' Weaver (president and general manager), E.J. 'Sam' Junkin (Secretary), and Clayton Brukner (treasurer). The company was located at 554 Broadway, Lorain, Ohio. The first aircraft built by the company was the 'Cootie,' which wrecked on its maiden voyage with Weaver at the controls. In April 1922, the men decided to leave Lorain and moved to Medina, Ohio, where they built the Model 5. They were not very successful in Medina, so they decided to move to Troy, Ohio, in the winter of 1922-23.

Troy, Ohio, was an excellent choice for the WACO Company because it had access to many aircraft suppliers located in Dayton, Ohio. Troy was also in close proximity to McCook Army Air Field. With the surplus parts left over from WWI Curtiss Jennies, the men of WACO began creating designs and new models of airplanes. Junkin acted as designer and Brukner served as the plant manager. Weaver did not follow the others to Troy, but he remained the active president of the company. To help finance the company, Clayton Brukner got a loan from a Tipp City, Ohio family. In exchange for the loan, Brukner was to train the family's son in aviation mechanics. The training was never completed, but with the loan, Brukner bought out Weaver's share in the company.

In April 1923, the Weaver Aircraft Company's name was changed to the Advance Aircraft Company and Clayton J. Brukner was listed as corporate manager. They began making new airplane models (Model 6 through Model 10) and became very successful. WACO's organization and facilities expanded rapidly in Troy. On November 1, 1926, Elwood Junkin died which left Clayton Brukner as President. New senior managers were appointed, including Lee Brutus as vice-president and secretary, Freddie Lund as chief test pilot, and Russel F. Hardy as chief engineer.

In 1929, the company changed its name to the WACO Aircraft Company and moved into a brand new factory in Troy. This factory was constructed on land purchased by the citizens of Troy who wanted to keep the company from moving away. Soon, Troy, Ohio became known as the civilian aviation capital of the United States.

During the year of 1930, WACO started producing their Model F series, which began replacing the Model 10 aircraft. The following year, the Model QDC was produced. This was WACO's first successful cabin model. Soon, WACO was making many models of airplanes, including the Model C, A, D, and E. All of the WACO aircraft were noted for being very strong and highly maneuverable. WACOs were used for everything from carrying passengers to performing stunts. The last powered aircraft made by the WACO Aircraft Company was in 1946. Clayton Brukner died on December 26, 1977, leaving behind the most successful of all the American pre-war aircraft manufacturing companies. Over the course of its lifetime, the WACO Company produced 3,723 units, not including WWII gliders. Today, there are more than 700 surviving WACOs in existence.

For a list of models and their manufacture date, please see the book WACO aircraft production, 1923-1942 by Raymond H. Brandly (1986) TL686.W3 B72 1986.


5.5 linear feet

Language of Materials



The WACO Aircraft Company of Troy, Ohio produced aircraft from 1923 through WWII. During that period, the company maintained professional photography services to record images of their products. Following the company's decision to cease all operation and during the liquidation of the original assets, Mr. Raymond H. Brandly legally acquired the WACO Aircraft Company's original factory photo negatives from the management of the company. This large collection of negatives and prints contains the actual images recorded by WACO Aircraft Company photographers throughout the company's history, during the manufacturing of WACO airplanes. Brandly used some of the images in his series of books, which were printed in the 1980s. At that time, Brandly had prints made of many of the negatives. Also included are 17 films, most of which are training films depicting WACO gliders.

Statement of Arrangement

The collection is arranged into 4 series:

  1. Series I: Barton Images
  2. Series II: Images by Photographer Number
  3. Series III: Images Without Photographer Number
  4. Series IV: Motion Picture Film

Other Finding Aid

A complete box and folder inventory for this collection is available on the SpecialCollections and Archives web site at

Acquisition Information

The collection was physically deposited on August 29, 2005. The deposit was renewed with WACO Historical Society in 2013.

Related Material

MS-109, Clayton Brukner Collection, co-founder of WACO.

Separated Material

Of the 1100 negatives, only 48 total were in advanced stages of image loss due to the inherent instability of nitrate and safety films. Of these, all but 20 of the images were able to be scanned or had corresponding prints. The negatives are in cold storage, but reference prints are available in the collection.

The motion picture film is located at Med. Sci in Film Room.


"Ask Any Pilot" - The authentic history of WACO airplanes and the biographies of the founders, Clayton J. Brukner and Elwood J. "Sam" Junkin by Raymond H. Brandly (1979). TL686.W3 B72 1979 , TL686.W3 B727 1981 , TL686.W3 B72 1984, TL686.W33 B73 1988. WACO Airplanes: The Versatile Cabin Series by Raymond H. Brandly (1981) WACO Airplanes: The Famous F Series by Raymond H. Brandly (1982). TL686.W3 B69 1982 Taperwing WACOs by Raymond H. Brandly (1984) TL686.W3 B7 1984 WACO aircraft production, 1923-1942 by Raymond H. Brandly (1986) TL686.W3 B72 1986 Images of Aviation WACO, by Rod Simpson and Charles Trask(2000) TL686.W33 556 20 U. S. Civil Aircraft: Vol. 1 - 9 by Joseph P Juptner TL670.U15 v.1 to v.9

Processing Information

When the collection was accessioned, the negatives and prints were placed into new acid free enclosures, with all information on the original acidic sleeves transferred to the new sleeve. At that point, each print and each negative was given a sequential number in the order they were originally received. That number is the scan #, which only appears on the inventory if the image was scanned. The scan # is written on each negative enclosure.

The negatives are on cellulose nitrate and cellulose acetate film, both of which are inherently unstable. While the majority of negatives are viewable, a relatively small number were in late stages of deterioration and either the image was overcome by deterioration or the negative adhered to its original enclosure. Efforts were made to scan images that were in late stages of deterioration, and a print from the scan is noted and included in the inventory.

During processing, the prints were separated from the negatives for proper housing. Where possible, the print was cross referenced with its negative. In addition to the 5”x7” negatives, there were binders of 5”x7” and 8”x10” prints (no negatives). Effort was made to match these prints with negatives in the collection. Photographs without a corresponding negative or photographer number, are in Series III. The order of the collection was determined with the help of Andy Heins, Curator at WACO Historical Society.

Processed by: Toni Vanden Bos, 2012 with assistance from Crystal Royal and Sara Boteler, 2011 and from volunteer Ed O’Shaughnessy in 2012.


Guide to the WACO Aircraft Company Photographic Collection
Finding aid prepared by Toni Vanden Bos
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Wright State University Libraries, Special Collections and Archives Repository

Special Collections and Archives
3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy
Dayton OH 45435-0001 USA