Pearl Harbor Waco UIC Offered for Sale

The Waco UIC NC13408 at an air show sometime in the 70's. The plane now sports its original Cadillac blue and white paint scheme.
The Waco UIC NC13408 at an air show sometime in the 70's. The plane now sports its original Cadillac blue and white paint scheme.
The Waco UIC NC13408 at an air show sometime in the 70’s. The plane now sports its original Cadillac blue and white paint scheme.

The 1933 Waco UIC, registration number NC13408 that was a witness to history is being spruced up and offered for sale by Vintage Aeroplane Europe. The plane was originally completed on June 9th, 1933, and delivered to its first owner, George Willis of Great Neck, New York. A few years later, after a brief personal ownership by Vance Breese, the legendary test pilot, it was sold to Charles Knox and Robert Tyce, owners of K-T Flying Service Ltd of Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii in 1938.

By 1941, a large portion of K-T’s business was in private flight training for military personnel hoping to transfer to the Army and Navy’s flying arms and in the early morning of December 7th, 1941, Bob Tyce and Marcus Posten, a young sailor assigned to the USS Argonne, were flying in formation on a cross-country trip from Halewia to Honolulu when they were set upon by two Japanese fighter planes. Posten’s plane was shot down, though he managed to parachute to safety, while Tyce managed to evade the Japanese fighters and landed safely at John Rogers Airport (now Honolulu International), only to be killed by strafing Japanese Zero fighters while standing on the airfield next to his plane, making him the first civilian casualty of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The plane changed hands several times after Tyce’s death before winding up dismantled and forgotten in a crate in California, where it was discovered and bought by a World War Two veteran, Phil Brown who wanted the rare plane and didn’t know its history when he bought it in the 1970’s. He spent two years rebuilding it, and in going through the plane’s logbooks realized it had come from Pearl Harbor.

Phil owned the plane and used it to compete at air shows until becoming too old to fly and offering the plane for sale in 2008. The plane was acquired by Vintage Aeroplane Europe in 2012 and has since undergone a ground-up restoration and engine overhaul. The company is currently in the process of restoring the interior and instrument panel to its original configuration with dark blue leather and period instruments. “I am always on the lookout for affordable aircraft with an interesting history,” states Jon Roth the director of Vintage Aeroplane Europe. “I really enjoy finding something unusual and perhaps overlooked. Apart form the obvious investment potential, these are the aircraft that have a story to tell, and reinforce that we are but caretakers of aviation’s splendid past.”

Interested parties can find more details on this plane HERE.

1 Comment

  1. Your history of this Waco is nicely written. However, myself and two other esteemed WWII historians studied this plane at great length, including its logbooks, pilots Bob Tyce and Marcus Poston, the USS Argonne deck report from 7 Dec 1941, KT rentals that day, general Pearl Harbor reports, etc. Never did we find any concrete proof that this Waco was in the air that day during the attack. On the contrary, a written report by Bob Tyce’s wife indicates that he was at John Rodgers Field with her that morning and was killed on the ground shortly after the attack began. So at this point I must continue to insist that this Waco was NOT in the air that morning and this portion of the plane’s history reported in the past few years is incorrect. In the interest of keeping history correct, it would be much better not to perpetuate erroneous history publicly in articles about the Waco unless concrete documentation comes forward to prove that, yes, it was in the air that morning. We don’t think this proof exists but will gladly recant if it does.

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