Waldo's Arrowbile Mess
When Waldo Waterman had successfully flown W-4, he went on to build six W-5 Arrowbiles and called them #1 through #6, which did not correspond with their c/ns. Waterman tells in his memoirs that #1, #2, and #3 were completed in 1937 and flown to Cleveland for an appearance during the races. On the way, #1 was damaged in a forced landing in Arizona and was transported back to the Santa Monica, but the others made it.
The 1938 register says:
[X262Y] Waterman W-5; c/n #2; Waterman Studebaker 100hp.
[NR18931] Waterman W-5A; c/n #3; Waterman Studebaker 100hp.
[NR18932] Waterman W-5A; c/n #4; Waterman Studebaker 100hp.
These must be #1, #2 and #3.
Paul Matt featured Arrowbile in Historical Aviation Album Volume 1, which is very good except for one thingthe caption under a picture of [NR18932] says: "NR18932 ... being flown cross-country with its sister NR16332 ... at the 1937 National Air Races at Cleveland." Yet in Weekly List of 4/8/36, Taylor J-2 Cub  c/n 569 sits firmly in the middle of a long row of J-2s. Even if that J-2 had crashed the day after delivery, the registration couldn't possibly have been reused.
Arrowbile #4 was modified, probably on Waldo's "assembly line," to a non-roadable version with the wing from #1, and retaining the Studebaker engine. Called #4/1, it was probably [262Y].
In July 1938, Waterman was hospitalized with a ruptured appendix, and it took him a year to fully recover. In 1940, he bought back #4/1 from Studebaker, who owned it. Register of 2/15/41, has:
[X262Y] Waterman W-6 (!); Waterman Studebaker 81G 100hp. No c/n.
In 1941, he installed an air-cooled 120hp Franklin in #4/1 and, in 1943, fitted slotted flaps. Later he revised the #5 wings into a one-piece cantilever wing and fitted that to old faithful #4. The #5 fuselage became a test rig to try out a tail rotor system for a Convair helicopter. The parts for #6 were re-worked after the war to become Aerobile [N54P] with a water-cooled Tucker-Franklin engine.
Jack Meaden wrote an article about Waterman in Air-Britain Archive 3/1998 listing all Arrowbiles made:
#1 [X/NR262Y] - To Consolidated. Scrapped?
#2 [NR16332] - To Consolidated. Bulldozed.
#3 [NR18932] - To Consolidated. Bulldozed.
#4 [NR18933] - Rebuilt non-roadable.
#5 [NR18934] - Not completed.
#6 [N54P] - Aerobile. NASM loan to San Diego Museum.
This list might be correct, except that he swallowed Matt's error with [NR16332], which should be [NR18931]. If so, [NR18933] and [NR18934] were reserved for Arrowbiles, but not used. In my register both of these numbers are used by post-war planes.
And Waterman's breezy Chevy Bird from 1968 was, indeed, [N262Y]a nostalgic request to reuse the number, I suppose.
It's as "simple" as that... ( Lennart Johnsson 01/11/00)