The L-4 was a two-place tandem cockpit, dual-control aircraft and was among the most useful tactical aircraft of WW II.
The Piper J-3 Cub was vastly popular as a civilian trainer and sport plane before the U.S. Army Air Corps selected the aircraft for evaluation as an artillery spotter/director platform. Military versions of the Piper Cub were known as the L-4 Grasshopper, for its ability to fly out of small spaces.
The L-4 was a two-place tandem cockpit, dual-control aircraft and was among the most useful tactical aircraft of WW II. It featured a fabric-covered frame with wooden spar, metal-ribbed wings, a metal-tube fuselage and a metal-tube empennage. Its fixed landing gear used “rubber-band” bungee cord shock absorbers along with hydraulic brakes and no flaps. Flight instruments included an airspeed indicator, altimeter, compass and simple turn-and-bank indicator. It was equipped with a two-way radio, powered by a wind-driven generator. A Plexiglas greenhouse skylight and rear windows were added to increase visibility on the military variant.
At least 5,703 J-3/L4 aircraft were built for military. As Bill Piper, Jr. said, “All we had to do was paint the Cub olive drab to produce a military airplane.” A few L-4B versions were field modified and fitted with bazooka anti-tank rockets mounted to the wing struts. The J-3/L-4 not only introduced thousands of aspiring military aviators the basics of flying, it also became a versatile workhorse of the battlefields of World War II. Many hundreds of Cubs are still airworthy around the world.
This aircraft was delivered from the Piper factory to the Army’s artillery school at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, during World War II. It was donated to the Museum by Barbara Britt O’Donnell in honor of her late husband Hugh O’Donnell and is painted in the markings of the 36th Infantry Division, Texas National Guard.
- Manufacturer: Piper
- Country: United States
- Type: Observation / Liaison
- Engine: One 65 hp Continental A65 flat-four piston engine
- Maximum speed: 92 mph
- Armament: None
- Ceiling: 12,000 ft.
- Range: 250 miles
- Crew: 2.00
- Length: 22 ft. 3 in.
- Wingspan: 35 ft. 2.5 in.
- Number built: 20,291