“The Piper L-4 Grasshopper of WW2 was the military version of the highly popular pre-war J3 Cub, by which name it was more widely known to service personnel. Of the 5,500 L-4 variants produced between 1942 and 1945, some went to liaison squadrons and of the USAAF, but the vast majority went to US Army Ground Forces, for use as Air Observation Posts (Air OPs) with the Field Artillery. In both air and ground forces, the L-4 was also used as a flying Jeep, among other things carrying priority mail and personnel between HQs and command posts. Its Continental engine produced only 65hp, yet the L-4′s excellent short field performance enabled it to operate from the smallest of improvised airstrips, including roads, adjacent to command posts.
Unlike most other combat aircraft, the L-4 was unarmed and unarmored. It was one of the smallest aircraft of WW2 and, with a cruising speed of only 75 mph, it was the slowest. Nevertheless, it has been claimed that a single L-4, directing the fire power of an entire Division, could bring a greater weight of explosives to bear on a target then any other aircraft of that period. With the exception of the atomic bomb carrying B-29 Superfortress, no other single aircraft had the destructive capability of the diminutive L-4.
It was most widely used in Europe, where more than 2,700 served with the Field Artillery, and of these nearly 900 were lost through enemy action or in accidents. Of those that survived the war, about 150 were shipped back to the US, most of the remainder eventually being sold to civilian purchasers in Britain, France, Switzerland, Denmark and elsewhere in Europe. More than 60 years on many of these are still flying with, in recent years, an increasing number being restored to their original military configuration and markings.
A truly remarkable ‘Warbird’, long to be remembered.”
So successful was the L-4 that it’s military use continued on through to the Korean War, and as recently as Vietnam. Today, hundreds still fly on as civilian light aircraft, some as meticulously restored military aircraft and others in colorful civilian schemes
|Registration Number||Date of Manufacture|
|Liaison & Artillery spotter||“Grasshopper”|
|Piper L-4||35 feet 2 inches|
|Overall length:||Empty weight:|
|22 feet 3 inches||640 pounds|
|Gross weight:||Fuel capacity:|
|1,220 pounds||12 gallons|
|Oil capacity||Engine type:|
|Single 80 hp Continental A75 piston engine|
|Propeller type:||Max Speed|
|single blade, Hartzall||92 mph|
|Rate of Climb||Cruise Speed|
|55 mph||65 mph|
|Service Ceiling||Number of Crew|
|Number Built||Number Surviving|
|5703||40 L-4, unknown many converted to civilian J-3|
The aircraft was manufactured in Lockhaven Wi. May 26, 1943. Delivered to the army and lost to ground forces at Marshal Field June 16th, 1943. Transferred to reconstruction services and sold to the civilian forces on March 11,1945. The plane had 5 different owners over the years.
In July 1984 the aircraft was purchased at San Diego Ca. by a non-pilot and was trailered to Diamond Point field in Washington state, reassembled and hangered on the Field. The aircraft had no flight time logged until 2007.
I found the aircraft in the hanger at Diamond Point and spent the first 5 months cleaning and refurbishing the aircraft to a flyable condition. The first flight in 23 years occurred in November of 2007. The aircraft was refitted with a new 0 time engine and ferried to Puyallup Wa.where it had its first annual in 23 years and was certified as flyable.
Since that time all of the mechanical parts have been replaced,and a radio/intercom installed. The aircraft is now based in Bremerton Wa.
Printable QR Codes for: Bill Pearson’s 1943 Piper L4A :
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