Stinson L-1 Vigilant

The Stinson L-1 liaison aircraft (originally designated O-49) was the military version of the civilian Stinson Model 74. It marked the transition between heavier and larger observation aircraft used by the U.S. Army Air Corps in the 1930s and the lighter liaison “grasshopper" type aircraft represented as the L-birds during World War II.

Between 1939 and 1941, the Army Air Corps ordered 142 L-1s and 182 L-1As with a 13-inch longer fuselage. Equipped with full-span automatic slats on the leading edge of the wings and pilot-operated slotted flaps on the trailing edge, Vigilants were well suited for operations from short fields. The versitile Vigilant was used for a variety of missions both in the United States and overseas during WWII, including towing training gliders, artillery spotting, liaison duty, emergency rescue, transporting supplies, special espionage missions behind Japanese lines and even for dropping light bombs. Some Vigilants were converted as ambulance aircraft, and were sometimes fitted with skis or with floats for water takeoffs and landings.



Wingspan: 50 ft. 11 in.
Length: 34 ft. 4 in.
Height: 10 ft. 2 in.
Empty weight: 2,670 lbs.
Max. takeoff weight: 3,400 lbs.
Wing area:
Armament: None
Engine: Lycoming R-680 295 hp, 9-cylinder radial
Crew: Three
Cost: $21,000



Max. speed: 122 mph (106 kts)
Cruise speed: 109 mph (95 kts)
Range: 280 miles (243 nm)
Service Ceiling: 12,800 ft.
Rate of climb: 408 ft./min.
Wing loading: 10.3 lbs./s.f.
Power to mass: 0.0867 hp/lb.
Stinson L-1 Vigilant


The L-1 Vigilant receives some attention during 1984 CAF Airshow preview at Ft. Sam Houston. Photo by Charles Barksdale.

L-1 Vigilant in flight following restoration at Cannon Field.


See also the Stinson/Vultee L-1A “Vigilant” at the National Museum of the US Air Force, Wright-Patterson AFB OH (near Dayton).

Photo courtesy of National Museum of the US Air Force.

Photo courtesy of National Museum of the US Air Force.

Stinson L-1 restored by Kermit Weeks at Fantasy of Flight.


Copyright © Alamo Liaison Squadron.