Piper L-4 Grasshopper

The L-4 liaison aircraft, originally designated the O-59, was the military version of the famous Piper J3 "Cub." Windows were added to the aft cabin to improve visibility. The U.S. Army Air Forces (AAF) ordered the first O-59s in 1941 for tests in conjunction with the military's growing interest in the use of light aircraft for liaison and observation duties in direct support of ground forces. The L-4 was the first aircraft mass produced for this use. Between 1941 and 1945, the AAF procured almost 6,000 Piper Aircraft.



During WWII, "Grasshoppers" performed a wide variety of functions throughout the world such as for artillery fire direction, pilot training, glider pilot instruction, courier service and front-line liaison. Members of the Civil Air Patrol flew thousands of hours in light planes such as the L-4 searching for enemy submarines in U.S. coastal waters.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

Wingspan: 35 ft. 3 in.
Length: 22 ft. 5 in.
Height: 6 ft. 8 in.
Empty weight:
Max. takeoff weight: 1,200 lbs.
Wing area:
Armament: None
Engine: Continental O-170 of 65 hp
Crew: 2 (pilot and observer)
Cost: $2,600

 

PERFORMANCE

Max. speed: 85 mph
Cruise speed: 75 mph
Range: 190 miles
Takeoff distance (50-foot obstacle): 730 ft.
Landing distance (50-foot obstacle): 470 ft.
Rate of climb: 450 ft./min.
Service ceiling: 9,300 ft.
Wing loading:
Piper L-4 Grasshopper

 


Kit-built Legend Cub similar to L-4 & L-21 Piper Cub. Photo by Paul Bigelow at Cannon Field.


Kit-built Legend Cub similar to L-4 & L-21 Piper Cub. Photo by Paul Bigelow at Cannon Field.

 

See also the Piper L-4A “Grasshopper” at the National Museum of the US Air Force, Wright-Patterson AFB OH (near Dayton).


Paint and markings represent an L-4 that flew in support of the Allied invasion
of North Africa in November 1942. Photo courtesy of National Museum of the US Air Force.


Paint and markings represent an L-4 that flew in support of the Allied invasion
of North Africa in November 1942. Photo courtesy of National Museum of the US Air Force.


Accumulation of new Piper Cubs at Cub Haven Airport, Lock Haven, Pennsylvania
awaiting delivery, 1941. Photo courtesy of G. A. Brion, National Air and Space Museum.


L-4 in camouflage.


Photo courtesy of National Air and Space Museum.


Restored Piper L-4 and Willys Jeep. Photo courtesy of Experimental Aircraft Association.


U.S. Army Air Forces Piper L-4 and a Willys Jeep. Photo courtesy of Rudy Arnold, National Air and Space Museum.


Piper NE-2 observation aircraft in Navy markings. Photo courtesy of National Air and Space Museum.

 

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