The L-5 was a purpose-built military airplane borrowing its design from the commercial Stinson 105 Voyager and Model 10 series. Six Voyagers were purchased by the AAF in 1941. Under the nomenclature YO‑54, these aircraft were used for testing. Quantity orders for the slightly larger and heavier Sentinel began in 1942, first as the O‑62 before the designation was changed to “L” for liaison in April of the same year. Between 1942 and 1945, the AAF ordered 3,590 L‑5 aircraft.

The Stinson L-5 was adopted as a replacement for the much larger and more expensive O-49 Vigilant (L-1). By the end of WWII, the L-5 was the second most widely used liaison aircraft. It was rugged and powerful. The L‑5 was unarmed and designed with short field takeoff and landing (STOL) capability. It was often referred to as the Flying Jeep.

The L-5 served in every possible role including artillery spotting, supplying soldiers behind enemy lines, performing courier service, and serving in medical evacuation. It was used for reconnaissance, removing litter patients from front line areas, delivering supplies to isolated units, laying communications wire, spotting enemy targets for attack aircraft, transporting personnel, rescuing Allied personnel in remote areas, and even for light bombing. In Asia and the Pacific, the L‑5 remained in service with USAF units as late as 1955.

Alamo Liaison Squadron’s L-5 Sentinel “Burma Babe” was built in an ambulance configuration accommodating a medevac litter in the rear hatch with the rear seat folded down. Demonstration flights of the L‑5 performing a battlefield pick-up are given at the squadron’s annual fly-in event at Cannon Field.

Specifications

Wingspan: 34 ft 0 in
Length: 24 ft 1 in
Height: 7 ft 11 in
Empty weight: 1,472–1,550 lb
Max. takeoff weight: 2,250 lbs
Wing area: 155 sf
Armament: None
Engine: Lycoming O-435 of 190 hp
Fuel: 36 US gal
Crew: Two (pilot and passenger / litter patient)
Cost: $10,165

Performance

Max. speed: 130 mph
Cruise speed: 105–110 mph
Stall speed: 38 mph, power on
Range: 360-375 mi
Endurance: 3.5 hours
Rate of climb: 900 ft/min @ sea level
Service Ceiling: 15,800 ft
Wing loading: 7.45 lb/sf

ALS Stinson L-5 Sentinel at Cannon Field tower. Photo by Paul T. Bigelow.
ALS L-5 Burma Babe returning to Cannon Field. Photo by Paul T. Bigelow.

Your tax deductible donation will help to support the preservation of this aircraft.

If you prefer to give by mail, send your check payable to: Alamo Liaison Squadron, 2352 S. Loop 1604 W., San Antonio, Texas 78264. Please write “Donation” in the memo line.

ALS members “Doc” Smith and Richard Roberts prepare the L-5 “Delfina” for duty at Cannon Field.
EAA video on the Stinson L-5 “Horsefly” restoration.

The L-5 was produced by the Stinson Division of the Vultee Aircraft Company. During the L-5s tenure, Stinson, as an aircraft design and manufacturing entity, would become part of Consolidated Vultee on the merger of the two companies in 1943. More than half of the total L-5 production (2,526 units) was completed prior to the merger. Stinson remained in Wayne, Michigan as the Stinson Division of Consolidated Vultee. While all production of the L-5 had ended in 1945, the Stinson company was sold to the Piper Aircraft Corporation in 1948.

The Sentinel Owners and Pilots Association can be reached at sentinelclub.org.