Piper Grasshopper

A Piper Cub of the Royal Air Force (RAF) Benevolent Fund which had its headquarters office in New York City.
They were used to help raise funds for British civilians affected by the war (hospitals, orphans, homeless families, etc.

C. Gilbert Taylor and his brother had first established the Taylor Brothers Aviation Corporation in 1929 to market the Taylor Chummy light plane. In 1931 the company was reorganised as the Taylor Aircraft Company, William T. Piper Sr then being its secretary and treasurer. When the company ran into financial difficulties, manufacturing and marketing rights for the Taylor Cub, which had first flown in September 1930, were acquired by William T. Piper who, in 1937, formed Piper Aircraft Corporation to continue production of this aircraft. A braced high-wing monoplane of mixed basic construction with fabric covering, the Cub had a conventional tail unit, fixed tailskid landing gear (the main units with wheels or optional floats) and an enclosed cabin seating two in tandem.

When first produced by Piper, the Piper J-3 Cub was powered by a 40 hp (30 kW) Continental A40-4 flat-four engine, but it was not long before the 50 hp (37 kW A50-4 or alternative A50-5 with dual ignition system was introduced on the J-3C-50 Cub. The resulting improvement in performance made this already attractive light plane an extremely marketable commodity and during 1938, which was the new company's first full year of production, no fewer than 737 Cubs were built. The Continental A50 was a new engine, early experience proving that it was reliable and had development potential, and it was later re-rated at 65 hp (48 kW) at a higher engine speed. Its introduction by competitors meant that Piper had to follow suit, and in 1940 the J-3C-65 Cub appeared with the Continental A65 engine. With alternative Franklin flat-four engines, 50 hp (37 kW) 4AC-150 or 65 hp (48 kW) 4AC-176, the Cub was designated J-3F-50 and J-3F-65 respectively and, similarly, with the Avco Lycoming 50 hp (37 kW) O-145-A1 or 65 hp (48 kW) O-145-B the Cub had the respective designations J-3L-50 and J-3L-65. Also built in comparatively small numbers was a version designated J-3P-50, powered by a 50 hp (37 kW) Lenape Papoose 3-cylinder radial engine.

Evaluated for the role of artillery spotting and front-line liaison, as were the Aeronca L-3 and Taylorcraft L-2, four examples of the Piper Aircraft Corporation's Cub Model J-3C-65 were acquired for this purpose by the US Army Air Corps in mid-1941. These were duly allocated the designation YO-59 and, almost simultaneously, 40 additional examples were ordered as 0-59s. These were all delivered quickly enough for the US Army to employ them on a far wider evaluation basis than had been anticipated, using them in the field as if on operational service during annual manoeuvres held at the end of 1941.

There was no doubt at all after this very practical test that the little Cubs were of more value than had been envisaged, and this useful experience made it possible to procure a new version more specifically tailored to the US Army's requirements. This, designated 0-59A, was of braced high-wing monoplane configuration and was of composite construction comprising wooden spars, light alloy ribs and fabric covering. The fuselage and braced tail unit had basic structures of welded steel-tube and were fabric-covered. Landing gear was of the fixed tailwheel type, and the powerplant of the 0-59A comprised a 65 hp (48-kW) Continental 0-170-3 flat-four engine. Primary requirement of the 0-59A specification was improved accommodation for pilot and observer, which was achieved with a modified enclosure for the tandem cockpits to provide better all-round visibility.

Orders for this version totalled 948, but designation changes resulted in all becoming L-4As, the previously supplied YO-59s and 0-59s becoming L-4s. Subsequent procurement covered 980 L-4Bs with reduced radio equipment, 1,801 L-4Hs which had only detail changes, and 1,680 L-4Js which introduced a variable-pitch propeller that made a significant improvement to take-off performance. In addition to the various L-4 Grasshoppers procured specifically for the US Army, more than 100 were impressed from civil sources and designated L-4C (J-3C-65 Cub Trainer), L-4D (J-3F-65 Cub Trainer), L-4E (J-4E Cub Coupe), L-4F (J-5A Cruiser), and L-4G (J-5B Cruiser).

In 1942 Piper was requested to develop a training glider from the basic L-4 design, this involving the removal of the powerplant and landing gear. In its modified form it had a simple cross-axle landing gear with hydraulic brakes, and the powerplant was replaced by a new front fuselage to accommodate an instructor, and he and both pupils were provided with full flying controls. A total of 250 was built for the the USAAF under the designation TG-8, plus three for evaluation by the US Navy which designated them XLNP-1.

Apart from the three XLNP-1s which the US Navy acquired for evaluation, this service also procured 230 NE-1s, basically similar to the US Army's L-4s, and these were used as primary trainers. Twenty similar aircraft procured at a later date were designated NE-2, and 100 examples of the Piper J-5C Cruiser which were acquired for ambulance use (carrying one stretcher) were originally HE-l. When, in 1943, the letter H was allocated to identify helicopters, the HE-ls were redesignated AE-ls. 

After the war improved versions were built under the designations YL-14, L-18B, L-18C, L-21A, L-21B and TL-21A.

Piper J-4 Cub Coupe

To compete with the expanding range of light planes offered by other aircraft manufacturers, Piper produced in 1938 the Piper J-4 Cub Coupe. Retaining basically the same airframe as the J-3 Cub Trainer, this had a small increase in wing span and introduced improved landing gear with a fully-castoring tailwheel, hydraulic brakes and Speed fairings for the wheels and it first introduced a fully cowled engine. As powered initially by a 50 hp (37 kW) Continental A50-1 it had the designation J-4, but the introduction of the 65 hp (48 kW) Continental A65-1 or -8 engine in 1940 brought the redesignation as the J-4A, and later of the 75 hp (56 kW) Continental A75-9 as the J-4E. In 1939 Piper introduced the J-4B, differing only in powerplant which initially, was a 60 hp (45 kW) Franklin 4AC-171, but that was soon replaqed by the 65 hp (48 kW) Franklin 4AC-176-B2 without any change in designation. Last of the J-4s was the version powered by Avco Lycoming engines, the 55 hp (41 kW) O-145-A1 or -A2, or the 65 hp (48 kW) O-145-81, both of these Cub Coupes having the designation J-4F. Production of J-4s reached 1,250, and during World War II 17 J-4Es were impressed for service with the USAAF under the designation L-4E.

Piper J-5 Cruiser

A modest expansion in the capabilities of the J-3 and J-4 range was achieved with the Piper J-5 Cruiser which, although basically similar to the J-3, had a minimal increase in fuselage width to provide three-seat accommodation. First seen in early 1940 as the J-5A Cruiser with a 75 hp (56 kW) Continental A75-8 engine, it became available subsequently as the J-5B with a similarly powered Avco Lycoming GO-145-C2 engine, then being designated J-5C with the installation of a 100 hp (75 kW) Avco Lycomlng 0-235-C. Civil J-5A and J-5B aircraft were impressed for service with the US Army during World War II under the designations L-4F and L-4G respectively, and the US Navy procured 100 aircraft similar to the J-5C under the designation HE-1. These had the 100 hp (75 kW) Avco Lycoming O-235-2, and a hinged top decking to the rear fuselage to allow the loading and unloading of a stretcher. In 1943, the designation letter 'H' was allocated to identify helicopters and the HE-1s were redesignated AE-1. When production ended a total of 1,404 J-5 Cruisers had been built.


Piper YO-59/O-59 (L-4) - In 1941 the US Army selected this aircraft for evaluation in artillery spotting/direction roles receiving four aircraft designated YO-59, and shortly afterwards ordered 40 similar aircraft under the designation O-59. These aircraft were used by the US Army under virtually operational conditions during annual manoeuvres at the end of 1941, and it was very soon discovered that the little Cub had far wider applications than at first anticipated. The YO-59 and O-59 aircraft were redesignated L-4, and the type later received the name Grasshopper. 

Piper O-59A (L-4A) - This practical experience enabled the US Army to obtain an improved 0-59A which, powered by a 65 hp (48 kW) Continental O-170-3 flat-four engine, had better accommodation for the pilot and observer with an enhanced all-round view. Orders for O-59As totalled 948, but as a result of designation changes they entered service as L-4A aircraft. Most did not have any radio equipment. 

Piper L-4B - Subsequent procurements of the aircraft covered 980 of the L-4B version with reduced radio equipment. 

Piper L-4C - Eight J-3C-65 Cub Trainer civil aircraft impressed into military service powered by a Lycoming O-145-B1 engine. 

Piper L-4D - Five J-3F-65 Cub Trainer civil aircraft impressed into military service powered by a Franklin 4AC-176-B2 engine. 

Piper L-4E - Seventeen Piper J-4 Cub Coupe civil aircraft impressed into military service powered by a 75 hp (56 kW) Continental A-75-8 4-cylinder engine. Maximum speed 100 mph (160 km/h); cruising speed 96 mph (150 km/h); service ceiling 12,000 ft (3660 m); initial rate of climb 450 ft (138 m) per minute; landing speed 40 mph (64 km/h). 

Piper L-4F - Piper J-5A Cruiser civil aircraft impressed into military service powered by a 75 hp (56 kW) Continental A-75-8 4-cylinder engine. 

Piper L-4G - Piper J-5B Cruiser civil aircraft impressed into military service powered by a 75 hp (56 kW) Lycoming GO-145-C2 4-cylinder engine. 

Piper L-4H - Similar to the L-4A and L-4B variants with only minor detail changes (1,801 aircraft). 

Piper L-4J - A variant which introduced a variable-pitch propeller had greatly enhanced the aircrafts take-off performance (1,680 aircraft). 

Piper TG-8 - Piper was then requested to develop a training glider from the L-4 design and this, with the powerplant removed and the forward fuselage redesigned to accommodate an instructor and two pupils, was built for the US Army under the designation TG-8 (250 aircraft).

Piper XLNP-1 - Three of these gliders were acquired for evaluation by the US Navy under the designation XLNP-1.

Piper NE-1/NE-2 - The US Navy also procured 230 aircraft which were basically similar to the standard US Army L-4 for use as trainers. At a later date twenty more aircraft were acquired for the same use and designated NE-2. Although intended as training aircraft, some were assigned to squadrons as liaison or personnel transports.

HE-1/AE-1 (J-5C Cruiser) - 100 aircraft acquired by the US Navy for ambulance use (carrying one stretcher) were originally designated HE-1. When in 1943 the letter 'H' was allocated to identify helicopters, the HE-1 was re-designated AE-1. Powered by a 100 hp (74.6 kW) Lycoming engine. The deck of the fuselage from the trailing-edge of the wing to the fin is arranged to hinge up to permit the loading and unloading of a US Navy standard stretcher. Weight empty 906 lbs (411 kg) with a maximum take-off weight of 1,426 lbs (647 kg); disposable load 690 lbs (313 kg); wing loading 8.5 lbs/sq ft (41.5 kg/sq m); power loading 15.5 lbs/hp (7.0 kg/hp); maximum speed 110 mph (176 km/h); cruising speed 90 mph (144 km/h); landing speed 45 mph (72 km/h), initial rate of climb 600 ft (183 m) per minute; service ceiling 15,000 ft (4575 m)  

Specifications (Piper L-4A Grasshopper)

Type: Two Seat Light Liaison, Observation/Reconnaissance & Ambulance

Accommodation/Crew: Pilot and an Observer in an enclosed cabin seating two in tandem with dual controls. Observer's seat may face forward or aft and when in the latter position a small table for maps, etc. is provided.

Design: C. Gilbert Taylor of The Taylorcraft Aircraft Corporation of America (formerly Taylorcraft Aviation Company). At that time William T. Piper was the company's Secretary and Treasurer. In 1935 the company ran into financial difficulties and William T. Piper bought the manufacturing and marketing rights for the Taylor Cub. In 1937 he formed the Piper Aircraft Corporation to continue to produce the aircraft.

Manufacturer: The Piper Aircraft Corporation at Lock Haven, Pennsylvania.

Powerplant: One 65 hp (48 kW) Continental (A-65) O-170-3 4-cylinder horizontally opposed air-cooled piston engine.

Performance: (L-4A,4B,4C,4D,4H/J-3 Cub Trainer) Maximum speed 87 mph (139 km/h); cruising speed 75 mph (120 km/h); service ceiling 11,500 ft (3510 m); initial rate of climb 450 ft (140 m) per minute; stalling speed 39 mph (60.8 km/h).

Fuel: (L-4A,4B,4C,4D,4H/J-3 Cub Trainer) 12 US gallons (45.42 liters) in the fuselage behind a fireproof bulkhead. (L4-E/J-4 Cub Coupe) 16 US gallons (60.56 litres) in the fuselage. (L-4F,4G/J-5 Cruiser) 25 US gallons (28.8 litres) in the fuselage.

Range: (L-4A,4B,4C,4D,4H/J-3 Cub Trainer) 260 miles (416 km) with internal fuel. (L-4E/J-4 Cub Coupe) Cruising range 455 miles (735 km) with internal fuel. (L-4F,4G/J-5 Cruiser) Cruising range 450 miles (720 km) with internal fuel. (HE-1,AE-1/J-5C Cruiser) Range 264 miles (422 km).

Weight: Empty (with optional radio) 740 lbs (336 kg); empty (without radio) 695 lbs (315.5 kg) with a normal take-off weight of 1,220 lbs (554 kg). Wing loading 6.7 lbs/sq ft (32.7 kg/sq m); power loading 18.7 lbs/hp (8.5 kg/hp).

Dimensions: Span 35 ft 2 1/2 in (10.70 m); length 22 ft 4 1/2 in (6.83 m); height 6 ft 8 in (1.90 m); wing area 178.5 sq ft (16.5 sq m).

Armament: None.

Variants: Piper J-3 Cub, J-3C-50 Cub, J-3C-65 Cub, J-3F-50, J-3F-65, J-3L-50, J-3L-65, J-3P-50, YO-59/O-59 (L-4), O-59A (L-4A), L-4B, L-4C (J-3C-65 Cub Trainer), L-4D (J-3F-65 Cub Trainer), L-4E (J-4E Cub Coupe), L-4F (J-5A Cruiser), L-4G (J-5B Cruiser), L-4H, L-4J, TG-8, XLNP-1, NE-1, NE-2, HE-1/AE-1 (J-5C Cruiser).

Equipment/Avionics: Standard communication equipment in all except the L-4A (which had none) and the L-4B (which had reduced radio equipment).

Wings/Fuselage/Tail Unit: High wing braced monoplane with the wings attached direct to the built-in centre-section on top of the fuselage abd braced to the lower longerons by steel-tube Vee struts. Wing structure consists of spruce spars and aluminium-alloy type ribs, with the whole structure being covered with fabric. Frise-type ailerons operated by cables. The fuselage was a rectangular structure of welded steel tubes with fabric covering. The Tail Unit was a normal monoplane type with welded steel-tube framework covered with fabric.

Landing Gear: Divided non-retractable type, consisting of two side Vees and two half-axles hinged to cabane below the fuselage. Rubber cord springing at top anchorages of axles. Wheel landing gear may be replaced by twin Edo all-metal floats.

History: First delivery (J-3C-65/YO-59/O-59) early 1941.

Operators: United States (USAAF, USN, USAAC). Many countries used the aircraft post-war with Piper building military and civil types until 1981.