The Aircraft

Piper Aircraft Corporation L-4 Grasshoppers (G-BECN – G-AXGP)

  • Aircraft Type: Piper Aircraft Corporation L-4 Grasshoppers
  • Operator: Varied
  • Year of Manufacture: 1944 era
  • Powered by: 65hp & 90hp RR Continental
  • Colour Scheme: US Army & USAF

The Piper L4 commonly known as the Cub or Grasshopper, in its military guise, was designed as the pre-war J-3 Light aircraft. Adapted to military service for WWII and referred to as the L-4 Grasshopper. 

The two examples saw active service in WWII. 

The L-4 was used extensively in World War II for reconnaissance, transporting supplies, artillery spotting duties and medical evacuation of wounded soldiers. The L-4′s excellent short field performance enabled it to operate from the smallest of improvised airstrips, including roads, adjacent to command posts.

The L-4 was often credited as the most feared Allied Aircraft during the push through Europe because of their role in “spotting” and pinpointing coordinates for the heavy artillery. 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 than 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.

The L-4 also holds the credit for the last aerial dogfight of WW2, forcing down an enemy Fiesler Storch aircraft with a sidearm! 

You will notice a curiosity of the L-4 in that when it is flown solo, the lone pilot normally occupies the rear seat for proper balance, to balance the fuel tank located at the firewall.

After the war many were struck of charge and sold as war surplus to aero clubs thought Europe.

Photo Credit: David Whitworth