L-4 Grasshopper file photo

L-4 Grasshopper

CountryUnited States
ManufacturerPiper Aircraft, Inc.
Primary RoleReconnaissance Aircraft
Maiden Flight1 January 1938

Contributor: C. Peter Chen

The J-3 Cub aircraft were born from Piper Aircraft engineer Walter Jamouneau's changes to the existing J-2 design. Even before J-3 Cub aircraft went into production, war had already broken out in Asia, while armed conflict in Europe seemed imminent; thus, on 27 Dec 1938, President of the United States Franklin Roosevelt announced a Civilian Pilot Training Program ("CPTP") that would train civilians piloting skills in preparation of war, and J-3 Cub aircraft became the primary trainer aircraft of the program. Between 1938 and 1944, over 75 percent of 435,165 pilots who graduated from the program were trained in J-3 Cub aircraft. As the United States entered the war, civilian J-3 Cub aircraft patrolled both coasts of the United States, spotting for enemy submarines. Very soon, the United States military placed their order for J-3 Cub aircraft.

The military variant, with enlarged Plexiglas windows, was designated L-4 Grasshopper by the US Army and O-59/NE-1 Grasshopper by the United States Navy and Marine Corps. Grasshopper aircraft were used extensively for reconnaissance, transport of supplies, and evacuation of wounded. In the reconnaissance role, US Army cavalry officers such as Captain A. T. Netterblad used Grasshopper aircraft to detect enemy movements and to drop messages to his troops; there were talks to supply Grasshopper aircraft to all reconnaissance units of each division, but it never came to fruition. Some army Grasshopper aircraft were equipped with infantry rocket launchers to support ground troops, and they fulfilled their ground support missions effectively.

Production of J-3 Cub and L-4/O-59/NE-1 Grasshopper aircraft continued until 1947; a total of 19,073 were built during the design's production life, most being the L-4 variant. At the height of demand, one aircraft was built every 20 minutes. A few remained in service with the US Army through the Korean War, though most were scrapped or sold to the civilian market as surplus.

Sources: Steeds of Steel, Wikipedia.

SPECIFICATIONS

J3C-65
MachineryOne Continental A-65-8 air-cooled flat four engine rated at 65hp
Crew1
Span10.74 m
Length6.83 m
Height2.03 m
Wing Area16.58 m
Weight, Empty345 kg
Weight, Maximum550 kg
Speed, Maximum140 km/h
Speed, Cruising121 km/h
Rate of Climb2.30 m/s
Service Ceiling3,500 m
Range, Normal354 km

Photographs

L-4 Grasshopper aircraft at rest, mid-1940 to May 1942F4U-1A Corsair of Marine Squadron VMF-216 taxis down the strip at Torokina, Bougainville, Solomon Islands, Dec 1943. Note TBM Avengers and NE-1 Grasshoppers parked along the strip.Piper L-4 Grasshopper observation aircraft on a 2.5 ton CCKW truck in preparation for the D-Day landings. Devon, England, United Kingdom, Feb 12 1944.Three bazooka tubes fitted on the wing struts of an USAAF L-4 Grasshopper artillery observation aircraft, France, 24 Oct 1944
See all 6 photographs of L-4 Grasshopper Reconnaissance Aircraft



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Visitor Submitted Comments

  1. Jim Craven says:
    30 Jan 2011 01:38:31 PM

    Looking for some plans for the grasshopper light observation plane. I plan on building a model in the 1:87 and 1:160 scales if I find plans.
    Any help out there?

    JIM
  2. Nick says:
    7 Jun 2011 10:42:49 AM

    Any idea as to the takeoff distance of the L-4 Grasshopper.
  3. Dale says:
    19 Apr 2014 06:43:43 PM

    Anyone have an idea where full scale plans could be found for the L-4? A recreation would be a wonderful plane for a military enthusiast.

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L-4 Grasshopper Reconnaissance Aircraft Photo Gallery
L-4 Grasshopper aircraft at rest, mid-1940 to May 1942
See all 6 photographs of L-4 Grasshopper Reconnaissance Aircraft



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