|Manufacturer||Piper Aircraft, Inc.|
|Primary Role||Reconnaissance Aircraft|
|Maiden Flight||1 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.
|Machinery||One Continental A-65-8 air-cooled flat four engine rated at 65hp|
|Wing Area||16.58 m²|
|Weight, Empty||345 kg|
|Weight, Maximum||550 kg|
|Speed, Maximum||140 km/h|
|Speed, Cruising||121 km/h|
|Rate of Climb||2.30 m/s|
|Service Ceiling||3,500 m|
|Range, Normal||354 km|
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Winston Churchill, 1935