A Piper L-4 "Grasshopper", c.1943,
Lot 224
A Piper L-4 "Grasshopper", c.1943,
US$ 60,000 - 80,000
£37,000 - 50,000

Lot Details
A Piper L-4 "Grasshopper", c.1943, A Piper L-4 "Grasshopper", c.1943, A Piper L-4 "Grasshopper", c.1943, A Piper L-4 "Grasshopper", c.1943,
A Piper L-4 "Grasshopper", c.1943,
N851 Serial Number 9851

65hp Lycoming flat four-cylinder engine
Fabric covered tubular steel and wood construction
Tandem two-seat cockpit

Attractive and scarce L-4 variant
Authentic military livery
Great parts and information support
Offered from an important private collection

The Piper J-3 Cub has its roots in the Taylor Aircraft E-2 Cub introduced in 1930. This simple tandem seat aircraft was intended primarily for flight training. Its excellent flight characteristics and undeniable charm made it a huge success in the new private aviation market, and is one of the best-selling aircraft of all time.

Taylor Aircraft went bankrupt shortly after the E-2 was introduced and William T. Piper purchased the company's assets. The E-2 was redesigned in 1936 and renamed the J-2. A redesign in 1938 would see the introduction of the now immortal J-3. The J-3 received the characteristic curved rear window and a steerable tail wheel. Powered by a Continental A40 engine the Piper retailed for just over $1000. Not an immediate success in the market place, the early Pipers were slow to catch on but by 1940 over 3,000 units had been produced.

The outbreak of war in Europe and the realization that the US might enter saw the formation of the Civilian Pilot Training Program. The government needed to train thousands of new pilots if it would be successful in the essential air component of World War II. Proper training aircraft would be needed and the Piper J-3 was one of the best suited training aircraft of the day. By the end of the war over 80% of all flyers would have trained in the J-3.

This huge new demand for the J-3 required Piper to ramp up its production to one Cub leaving the factory every 20 minutes. In addition to its use as a trainer the J-3 was ordered in Army variants 0-95, L-4, and Navy NE. These were used primarily for observational duties of spotting U-boats and patrolling the US coastline. The military versions, though mechanically identical to the civilian version, did have a distinct Plexiglas green house for improved visibility.

The military versions of the J-3 as well as those produced by Aeronca and Taylorcraft would be nicknamed "Grasshoppers". In addition to their patrol duties at home they did see extensive use on the front lines doing reconnaissance, transporting supplies, artillery spotting duties, and medical evacuation of wounded soldiers. However, they were likely best remembered for the success as tank spotters against the Germans in France. The famous "Rosie the Rocketeer" was even equipped with six bazooka rocket launchers and successfully eliminated six German tanks and numerous armored vehicles.

A total of 5,413 L-4s were produced as well as an additional 250 NE.

This L-4 offered from an important collection is a fine example of this important military version of the Piper J-3 Cub. Last registered in 1990, it is finished in its proper livery and markings and complete with a distinctive plexy green house, the 65hp Continental A65 power plant and all other mechanicals are identical to its comparable civilian variant. Instrumentation includes the oil temp guage, air pressure, airspeed indicator, altimeter, compass, tachometer, and tandem front and rear single seats.

Today the Piper Cub is as popular as it has ever been. A true aviation classic it is immediately recognizable and has a classic friendly design. A huge network of parts support and knowledge base makes them easy machines to keep in airworthy condition.

As this machine has been on static display for a number of years it is being offered in NON-airworthy condition.

Offered on a Bill of Sale.
US$60,000-80,000

Footnotes

  • This lot will be available for viewing offsite in Belle Vernon, PA. Appointments for viewing may be arranged through Bonhams by contacting Samantha Hamill at +1 212 461 6514 or samantha.hamill@bonhams.com.
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