The L-4 Grasshopper was a liaison aircraft that was used by the United States during WWII.
The plane was developed from the civilian Piper Cub series. The first main production model of the series was the L-4A.
It had a crew that varied from one to two and a single Continental O-170-3 Engine that could propel the grasshopper at speeds of up to 137 km/h. The maximum range of the grasshopper was 306 kilometers and the service ceiling was 2,835 meters. The wings of the L-4 were mounted above the cockpit and the wheels were not retractable. The total length of the Grasshopper was about 6.7 meters while the total wingspan was about 10.7 meters. The total weight was 331 kg empty and 553 kg loaded.
The fact that the L-4 was so slow meant that it was capable of accurately reporting enemy positions without having to circle around them. Sometimes, L-4s were equipped with racks of M1 Bazookas so that they could attack enemy units on the ground, especially tanks. The reliability of the L-4 was good and it was able to withstand mild weather conditions and or field conditions, but not small arms fire.
The L-4 was a very successful liaison aircraft so it had several variants made throughout its service life. The first of these variants was the L-4B which was similar to the original L-4A only it did not feature much radio equipment. A number of civilian models were purchased second hand for pre glider training and other miscellaneous duties. These were designated L-4C (J3L-65 Cub Trainer with Lycoming O-145-B1), L-4D (J3L-65 Cub Trainer with Franklin 4AC-176-B2), L-4E (J4 Coupe with Continental A75-9) or L-4F (J5B Cruiser with Lycoming GO-145-C2).
The last two variants were the L-4H and L-4J. The L-4H was similar to the L-4B in that it had little radio equipment only this time it had improved flight equipment. The L-4J had a modified propeller pitch system. All other names for the L-4 including the O-59, O-59A, NE-1, and NE-2 were just designation changes, not actual variants.
The L-4 Grasshopper first entered service with the US Military in 1941 after the need arose for a new liaison aircraft that had good reliability. By 1942, it was in full production any it saw combat in every theater the US went to. Some notable locations it was used in include North Africa and the Invasion of Normandy. Many L-4s were used here to spot tanks in the bocage country. The L-4 was still used by armed forces even after WWII.
- Bridgeman, Leonard. Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1945/1946 (Reprinted as Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War 2 - 1988). Tiger Books (1988), Page 253