Information

USAAC/ USAAF/ USAF - Observation and Liaison Aircraft


USAAC/ USAAF/ USAF - Observation and Liaison Aircraft

Observation and Liaison aircraft alternated their designations. The 1962 tri-service system reverted to O for Observation and Forward Air Control. Most surviving L class aircraft moved to the new U for Utility type, but some were given new O class numbers.

O - Observation (1924-42)

Curtiss O-1
Douglas O-2
Dayton-Wright O-3 Mohawk
Martin O-4
Douglas O-5
Thomas-Morse O-6
Douglas O-7
Douglas O-8
Douglas O-9
Loening XO-10
Curtiss O-11 Falcon
Curtiss XO-12 Falcon
Curtiss O-13 Falcon
Douglas O-14
Keystone O-15
Curtiss XO-16
Consolidated O-17
Curtiss XO-18
Thomas-Morse O-19
Thomas-Morse O-20
Thomas-Morse O-21
Douglas O-22
Thomas-Morse O-23
Curtiss O-24
Douglas O-25
Curtiss O-26
Fokker O-27
Vought O-28 Corsair
Douglas O-29
Curtiss O-30
Douglas O-31
Douglas O-32
Thomas-Morse O-33
Douglas O-34
Douglas O-35
Douglas XO-36
Keystone O-37
Douglas O-38
Curtiss O-39
Curtiss YO-40
Thomas-Morse O-41
Thomas-Morse O-42
Douglas O-43
Douglas O-44
Martin O-45
Douglas O-46
North American O-47
Douglas O-48
Stinson O-49 Vigilant (later L-1)
Bellanca O-50
Ryan O-51 Dragonfly
Curtiss O-52 Owl
Douglas O-53 Havoc
Stinson O-54
ERCO O-55
Lockheed O-56 Ventura
Taylorcraft O-57 Grasshopper (later L-2)
Aeronca O-58 Grasshopper (later L-3)
Piper O-59 Grasshopper (later L-4)
Kellett O-60
Pitcairn O-61
Stinson O-62 Sentiel (later L-5)
Interstate O-63 Grasshopper (later XL-6)

L - Liaison (1942-62)

Stinson L-1 Vigilant (previously O-49)
Taylorcraft L-2 Grasshopper (previously O-57)
Aeronca L-3 Grasshopper (previously O-58)
Piper L-4 Grasshopper (previously O-59)
Stinson L-5 Sentinel (previously O-61)
Interstate L-6 Grasshopper (previously O-63)
Universal L-7
Interstate L-8 Cadet
Stinson L-9
Ryan L-10
Bellanca L-11
Stinson L-12 Reliant
Stinson/ Convair L-13
Piper L-14 Cub
Boeing L-15 Scout
Aeronca L-16 Champion
North American L-17/ Ryan L-17 ( later U-18)
Piper L-18 Super Cub
Cessna L-19 Bird Dog (Later O-1)
de Havilland Canada L-20 Beaver (previously C-127, later U-6)
Piper L-21 Super Cub (later U-7)
Ryan L-22 Navion
Beechcraft L-23 Seminole (later U-8)
Helio L-24 Courier (later U-24)
McDonnell L-26 Aero Desgn (Later U-4 and U-9)
Aero L-26 (later U-4 and U-9)
Cessna L-27 Blue Canoe (becomes U-3)
Helio L-28 Super Courier (becomes U-10)

O - Observation/ Forward Air Control

Cessna O-1 Bird Dog (L-19)
Cessna O-2 Skymaster
Lockheed YO-3 (post 1962)
Wren O-4
de Havilland Canada O-5 ARL

OA - Observation, Amphibian

Loening OA-1
Loening OA-2
Douglas OA-3 Dolphin (C-21)
Douglas OA-4 Dolphin (C-26)
Douglas OA-5
Consolidated OA-6
Douglas OA-7
Sikorsky OA-8
Grumman OA-9 Goose
Consolidated OA-10 Catalina
Sikorsky OA-11
Grumman OA-12 Duck
Grumman OA-13 Goose
Grumman OA-14 Widgeon
Republic OA-15 Seabee
Grumman SA-16 (later HU-16)

Air War Index - Air War Links - Air War Books


History

The aircraft, flown for the first time in 1935, was designed by Michael Gluhareff . Pan Am planned the aircraft to replace the Consolidated Commodore for use on subordinate routes in South America, where scheduled flights of the larger Sikorsky S-42 Clipper were not worthwhile. The machine represented a two-engine, but otherwise scaled down version of the four-engine S-42, from which the additional name Baby Clipper was derived.

A total of 22 machines were produced as S-43, one as S-43-A and three more with minor modifications as S-43-B. According to special customer requests, Sikorsky also built an S-43 each for Howard Hughes (S-43H) and Harold Vanderbilt . Three machines delivered to Iloilo-Negros Air Express as island feeders in 1937/38 had a 30 cm longer fuselage and cyclone engines. They carried the factory designation S-43-W, while another machine of the company, which only operated as a flying boat, carried the designation S-43-WB.

Today (2017) there are still two complete S-43s. A JRS-1 in the Pima Air Museum in Tucson and the former Howard Hughes S-43H , which is said to be still in an airworthy condition. In 2013, Kermit Weeks acquired this aircraft for his Fantasy of Flight museum .


L-3 AERONCA

The L-3 was originally designated 0-58 by the military before the war, although civilians knew it as the 65TC Defender. It stands high on its tiptoes, or seems to, because its fuselage is so slab sided-a feature accentuated by the several square yards of Plexiglas the military installed.

For some reason, even when restored to military configuration, the L-3's civilian roots seem to show through more than the L-2s. Both cockpits are bare-bones Spartan in the extreme. The L-3 is far less known than any of the small L-birds, which might be because fewer of them survived the last half century. For no apparent reason, they were more likely to go derelict than any of the rest, so their wings suffered accordingly.

The airplane carries two people fairly well considering its 835-pound empty weight, although it's a rare one that will cruise much over 75 mph. It climbs reasonably well because of its flat, bottomed wing, but it isn't going to leap off the ground in a manner to which most modern pilots have become accustomed. Like the L-2, it's not an airplane to be flown heavily loaded on a hot day with tall trees staring down at you.

The airplanes only require basic tail wheel technique. It's not a lunch-eater and will give a solid hour of fun for five gallons of gas or less. It's also one of the less expensive of the L-birds, running in the $14,000 to $18,000 range fully restored.


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Preserved machines

  • National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton (Ohio)
  • United States Army Aviation Museum at Fort Rucker near Ozark , Alabama
  • Kalamazoo Aviation History Museum in Kalamazoo , Michigan
  • Cavanaugh Flight Museum in Addison, Texas
  • Port Townsend Aero Museum at Jefferson County International Airport near Port Townsend
  • American Airpower Heritage Museum in Midland, Texas
  • Wings of Eagles Discovery Center in Elmira , New York
  • Museum of Flight in Seattle , Washington

There are still a number of privately-owned, airworthy L-3 aircraft in existence today.


The ERCO Ercoupe’s military legacies

Take-off of America’s first “rocket-assisted” airplane, an Ercoupe fitted with a GALCIT developed solid propellent 28 pound thrust JATO (Jet Assisted Take-Off) booster. The Ercoupe took off from March Field, California and was piloted by Captain Homer A. Boushey Jr. Photo: NASA-JPL GPN-2000-001538 via Wikipedia. Boeing B-47B rocket-assisted take off (RATO) on 15 April 1954 061024-F-1234S-011 – USAF photo 061024-F-1234S-011.

6th April 2015 (Content added 8th November 2020) | Lakeland, Florida. The current (April 2015) issue of Air Force Magazine contains a photograph on the first two pages (Sac’s Heyday, pages 50-51) of a U.S. Air Force Boeing B-47 Stratojet ‘leaping’ into the air with the supplemental thrust generated by RATO (Rocket-Assisted Takeoff).

A little known fact is that RATO (in the past often referred to as JATO or ‘Jet-Assisted Takeoff’) ascents became practicable in America only after successful U.S. Army Air Corps (USAAC) tests in August 1941 demonstrated the safety and efficacy of the augmenting power source.

The airplane selected for the RATO studies was none other than the ERCO (Engineering and Research Corporation) Ercoupe. As Fred E. Weick, the Ercoupe’s designer, and James R. Hansen noted (page 188) in From the Ground Up: The Autobiography of an Aeronautical Engineer, the “Ercoupe established a special sort of record: it made the first jet-assisted take-off (JATO) airplane flight in history.” With 2015 marking the 75th anniversary of the Ercoupe 415-C’s debut (75 Coupes for 75 Years! Ercoupe Owners Club, Coupe Capers, January 2015, page 1), it is only fitting that this small, safe aeroplane’s contributions to military aviation be recalled.

Ercoupe 415 (YO-55) in storage at National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. USAF photo 071220-F-1234S-020.

In 1935, Frank J. Malina was a graduate student who was interested in rocket propulsion. He and others at the Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory of the California of Technology (GALCIT) realized that propeller propulsion of aircraft was reaching insurmountable obstacles as rotating speeds neared the speed of sound. The revolutionary gas turbine and rocket engine seemed to offer a way around the limitations. Therefore, Malina and three colleagues formed the GALCIT Rocket-Research Project.

It was in December 1938 that Malina issued a report for U.S. Army Air Corps commander Henry ‘Hap’ Arnold and Army Air Corps Research at the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). During the summer of 1939 NAS gave GALCIT a contract for JATO research. The military desired the capabilities for swifter level-flight speeds, faster rates of climb and shorter and quicker takeoffs.

Devising methods of attaining these goals was the focus of the studies. In January 1941 CalTech’s Clark Millikan and Homer J. Stewart completed calculations which indicated that JATO should result in a significant reduction in takeoff roll distance and an increase in climb performance. Their work continued.

Elsewhere, by May 1941, Britain and Germany had already conducted tests. The British had developed and tested a form of RATO to counter the threat posed by Luftwaffe Focke-Wulf Fw 200 ‘Condors’ (the Condor / Kondor was also known to the Allies as the ‘Kurier’) Focke-Wulf Fw 200 long-range patrol bombers. The planes possessed a phenomenal range of some 2,000 nautical miles, and once Nazi Germany had captured France the Condors began operating from airfields in western France.

Fw 200 C-2 0023 “F8 EH” of KG 40 in flight. Original photo source unknown.

The Fw 200s tracked British and British Commonwealth merchant and naval vessels in the Atlantic Ocean well beyond the range of Royal Air Force fighters. At the time the Royal Navy did not possess escort aircraft carriers, and the Condors were raiding commerce on the high seas, attacking convoys and feeding Kriegsmarine (Nazi Germany’s navy) U-Boats with information that was leading to an alarming number of sinkings.

Hawker Hurricane launched Greenock Scotland 31 May 1941 from CAM ship. Photo by Lt J.A. Hampton, Royal Navy official photographer – IWM photograph A 9423.

To quickly counter the Condor threat, the Admiralty devised and developed fighter catapult (Catapult Aircraft Merchant Ship — ‘CAM’) ships, which were converted freighters that carried a Hawker Sea Hurricane Mk. I (referred to commonly as ‘ a Hurricat” or “Catafighter’) fighter. Convoys containing CAMs were initially restricted to North American to United Kingdom routes, and Sea Hurricane maintenance was performed by the Royal Canadian Air Force at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

When German bombers were sighted by escorting Royal Navy or Royal Canadian Navy warships, a Royal Air Force pilot would be rocketed into the air to engage or drive off the bomber. After encounters the aviator bailed out or ditched in the sea near ships of the convoy and hopefully be rescued. The system enjoyed some success as seven enemy planes were tallied as being downed by Hurricats. RATO had proved to be practical and effective.

Fred E. Weick. NASA photo EL-1999-00640.

Meanwhile, in the United States, theoretical RATO studies progressed. Clark Millikan had previously made the acquaintance of Fred Weick and was familiar with his work on the Ercoupe design. Millikan chose the Ercoupe for the scheduled August 1941 U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) tests because, as Stanley G. Thomas states (page 65) of the “Ercoupe’s small size, tricycle gear, and easy handling characteristics. . .”

20th Century Aviation Magazine Ercoupe 415 pilot and staff photojournalist John Stemple remarked, “The revolutionary Ercoupe was an excellent choice. Visibility forward is excellent due to its low profile and tricycle undercarriage, and the airplane is easy to fly and steer on the ground.”

Air Materiel Command at Wright Field, Ohio (near Dayton), obtained an Ercoupe equipped with rudder pedals and Fred Weick supplied aircraft structural data for the mounting of the RATO units. USAAF Captain Homer A. Boushey, Jr., who was assigned to Wright Field, was ordered to March Field, California, as project test pilot. RATO units were to be located under both wings and mounted on racks.

Ground tests commenced and airborne firing testing subsequently took place at an altitude of about 8,000 feet. A fairly detailed description (Rocket-Powered Ercoupe, pages 64-66) of the Ercoupe RATO tests may be found in Stanley G. Thomas’ book The Ercoupe. Finally, on 6 August 1941 three RATO rockets were installed beneath each wing. Captain Boushey climbed to the prearranged altitude and engaged the boosters. Fred Weick and James R. Hansen in From the Ground Up: The Autobiography of an Aeronautical Engineer noted that the RATO rockets fired as the airplane’s internal reciprocating powerplant was running. At that moment he became the first American to fly under rocket power, and. the mild-mannered Ercoupe had simultaneously made military history.

On 12 August Boushey successfully completed the first RATO takeoff. Stanley G. Thomas indicates in The Ercoupe that the “RATO assist had cut the Ercoupe’s takeoff roll by half, from a normal 580 feet to 300 feet. It had reduced takeoff time from 13.1 seconds to 7.5 seconds.”

On 23 August 1941 civilian technicians and USAAF mechanics removed the Ercoupe engine’s prop. Twelve RATO rockets were installed, six beneath each wing. With a pickup truck towing the Ercoupe until the airplane reached 25 miles per hour. The Ercoupe was thrust into the air and ascended under rocket power. After a few seconds the RATO boosters expended their fuel and Boushey safely performed a dead-stick landing.

A color film record of several of the key 1941 tests exists. “Before the U.S. — and ERCO, and its people — entered the war, the Ercoupe had already made its first contribution to the war effort,” Thomas notes.

Grumman TBF Avenger torpedo bomber taking off during WW2 with the aid of 330 horsepower jet-assisted unit in about half the normal run. U.S. National Archives and Records Administration photo 295602 via Wikipedia.

The Ercoupe’s short-field takeoff capability is impressive even without RATO. The performance provided by the GALCIT boosters was incredible. The fruits of the USAAF flight testing successes were that American military aircraft in World War II and for decades afterward utilized RATO or JATO when additional thrust was needed for takeoff.

With regard to U.S. Military uses of Ercoupes, it is documented that the USAAC/USAAF did buy and evaluate a few ‘Coupes.’ One 415-C (Serial Number 41-18875) was ordered on 4 January 1941. It entered service on 26 February 1941. The sample was evaluated as an observation aircraft and designated YO-55.

Two others (Serial Numbers 41-25196 and 41-39099), the first entering service on 8 December 1941, powered by Franklin engines, were bought and tested as target drones these carried the designation XPQ-13. Ercoupe 415-C N37143 is the eldest warbird Ercoupe in existence.

A Civil Air Patrol Pennsylvania Wing Ercoupe pilot is briefed prior to a mission during 1944. Photo provided by CAP Chief Historian Col. Frank A. Blazich, Jr.

None of the test examples were found adequate for envisioned roles. Nevertheless, the Civil Air Patrol (designated ‘U.S. Air Force Auxiliary’ when actively tasked by the U.S. Air Force) made use of a number during WWII for coastal patrol, transportation and liaison missions.

Others were utilized at Civilian Pilot Training (CPT) program facilities where many aspiring pilots earned wings prior to active military service.

After the war, in 1948, the Royal Air Force evaluated a 415-C (Serial Number VX147) Ercoupe for primary training purposes, but there would be no further acquisitions.

The author with his favourite flying machine, an ERCO Ercoupe 415. The aeroplane is sporting Royal Air Force roundels and fin flashes. Photo: Military Aviation Chronicles.

Yet, the ERCO Ercoupe’s military legacy was not over. In fact, it ended only about a decade ago when the 491st Aviation Regiment, Alaska State Defense Force (a component of the Alaska National Guard), Department of Military and Veterans Affairs retired the unit’s seven PQ-13s (415-Cs and 415-Ds).

ASDF logo via Wikipedia.

Colonel M.E. Reeves, now retired, wrote about his unit’s Ercoupes to the Ercoupe Owners Club. His text and photos were published on the Webpage Ercoupes Still Flying for Uncle Sam! Interestingly, the Alaska State Defense Force Ercoupes’ stars reflected 1941 U.S. national markings. According to Col. Reeves, “The planes were privately owned however, the 491st maintained them. They were ‘assigned’ to the 491st.” The 415s were utilized to support military police and for aerial photography and officer transport.

Considering the above, the often overlooked ERCO Ercoupe has indisputably and justifiably earned the frequently seen ‘stars and bars’ liveries and the respect of historians and owners alike.


USAAC/AAF being much improved in 1938-42? (1 Viewer)

Overall, I think the USAAC/USAAF was doing pretty well, except for close-support, which was more a problem of practice and doctrine than hardware, and liaison/observation aircraft.

Because there was a massive commercial aviation industry, which made what were easily the most advanced passenger aircraft, the USAAC/USAAF could easily get just about all the transport aircraft it would need pretty much off the shelf.

Tomo pauk

Creator of Interesting Threads

Fighter aircraft might use improvement in the specified era.

Admiral Beez

Senior Master Sergeant

Shortround6

Brigadier General

Packard built 45 V-1650 engines in 1941, 26 of them in December. In April of 1942 they built 505 and in July they were at 800 a month. Without an actual miracle ( parting clouds, shining lights and voices from on high) things weren't going to go much faster.

As for A Packard V-1650 in 1938?
It would have been a Merlin III at best, not a Merlin XX.
Stuffing a Merlin III into a P-36 airframe might not give you quite the world beating performance some people imagine.

Admiral Beez

Senior Master Sergeant

Swampyankee

Senior Master Sergeant

Jugman

Airman 1st Class

No because Packard TRIED to get a license to build the Merlin in 1938 and RR flat out refused.

I don't think people appreciate the greatest advantage the Merlin had over the Allison. And that is it was in production for roughly three years before the Allison. Having three years to sort out production and service teething troubles would've been a huge help.

Shortround6

Brigadier General

The Merlin did not spring into being in 1933 all set to go.

The Prototype engines, two built and the first one run in Oct 15th 1933 had quite a number of problems and differed considerably in construction from later Merlins. One piece block and cylinders for one thing. considerable cracking. lots of problems with the cooling system. It wasn't flown until Feb 21st 1935 which was a busy year for the Merlin.

Two more prototype engines are built at the end of 1934/ beginning of 1935 the Merlin B. First run in Feb 1935. Flat cylinder heads are repaced by "ranp" or semi-penthouse heads with valves at a 45 degree angle. more problems with block cracking and they decide to go with separate cylinder castings and an upper crankcase casting in the next version.

We are now to the Merlin C, first run in April 1935, now has detachable cylinder heads, It is first flown in the Hawker Hurricane prototype, the engine is replaced 3 times as succeeding engines all suffer mechanical failures. It fails a 50 hour civil type test and it is decided to change from the composite water and steam to a 100% glycol system.

The Merlin D seems to have disappeared so the next engine is the Merlin E. It passes a civil type test in Dec 1935 but fails a military 100 hour test in March of 1936.

Itis followed by the Merlin F (later called the Merlin I) with more minor changes but still with the ramp head. The engine passes a reduced type test and is put into small scale production ( 25 built 1935-37) due to the escalating tensions with Germany. Merlin I's are built to the tune of 172 engines powering early Battles, the fairey P.4/34 and the Hawker Henley.

This is overlapped by the Merlin G (later the Merlin II) which goes back to the flat head and one piece cylinder block. It passes a type test in Oct 1936. There are 1283 Merlin IIs built from 1937 to 1939. Early Merlins, including the II suffered from piston ring flutter at maximum supercharge. This lead to rings breaking up, seizing and rapid total engine failure.

Finally with some changes, the Merlin III comes on line in 1938.
Now at what point does Packard swoop in and sign a licence agreement and start churning out Merlin's and of which type?

the Merlin IV, V, VIII and X all make their appearance in 1938 All (?) use pressure cooling with a 70/30 mix of water and glycol.

the Merlin XII shows up in late 39 or early 40 and the 45 shows up in 1940 with the Hooker modified supercharger followed by the Merlin 45 in 1941.

Since it took Packard about one year from the signing of the contract to first handful of engines during the war the chances of them beating that time scale by any significant amount in peace time is about zero. You want even a few dozen engines in 1939 you better have signed the deal in the middle of 1938.


USAAC/ USAAF/ USAF - Observation and Liaison Aircraft - History



























Aeronca O-58B/L-3B &ldquoGrasshopper&rdquo
United States, Two-seat Light Liaison and Observation monoplane

Archive Photos 1

1943 Aeronca L-3B &ldquoGrasshopper&rdquo (N47139)

1942 Aeronca L-3B/O-58B &ldquoGrasshopper&rdquo (N48716, msn O58B-6452)

  • Aeronca L-3/O-58 &ldquoGrasshopper&rdquo
  • Role: Observation and liaison aircraft
  • Manufacturer: Aeronca Aircraft
  • First flight: 1941
  • Primary user: United States Army Air Forces

The Aeronca L-3 group of observation and liaison aircraft were used by the United States Army Air Corps in World War II. The L-3 series were adapted from Aeronca's pre-war Tandem Trainer and Chief models. The L-3 was initially designated the O-58 at the time it was first ordered by the Air Corps. The airplane was given its service tests in the summer of 1941 during maneuvers in Louisiana and Texas where it was used for various support purposes such as a light transport and courier.

At the time American ground forces went into combat around the world during World War II, the Army Air Force began using the L-3 in much the same manner as the observation balloon was used in France during World War I &mdash spotting enemy troop and supply concentrations and directing artillery fire on them. It was also used for other types of liaison and transport duties and short-range reconnaissance which required airplanes that could land and take off in short distances from unprepared landing strips. Unfortunately, by the time that the United States entered the war, the Aeronca L-3 (and sister ship Taylorcraft L-2) were declared Operationally Obsolete, and never formally left for a foreign front this was partially due to a nasty tendency for it to stall and spin in a left-hand turn, partially because newer and more capable aircraft were already being pressed into service. Instead they were relegated to training fields to serve as trainers and hacks. Liaison pilots would train in an L-3 and then be moved on to larger aircraft like the Piper L-4 or, in the case of the Army Air Corps, the Stinson L-5.

There are reports that some L-3s were accidentally shipped to the African front, and subsequently given to the Free French Forces operating within the area at the time. It is not known how many were received by the French, nor how many survived the war.

The TG-5 was a three-seat training glider of 1942 based upon the O-58 design. This aircraft retained the O-58's rear fuselage, wings, and tail while adding a front fuselage in place of the engine. In all, Aeronca built 250 TG-5 gliders for the Army. The Navy received a small number as the LNR-1.

Variants 2

  • YO-58 &mdash Four aircraft with a 65 hp (48 kW) YO-170-3 engine
  • O-58 / L-3 &mdash A civilian Aeronca Defender in USAAC markings. Identifiable by "D"-windows in rear, and side-by-side seating.
  • O-58A / L-3B &mdash Now sported greenhouse canopy (like the above photo), and tandem (one behind the other) seating. Small radio mast on vertical stabilizer(identifiable by a tiny windsock). Some were fitted with wind-driven generators, presumably to provide power to the radios (The Aeronca L-3 had no electrical system).
  • O-58B / L-3B &mdash An L-3C before USAAC switched classification systems from "Observer" to "Liaison."
  • L-3C &mdash In response to "field" reports, body is widened by two inches to accommodate pilots flying with parachutes and other army gear. Radio mast is now a small tab over the vertical stabilizer and is little more than a grounding point.
  • L-3D &mdash D-J model L-3s are not actual contract aircraft, but aircraft straight from the civilian factory impressed into military service. An L-3D is merely an Aeronca 65TF Defender with a Franklin engine.
  • L-3E &mdash An Aeronca 65TC Defender with a Continental engine.
  • L-3G &mdash 65L Super Chief with a Lycoming engine (4 planes).
  • L-3H &mdash 65T Defender with a Lycoming engine (1 plane).
  • L-3J &mdash 65TC Defender with a Continental engine (1 plane).
  • TG-5 &mdash 250 were built as training gliders for the USAAC.
  • TG-33 &mdash TG-5 converted for prone pilot.
  • LNR &mdash Three TG-5s were supplied to the US Navy.

Operators 2

Specifications 3

The description below applies to the L-3, L-3A, L-3B and L-3C, all of which are generally similar, differing mainly in details of equipment.

  • High-wing rigidly braced monoplane.
  • NACA 4412 wing section.
  • Wings in two sections attached to top longerons of fuselage and braced to lower longerons by Vee struts.
  • Structure consists of two solid spruce spars, aluminum-alloy ribs, steel-tube compression struts and single-wire drag bracing, the whole being covered with fabric.
  • Ailerons have metal frames with fabric covering.
  • Braced monoplane type.
  • Welded steel-tube framework covered with fabric.
  • Fin built integral with fuselage.
  • Trimming tab in starboard elevator adjustable from cockpit.

Landing Gear

  • Divided type.
  • Faired-in side Vees hinged to lower fuselage longerons and half-axles hinged to Vee cabane beneath fuselage.
  • Oleo-spring shock-absorber struts incorporated in side Vees.
  • Full swiveling tail-wheel.
  • Mechanical wheel-brakes.

Power Plant

  • One 65-hp Continental O-173-3 four-cylinder horizontally-opposed air-cooled engine on detachable welded steel-tube mounting.
  • Fuel tanks (12 U.S. gallons) in roof of cabin and conforming to curvature of wings.

Accommodation

  • Enclosed cabin seating two in tandem.
  • Dual controls provided but L-3 usually flown from front seat.
  • Observer's seat may face forward or aft and went in latter position a folding table may be brought into use for maps etc.
  • Radio equipment.
  • Span: 35 ft 0 in (10.67 m)
  • Wing area: 169 ft 2 (15.6 m 2 )
  • Length: 21 ft 10 in (6.67 m)
  • Height (tail down): 9 ft 1 in (2.74 m)

Weights and Loadings

  • Weight empty: 835 lbs (379 kg)
  • Weight loaded: 1,260 lbs (572 kg)
  • Wing loading: 7.45 lbs/ft 2 (36.1 kg/m 2 )
  • Power loading: 19.39 lbs/hp (8.8 kg/hp)

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 87 mph (139 km/h)
  • Cruising speed: 70 mph (126.4 km/h)
  • Stalling speed: 46 mph (73.6 km/h)
  • Initial rate of climb: 404 ft/min (123 m/min)
  • Service ceiling: 10,000 ft (3,050 m)
  • Normal range: 218 miles (350 km)
  1. Shupek, John. &ldquoAeronca L-3,&rdquo The Skytamer Archive, Copyright © 2003, 2006 Skytamer Images. All Rights Reserved
  2. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Aeronca L-3
  3. Bridgman, Leonard, &ldquoAeronca: Aeronca L-3,&rdquo Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1943/44. Sampson Low, 1944

Copyright © 1998-2020 (Our 22 nd Year) Skytamer Images, Whittier, California
All rights reserved


Stinson L-1 Vigilant (Model 74)

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 06/12/2016 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The massive American military of World War 2 (1939-1945) fielded various "Light Observation and Liaison" aircraft during the years-long conflict. One entry became the Stinson L-1 "Vigilant" of which 324 were completed. A first-flight was had on July 15th, 1940 and service introduction arrived in 1941. The system went on to be used by both the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) and the British Royal Air Force (RAF). Design of the aircraft is attributed to A.P. Fontaine with all manufacture stemming from the Stinson Aircraft Corporation.

Observation and Liaison aircraft in military service provide improved communication for ground forces by giving a much-needed "eye in the sky". These aircraft are typically constructed as light as possible with few creature comforts for the crew and allow for basic performance while being very rarely armed. A high-wing monoplane fit is also typical as this generates inherent lift and allows the already light aircraft to loiter on station for longer periods of time when compared to traditional aircraft. It also allows these aircraft to operate from short, little-prepared airfields or rough terrain. A Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) feature became common to such aircraft.

Prompted by the impressive showing of a German Fieseler "Storch" liaison aircraft at the Cleveland Air Races, the USAAC pushed forth a requirement in 1938 for a similar-minded aircraft. Nearly a dozen concerns threw their hats into the ring but Stinson was able to convince USAAC authorities of the merits of their proposed lightweight platform. The aircraft became known internally as the "Model 74" and carried the usual traits - a high-wing monoplane, fixed undercarriage, limited internal space, a nose-mounted engine, and traditionally-arranged tail unit. Internally, the aircraft's construction was largely of steel tubing while its skin consisted of fabric and some light metal.

The prototype was taken on by the Army for evaluation as the "YO-49" and managed a first-flight on July 15th, 1940 (American had yet to officially enter the war). Power was from a Lycoming engine which drove a two-bladed constant speed propeller at the nose. Satisfied with their new little aeroplane, the YO-49 graduated into the O-49 "Vigilant" through a 142-strong initial production batch. Then followed 182 examples of the O-49A standard which brought along an increased (13 inches) fuselage. The O-49B was a modified air ambulance with fewer than five converted for the role.

In 1942, the line was redesignated under the more familiar "L-1". The L-1 was the original O-49 while the O-49A and O-49B became the L-1A and L-1B respectively. The L-1C were additional air ambulance types modified from the L-1A stock and 113 conversions to this standard followed. The L-1D became a training glider tug (mothership) aircraft and as many as twenty were converted for the role. The L-1E became another air ambulance (based on the L-1 form) but these were given special equipment to operate as amphibians for water rescues. Seven conversions followed. The L-1F was similar and built up from the L-1A production stock - five conversions were seen. CQ-2 marked L-1A conversions by the United States Navy (USN) for service as target control aircraft. Few were procured.

Under Lend-Lease, the Vigilant was adopted by the RAF and arrived in the Vigilant Mk I (L-1) and Vigilant Mk II (L-1A) offerings.

Beyond its typical over-battlefield roles, the L-1 was pressed into other non-direct-combat roles - artillery spotting, light transport, special forces/mission support. Many saw modification in-the-field to fulfill even more non-official roles as needed. The series saw wartime service until the end of the conflict in 1945 and soldiered on for a time longer. Before the cessation of hostilities, the L-1 was already being challenged by entries from Piper (L-4 "Grasshopper") and by Stinson's own L-5 "Sentinel".


Stinson L-1 Vigilant (Model 74)

The massive American military of World War 2 (1939-1945) fielded various "Light Observation and Liaison" aircraft during the years-long conflict. One entry became the Stinson L-1 "Vigilant" of which 324 were completed. A first-flight was had on July 15th, 1940 and service introduction arrived in 1941. The system went on to be used by both the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) and the British Royal Air Force (RAF). Design of the aircraft is attributed to A.P. Fontaine with all manufacture stemming from the Stinson Aircraft Corporation.

Observation and Liaison aircraft in military service provide improved communication for ground forces by giving a much-needed "eye in the sky". These aircraft are typically constructed as light as possible with few creature comforts for the crew and allow for basic performance while being very rarely armed. A high-wing monoplane fit is also typical as this generates inherent lift and allows the already light aircraft to loiter on station for longer periods of time when compared to traditional aircraft. It also allows these aircraft to operate from short, little-prepared airfields or rough terrain. A Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) feature became common to such aircraft.

Prompted by the impressive showing of a German Fieseler "Storch" liaison aircraft at the Cleveland Air Races, the USAAC pushed forth a requirement in 1938 for a similar-minded aircraft. Nearly a dozen concerns threw their hats into the ring but Stinson was able to convince USAAC authorities of the merits of their proposed lightweight platform. The aircraft became known internally as the "Model 74" and carried the usual traits - a high-wing monoplane, fixed undercarriage, limited internal space, a nose-mounted engine, and traditionally-arranged tail unit. Internally, the aircraft's construction was largely of steel tubing while its skin consisted of fabric and some light metal.

The prototype was taken on by the Army for evaluation as the "YO-49" and managed a first-flight on July 15th, 1940 (American had yet to officially enter the war). Power was from a Lycoming engine which drove a two-bladed constant speed propeller at the nose. Satisfied with their new little aeroplane, the YO-49 graduated into the O-49 "Vigilant" through a 142-strong initial production batch. Then followed 182 examples of the O-49A standard which brought along an increased (13 inches) fuselage. The O-49B was a modified air ambulance with fewer than five converted for the role.

In 1942, the line was redesignated under the more familiar "L-1". The L-1 was the original O-49 while the O-49A and O-49B became the L-1A and L-1B respectively. The L-1C were additional air ambulance types modified from the L-1A stock and 113 conversions to this standard followed. The L-1D became a training glider tug (mothership) aircraft and as many as twenty were converted for the role. The L-1E became another air ambulance (based on the L-1 form) but these were given special equipment to operate as amphibians for water rescues. Seven conversions followed. The L-1F was similar and built up from the L-1A production stock - five conversions were seen. CQ-2 marked L-1A conversions by the United States Navy (USN) for service as target control aircraft. Few were procured.

Under Lend-Lease, the Vigilant was adopted by the RAF and arrived in the Vigilant Mk I (L-1) and Vigilant Mk II (L-1A) offerings.

Beyond its typical over-battlefield roles, the L-1 was pressed into other non-direct-combat roles - artillery spotting, light transport, special forces/mission support. Many saw modification in-the-field to fulfill even more non-official roles as needed. The series saw wartime service until the end of the conflict in 1945 and soldiered on for a time longer. Before the cessation of hostilities, the L-1 was already being challenged by entries from Piper (L-4 "Grasshopper") and by Stinson's own L-5 "Sentinel".


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