US Taylor L4 ''Grasshopper'' Observation Plane

  • Military Aircraft Of The World
  • 1 min

By Crusader1307

A unique plane, The Taylor Aircraft Company (later named The Pipers Company), manufactured a lightweight, private commercial aircraft, named The "Cub" in 1937. Almost immediately, The US Army saw a need for such aircraft as possible Observation planes. With the advent of Pearl Harbor, hundreds of these aircraft were ordered. Their Military designation was The L-4. Pilots and soldiers in the ground called them "Grasshoppers". This was due to their short take off and landing abilities, similar to the insect. Almost immediately, "Grasshoppers" were deployed to Hawaii as short range, 2-seater Observation craft. The L-4 was pressed into Stateside service, patrolling both The East and West Coasts of America, looking for both German and Japanese Submarines. The L-4 was 22-feet long with a 35-foot wingspan. It was capable of an airspeed of 85 mph with an operational ceiling of 12,000 feet. They were not intended to be armed. However, when used as an Artillery Observation Plane, especially in German occupied Territories, "Grasshoppers", came under constant fire. This situation was solved by then Major Charles Carpenter, known better to history as "Bazooka Charlie". A L-4 Pilot, he had (6) Recoiless Anti-Tank Weapons (Bazookas), mounted under the wings of his "Grasshopper" (3 under each wing). The "configuration" was electrically armed and fired. Major Carpenter destroyed 6 German Tanks thus way, in his L-4 - nicknamed affectionately, "Rosie The Rocketeer". In England, a famous L-4 nicknamed The "Flitfire", was used on the Homefront as a "War Bonds" Drive, propaganda aircraft. Flown all over England, "Flitfire" became a household name. 10,000 L-4s were produced. The L-4 was used effectively in North Africa, Italy and The Mediterranean - mostly as Artillery Observers and long distance Couriers. They would continue well into the Korean Conflict, with some going into the early Southeast Asian conflicts of Vietnam  (by both French and American Forces).