View Full Version : Piper L-4B

Algernon Lacey
8th Jan 2003, 18:32
I recently ( last year ) became one if the proud owners of
a Piper J3-C90 reg. G-AXGP. It however carries a data plate stating that it is a Piper L-4B serial number 9542.
We believe that the aircraft served with the French armed forces in North Africa during WW2 before passing on to the Deauville Flying Club.

Does anyone have any information on it`s history or the colour scheme / markings it would have carried?

All help much appreciated.

AL :) :) :)

9th Jan 2003, 00:38
A quick bit of googling gives the USAAF serial of 43-681 for L-4B 9542. It appears to have been assigned to the 67th Fighter Wing, maybe the 20th FG at Kingscliffe or possibly a wing 'hack'. It suffered an accident at Kingscliffe 29/1/44 and was struck off charge as damaged beyond repair 18/7/45. Don't know if this was due to the same mishap or another one :eek: . It next shows up in France (F-BGPS) possibly via the French AF but more likely as a basket-case in view of the above.

The Liaison Pilots Assn may have more info (http://www.centercomp.com/ILPA/).


Algernon Lacey
9th Jan 2003, 07:51
Thanks Paper Tiger

I`ll check out the link.
May I ask where you found this information `cos I`ve been racking my brains and exhausting the search engines and come up with a big fat 0!!:) :)

9th Jan 2003, 09:52
Like many ex-military Cubs I suspect yours either incorporates parts from several airframes or has been the victim of a paperwork mix-up very common with ex-French L-4s. Records for the original French civil identity F-BDTM show it as factory serial no. 9542 and its USAAF serial as 43-681, both of which would fit with it being a 1942-built L-4B. However its later registration F-BGPS is shown in some sources as factory serial no. 12544/44-80248, which is an L-4J, and yet another frame no. 12374 (also an L-4J) has been quoted, possibly suggesting a replacement fuselage. I've also seen the USAAF serial 43-28251 quoted for this aircraft, but so far as I can tell that wasn't a Cub of any sort!

I'd strongly recommend you join the Vintage Piper Aircraft Club, whose members include many J-3/L-4 owners. Secretary Roger Peperell and his colleague Colin Smith are the acknowledged world experts on the histories of Pipers. Colin, in particular, has exhaustive records of L-4s/J-3s and should be able to set you straight (Roger Peperell, VPAC, 51 Church Street, Kidlington, Oxford OX5 2BA, e-mail: [email protected]). You should also get hold of a copy of Ken Wakefield's classic but out-of-print book 'The Fighting Grasshoppers', published by Midland Counties Publications in 1990, ISBN0-904597-78-4. It is packed with information and photographs about wartime L-4 operations, and has details of colour schemes etc. Can't locate Ken's contact details at the moment, but when I do I'll post here he's The Man when it comes to L-4 and liaison aircraft lore.

Philip Whiteman
9th Jan 2003, 11:35
WWII liason aircraft guru Ken Wakefield also wrote Lightplanes at War,
published by Tempus in 1999 (ISBN 0 7524 1727 4): a better read than The Fighting Grasshoppers (and less redolent of a minor insect battle), abeit one with indifferent photo reproduction (with the exception of Chris Whiteman's splendid cover air-to-air of my L-4!)

As to swapped fuselages - hmm. At the risk of opening a can of worms, I would say the aeroplane's identity stays with the main fuselage frame, which is the biggest single structural item, and carries the serial number. The French were not so diligent in keeping the correct logbooks with the right machines, so mix-ups are common. They may well have made up bitsas through rebuilding two or more L- Cubs together, and using whichever bits came to hand first in completing the final product. Piper's mass production methods should have ensured good parts interchangability.

As I am not sure it would be right to post his address without checking with him first, If you would like to send a private message to me, I will forward it to Ken Wakefield.

P.S. Maurice Brett's old Aeromodeller scale drawing is a first-rate guide to markings, for those wishing to paint up their L-4s authentically.

9th Jan 2003, 17:00
43-28251 was a Lockheed P-38J. Doubt if any parts used to rebuild a Cub :D

As to the google 'methodology', I just enter the id and follow what comes up. British reg. gave me French reg., that gave USAAF serial which led to unit records etc.

Prof Denzil Dexter
9th Jan 2003, 20:47
Hi Algy,

Has 'GP still got the french horn mounted on the front fuselage?

Can just see it now.......a Cub purring overhead, pilot hanging out of the door sounding it's horn!