Piper L-4H


Timelapse 1944-2014
Timelapse 1944-2014

This Piper arrived in January 1944 in England, under the US Air Force number 43-30036. Assigned to the 8th Air Force, he followed the landing and the advance of the Liberation of France, directed by General Patton to the Germany.

He wears the colours of the 12th TRS (Tactical and recognition Squadron): blue and white tiles on top of the drift and the nose, such as P51 Mustangs of this mixed Squadron.MapWWII

At the end of the second world war, American Forces returns to the US and the Piper L-4 are left behind and given to the local Allied governments.

43-30036 and passed into the hands of the Belgian authorities and began his civilian life in Belgium, thethe Royal Antwerpen Aéroclub , registered OO - JOE.

Low and slow
An Englishman bought the aircraft in the 1970s.

Restored in its original colors by the old aircraft restoration company Sky 4 Aviation in England, it returned to France in late 2013.

The 12th TRS

The 12th TRS during World War II: In Operation Overlord to daylight with General Patton "

Insignia of the 12th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron
Insignia of the 12th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron

12th TRS is a squadron of the US Air Force dedicated to tactical reconnaissance.
It was equipped with a diverse fleet during the second World War: A - 20 Havoc, 1942

P51 Mustang of the 12th TRS
P51 Mustang of the 12th TRS

P 51/F-6 c Mustang, 1942 then P-51/F-6 d Mustang, 1943-1946
Spitfire PR Mk XI, 1942-1944
L-4 Grasshopper, 1942-1943
DB-7 and A-20 Havoc, 1943

Upon their arrival in England late 1942, pilots followed intensive training with the RAF.
The squadron became quickly operational and positioned on 8 different bases before D-Day.

12th TRS had a major role in the photography of the beaches of Normandy in light of the alloy debarqument.


See all the photos of F-AYZA in the gallery

From J3 to L-4

© Jean-Marie Urlacher
© Jean-Marie Urlacher

The Piper Cub, (Piper J3) is a light aircraft , built from 1937 to 1947 in the United States by Piper Aircraft.
Plane in tandem (two-seater one behind the other), it was originally simply intended to learning of the cockpit. But thanks to its simplicity, its low cost, it is become one of the most popular and well-known of all time. This is not without remember what the Model T Ford is to the automobile.
L-4 stretcher When the army American sought a liaison aircraft and observation, Piper Aircraft modified the Piper J3 expanding significantly the glass surface and the device received the appellation of O-59 (1941), then L - 4 (from April 1942), and not (within the U. S. Navy).

Its role and the multiplicity of its uses was considerable:
Reconnaissance missions, transport of personnel and sensitive material, adjustment of artillery fire, medical evacuations of wounded soldiers.

During the liberation of France in 1944, the slow speed of the L-4 and maneuverability have made an ideal observation platform to find the German tanks hidden in ambush in the Norman bocage.

On August 22nd 1944, around 10:30, Leclerc took place on board his Piper and flew to Laval to meet with General Bradley, who was the only one to be able to make the march of the 2nd DB on Paris possible.
On August 23rd, the Piper Cub dropped to the besieged Parisians the famous message of General Leclerc: "Stand firm, we arrive. On this subject, see section"Mission Report 2nd DB: Dropping L-4 Message Gal Leclerc Parisians".

Paris, Avenue de la Grande Armée, August 1944
Paris, Avenue de la Grande Armée, August 1944

General characteristics:

Crew: one pilot
Capacity: one passenger
Length: 22 ft 5 in (6.83 m)
Wingspan: 35 ft 3 in (10.74 m)
Empty weight: 765 lb (345 kg)
Payload: 455 lb (205 kg)
Maximum weight: 1.220 lbs (550 kg)
Powerplant: 1 × Continental A-65-8 air-cooled horizontally opposed four cylinders, 65 hp (48 kW) at 2,350 rpm

Maximum speed: 76 kn (87 mph, 140 km/h)
Cruise speed: 65 kn (75 mph, 121 km/h)

Around the L-4

In memoriam, Roland Lepers

Roland Lepers, with F-AYZA, born 43-30036

In 2014, we had the honour to invite Roland Lepers, for a flight in Piper L - 4 H (1943) on the landing beaches.
He had not flown them since that he was group bomber pilot Lorraine, alongside Romain Gary, Pierre Mendès-France, and many others just as heroic. 70 years ago, to this last flight.

Magical instigator of this day, Jean-Marie Urlacher had immortalized him with very nice pictures, and a reference article on the flypast over the D-Day beaches (see here).

Overview of the Colleville cemetery

Resistant at the age of 19 years, pilot in the free French Forces in the United Kingdom, where he met his wife, Fortuna.
Wasquehal native (North) has joined in January 1941 in Marseille, the Ian-Garow network - Pat O'Leary, an underground group of assistance to soldiers of the British army and the Royal Air Force on french soil.

Today, peace and freedom...

On 10 March 1942, Roland Lepers left the France to reach England via the Spain and Gibraltar.

Roland Lepers in the front seat

Then he will be awarded the British Empire Medal. "In London, Pierre Mendès-France, who will later be appointed Commissioner of finance for the General de Gaulle, had given me to choose between money and this medal."

In 1943, he joined the Canada for training flight. Lorraine bomber Group pilot, he will return in October 1944, the free French forces on the air base of Vitry Artois (Pas-de-Calais), taken over by the air forces of the free France in the Luftwaffe. It will take place above Holland and the Germany.

Roland flew to 96 years, joining his friends, to whom he had dedicated the bottle of champagne he opened at the end of our flight together.

Roland and Jean-Marie

The Piper Cub in the press of June 6, 1945, flyby over the Champs Elysées and passages under the Eiffel Tower

Publié dans "L'aviation Française", du 20 juin 1945.

The Piper L - 4 play to pass under the Eiffel Tower, and close the parade of June 6, 1945, in honor of the first anniversary of d-day.

Flying over the D-Day beaches, by Julia Apfelbaum

One of our favorite images in this superb series by Julia, of Distant Thunder Aviation Photography.

The entire series is visible by clicking here.

The Piper L - 4 H F-AYZA flying over the landing beaches

The art of the pre-flight on a Cub

A period film:


Piper Cub, the passion, André Bréand plane

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Piper Cub, the aircraft passion

Ham and Jam is proud to have participated in the new edition of the book of French-speaking reference on the Piper Cub. In addition to appear on the cover, you will also find a double page on F-AYZA, the Cub 1943 flying today within our association.

Passion, the Piper Cub plane always symbolizes the school plane and ideal Marina management. For the ordinary people, the "Cub" name has long been part of the colloquial and means for the uninitiated 'club aircraft. Do we not often hear pronounce the name of Piper 'Club '?

From conception to his descendants, through the dark hours of the second world war, it is a complete look that is worn on this aircraft and its derivatives. Illustrated with many photographs and plans three views, this book also meets the expectations of designers.

Aerospace technician, aviation journalist and Piper Cub pilot, André Bréand offers with this complete and detailed study of the first historical book in French on the Cub, its ancestors and its derivatives.

Meeting with an L-4 veteran pilot

"Je me sens à la maison" a dit Maurice de Castex en rencontrant 43-30036 (F-AYZA).
At the age of 97, he has forgotten nothing of these flights in French fighter aircraft in 1939, or in Piper L - 4 in the Division of free France (DFL).
He remembers well flying his Cub under the Eiffel Tower!

Maurice of Castex, Piper L - 4 pilot in 1944 (c) Laurent Cluzel
Maurice de Castex, Piper L-4 pilot in 1944
(c) Laurent Cluzel


Paris and liberated France: we flew under the Eiffel Tower

Painting by François FLOHIC , aide de camp to general de Gaulle, offered to Pierre SIMONET in 2015, in the memory of his passage in 1945 under the Eiffel Tower

After May 8, 1945, VE day, our section reached Paris and arived in the field of Issy les Moulineaux, the current heliport.
It was the end of a busy year, with strong moments, beautiful landscapes, strange adventures, meeting with an exciting environment and men of exception, solid friendships, and the immense comfort of losing no comrade.
But us, the early hours rebels, needed again do something of the ordinary.
I suggested:
- And if we were flying under the Eiffel Tower?
The flight plan was quickly organized: low fly past the Trocadero esplanade and its gardens, the Iéna Bridge, passing under the huge iron arch, flying over the Champ de Mars and straighten over the military school. There was room to spare.
The next day, the month of May was soon gone past, the weather was superb, our three Piper Cub flew the great passage. There were few people; an American soldier photographed our flight.

It wasn't a feat of flying. It needed more boldness than expertise. We had not asked any permission to any authority.
The Air Force, such as the Civil Aviation Authority, sailed in the euphoria of victory.
Nowadays, the aviator who would fancy flying under the legs of the great lady DFL_1erRA_Cub-EiffelTowerwould be severely admonished.
But it was a different era. Long ago, at the time the wings of Liberation flew over France".

Pierre SIMONET, Compagnon de la libération
Observer in Piper Cub to the 1st DFL field Regiment R.A., Division of the France Libre)

Piper L-4 Moon pursuit

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Nose art on Piper L-4

The Nose Art were rare on the Piper L-4, especially in the artillery.
A common exception was the Cubs who worked within squadron of the US Air Force amid fighter or bombers aircraft...).

Fly past under the Eiffel Tower

Cartoon in Stars And Stripes, 1944
Cartoon in Stars And Stripes, 1944

The 33rd reconnaissance and photo Squadron arrived at Toussus-le-Noble (A-46) just after the Liberation.

En septembre 1944, Le pilote Lt. Luther "Peaches" Killingsworth ne résista pas au plaisir de rendre visite à la tour Eiffel en passant avec son Piper L-4 DESSOUS.

His flight led him to have an article in the newpaper of the U.S. Army, Stars and Stripes. At least another pilot repated the exploit during November 1944.

(Source: History of the 33rd PRS)

2nd mission DB report: drop in L-4 of the message of General Leclerc to Parisians

Captain Callet
Captain Callet

August 24, 1944, Captain Callet (pilot) and Lieutenant Mantoux (Observer) carried out a historic mission aboard a Piper L-4: they dropped over the Prefecture of Paris the message announcing the arrival of the troops of General Leclerc, and thus the release of capital.

The story of the driver (written by Renaud Leblond) and report this exceptional mission:

Mission Report
Mission Report
Mission report (continued)

"C'est par un temps de chien, le 24 août, vers 13 heures, que je reçois l'ordre le plus inattendu de ma carrière. Je suis alors à Rambouillet, d'où, le matin même, les blindés de la 2e DB se sont ébranlés pour gagner au plus vite la capitale.

My eight aircraft - Piper Cubs American responsible for correcting artillery - are stuck on the ground. Trapped by this drue rain that continues to befall. Like me, my observer, lieutenant Etienne Mantoux, is disappointed: this evening, or tomorrow at the latest, Leclerc tanks penetrate Paris hero, then the flight, it bogged by the storm, will teach the victory without participating. We are really envious... When suddenly a dripping Jeep stops before the PC of the flight.

Un officier de liaison de l'artillerie, le capitaine Righini, en descend, puis se dirige vers nous. Sa voix est pressante: "La capitale s'est soulevée, dit-il. C'est la Préfecture de police qui dirige les opérations et qui subit le choc principal des forces allemandes. Les agents tiennent héroïquement, mais ignorent l'avancée fulgurante de nos blindés.

Message of the General Leclerc Leclerc

Des émissaires ont atteint le PC de Leclerc. Ils ont dépeint la situation dramatique de ceux qui combattent dans Paris et qu'il faut, à tout prix, rassurer..." Je comprends aussitôt la mission: survoler Paris et lâcher sur la Préfecture un message lesté de plomb. Quatre petits mots: "Tenez bon, nous arrivons." Mantoux et moi sommes gonflés à bloc. Malgré le mauvais temps. Malgré, surtout, les risques insensés qui se profilent: comme tous les Pipers, mon avion n'est pas blindé; il est lent et ne dispose pas de moyen de riposte. D'ailleurs, le règlement est formel: un piper ne doit jamais traverser des lignes ennemies.
Except in an emergency. Except in the euphoria of release looming, but is still holding a wire. Around 3 p.m., a thinning offered to us. Hurry, we put on our parachutes and complete our belts. For a first stopover in Arpajon. This time, I pray the Lord. Intensely.

Lieutenant Mantoux
Lieutenant Mantoux

Et, tandis que le moteur de l'avion se met à vrombir, me revient cette phrase du "Chant des Francs": "Les heures de la vie s'écoulent... Nous sourirons quand il faudra mourir." Sur la piste, les équipages sont rassemblés. Ils nous disent adieu. Notre avion bondit sur la bande de la prairie. Les pouces se lèvent. Nous filons vers l'inconnu...
Le ciel s'est dégagé. Au sol, nos chars, bien visibles avec leurs panneaux roses, jalonnent la ligne avancée des combats. Ils sont désormais derrière nous. Etienne et moi sommes étonnamment calmes. Pour me cacher des Allemands, mais aussi pour m'orienter, je joue avec les nuages. Dans une sorte d'extase, je répète au micro cette phrase de Montherlant: "Savoir enfin ce qui compte et ce qui ne compte pas. Et nous en tenir à ces clartés que nous avons délimitées sous le soleil de la mort." Mais Etienne me corrige: "Oui mon capitaine, mais nous en tenir à ces clartés que nous ?allons? délimiter sous le soleil de la mort!"
Quand? Là maintenant, alors que, les premiers, nous découvrons Paris et oublions tous les dangers. Je reconnais le Panthéon, puis la Préfecture. Etienne me confirme l'objectif. Que faire? Je hurle: "Attention, je vais piquer!" L'avion bascule, vire et plonge. Je veux tromper l'ennemi. Simuler une chute. L'altimètre décroît. Rien, pas un coup de feu. Nous sommes bientôt à quelques mètres au-dessus des flèches de Notre-Dame. Je redresse brutalement l'appareil en amorçant un virage circulaire autour de la Préfecture. Etienne explose: "Message lancé!" Et je vois alors la banderole couleur d'or qui le signale se dérouler comme dans un rêve...

Captain Callet and Lieutenant Mantoux, the heroic crew

Finally almost. The left bank, machine guns are being put in action. Like Hornets, the tracer pass our aircraft, which slowly tried to regain altitude. If I continue my ascent, the Germans will correct their shooting. My decision is taken: I returned the shoulders and stings to death on roofs to shave more closely. The lull will not last. Le Kremlin-Bicêtre, we hit head-on. A crash occurred at the level of the landing gear. We are moving in a zigzag in a frantic race. At Villejuif, in Arcueil, Cachan, machine guns spew unabated. The return is endless. Until: orchards, suburbs, Montlhéry and our tanks which darken toward Paris. We cry with joy. We are alive. And it is a wing without landing gear that we lie in a meadow.
Le général Leclerc nous félicite. Il nous apprend que le message a été reçu, compris et exécuté. Je ris d'un rire nerveux. Comme si j'avais perdu la raison."

Photo shoot with François

Deux Jeep, des membres de l'association de reconstitution historique "79th Memory group", et le Piper L-4H de Ham and Jam responded to François Besse's invitation for a photo shoot that illustrates a very beautiful report on the Piper in the second world war.

First flight under French colors

For 70 years, the small liaison aircraft travelled road and collected the passports.

Let's go flying
Let's go flying
Brand new reg
Brand new reg

It was American to his arrival in England and during its passage by France in 1944.

He was OO - JOE and OO - AJL in Belgium, and finally G-BLPA to return to England.

On March 24, 2014, it made its first flight with a new indicative, french this time: F-WYZA. W marks the phase of transition.

In a few days, it will be called F-AYZA.