Warbird Alley
Featured Aircraft:

Piper L-4E N35920

Steve Dunn's L4E, N35920

Steve Dunn's 1941 Piper L-4E, N35920, began life as a J-4E. The only L-4E registered in the United States, it was restored over a period of three years, and was completed in August 2000 after 2,500 man-hours of work. Steve keeps it at Panama City, Florida, USA.

Restored using documentation provided by Author Ken Wakefield, the aircraft utilizes an authentic paint scheme which replicates aircraft DP852, a J-4A which served with the RAF during WWII. DP852 was impressed into military service on 25 March 1941, and served with several different units throughout the war. The D-Day markings were applied to the airplane on 5 June 1944, when the aircraft was serving with #83 Group, 2nd Tactical Air Force.

DP852 was heavily damaged in a landing accident at Hopstein, Germany on 20 April 1945, when it ran over a hidden tree limb. In July of that year, #405 Repair and Salvage Unit "traded" the remains to Flying Officer George Steele of #419 Unit for a bottle of Scotch. It was subsequently struck from service on 26 July 1945.

Detail Photos:

Tail-mounted antenna drogue.

A tail-mounted AVA-120 reel antenna with a drogue sock was standard equipment on most radio-equipped L-4s and L-5s. The "W/T" stencil indicates an electrically-bonded control surface.



L4E front view.

The original DP852 had a 75-hp engine, but N35920 features an 85-hp Continental C85-12F. It also has a full electric system with a starter, whereas the original had a wind-driven generator. Other differences include a metal wing spar instead of the original J-4A's wood spar, and an increase in gross weight from 1,200 to 1,400 pounds. Steve says his L-4E is a little faster than a J-3 Cub, cruising at 87 mph at 2150 RPM, but it climbs a bit shallower due to its heavier gross weight.



L4E cockpit.

Original wartime L-4Es certainly never looked this good! (At least not for long.) N35920's instrument panel was carefully fabricated from original drawings, with the addition to a transponder/altitude encoder which allows Steve to fly through the military airspace near his Florida home. Note the heel brakes on the left side floor, and the vintage radio unit on the right panel.



L4E cockpit side panel.

Switches for launching emergency flares and a crank for extending and retracting the antenna wire are mounted on a panel above the pilots' left window. Flares were used not only for battlefield illumination, but also for night time emergency landings.


Our thanks to owner Steve Dunn for the photos and information about his beautiful L-4E restoration.
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