Australian & New Zealand Military Aircraft Serials & History
RAAF Piper L-4 Grasshopper/Cub

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Piper L-4 Grasshopper 
4 Squadron RAAF,
12th January 1943
Huon Peninsula, Dumpu
New Guinea:


Piper L-4 Grasshopper/Pup Image Gallery

  Six Cubs were acquired from the US 5th Air Force in 1943 and were pressed into service with 4 Sqn , RAAF.

The Cub's were never officially taken on 4 squadron strength, but simply "borrowed" from the Americans. They were willingly handed over at the request of an Australian Army Liaison Officer, at Finschafen December 1943. They may have been "a Christmas present" as there are no specific details of their appearance. The squadron daily movement sheets record the cubs only once or twice.

The Cubs supported the 7th and 9th Divisions AIF. The duties mainly consisted of flying Officers over the forward troop positions when wireless communication was near impossible between division headquarters and forward patrols due to the mountainous terrain. They would be used as a relay from the troops back to HQ. Pilot log book entries also record a few landings behind enemy lines, on sandbars etc to pick up downed American airmen.

Although unarmed, one received a combat credit as it was chased by a Japanese Tony with the Cub successfully out maneuvering it causing it to crash.

F/Sgt Norm Pagett seems to be the pilot credited with claiming the "Tony" fighter in the Ramu Valley in early 1944. He saw the aircraft coming and continued to turn towards him at tree top level before he got into firing range. The very frustrated Japanese pilot finally attempted a very tight steep turn, which resulted in a high speed stall and crash into the jungle.

43-1199 had the squadron code 'QEII' . On pilot who flew this aircraft in early 1944 made entries in his logbook such as " twice shot at by jap sniper...promptly liquidated by a patrol" or "....sniffing out jap store dumps under coconut trees along river, caught in low level B25 raid not briefed about, A/C holed by shrapnel from bombs"

The tropics were very harsh on men and machines. The perspex windows would buckle under the intense heat and humidity only to be replaced by wood or metal sheets. Torn fabric and other airframe damage due to the harsh operating conditions were also fairly common.

Not having the official service backup for the Cub's, the RAAF had to improvise, and these aircraft eventually had to make do with makeshift fabric, locally designed windows and a all-over grey finish using the paint used to paint the boxes in the Quartermaster's store.

By 1945 many of the RAAF cubs had fallen into disrepair and forgotten at Nadzab.

At some pint n 1945, the local natives started a fire in the long Kunai grass at Nadzab. Apparently that the choice was save the Cub's or the ammunition dump and so the Cubs passed out of RAAF Service.

" Who'd ever think these little chaps
Would someday swat marauding Japs,
Then scuttle off 'midst palms and ferns
And laugh like hell as Tony Burns"

RAAF 4 Squadron Poem

Additionally, there is a curiously empty RAAF form E/E.88 for a Piper Cub that one was loaned to the RAAF from the USAAC starting 30/05/44 and was fitted with a "L5 Lycoming" but contains no further information. As it turns out, his actually relates to Stinson L.5V 42-99129 which was incorrectly reported as a Piper Cub!

Serial Type c/n Aircraft History
43-854 L-4B ? To Australia Mar 17, 1944
43-936 L-4B ? To RAAF Nov 19, 1943
43-976 L-4B ? To Australia Sep 5, 1943
43-1199 L-4B ? To Australia Sep 5, 1943

Piper L-4 Grasshopper 
4 Squadron RAAF,
12th January 1943
Huon Peninsula, Dumpu
New Guinea:

A Piper L-4 Cub aircraft used by the officers of the 7th Australian division for reconnaissance work and for visiting forward units in the valley. Identified from the left: VX53 Major I H Lowen and Flight Sergeant A J Hunter, Royal Australian Air Force.

? L-4B ?  
? L-4B ?  
Piper Cub 4 Sqn Malahang, New Guinea. 1943-09. A Piper Cub aircraft on patrol at the surfing beach of Malahang swoops over relaxing troops and the wreck of the Japanese ship Myokomaru. AWM 017789 via Brendan Cowan Piper Cub 4 Sqn LAE AREA, NEW GUINEA. 1944-11-26. A PIPER CUB AIRCRAFT OF THE RAAF SWOOPS LOW OVER THE AUSTRALIAN AND ALLIED SERVICE PERSONNEL ENJOYING A SWIM IN  THE WARM WATERS OF THE HUON GULF WHILE ON A SHARK PATROL OVER THE SURFING BEACH NEAR HEADQUARTERS, LAE BASE SUB AREA.AWM 077096 via Brendan Cowan Piper L-4 
"Bull Shit Bomber" 
4 Sqn Piper L-4 Piper L-4 4 Sqn RAAF with VX53 Major I H Lowen

Page Author Brendan Cowan.

Sources: Australian War Memorial, , RAAF Status Card, National Archives of Australia,

Emails: Darren Crick, Gordon Birkett, Martin Edwards, Richard Haynes,

Updated 10 October 2013

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