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What the Model T Ford once meant to the American motorist, the Piper Cub once meant to the American private pilot. It was the plane in which thousands of pilots learned to fly, and, in most cases, the only one inexpensive enough for the average pilot to afford. And, like the Model T, the little monoplane was devoid of frills.
The Cub appeared late in 1930 as the Model E-2 and was built by the Taylor Aircraft Corporation of Bradford, Pennsylvania. Its name was derived from its original engine, which was known as the Brownbach Kitten. Then called the Taylor Cub, the "fore-and-aft" two-seater eventually was powered by a Continental A-40 engine producing 37 horsepower, later 65 horsepower.
The Cub was licensed by the federal government on June 15,1931. During that year the company sold a total just 22 aircraft--at a price of $1,325 each.
Sales of the Cub increased slowly but steadily, and in 1936, when 500 of the improved Model J-2 Cubs were sold, William T. Piper bought out his partner, C.G.Taylor. The J-2,with an enclosed cockpit, was produced only two years, during which time about 1,200 were built.
In 1938, after a disastrous fire forced Piper to move from Bradford to Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, the Model J-3 Cub was introduced. Although various models of Cubs in various configurations have been built throughout the years, the Model J-3 --more than 5,500 of which were delivered to the Army during World War II--was the best known of all.
The J-3 had a wing span of a little over 35 feet and a length of nearly 22½ feet. It was powered by either a Franklin, Continental or Lycoming 75-horsepower, four-cylinder, air-cooled engine turning a wooden propeller.
The J-3 had a cruising speed of just under 90 mph, a service ceiling of 11,500 feet, a range of 220 miles and weighed only 1,200 pounds--fully loaded with passengers and fuel. It was stable, highly maneuverable and easy to maintain.
It is probable that more pilots learned to fly in a Piper Cub than in any
other aircraft. Later models are still popular today with sportsmen and bush pilots
who frequently land and take off in restricted areas.
The preceding information was extracted from the pamphlet,
"The Great Airplanes Sterling Silver Miniature Collection", published by The Franklin Mint, 1979.
Permission was granted to ALLSTAR by The Franklin Mint to use the preceding materials.
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Updated: March 12, 2004