Taildragger Tales

Piper Cubs of the Luftwaffe

Liberated Luftwaffe Cub among L-4s
A J-2 Cub, liberated from its service with the Luftwaffe, is parked in a covey of L-4s

Though the Germans had a superlative liaison plane in the Feissler Storch (Stork), the Luftwaffe also appreciated the merits of the lighter, cheaper Piper Cub, especially when one could be had for no cost as war booty.

The German army and air force stormed into Denmark on April 9, 1940. The Danes put up little military resistance, but the citizens immediately began a policy of non-cooperation and subversion that would last for the next four years. As one small part of this resistance, the Danes torched the Cub Aircraft Co. Ltd. factory, which had been set up in 1938 to assemble airplanes sent over from Lock Haven in kit form. (A number of these were actually Taylor Cubs, built in Bradford, Pa.) Altogether, Denmark imported 16 J-2s, 24 J-3s, and 8 J-4s, of which 32 were assembled before the German invasion. Apparently they were painted silver, with a blue Cub lightning flash.

Danish Cub At least one J-3 was flown to neutral Sweden to keep it out of German hands. This plane (shown at left in its present incarnation as SE-AIC) was s/n 2486, meaning that it was built at Lock Haven in 1938 as one of the first batch of true J-3s. It was delivered as a completed aircraft to a Danish ) customer in 1939. It belongs to Per Hallin and reportedly has J-2-style ailerons.

Thirteen partly-assembled Cubs were destroyed when the factory was set on fire. The destruction may not have been total, however, because two Cubs were supposedly completed in Denmark after the war.

Meanwhile, the Germans rounded up all the civilian Cubs they could find, including the J-2 shown at the top of the page after it was re-captured (and the paint touched up) by American forces. This plane has been identified as s/n 1319, formerly registered in Denmark as OY-DUP. A Taylor Cub built at Bradford in 1937, it was probably exported the same year and assembled in 1938. It seems to me that Piper supplied its Danish affiliate with Taylor-built J-2s and early-production J-3s, no doubt to make room for the new models at home. That would explain why SE-AIC appears to have J-2 ailerons.

Brandon Miller sent me that photo and the one below. His grandfather, George Reed Morris, was the pilot who liberated 1319 and flew her back to an American airfield. (He's the young man leaning against the Cub's prop at left.) In the process, Lt. Morris was almost shot down by an over-eager A-20 pilot, which may explain the plaintive 'Don't Shoot!' painted on the Cub's nose.

Liberated J-2 poses with American officers

These are the Danish Cubs impressed into German service:

In addition to the Danish-registered Cubs, a Lithuanian J-3 was also impressed into German service. Sources: A tip of the virtual hat to Roger Peperell and his invaluable book Piper Aircraft, to Emil Hauge in Cub Clues, to the website Luftwaffe Experten, and to Mattias Jönsson from Sweden.

Question? Comment? Newsletter? Send me an email. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

Flying Tigers
3rd edition 2016

Other websites: the Warbird's Forum | Daniel Ford's books | Facebook | Sail Alaska's coast | Reading Proust

Posted July 2017. Websites ©1997-2017 Daniel Ford; all rights reserved.