Cub J3C-65

The Piper Cub story

For those with a basic knowledge of aircraft there are two aircraft that capture the imagination – the Piper Cub and the Boeing 747. Although they are aware of many ‘others’ it is these two that symbolize the small and the large end of aircraft recognition.
The story of the Piper Cub starts in 1927 when two brothers, Gilbert and Gordon Taylor, decided to build a light plane. Their 1930 two-seat Taylor E-2 was underpowered, but when the engine was replaced by a Continental A-40 engine of 37 hp it was a flying success, but not a financial one. The financial depression forced the Taylor company into bankruptcy. Oilman, William Piper, purchased the assets of the company in 1931 with Gilbert Taylor as president. Twenty-two of the revised E-2, known as the ‘Cub’, were sold in 1931, retailing for $1,325. Design changes introduced by Piper caused friction with Taylor who left the company.
By 1938 the upgraded aircraft, known as the Piper J-3 Cub, was being produced with a choice of engines from Continental, Lycoming and Franklin. By 1940 engine power was up to 40 hp. Piper strove for low-cost production and introduced a standard colour scheme – bright yellow trimmed with black.
The Cub, a two-seat tandem cabin monoplane, was small with a wingspan of only 35 feet (10.7 m). With a 65 hp engine it could make a maximum speed of 85 mph (137 km/h) and could travel 190 miles (350 km) on a tank of gas. While other manufacturers, such as Cessna and Beech, were building bigger and better, Piper focused on low-cost flying and in 1940 Piper produced over 3,000 aircraft. This was mostly due to the buildup in flying programs to support military flying due to the war in Europe that was under way. 75% of pilots trained in the USA under the Civilian Pilot Training program were trained on Piper Cubs.
National news showed wartime leaders, such as General Eisenhower, flying around the war zone in Europe in a Cub. Civilian Cubs joined the war effort by patrolling coastal areas for U-boats under the Civil Air Patrol program. In the conflict areas Cubs under the generic name of ‘Grasshoppers’ were used for reconnaissance, transporting supplies and medevacs. Almost 20,000 Cubs were built between 1938 and 1947.
Postwar Cubs were priced at just over $2,000, but the sales boom quickly dropped off and Piper turned to other more advanced models to better serve the needs of its customers. Soon the fabric-covered Vagabond, Pacer and TriPacer were replaced by the all-metal Cherokee.
 
Peter Deck demonstrates precision flying as he lands his plane on the world's smallest airport
- a car travelling at 50 mph. This image, taken at Langley airport, is of the Museum's Cub.
(Photo: Chilliwack Museum)
 
The Piper Cub in Canada
In 1936 the Cub Aircraft Co was formed and operated out of a small shop in Hamilton, Ontario. The company provided sales and service for the Taylor (Piper in 1937) Cubs. Some machines were assembled from American-built components and appeared on the Canadian civil register with a C- prefix to their American construction numbers, eg J3C-50, CF-BOA, (c/n C-3154). In 1939 the company built a factory of about 25,000 sq. ft. (2,322 sq m) at the Hamilton Municipal Airport and moved its operations there.
During the war Cub Aircraft made aircraft parts and small assemblies for a number of Canadian aircraft companies. It also overhauled sixty aircraft for the RCAF of three unspecified types but probably D.H.82Cs, Fleet 16Bs and Fairchild PT-26s. In 1945 Cub Aircraft tooled up for the Piper J3 and started production of that type, as well as importing other US-made Piper models.
The J3 fuselage and empennage were made of welded steel tubing and the wing had spruce spars and built-up duralumin ribs. The whole aircraft was fabric covered. The J3 was offered in the United States with several different engines but the Canadian-built machines only had the Continental A-65 fitted. The type could also be used on Edo 54-1140 floats or on Cub CC-35A skis. Canadian-built Cubs had a higher loaded weight than their American-built counterparts.
A unique Canadian version, the L-4B Prospector, was later introduced. This was a civil version based on the US military L-4 version, very similar to the J3 from which it stemmed. The Prospector was, as its name implies, adapted for prospecting or camping. It had an enlarged baggage compartment behind the rear seat. The rear seat and control column could be quickly removed to convert the whole rear of the cabin into a freight compartment. A one-piece windshield and a cabin heater were installed. An optional enlarged fuel tank could increase the range from 250 miles (402 km) to 375 miles (603 km).
The Canadian prototype of the J3 Cub, CF-BUO, was first flown from Hamilton Municipal Airport on 31 October, 1945, by Harold F. Mitchinson. The J3 and L-4B stayed in production in Canada until the end of 1948. One last J3 Cub, CF-GAY, was assembled from Cub Aircraft components in 1952 by Leavens Bros at Toronto. Cub Aircraft produced 131 J-3s (c/n 101C to 206C and 208C to 232C) and 18 L-4Bs (c/n 207C, 233C to 239C). All other aircraft delivered by Cub Aircraft were aircraft built in the USA or assembled from components supplied by Piper.
The J3s and L-4Bs were used primarily for training and private flying along with some light transport work. Some were converted for crop spraying and when this was done an 85 hp Continental C-85 engine was frequently installed.
Over 300 Cubs are registered in Canada, of which 50 are Canadian-built Cubs. There are also a small number of Piper J4s registered in Canada. This aircraft is structurally similar to the J3 but features side-by-side seating for the two occupants.
 
Technical Details: J3C-65 Cub 
Serial: 174C, CF-DRU
Manufactured: 1946
Engine: 65 hp Continental A-65 four cylinder, horizontally opposed
Maximum speed: 90 mph (145 km/h); cruising speed 80 mph (129 km/h)
Empty weight: 680lb (309 kg)
Loaded weight 1,220 lb (554 kg)
Span 35 ft 3 in. (10.74m)
Length 22 ft 3 in (6.78 m)
Height 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)
Wing area 178 sq ft (16.54 sq m)
 
 
 
In 1947, a fierce winter windstorm destroyed the newly constructed hangar at Chilliwack.
The Museum's Cub is shown in the debris.
(Photo: Chilliwack Museum)