Maintainance project: Piper L4H "Spotter Plane"
By Richard Commings & Kim Frost Fuglsang
General Dwight D. Eisenhower once said: "The Jeep, the Dakota and the Landing Craft were the three tools that won the war",
One of these famous slow flying aircrafts were the Piper L4H well known during World War Two. Normally only armed with the pilots personal pistol and rather exposed to enemy fire as the light airplane gave the pilot no protection at all.
Fortunately there is also a group of entusiasts around the world that put a lot of resources and passion in to rebuilding and maintaining these historical aircrafts.
One of our friends in the UK, Richard Cummings, is one of these entusiasts. We would like to bring the story of his restoration project of a Piper L4H that in fact participated in Normandy during D-Day, June 1944 and survived the war.
This is of course correct, but only slightly as there were many other ""ingredients", tools and processes that made the Allies finally win the war. One of these other tools were the, at that time in 1944, the unique "Ground to Air" corporation. Or put in simple words, the way Landforces and Airforces worked closely together and basically communicating on the same channel and working on the same task. One way of co-operation could be for the landforces, often being progressing infantry units, to direct air attacks or bombings on enemy positions. The other way of co-operation could also be when a spotter plane was sent over enemy lines or positions giving instructions, positions or co-ordinates to artillery units where to shell enemy positions.
Here is another airborne Spotter Plane also in D-Day markings
We hope to see the the Piper in the air soon and who knows, we might see the spotter plane in the sky above the beaches of Normandy in 2014 allowing us, the thankfully ground forces, to salute our " little friend in the sky".
Richard is assisted by another of our friends, Lee Burrow, the owner of Group North, specialising in tailor made tours, often with a historical or cultural twist.
I am rebuilding a Piper L4H serial number 11535 manufactured in December 1943 tail number 43-30244. The aircraft served with the79th Infantry Division and was used in the days after D day for the attack on Cherbourg.
It then was used until the end of the war. Unfortunately the division did not keep a war diary so which field artillery battery it was with is not known. It has been a ground up rebuild as it had been in a landing incident some years ago.
JANUARY 2021 - UPDATE.
Richard Cummings, has post his full restoration, had some memorable trips in his L4H in to Normandy and around Europe and UK.
After retirement, he decided tthat it was time to pass on the L4H to a new owner whereafter he passed it on to a new owner in Perth UK who is flying her on a regular basis keeping her in flying condition.
(TOP LEFT) The renovated L4H parked next to the pilots tent ready for action. (TOP RIGHT) Line up with other WW2 L4s at St Andre de L’eure, Normandy in June 2019 ready for the D Day celebrations.
The 6th of June 2019 was a glorious day for the D-Day celebrations. However US President Trumps presence caused a lot of security activities that put a damper on the opportunity to take the traditional fly past over the beaches on the very day. The following day, June 7th, there was a horrendous storm so, Richard had to got to Chartre to hangar the A/C. The following day the wind was too strong to get to the beaches. So on the 9th Richard had to get going back to UK as the weather was going to be worse back home.
Truly a memorable trip for the WW2 spotter plane and its proud pilot and owner.