Piper Cub History

The Piper Cub was conceived in bankruptcy and developed during the Great Depression. The J-3 Cub was so popular that it made a fortune for, Mr. William T. Piper. The Cub's silhouette is instantly recognizable to every aviator and is universally known and loved. The Cub has touched the lives of a majority of aviators, either as a model built at home, a training aircraft, ownership or just a dream. Most pilots have either flown a Cub or wished they had. The J-3 was so successful that at one time, "Cub" became a generic term for all light airplanes. There is a saying in aviation that "if you can land a Cub smoothly, you can land anything."


The J-3 Cub is by far the most successful of the 11 "Cub" designs. In   1929, Mr. Piper, who had made his money in Pennsylvania oil fields, invested in an aviation company headed by Mr. C.G. Taylor. Mr. Piper persuaded Mr. Taylor to design a low priced, low upkeep airplane to sell to the general public. Unfortunately, before the new design "took off," the Taylor Aircraft Company declared bankruptcy and Mr. Piper bought all of the company assets for a total of  $761.00. Now the owner, Mr. Piper reorganized the Taylor Aircraft Company. Piper gave Taylor half interest and the presidency but retained control of the finances himself. Eventually, Piper bought Taylor out in 1936 after the two had disagreements. Taylor then started another company of his own, Taylorcraft Aviation.

Mr. Piper's dream of building a lightweight, inexpensive and easy to fly aircraft took the form of the J-2 Cub (the "J" representing the last name of the plane's designer, Walter Jamouneau). While the J-2 Cub brought Piper Aircraft some success, it was Jamouneau's next project, the J-3, that ensured Piper's place in aviation history. The J-3 Cub featured a new steel tubing frame (which allowed the use of more powerful engines), bucket seats instead of boards, a steerable tail wheel and brakes (a feature seldom found on light aircraft of the day).

In the words of one historian, "The J-3 turned out to be exactly the right airplane at the right time and quickly dominated the light plane market." Production of the J-3 Cub began in 1938 and continued until 1942. After the war, buoyed by the sale of thousands of J-3s to the military where they saw combat action as L-4 Grasshoppers or as part of the Civilian Pilot Training Program, the J-3 continued in mass production until 1947. The standard J-3 Cub has proved to be a wildly popular and versatile aircraft, many J-3s (or later model Cubs) have been fitted with floats or even skis. The Cavanaugh Flight Museum's J-3 was produced in 1939 and wears the same paint scheme that all factory built Piper J-3 Cubs received until 1947.
 

SPECIFICATION AND PRODUCTION INFORMATION

ENGINE:                   Continental A-65 65 h.p.
WING SPAN:                35 feet, 3 inches
LENGTH:                   22 feet, 5 inches
HEIGHT:                   6 feet, 6 inches
WEIGHT (UNLOADED):        707 pounds
CREW:                     2
MANUFACTURED BY:          Piper Aviation
TOTAL CUBS BUILT:         Approximately 40,000
TOTAL IN EXISTENCE TODAY: Nearly 11,000
FIRST J-3 CUB BUILT:      1938
MUSEUM'S J-3 CUB BUILT:   1939
MAXIMUM SPEED:            85 mph
RANGE:                    190 miles
SERVICE CEILING:          11,950 feet

 

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