Piper Cubs of the LuftwaffeThough the Germans had a perfectly fine liaison plane in the form of 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.
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 (possibly Swedish?) 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. A couple must have survived, however, because two planes were supposedly completed in Denmark after the war.
Meanwhile, the Germans rounded up the survivors, including the J-2 shown above 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.
More recently, Brandon Miller sent me the photo at left and the one at the top of the page. It seems that his late grandfather, George Reed Morris, was the pilot who liberated 1319 and flew her back to an American airfield. (He's the young lieutenant leaning against the Cub's prop at left.) In the process, he was being almost shot down by an over-eager A-20 pilot, which may explain the plaintive 'Don't Shoot!' painted on the Cub's nose. The photos are shown at higher resolution on the Warbird's Forum message board.
These are the Danish Cubs impressed into German service:
- Taylor E-2 s/n 339 OY-DUL (Bradford)
- Piper J-2 s/n 1155 OY-DAO (Lock Haven)
- Piper J-2 s/n 1156 OY-DYN (Lock Haven)
- Piper J-2 s/n 1160 OY-DAO (Lock Haven)
- Taylor J-2 s/n 1316 OY-DEP (Bradford)
- Taylor J-2 s/n 1317 OY-DIP (Bradford)
- Taylor J-2 s/n 1319 OY-DUP (Bradford)
- Piper J-3 s/n 1163 OY-DUM (Lock Haven)
- Piper J-3 s/n 1995 OY-DIT (Lock Haven)
- Piper J-3 s/n 1998 OY-DAT (Lock Haven)
- Piper J-3 s/n 2335 OY-DES (Lock Haven)
- Piper J-3 s/n 2479 OY-DIS (Lock Haven)
- Piper J-3 s/n 2480 OY-DYT (Lock Haven)
- Piper J-3 s/n 2481 OY-DOT (Lock Haven)
- Piper J-3 s/n 2485 OY-DUT (Lock Haven)
- Piper J-3 s/n 2534 OY-DYR (Lock Haven)
- Piper J-3 s/n 2583 OY-DUR (Lock Haven)
- Piper J-3 s/n unkn OY-DOM (Lock Haven)
- Piper J-4 s/n 4565 OY-DAV (Lock Haven)
In addition to the Danish-registered Cubs, a Lithuanian J-3 was also impressed into German service; this is the plane shown at the top of the page. It too may have been assembled by Cub Aircraft Co. Ltd.
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.
At left: the logo of the "Piper Pub" tavern at the South Sweden Vintage Flying Club, courtesy of Mattias Jönsson.
Question? Comment? Newsletter? Send me an email. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford