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Artifact Friday: The Piper NE-1

This is our last blog post of 2023!

Today we are talking about our Piper Cub which is designated by the US Navy as an NE-1.

The Piper Cub is one of the most recognized light aircraft in the aviation world. In 1930, a test version was introduced dubbed the Taylor E-2 which was developed to encourage aviation interest in the country.

While this company was originally owned by C. Gilbert Taylor, it was eventually bought out by William T. Piper hence the “Piper” in the aircraft name.

Piper encouraged more designs based on the original Es. The model that came out of his encouragement was the first “J” designed by Walter Jamineau in 1936. The “J” or J-2 as it became, gave a huge boost to the company as between 1936 and 1938 1,200 J-2 Piper aircraft were produced.

Jamineau made more alterations to the J-2 design and created the Piper J-3 model. The J-3 model became the most popular, especially for the newly formed Civilian Pilot Training Program (introduced in 1939).

When the United States military saw the success of Pipers in civilian training, they began using them as well. The aircraft served many roles in the military, but the one role it is most famous for is its use as a Liaison and Observation aircraft. These aircraft were designated as L-4s- L standing for Liaison. These “L”’s were used by the U.S. Army and Army Air Corps for patrol, reconnaissance, and evacuation. The liaison aircraft were painted in the typical OD green paint

scheme (for the D-Day invasion, they had black and white stripes on the wings).

J-3/L-4 models used by the Navy were designated as NE-1s like ours. The Navy (as well as the Coast Guard and Civil Air Patrol) used NE-1s for training, reconnaissance, and coastal patrol. Sidenote, one of the interesting ways the Navy would use the NE-1s in patrol or reconnaissance was to launch them off airships/air balloons!

Our Navy NE-1 is on display in our historic White Hangar. It is on loan to us from the Pensacola Naval Aviation Museum in Florida, and it is a fitting example of early military aviation!


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