L-13 Grasshopper

Technical Specs

  • Max Speed: 115 mph
  • Cruising Speed: 92 mph
  • Range: 368 miles
  • Service Ceiling: 15,000 feet
  • Wingspan: 40’ 5”
  • Length: 31’ 9”
  • Height: 13’ 10”
  • Weight: 2, 900 lbs max

Armament

None

Engine

245hp Franklin 0-425-9, flat 6

General Information

“A multi-mission airplane, it was supposed to be the ultimate in liaison birds, meant to carry as many as six people, a camera assembly and two litters side-by-side. It was to be a flying 4×4 truck, or maybe a Jeep.

Originally designed by Stinson and produced by the Consolidated Vultee Division of Convair, the structure was pretty unique. The main cabin section, from the firewall to the tailcone, was steel tube — almost all of which was exposed because of the overwhelming use of plexiglass and the total lack of anything even remotely resembling an interior. The upholstery was straight military issue — zinc chromate applied with a spray gun. Provisions were made on the right side for every inch to be opened when putting litters in place. The small diameter tailcone was of monocoque aluminum structure going back to a tail which featured a super-high position for the horizontal tail to keep it out of the way of short trees and tall bushes.

The wings are the usual all-metal construction, but feature a set of slotted flaps that could easily double as wings for practically any homebuilt. They probably run the lift coefficient of the wing out the roof for the first 15 degrees but from that point on, the drag rise is right off the scale.

The neatest feature of the airplane is the fit-in-the-box design. Using a Jeep as a standard unit of measurement, the military had the engineers design the machine so it could be towed through a hole just large enough to accept a Jeep (height obviously not-withstanding), meaning the wings folded back up against the tail, the stabilizer folded upward and the landing gear legs each rotated 180 degrees, which reduced its tread to that of a Jeep.

The military seemed obsessed with being able to deliver the airplane in unique ways so, besides designing it to slip into a box, the L-13 was also designed to be towed behind C-47s. Its own internal fuel gave a range of 398 miles which would normally be pretty short, unless it was hung on the rear of a Gooney Bird which gave it a range (most of which was one-way) measured in the thou-sands. Apparently, they could hang the plane on a rope, drive the Gooney Bird to where the L-13 was needed, cut it loose, and the L-13 would fire up and trundle merrily on its way.” [Taken from an article by Budd Avisson in Air Progress, Aug 1990]

Specific Information

This is a rare bird.  Our understanding is that there are only two flying in their original configuration but we haven’t verified that yet.  Many of the airframes were converted to dusters.  This aircraft was donated by Bill & Valerie Anders to the Heritage Flight Museum in October of 2000.