The Taylorcraft L-2 Grasshopper is an American observation and liaison aircraft built by the Taylorcraft Company for the United States Army Air Forces during World War II.
The United States Army Air Force ordered four Taylorcraft Model Ds in 1941, giving them the designation YO-57. These aircraft were evaluated through the extensive summer manoeuvres of that year across much of Louisiana and Texas. Used as what amounted to a flying Jeep in various support roles such as a light transport and courier. The success of the YO-57 lead to a production order as the O-57 Grasshopper, this changed in 1942 to the L-2 Grasshopper, reflecting a shift in primary purpose from ‘Observation’ to ‘Liaison.’
When American ground forces went into joined the action in Russia, the Army Air Force found the little L-2 was as useful in its original role of Observation as it was keeping dispersed units in contact with each other, in effect it became the replacement for observation balloons as used in previous conflicts – spying out enemy concentrations and spotting artillery onto them. This was hardly a safe or easy job in the lethal skies over Russia. The Grasshoppers could neither fight nor run away and as allied airpower grew to dominate the front, the increase in German front line air defences claimed many low flying L-2s. By late 1944 the Tactical Observation role had moved on to other, higher performance aircraft, leaving the L-2 to soldier on as a flying jeep on wheels or skis as the weather dictated.
In all it’s tasks the L-2’s ability to use short rough landing grounds was of great benefit, and soon they came to take on casualty evacuation as another job, landing close behind the front to whisk wounded men back to hospitals in the rear.
YO-57 - Military version of the Taylorcraft Model D, four for evaluation with a 65hp YO-170-3, later became O-57 then L-2.
O-57 - Production version with minor changes and a 65hp O-170-3 engine, 20 built, re-designated L-2 in 1942.
O-57A - O-57 with modified cabin and military radios and an observers seat that could face backwards, 336 built, re-designated L-2A
L-2 - O-57 re-designated in 1942,a further 50 built.
L-2A - O-57A re-designated in 1942, a further 140 built.
L-2B - L-2A with modifications for artillery spotting with a 65hp Contintental A65-8 engine, 490 built.
13 Taylorcraft Model DC65 impressed into Army service.
L-2D - One Taylorcraft Model DL65 impressed into Army service.
L-2E - Two Taylorcaft Model DF65 impressed into Army service.
L-2F - L-2B built under Licence in Australia, originally designated UC-95.
L-2G - Two impressed Taylorcraft Model BFT65s with 65hp Franklin 4AC-150 engine.
L-2H - Nine impressed Taylorcraft Model BC12-65s with side-by-side seating and a 65hp Continental A65-7 engine.
L-2J - Five impressed Taylorcraft Model BL12-65s with side-by-side seating and a 65hp O-145-B1 engine.
L-2K - Four impressed Taylorcraft Model BF12-65s with side-by-side seating and a 65hp Franklin 4AC-150 engine.
L-2L - Single impressed Taylorcraft Model BF30 with side-by-side seating and a 50hp Franklin 4AC-150 engine.
L-2M - L-2A with close-fitting engine cowls and wing spilers, 900 built.
UC-95 - See L-2F.
Specifications (Taylorcraft L-2)
- Crew: Two, pilot and observer
- Payload: 480 lb (218 kg)
- Length: 22 ft 9 in (6.9 m)
- Wingspan: 35 ft 5 in (10.8 m)
- Height: 6 ft 8 in (2 m)
- Empty weight: 680 lb (309 kg)
- Loaded weight: 1,200 lb (544 kg)
- Useful load: 450 lbs (204 kg)
- Powerplant: 1× Continental O-170-3 4-cylinder air-cooled engine, 65 hp (48 kW)
- Maximum speed: 93 mph (98 mph L-2M) (150 km/h)
- Cruise speed: 83 mph (134 km/h)
- Range: 230 miles (370 km)
- Service ceiling 10,400 ft (3,170 m)
- Rate of climb: 350 ft/min (L-2M) (1,070 m/min)