I thought there would be some interest in my family's 1944 Stinson L-5E 44-17543. Our Stinson was built in late 1944 at the Wayne Michigan plant of Stinson Division, Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation. Very soon after, it was modified with radios and delivered to an overseas shipping depot. The aircraft made it to ETO by March/April 1945 (not sure when exactly) and was assigned to Army Ground Forces (AGF). It came back in September 1945 with several hundred hours on the airframe, and was assigned to Fort Bragg and the 82nd Airborne Division, then soon after the 4th Signal Battalion (attached to 82nd Airborne Division). From there, it went to Pyote Army Air Field where it was mothballed. Called up again for Korea, the aircraft was then sent to the Civil Air Patrol and stayed there until 1956 when it was given by the USAF to the Des Moines Iowa school district for an Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) course. From there, it bounced from owner to owner when it was restored over a 9 year period from 1990 to 1999. We purchase the aircraft in 2003, just before I completed my private pilot instruction. I started flying it in late 2004 and have amassed almost 130 hours flying it.
The aircraft flies hands-off, and has a nice clean break on stall as long as you keep the ball in the center. If you are flying out of coordination, It will drop a wing and recover well without spinning due to the leading edge slots forward of the ailerons. The ailerons roll down 20 degrees to give you additional drag and lift with the 45 degrees of flaps. This allows you to touch down in the low 40's or 50's MPH. On take-off, the elevator has authority before the rudder, so keeping the tail on the ground for as long as possible keeps you out of trouble in cross-winds. In landing, it will cleanly three-point but a full stall firmly planting the main landing gear is preferred and is easier than a greased-on landing due to the heavy oleo struts supporting the landing gear. Fuel burn plan is 12 gallons an hour, but you can get away with 10.5-11 gph on cruise with leaning and judicious throttle use.
Maintenance is straight forward, but the tail wheel can be tricky to keep working if you don't have experience with it. The main wheels are bolt-together halves that need to be checked prior to each flight due to ease of separation if the bolts come loose. Engine parts are getting harder to come by, and detail-finishing the aircraft auxiliary components can be expensive. Wings are wood and need to be properly restored- half of all L-5's had animal hyde glue and this deteriorates over time.
Many of the surviving L-5's have combat history like mine. They were primarily used in Army Air Force Liaison Squadrons which were assigned to Army, Army Group, and Theatre Command level and USN/USMC Observation Squadrons (VMO). Additionally, by the end of WWII each Division Artillery section had 1 or 2 L-5's; that's probably where mine was. While the last 2/5 of L-5 aircraft were built as ambulances like mine, they weren't used for that in ETO until very late in the conflict. In CBI and PTO that is different- over 1000 casualties were evacuated by L-5 on Okinawa and the majority of these were flown off rice-paddy dikes only 2 feet wider than the gear track of the aircraft with ZERO accidents.
If you have questions/comments about the aircraft, post them here and I'll try to answer them as appropriate. The below photos are courtesy of Bill Dougherty and Massey Air Museum www.masseyaero.org. I am particularly proud of the last one- perfect three point attitude and I'm flying it!