Aeronca L-3/O-58 Grasshopper
United States World War II Single-Engine Light Observation and Liaison Aircraft

Archive Photos 1

1942 Aeronca O-58B Grasshopper (N48716, s/n 058B-6452)

1943 Aeronca O-58B Grasshopper (N47139, s/n 058B-9093)

History 2

The Aeronca L-3 group of observation and liaison aircraft were used by the United States Army Air Corps in World War II. The L-3 series were adapted from Aeronca’s pre-war Tandem Trainer and Chief models. The L-3 was initially designated the O-58 at the time it was first ordered by the Air Corps. The airplane was given its service tests in the summer of 1941 during maneuvers in Louisiana and Texas where it was used for various support purposes such as a light transport and courier.

At the time American ground forces went into combat around the world during World War II, the Army Air Force began using the L-3 in much the same manner as the observation balloon was used in France during World War I — spotting enemy troop and supply concentrations and directing artillery fire on them. It was also used for other types of liaison and transport duties and short-range reconnaissance which required airplanes that could land and take off in short distances from unprepared landing strips. Unfortunately, by the time that the United States entered the war, the Aeronca L-3 (and sister ship Taylorcraft L-2) were declared Operationally Obsolete, and never formally left for a foreign front; this was partially due to a nasty tendency for it to stall and spin in a left-hand turn, partially because newer and more capable aircraft were already being pressed into service. Instead they were relegated to training fields to serve as trainers and hacks. Liaison pilots would train in an L-3 and then be moved on to larger aircraft like the Piper L-4 or, in the case of the Army Air Corps, the Stinson L-5.

There are reports that some L-3s were accidentally shipped to the African front, and subsequently given to the Free French Forces operating within the area at the time. It is not known how many were received by the French, nor how many survived the war.

The TG-5 was a three-seat training glider of 1942 based upon the O-58 design. This aircraft retained the O-58’s rear fuselage, wings, and tail while adding a front fuselage in place of the engine. In all, Aeronca built 250 TG-5 gliders for the Army. The Navy received a small number as the LNR-1.

Variants 2

Operators 2

Specifications 3

The description below applies to the L-3, L-3A, L-3B and L-3C, all of which are generally similar, differing mainly in details of equipment.




Tail Unit

Landing Gear

Power Plant



Weights and Loadings



  1. Shupek, John. Aeronca L-3, The Skytamer Archive, Copyright © 2003, 2006 Skytamer Images. All Rights Reserved
  2. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Aeronca L-3
  3. Bridgman, Leonard, Aeronca: Aeronca L-3, Jane’s All The World’s Aircraft 1943/44. Sampson Low, 1944


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