Piper J-2 Cub

Display Status:

This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Collection Item Summary:

William Piper and the Piper Aircraft Corporation board of directors anointed this Cub, completed on November 2, 1937, as the first official Piper J-2 and flew it as the company plane until April 1939.The tandem two-place J-2 is the transition model of stable and economical Cub light aircraft that made flying easy to learn and afford. The J-2 cost $1,470 or could be rented for $10 an hour. A total of 1,207 Taylor and Piper J-2 Cubs were built from 1935 to 1938.

This Cub had a succession of owners. It was restored by Hal Goff of Aero Enterprises of Pittsburgh in 1976, then flown to Lock Haven where former Piper Cub engineer Walter Jamoneau piloted it. Lefferts Mabie Jr. of Pensacola, Florida, acquired it from yet another owner in 1981 and donated it to the Museum in 1984.

Collection Item Long Description:

William Piper and the Piper Aircraft Corporation board of directors anointed this J-2 Cub, NC 20137 completed on November 2, 1937, as the first official Piper J-2 and flew it as the company plane until April 1939. The J-2 is the transition model of the line of economical and affordable training aircraft known as the Cub that began with the Taylor E-2 and became the ubiquitous Piper J-3. From the J-3 came the tremendously successful line of Piper personal and business aircraft that continues into the twenty-first century.

In the late 1920s, C. Gilbert and Gordon Taylor founded the Taylor Brothers Aircraft Company of Rochester, New York, and built the A-2 Chummy, a small parasol-wing, side-by-side, open-cockpit aircraft. Gordon Taylor was killed in a crash and C.G. moved to Bradford, Pennsylvania, encouraged by the promise of financial assistance for his company. William T. Piper and other local oilmen provided capital for Taylor to redesign the high-priced ($3,985) Chummy, into a low-cost, high-wing tandem aircraft with side panels and a door. The 20 hp Brownback Tiger Kitten engine barely powered the aircraft off the ground, but, it motivated Taylor's accountant to observe that an airplane with a kitten engine should be known as a cub, and a legend was born.

In 1930, the Taylor Company went bankrupt, but Piper bought the assets for $761 dollars and retained Taylor as president. The aircraft received a Continental A-40 engine and became the Taylor E-2, resulting in sales of more than 300. Still not satisfied with the design and acting on owner suggestions, Piper hired Walter Jamouneau in 1935 to improve the aircraft. Jamouneau designed a true cabin by raising the turtle deck and fairing it into the trainling edge of the wing; he also rounded wing tips and gave the little plane a curved rudder and fin; the Taylor J-2 emerged. However, Taylor's objections to the new design led to the breakdown of his partnership with Piper who then bought out Taylor. Taylor left the company in 1935 to found Taylorcraft Airplane Company in Ohio. About 695 Taylor J-2s Piper were produced at Bradford until the factory burned to the ground in March 1937. Piper moved the company to an old silk factory in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, and began production again in July. By November the aircraft name changed to Piper. In all 1,547 E-2/J-2 Cubs were built from February 1931 through May of 1938.

The J-2 is a high-wing, strut-braced, tandem cabin monoplane, with welded steel tubing fuselage and tail surfaces. The wing consists of solid spruce spars and built-up riveted aluminum ribs and the leading edges are covered with thin aluminum sheet. The landing gear is of the split axle type with bungee cord shock absorbers and the 7.00 x 4 wheels are not provided with brakes.

The early models came with a leaf-spring tailskid and later options offered brakes and a steerable tail wheel. The entire airplane was fabric-covered. Most production models were equipped with the four-cylinder 40 hp Continental A-40-4 engine and a Sensenich wooden propeller. Most of the early model Cubs were painted dark red and silver; not until later J-2 production and the J-3 did the famous "Cub Yellow" became prevalent.

The Piper J-2 in the NASM collection, serial number 1937, rolled off the production line on November 2, 1937. Company pilots and William Piper himself flew it for two years as the Piper business aircraft. The engine was improved to 50 hp in 1938. A succession of owners included Lee Fahringer, Clayton Miller, Eugene Smith, HRB-Singer, Inc. of State College, and Robert Dunlap. Hal Goff, of Aero Enterprises in Pittsburgh, found the airplane in a hangar in West Virginia and restored it to flyable condition. He flew it to Lock Haven in 1976 where it generated great interest at the roll-out ceremony of the 100,000th Piper aircraft, a Cheyenne. While there Walt Jamoneau and astronaut Pete Conrad flew the aircraft. W. C. Connell, of Pensacola, Florida, acquired it by 1979 and sold it to Lefferts Mabie, Jr. of Pensacola, late in November 1984. Mabie donated it to the Museum in December 1984.