J3C Flitfire

Photo: Dennis Stewart

J3C Flitfire

Restored to flying condition

UPDATE: On a cold and windy December day just before Christmas, 2021, the Museum’s 10th flyable aircraft took to the skies for the first time. Lead restoration specialist and Museum pilot Mike Durkee at the controls.

The Piper J3C Cub is often called “the Model T of aviation”. Known for its simplicity, ruggedness, and low price, it was the most popular light airplane of the 1930s and 40s.

Cubs performed valuable service as the primary airplane used by the Civilian Pilot Training Program, which used civilian contractors to perform the first stage of military flight training.

Built during the war, but before America’s involvement, the Flitfire was conceived of as both a show of support for Britain and a promotional effort for the Piper company. Actually nothing more than a regular Cub in bare silver dope and British markings, initially just a single example was built. Later, with the support of various Piper dealers around the country, 50 more Flitfires were produced.

In late April 1941, 48 Flitfires were flown in formation to LaGuardia Airport in New York City where a fundraising gala was held. Painted on the cowling of each of the airplanes was the name of a state. At the conclusion of the event the money raised was donated to the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund – an organization that supported British pilots and their families. The aircraft themselves were then handed out to the dealerships that had sponsored them for use in drumming up additional aircraft sales.

Civil History

The museum’s airplane was completed as a J3C-65 on 13 January 1947. Over a period of 70 years, it had at least 4 engines, 6 propellers, and 20 owners. Then, in 2017, the airplane was purchased by volunteer Dennis Stewart and gifted to the museum in honor of his father Robert Lee Stewart, a United States Air Force veteran.

manufacturers piper 1941

Serial Number: 22743  |  Tail: N3513N

Piper / Taylorcraft

First Flight:
April 27, 1941

Only production:
April 10-22, 1941


Crew: Pilot, Passenger

Engine: Continental A65-8F 4 cylinder air cooled horizontally opposed

Max Speed: 90 mph

Horsepower: 65

Armament: none

Wingspan: 35 ft, 3 in

Length: 22 ft, 5 in

Height: 6 ft, 8 in

Max Weight: 1,220 lbs

Service Ceiling: 11,950 ft

Max Range: 206 miles

Fuel Capacity: 12 gallons