Piper’s J-5 Cruiser was the company’s attempt at a three-place J-3 Cub and was first introduced in December 1939. With a single seat up front for the pilot, and a widened rear seat, it is possible to carry three people in the J-5, though the two in the back need to be kids or on the slim and friendly side. The wider J-5 makes a very comfortable two place airplane.
Several of the early J-5s were used by air taxi operators because of the added room and economical operating costs that were similar to the J-3.
In addition to the wider fuselage, Piper added a 75hp Continental with the J-5A, and introduced the 100hp Lycoming in the J-5C. The J-5C also had a fully enclosed cowling which cleaned up the aerodynamics a bit and added even more to the cruise speed (though still less than 100mph).
The U.S. Navy bought around 100 J-5Cs and converted them to ambulance aircraft during World War II. The Navy’s HE-1 could carry a single litter patient behind the pilot with a clamshell door opening the rear part of the fuselage for access.
After World War II Piper changed the designation of its aircraft and the J-5 became the PA-12 Super Cruiser.
The museum’s J-5A was built in 1941