Carroll V. Glines’ new work Those Legendary Piper Cubs: Their Role in War and Peace (Schiffer Military History, Atglen, Pa., 2005, $45) will amaze you. His love of the Cub extends back more than 65 years to the date of his first solo in one. And he is a resourceful historian who knows instinctively how to put aircraft and aviation into a human context.
C.G. Taylor brought forth the first of the Cubs through a series of high-wing monoplanes. One of Taylor’s investors was William T. Piper Sr., who found himself unexpectedly in the aviation business, attempting to salvage the Taylor Aircraft Co., which had fallen on hard times in the midst of the Great Depression. The efforts of Piper—a great businessman and an even better salesman— turned the new tandem-seat Cub into the world’s fastest-selling airplane at a bargain price of $1,270, FAF (fly away field).
Cubs were simple, but demanding enough to make good pilots out of those who flew them. Glines covers their peacetime popularity in detail, but is at his best in describing how the Cubs became an invaluable instrument of war—not just as liaison planes conducting brass from one meeting to another but also flying reconnaissance missions and sorties over enemy territory.
For many readers, the most revealing material is likely to be contained in Glines’ final four chapters, where he charts the difficulties of adjusting to a peacetime production pace and its follow-on, the Super Cub. Glines concludes with three valuable appendixes on the Cub’s evolution, specifications and records.
Originally published in the July 2006 issue of Aviation History. To subscribe, click here.