Piper L-4J 44-80344


Our Piper L-4J near Eschweiler, Germany in January 2019


History

Piper L-4J S/N USAAF 44-80344 (MSN 12640, frame no. 12470)

  • delivered to USAAF at Lock Haven, PA, 9th Air Force, Europe;
  • transferred to Army Ground Forces, Ninth US Army, XIX Corps, 34th Field Artillery Brigade, 547th Field Artillery
    Battalion [Unit Markings 69*OO], March 45     
  • Flown by Lt. Becker from an Airstrip near Maastricht (50th MR&RS) to München-Gladbach (presently known as Mönchengladbach), Germany, March 10, 1945. The 547th FA Bn was part of the 404th FA Group and had the majority of its heavy artillery firing from locations North of Moers at targets in Duisburg and Essen such as the Krupp factories.
  • March 17, 1945, 40th FA Group (547th + 548th +549th FA Bn’s) to support 2nd British Army on behalf of (NUSA) 9th US Army. Operation „Plunder“ and „Varsity“ crossing of the Rhein river.
  • 44-80344 saw action in the Battle of the Ruhr Pocket after being reattached to the 404th FA Group and from the after action reports and Battalion’s history al the exact locations where this L-4 saw action are known. 
  • April 8, 1945, records show operation from an airstrip several miles from the town of Östrich.
  • April 17, 1945, records show operation from Braunschweig.
  • April 19, 1945 final combat at Gnadau near the Elbe river.
  • May 4, 1945, “A Russian Encounter” It was the day the air section had its most interesting experience. Lt’s Becker and Marshall, while flying their usual patrol spotted a convoy of horse drawn Artillery, consisting of about 50 wagons and four tanks. It was a beautiful target except for one thing, and that was, would they let us shoot at them? We called in the fire mission and they refused to let us fire as they may be the Russians. We then decided to find out whether they were Russians or not, and so a quick "buzzing" was in order. Yes, they were the Russians. We landed the plane in front of the Russian Infantry CP, and what a time we had shaking hands with each and every one of them. The Russian Major, who was a very rugged individual asked Lt Becker for a ride in the Cub, and after consenting, the Major did not stop whistling and shouting until once more he was on the ground. What he said, no one knows but apparently they were shouts of joy. The major wanted to fly over the nearest town where Americans were stationed, and after having his request granted he leaned way out the window and shouted to everyone down below. Lt Marshall and Lt Becker had been gone about 3 1/2 hours when Lt Hengesch and the rear echelon kid, Mr Friedenreich, took off to find out "Vat vas Loss". They landed at the same strip that Lt Becker had landed on, and to their amazement found that the others had been having dinner with the Russian Colonel and his pretty secretary. We tried to use the sign language with the Russians to show them we had to get back to our CO or there would be heck to pay. The Russian Colonel said "No, you can't go home, you must stay here tonight" and for emphasis threw Lt Becker on the bed. At this time another Colonel came and seemed suspicious of the four Americans. He decided to shuffle us to the rear where we spent several more hours being interviewed and cross-examined. At 1930 that evening we were permitted to go back to our planes where we were greeted by an elderly Russian General. Through his interpreter we received, his apologies for having detained us for the examination.The two planes took off and as our salute to the Russian General we buzzed the field with both planes and took off FOR HOME.
  • returned to USAAF, 9th Air Force, Europe
  • registered F-BDTL June 19, 1947
  • cancelled December 3, 1952 as sold abroad
  • registered SL-AAC ,Saarland
  • reregistered SL-ABC ,Saarland
  • registered D-EDUH May 27, 1959,  cancelled August 29, 1975
  • registered OY-ALN 1976
  • registration SE-IML reserved June 1, 1982, not taken up
  • registered LN-RBI 1994, current