The Piper Model J-3 'Cub' was originally designed by the Taylor brothers as a small, light and simple utility aircraft. It is one of the most popular and best-known light aircraft of all time, and its simplicity, affordability, and popularity invoked comparisons to the Ford Model T automobile. Its standard yellow paint job came to be known as "Cub Yellow."
Its predecessor, the Model E-2 Taylor Cub, first appeared in 1930. It underwent several changes and became the J-2, released in 1936, and William T. Piper bought out C. G. Taylor. Although sales were initially slow, about 1,200 J-2s were produced before a fire in the Piper factory ended its production in 1938.
After Piper moved his factory, the J-3 replaced the J-2. Powered by a 40 horsepower (30 kW) engine, in 1938 it sold for just over $1,000. Sales were boosted by the pre-World War II Civilian Pilot Training program, and the Cub was later modified to perform various military duties. An icon of the era, the J-3 Cub has long been beloved by pilots and non-pilots alike, with hundreds still in use today. Its military variant, used during World War II was designated Piper L4. Used primarily as a trainer and a surveilance plane, an L4 "Grasshopper" once found itself pursued by a German Messerschmitt Bf-109, outmaneuvered it and caused it to crash, and was credited for a kill.
Piper sold some 8,707 J-3s between 1938 and 1941, and an additional 5,673 L4s.
With a wingspan of just over 35 feet (11 m) and a length of nearly 22.5 feet (6.8 m), the J-3 was powered by a 75-horsepower (55 kW), four-cylinder, air-cooled engine and had a cruising speed of 87 miles per hour (140 km/h) with a range of 220 miles (350 km).
In 1949, the J-3 was replaced by the Piper Super Cub, which Piper produced until 1981 when it sold the rights to WTA Inc. In all, Piper produced 2,650 Super Cubs. The Super Cub had a 150-horsepower (110 kW) engine which increased its top speed to 130 miles per hour (210 km/h) and its range to 460 miles (740 km).
Modernized and up-engined versions are still being produced today by Cub Crafters, as the Cub continues to be sought after by bush pilots for its STOL capabilities.