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Stinson L-1 Vigilant

The Stinson L-1 liaison aircraft (originally designated O-49) was the military version of the civilian Stinson Model 74. It marked the transition between heavier and larger observation aircraft used by the U.S. Army Air Corps in the 1930s and the lighter liaison “grasshopper” type aircraft represented by the L-series during World War II.

Between 1939 and 1941, the Army Air Corps ordered 142 L-1s and 182 L-1As with a 13-inch longer fuselage. Equipped with full-span automatic slats on the leading edge of the wings and pilot-operated slotted flaps on the trailing edge, Vigilants were well suited for operations from short fields.

The versitile Vigilant was used for a variety of missions both in the United States and overseas during WWII, including towing training gliders, artillery spotting, liaison duty, emergency rescue, transporting supplies, special espionage missions behind Japanese lines and even for dropping light bombs. Some Vigilants were converted as ambulance aircraft, and were sometimes fitted with skis or with floats for water take-offs and landings.

Stinson L-1 Vigilant Specifications and Performance

Span50 ft. 11 in.
Length34 ft. 3 in.
Height9 ft. 10 in.
Weight3,385 lbs.
ArmamentNone
Engine295 hp Lycoming R-680
Cost$21,000
Maximum speed122 mph
Cruising speed109 mph
Range280 miles
Service ceiling18,000 ft.

Stinson L-1 Vigilant
Stinson L-1 Vigilant.

Stinson L-1A Vigilant 41-19039, painted as an ambulance conversion, donated to the National Museum of the USAF by Mrs. Lawrence Flahart, Anchorage, AK, in memory of her husband who began rebuilding it but died before finishing it. Restoration was completed for the museum by the Department of Aviation Technology at Purdue University. The aircraft went on display in 1979
Stinson L-1A Vigilant 41-19039, painted as an ambulance conversion, donated to the National Museum of the USAF by Mrs. Lawrence Flahart, Anchorage, AK, in memory of her husband who began rebuilding it but died before finishing it. Restoration was completed for the museum by the Department of Aviation Technology at Purdue University. The aircraft went on display in 1979.

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