This website is dedicated primarily to liaison aircraft and pilots in US army service. The aircraft were often known as "grasshoppers" or "Cubs".
These aircraft and the men flying them often served with artillery outfits spotting targets and giving commanders real time information on enemy positions. At other times they were used as small transport aircraft, served as couriers for officers, and evacuated wounded men from the front lines to safety. They also served in Liaison Squadrons, such as the 25th Liaison Squadron which earned fame in the Pacific Theater with their "Guinea Short Lines" aircraft. Their pilots flew dangerous missions over enemy territory without any armor.
Other nicknames for these aircraft included "Maytag Messerschmitts" or the "little green planes." Several well-known L-birds such as the Vultee L-1, Piper L-4 "Cub" and Stinson L-5 "Sentinel" saw combat, while others, such as the Taylorcraft L-2 likely never saw action, except for a handful that may have been accidentally shipped overseas. The Aeronca L-3 DID see some service overseas in North Africa, Italy Admiralty Islands, ,and the Philippines.
Liaison aircraft continued to served after World War Two in Korea and Vietnam with the Piper L-4, Aeronca L-16, Stinson L-5, North American L-17 Navion, and Cessna L-19/O-1 Bird Dog serving admirably in these conflicts until replaced by the later "O" types such as the Cessna O-2 Skymaster and OV-10 Bronco.
During the Second World War, the German and British air arms, the Luftwaffe and RAF, also used light aircraft such as the Fiesler Storch and Taylorcraft Auster, as did the French and Japanese to a limited extent.