The Interstate O-63/ L-6 Grasshopper was a potentially promising light liaison aircraft that failed to live up to expectations, and was produced in significantly smaller numbers than the similar Taylorcraft L-2, Aeronca L-3 or Piper L-4.
By 1941 it was clear that the Stinson O-49 wouldn’t be available in large enough numbers to equip the rapidly expanding army, and the Army Group Forces arranged to use a number of commercially available Piper, Taylor and Aeronca light aircraft in the summer manoeuvres. These aircraft greatly impressed the ground troops, and by the end of the year it was clear that these commercial aircraft would have to be ordered to fill the gap.
During the North Carolina manoeuvres the 12th Observation Squadron had used the Interstate Cadet, and reported that it was better than the Taylor or Piper Cubs, and reported that their pilots believed it to be superior to ‘any other ship of its class’. On 9 January 1942 the Experimental Engineering Section at Wright Field asked to be allowed to purchase a number of Cadets for service tests, but the Material Board only allowed the purchase of a single aircraft, which was tested by a informal board at Wright Field.
The Cadet was briefly known as the XO-63, before becoming the XL-6 after the introduction of the new ‘L’ for liaison classification. It resembled the other Grasshoppers – they were all high wing monoplanes, with an extensively glazed cabin under the wings and fixed undercarriage, capable of operating from rough grass fields. The most obvious difference on the Cadet was that the glazed section extended further back along the fuselage than on the initial versions of the other designs (although most of the others were later modified to increase the amount of glazing.
A total of 250 L-7s were produced, and by the end of 1943 there were 208 in service, but the L-6 failed to live up to the initial high expectations and it was recommended that it be declared obsolete.
Engine: Franklin XO-200-5
Span: 35ft 6in
Length: 23ft 5.5in
Gross weight: 1,650lb
Maximum take-off weight:
Max speed: 104mph