Stinson L-5 Sentinel
U. S. Liaison, Observation & Ambulance

L-5.jpg (8952 bytes)  

One of the Ghost Squadron's L-5s.

Image source: The Confederate Air Force Ghost Squadron CD-ROM produced by Corel. Photos by Bill Crump.

On the rapidly moving battle fields of World War II, commanders often used small, light aircraft to maintain contact and communication with their units. These liaison aircraft also served in other roles, such as observation and correction of artillery attacks. One very important use of the planes was the rapid evacuation of wounded from the forward battle areas, back to field hospitals, before the introduction of helicopters.

The Stinson L-5 was probably the most successful US liaison aircraft of World War II, serving in both the European and Pacific theaters from 1943 thru 1945. It also saw action during the Korean War. The L-5’s ability to operate from unprepared fields and strips, sometimes as short as 300 feet, often meant that it was the only way to reach an area with orders or to evacuate wounded.

Developed from the Stinson Model 105 Voyager, a light three-seat civilian plane, the L-5 used a more powerful Lycoming O-435 flat six-cylinder, air-cooled engine, rated at 185 hp. The fuselage was constructed of a tubular steel frame, covered by fabric, while the wing was of wood construction, also fabric covered.

Over 3,000 L-5s were built during World War II. Most were the L-5 or L-5A observer model, while 679 of the L-5B ambulance model were produced. The L-5C had provision for a K-20 reconnaissance camera, and the L-5E added drooping ailerons which operated in conjunction with the flaps to increase lift for even shorter landings and takeoffs. The final production version was the L-5G, which featured a slightly different engine version of 190 hp.

The US Navy and Marines also used Sentinels, designating them OY-1s and 2s. The British Royal Air Force (RAF) also used some L-5 and L-5As, calling them Sentinel Mark Is and IIs.


One Pilot plus Observer

One Lycoming O-435 Engine
Air-Cooled Opposed 6 Cylinder
185 horsepower

Max. Speed 130 mph
Climb to 5,000 ft in 6.4 minutes
Service Ceiling 15,800 ft

Length 24' 1"
Height 7' 11"
Wing Span 34'

Max. Weight 2020 lbs
Empty Weight 1550 lbs

Normal Range 420 miles


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All material not specifically credited is Copyright by Randy Wilson.