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Piper TG-8 Glider Photos and Information


This page is very much "in process"

Piper TG-8 Glider Information - Updated Dec. 17, 2012, more coming!


During WW-II the USAAF (United States Army Air Force) needed pilots for their Waco troop carrier gliders, and they wanted to train glider-specific pilots instead of pulling powered-aircraft pilots into the program. They had Piper, Taylorcraft, Aeronca and Interstate convert two-place tandem aircraft into three-place gliders, including a few glider-appropriate modifications such as spoilers and a nose skid.

Piper took an L-4 Grasshopper (military version of the J-3 Cub) and converted it into a prototype training glider which the Army designated the TG-8. The USAAF then bought 250 TG-8's, CN G-1 (the prototype, ex L-4 cn 9106) to G-250, and assigned them SN 43-3009 to 43-3258. Some sources say there were 253, including three to the USN/USMC, but three of the USAAF aircraft have been identified as going to the USN. My thoughts on that are at the bottom of the database that you can link to below.

After the war many of them were converted into J-3's. The CAA (now FAA) and Piper put out specific instructions for the conversion and you can see some below. I'm building a database that includes over 50 aircraft and you can see the 11/26/12 version in WORD or as a PDF. I welcome your information - - and please check the notes at the bottom.

The TG-8 glider is FAA approved under Type Certificate GTC 10. When they were converted into a J-3 it would be under one of several Type Certificates depending on whether it had a Continental, Lycoming or Franklin engine. (See my J-3 page)

I have the FAA file on several aircraft and some say the conversion was per certain Piper instructions; others say that the front end of a J-3 or L-4 fuselage was welded on; and still others (as in the case of Father's) simply fabricated parts for the conversion. A CAA document below says, "The fuselage structure of the Army TG-8 is identical to the J-3 series fuselage aft of the front landing gear fittings. Forward of this point it must be completely rebuilt." Several of the '337's on aircraft toward the bottom of this page have sketches and I have marked this scan of a J-3 fuselage frame.

  Piper factory photo of the TG-8, File No. M-66.
  Photo in Van A. Swindelle collection

Here's the front of the fuselage, cropped off of the factory photo. Note that the cabin doors are in the normal position but the lower door is resting on the tire. It must have been awkward getting in and out!

The J-3 firewall had been about half way up the side of what was now the front cockpit. (Click for larger)

There is some misinformation out there on the TG-8. It is sometimes said that an extension was bolted on the front for the forward pilot, but the fact is that Piper made the longerons longer and took them all the way front. It was flown solo from the front, and then loaded from the front, aft.
Piper put that stubby landing gear on and added spoilers.The spoilers and controls needed to be removed and the area covered over with fabric when a TG-8 was certificated as an airplane.
Here's some drawings I found on the Internet. They had been copied and the source wasn't identified.
My father, the late Chris D. Stoltzfus, of Coatesville, PA, hereafter simply "Father" on this page, bought a number of TG-8's after WW-II. I remember several of the fuselages being parked on the "barn bridge", i.e. the sloping entrance to the back of the former barn that he was using for a shop/hangar as shown in the 1947 Stoltzfus Fleet photo below. I'll continue below with photos and details on the TG-8 and conversion to J-3 airplanes.

Photos of a TG-8

I was fortunate recently to get some photos of a TG-8 that has been "untouched" since 1945. At the owners request I won't identify it, but plans are to restore it at which time it will be more available to the public. The photos are not of the quality that I would like but I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to take them.

When my friend and I got to the site the owner showed us his shop and some projects he was working on. I was getting antsy because that wasn't what I had come for. He knew exactly what I wanted but he was putting me off for a while just to tease me, and after a bit he grinned and said, "What you really want to see is that TG-8, isn't it!?" Yup, how could you tell?!

Some front to rear shots
This is what I saw when I walked into the storage area. A real live untouched TG-8, blunt nose and all!
Here it is with the hatch open. A close-up of the hatch; some detail on the hatch stop arm that holds it open; and the handle to open and close it.
Looking back now into what was the front cockpit of the J-3. The J-3 panel would be where the wood panel is. I'm not sure if it is authentic or not. The main cabin doors are original J-3.
Looking front, showing the peculiar rear window. Note that N48112 still has that window although I suspect that many were modified to J-3 style along the way. The baggage compartment looks quite stock.
The back end of the fuselage is "Cub" all the way!
Tow hook and release
The tow hook is right on the nose. Only aerial tows were allowed because with the hook in this position a ground tow would pull the nose down. We had a couple of Schweizer 2-22's over the years and they had an aero tow hook and a second ground-tow or "CG" hook behind it.
Here's the release mechanism right aft of the tow hook, as also shown in that drawing. The "tow release" looks like they used a J-3 throttle arm and cover. Sounds "Piper!"
Interior Shots
The front cockpit wth the trim tab control for the front-seater, which appears to be a duplicate of the stock J-3 unit. The middle and rear seats shared a trim tab control, same as for the two seats in a J-3. The front brake pedals were removed and in a box.
The TG-8 is soloed from the front so it is logical that the little pouch for "stuff" would be there. The owner reached in, and pulled out and unwrapped the pitot cover which hadn't seen the light for many years.

This instrument panel was laying nearby. It is obviously TG-8 because of the placarded speeds but I don't know where it went. It does't have mounting holes that would indicate it is for the middle pilot.

The middle seat is where the front seat is in a J-3. The tow release and trim appear to be where the throttle and trim are in the J-3. Just a bit more aft showing that both rear seats have tow releases. Looking back now into the middle and aft seat area.
  The baggage lid with data plate and military ID.
Now let's check out the spoiler system
The cable runs down the top of the left side of the cockpit. It is attached to the windshield frame and then runs toward the back; and through a ferrule there. It is placarded above the middle guy and runs back to a pulley at the vertical off of the rear pilot's shoulder. The cable was hanging down with this device on the end. It comes in under the pulley and I suspect that it then ran back up to a tube between the two wings, right behind the front spar.
The wings were on their leading edge and here's the inboard end of the left wing. The tube there runs out the wing to the spoiler. We can see the spoiler here closed, and then open.
The skid
As you can see from the factory photo, the nose skid is simply tubing instead of a flat plate like on a Schweizer 2-22 and others. It was most certainly designed to protect the nose and not as a primary braking device as on the 2-22.
  These shots show the whole skid, and then the main part with attaching structure, and the tail end.
The landing gear
The TG-8 has the landing gear right up against the fuselage and uses the 8:00x4 balloon tire and expander tube brake as on the J-3. Note that the hub cap on the drawing says "Cub." Here's a shot from behind the right wheel.
This is the "anti-fowling tow line wheel guard" as described on that drawing.
The TG-8 has this heel-operated brake master cylinder which is at the rear seat and then connected by cables to the two forward seats. The owner had several spares there too. I've been in the aircraft parts business all my life but wasn't familiar with this type cylinder.
And now a little run down the right side
We'll start at the front. I believe that the vertical tube there about half way back to the wheel is where the firewall is attached on a Cub. Here's the front seat; and looking forward.
This shot and the next one show the middle-seater's area and the control stick torque tube system and finally a shot from behind the baggage compartment.
The top of the cabin
We'll start at the back of the cabin top - - it's the same as a J-3. The metal piece in front of that glass is also like a J-3 but there the similarity ends. On the Cub the windshield comes up against that metal piece but here it meets the plexiglass filler section between it and the hatch, and seen in this photo.
A few final details
This little box is overhead, right behind the front wing attach point. The plug shown here looks like it would fit there but I need to figure that out.
  The aileron cable runs through this pulley just inside the wing strut attach fitting, instead of the ferrule that is there on earlier Cubs.


Info on Conversion of TG-8 to J3C-65

Here are some fascinating letters and other information from Father's files. (PDF's) Enjoy!

Jan. 16, 1945 letter from the CAA, Allentown, PA, on the conversion.
May 18, 1945 letter from Defense Plant Corp "To All Prospective Bidders." He apparently attached the next document. Note that gliders were available on a "price tag basis" at several depots. I'd like to have more information on that including aircraft and location. Any help?
Four page, April 23, 1945 document from the CAA regarding "Conversion of Piper TG-8 (Army G-8), Taylocraft ST-100 (Army TG-6) and Aeronca G-3 (Army TG-5) Glides to Powered Aircraft." Note that Piper was far more cooperative than Taylorcraft or Aeronca!
Parts list from Piper
Father's April 24 and May 14, 1945 orders to Lehigh Aircraft Co., Allentown, PA, for parts to convert three TG-8's. You'll have to hurry if you still want those prices!
  - Here are several interesting notes from GTC 10 and A-691.

Info on Several TG-8's in Sequence by Piper CN

I have notes on TG-8's that Father owned or may have owned, at the bottom of the database, including
N46916 shown in his 1947 fleet photo but which I have not been able to identify further.
Database in WORD and as a PDF

Some of the information below is copied from FAA files and is saved as WORD documents. They may open slowly so give them time. Some are two or more pages, so scroll down.

TG-8 43-3011 to J3C-65, N49500. Have 11/02/12 FAA file on CD. See more history in database.
Original purchase and registration, 6-9-45
2-5-47 '337 on conversion to J3C-65, by cutting off the glider parts and welding on the front end from a J-3. (two pages) It references TCDS A-691 because it was Continental powered.
337 on conversion to seaplane, and escape hatch on top, 2-50
TG-8 43-3075, and USN XLNP-1 BuNo 36427, to J3L-55 N58462. Have 11/02/12 FAA file on CD. See more history in database.
Original purchase and registration, 5-17-45
12-24-45 '337 on conversion to J3L-55, by cutting off the glider parts and welding on the front end from an L-4. It references TCDS A-698 because it was Lycoming powered.
Bill of Sale to John A. VanSant, Old Star Airport, Lanhorne, PA. He was a friend of our family and I remember making trips down to his place in the late '40's and early '50's to pick up parts we had bought from him. There was a Waco troop carrying glider parked there in those days. He later moved to Erwinna, PA.
TG-8 43-3095 to J3C-65 NR46914. (NR, for "Restricted", because of ag use) is the one on the left in the 1947 Stoltzfus fleet photo. I have some papers in a file and have ordered the FAA file.
9-27-45 '337 on conversion to J3C-65 by cutting off the front and fabricating new structure. See details. I've seen Herman E. Lever of Elkins Park, PA on several TG-8 conversions.
Airworthiness Certificate, 5-9-45 (I'll bet you haven't seen many like that!)
8-28-47 '337 allowing for dusting sulpher. Many duster '337's prohibited sulpher because of the fire hazard. They covered the belly with aluminum from the hopper throat back and bonded the hopper mechanism.
TG-8 43-3095 to J3C-65 N49595 to J3C-65. Father bought it surplus and sold it to Karl Knight in Miami, who converted it into a J-3 duster.
Original purchase and registration, 2-19-45
7-10-45 '337 on conversion to J3C-65 duster, A-691, references Piper bluepring D2162F
Airworthiness Application Inspection Report, 7-16-45, references Piper Drawing J3-A20
Operations Limitations as J3C-65 duster, 7-16-45
Duster Operations, with C-85, 6-30-53, by Grant's Aviation Service, Woodward Field, Camden, SC

TG-8 43-3124, to J3C-75 N47049. Father converted this one but it wasn't done by the time of the fleet photo. It was stolen one night in Oct. 1948. My sister Ruth Ann looked out her bedroom window the next morning and saw this on the other side of the runway. Here's a news article on the incident. (Father had his name and phone number on his Cubs and Stearmans for a while but abandoned that concept when he saw that it served "complainers" more effectively than prospective customers.)

The exhaust here looks very different from the stock systems in the fleet photo. Father was always trying something, to get more stuff out of his airplanes! Okay, here's some paperwork on G-116. (PDF's)

2/16/45 Bill of Sale from DEFENSE PLANT CORP, of the Reconstruction Finance Corp., for sale of this glider to Father for $313. It was located in Akron, OH
1945 Correspondence with Reconstruction Finance Corporation re 43-3214, 3-pages. This was back in the days when people wrote letters and put stamps on them.
3/6/45 Application for Registration. Note the personal information that was required!
1/14/46 Registration Certificate, but it doesn't show a model!
5/46 '337 on converting TG-8 glider fuselage to J3 fuselage. Note it says they cut the front seat and adjacent structure. The longerons went all the way to the front, i.e. the front wasn't bolted on to the original Cub fuselage.
7/31/47 Piedmont Aviation '337 on coverting fuselage to crop duster. I believe that Cub Duster NR98854 referenced there was a 1947 factory J-3 and not a TG-8.
8/14/47 '337, Weight & Balance Statement
'337 on coversion to crop duster, signed off 2/2/49, showing sn as G-116, and NC47049.
2/2/49 W&B and equipment list
2/2/49 Operation Limitations, 2-pages. Note that dusting sulpher was not allowed because of the fire hazard
2/2/49 Certificate of Airworthiness
A 10/27/49 "Aircraft Status Change" form in the aircraft file says registration was cancelled because of an accident. It says "Washout 8/9/49."
TG-8 43-3132, to J3F-65 N46489. Have 11/02/12 FAA file on CD. See more history in database.
Original purchase and registration, 3-27-45. This shows it as Army 43-3118 which is out of sequence and would be G-110. I'll use the Piper CN since all of its documents show that number but it might be logical to assume that the Army number would more likely be right and that a mistake was made in correlating it to the Piper number.
2-5-47 '337 on conversion to J3F-65, by cutting off the glider parts and fabricating a new J-3 type structure using a jig to factory specs. (two pages) It references TCDS A-692 because it was Franklin powered.
Piper TG-8 N45498. One of Father's. All I have on it is a registration certificate dated Feb. 1945 and it appears that it is still a glider. It doesn't show up in the FAA databases but I have ordered the file.
TG-8 Army 43-3164 to J3C-65 N48112, 1942 at BGQ Big Lake, AK 5-10. Note that the rear windows are still in TG-8 configuration.

TG-8 43-3178, to J3C-65 N46305, to N44D. Here's the 11/10/44 bill of sale from the Defense Plant Corp, RFC, NY, NY office, to Thomas Murchio, Murchio Airport, Patterson, NJ, for $420. See subsequent owner details in the TG-8 Database.

We have the 6/1/46 '337 on conversion to a J3C per Piper Drawing J3A20. It was sold to John J. Dowd of Warwick, NY in Nov. 1953, and he immediately requested a shorter N-number. Don't you just love his logic there!

A 6/15/54 '337 is on the conversion to a duster using a Whitaker Dust Unit Model J3C65, which is Item 605 in FAA Spec A-691 (p17). He could carry #240 of dust. Another document of the same date indicates 122.40 hours total time airframe. Eleven months later, at 226.4-TT, probably after making some good money dusting and realizing how much more he could make if he carried more on each load, he installed a C-85. That '337 shows that he could now carry #320! In 5/63 the C-85 was removed and an O-235-C1 was installed using a PA-18 engine mount.

In 6/72 Dowd sold the Cub to his son John J. Dowd Jr., ("Dusty") who later relocated in Syracuse, KS where he operates as Syracuse Flying Service. You can see an article on him here and a video here.

Dusty's Turbine Thrush carries 2-3 times the gross weight of his dad's Cub and he has apparently done well in the ag business. He restored N44D in honor of his father and flew it to the Dec. 2012 National Agricultural Aviation Association convention in Savannah, GA. He stopped for fuel at Dawson Aircraft in Clinton, AR, and their Tim Posey sent me these photos. He said that the dust spreader was being trucked to Savannah.
- A nice shot from the left. The uncowled engine is typical of Cub dusters of that day.
- You can see some of the Whitaker dust hopper behind the pilot.
- And here's where you put the dust in
- When I think of "Florida" I don't think of New York, but when I think of "Syracuse" I do. (Now based in Syracuse, KS.

  Here's some other interesting links on AAF glider training and operations
    The Glider Pilot Training Program, 1941 to 1943, a large PDF file, opens slowly
    Critique of the Glider Training Program, 1941-43, a large PDF file, opens slowly
    Article in February 1944 Popular Science, P94
    National WWII Glider Pilots Association, here
    Glomb, i.e. Glider-Bomb derived from Taylorcraft XLNT-1 (ex USAAF TG-6), here
    A list of USAAF and USAF gliders, 1941 - 1962. I found it online but lost the link.

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