• Published
  • By Greg L. Davis
  • 72nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The Stinson L-5 “Sentinel” was a high-wing, single-engine liaison aircraft with a tricycle landing gear configuration.

The L-5 was an improved version of Stinson’s commercial Model 105 Voyager and earned the nickname “Flying Jeep” due to its versatility and ruggedness.

The Stinson L-5 competed against what would become the Piper L-4 for the Army Air Corps liaison/artillery spotter aircraft mission. Both aircraft types were evaluated in monumental mobilization maneuvers of 1941 held in Louisiana. Both aircraft types were purchased following evaluation with the Stinson L-5 having an intended larger role as an air-ambulance from the start compared to the L-4s basic liaison role.

Tinker Air Force Base performed standard maintenance, repair and overhaul of the L-5 aircraft in relatively small numbers compared to other workload accomplished here over the years. Most of the work done here centered on O-series engine overhaul of the Lycoming O-435 engine. Between Jan. 1947 and June 1952, 110 L-5s are recorded in the maintenance history logs as processing through the lines in Oklahoma City.

The L-5 had a longer range, higher speed and larger load capacity of other similar liaison aircraft, which meant the first derivative, the L-5B, were configured for front-line air-ambulance duties with a litter being inserted and removed through an upward opening hatch aft of the cockpit. 697 L-5Bs were instrumental in their role, especially in the Pacific theater of World War II while 758 L-5C/E aircraft also played key roles in aerial reconnaissance with their K-20 fuselage counted camera.

The L-5 continued to serve with distinction in the Korean War and was heavily used in the air-ambulance role from the front lines to save countless lives. The aircraft continued to serve in limited capacity with all the services in to the 1960s before being retired as replacement aircraft like the Cessna O-2 Skymaster took over the liaison/spotter role.

Manufacturer: Stinson

Aircraft type: L-5

Nickname: Sentinel

Crew: 1-2

Power plant: Horizontally-opposed Lycoming O-435 engine with 185 horsepower

In-service dates: 1942-late 1960s

Number produced: 3,283

Tinker connection: Maintenance, repair and overhaul