The STINSON L-5G “SENTINEL” was built by the Vultee Aircraft Co as a liaison, observation, ambulance, supply and spotter aircraft. The L5 was a military version of the commercial Stinson 105 voyager. The American air force purchased six voyageurs in 1941 for testing and evaluation. Quantity orders for Sentinels began in 1942 and between 1942-45 the A.A.F. ordered 3,590 L5’s making it the 2nd most used A.A.F. liaison aircraft.
The unarmed L5, with its short takeoff and steep climb out capabilities, was ideal for removing the wounded, delivering supplies, rescue and also target spotting. The U.S. and allied forces used the L5 during WWII. However, it was principally used in the Pacific and later in Korea where it was used in a multiple of rolls.
The model was built from a Roy Vallancourt plan (Vailly Aviation U.S.A.) and modified as an air ambulance. The full sized (N258IB) is still flying in the States with the Confederate Air Force and regularly appears at air shows. The plan was very well detailed and all the parts fitted like a jigsaw, so good was the fit you really had to question if glue was necessary. As the model was being turned into an air ambulance it meant the whole side had to open up, so strength had to be built into the top and bottom sections of the fuselage. The best way round this was to treat them as two separate fuselages, so extra longerons and cross bracing were introduced.
The specification of the model is:
Wing area: 2574 sq. in
Weight: 44.5 lbs
Engine: King 95cc R/V
The construction is traditional balsa, ply and spruce although cyparis was substituted for the latter. The fibreglass cowl and the wheel pods were obtained direct from the States. The model is covered in Polytex and was painted in Flair Spectrum. The cricket was painted using Humbrol enamel paints.
With so much Perspex the interior had to be detailed, in fact it probably took as much time as the airframe to build. Roy Vallancourt had sent me a copy of the operational manual of the full size and inside were pictures of the dash panel. This was enlarged and glued onto a 1/4inch light-ply back then covered with a very thin sheet of clear plastic. This was then covered with a sheet of 1/64 mirror ply with holes carefully cut out so as to reveal the clocks. The throttle quadrants and levers were made from small alloy tube. The internal tube work was replicated with doweling and the seat belt anchorage’s of steel wire.
The three doors, where deviations from the plan. The only other deviation was the undercarriage which instead of being piano wire was formed from 2.5″ x 5/16 aircraft alloy.
The rake forward was achieved by cutting a 3/8 inch plywood biscuit and bolting it between the alloy and the floor plate. This works very well. It has been thoroughly tested even on crosswind landings, which puts a terrific strain on any U/C.
The pilot and the wounded soldier where supplied by Pete Richards of Pete’s pilots and were moulded specially.
It is a pleasure to fly. You can feel that it is a big heavy plane, but it does everything you ask. With 15 degrees of flap applied for a short field take-off the climb out is amazing. The leading edge slats ensure that there is no hint of a stall. It is easy to imagine why it was so popular for the short jungle clearings back in the late 40’s and 50’s.
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