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The L-5 Sentinel had its roots in the civilian Stinson 105 Voyager sport aircraft that first flew in 1939.

In order to meet Army Air Corps requirements, Stinson completely re-engineered the Voyager to make it a stronger, more powerful, tandem-seat observation and light transport aircraft.  In Navy and Marine Corps service, the Sentinel was known as the OY-1.

Capable of operating from short, unimproved airstrips, the Sentinel delivered personnel, intelligence and needed supplies to the front lines, and evacuated wounded soldiers back to field hospitals for treatment.  A true jack-of-all trades, the L-5 was also used for aerial photography, controlling convoys, para-dropping supplies, spraying pesticides and directing fighter-bombers against ground targets.  It was also a favorite of Generals and other high ranking officers for fast, short-range transportation.

The U.S. Army Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy used the L-5/OY-1 in the European, Pacific and Far East theaters during World War II.  During the Battle of Okinawa, OY-1s operated off a tank landing ship using the Brodie landing system, where they took off and landed using a sling attached to a cable between two poles.  Sentinels later served as forward air control aircraft during the Korean War.  The Coast Guard also flew Sentinels for law enforcement and the Civil Air Patrol used them for Search and Rescue missions in the United States.

This OY-1 Sentinel is on loan from Texas Flying Legends Museum.  It flew at least 28 sorties and sustained battle damage in the air and on the ground from mortar, sniper and anti-aircraft fire over Iwo Jima with Marine Observation Squadron 5 in 1945.  

Quick facts

  • Manufacturer: Stinson
  • Country: United States
  • Type: Observation
  • Engine: One Lycoming O-435-1
  • Maximum speed: 163 mph
  • Armamament: None
  • Ceiling: 15,800 ft.
  • Range: 375 miles
  • Crew: 2.00
  • Length: 24 ft. 1 in.
  • Wingspan: 34 ft. 0 in.
  • Number built: 3,896


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