“Rosie the Rocketer” has a new lease on life after Colin Powers spent a year and a half restoring the Piper L-4H in his garage. “It’s been an honor to do this airplane for the family of Major Carpenter,” Powers, 84, said. “I’m very happy the way it turned out.”
The WW II recon aircraft was flown by Major Charles Carpenter of the 4th Armored Division of the 3rd Army under General Patton. Carpenter’s job was to fly over the enemy lines in France and report back on the location of enemy tanks.
Not content with simply reporting tank locations, Carpenter sometimes landed his plane and joined the fighting. When he strapped three bazookas under each wing so he could blow up enemy tanks instead of simply spotting them, he got in trouble with his superiors but General Patton praised his courage and “Bazooka Charlie” was never punished.
After the war, small planes like the L-4 were sold as surplus., and “Rosie the Rocketer” was used for civilian purposes and eventually showcased in an Austrian museum.
The Collings Foundation bought the plane and asked Powers to restore it. The L-4 had been modified with an updated engine and instrument panels with German lettering, so Powers installed a WWII-era engine and replaced the instrument panels with WW II era panels. He left a bullet hole from when Carpenter flew too close to enemy lines.
“Rosie the Rocketer” will be on display at the Collings Foundation museum in Massachusetts.