“Rosie the Rocketer” Restored

“Rosie the Rocketer” Restored

“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.

Diving through a barrage of German infantry fire during a continual sequence of assaults against the Nazi formation, Carpenter emptied all of his bazooka tubes that were bolted to his Piper L-4H
Bazooka tubes bolted to his Piper L-4H allowed Carpenter to blow up 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.

September 20, 1944, during the Battle of Arracourt near Nancy, France, was one of Carpenter’s longest missions
Carpenter and “Rosie the Rocketer” circa September 1944 in France.

 

 

Bazooka Charlie and Rosie the Rocketer. Visible to the right of the picture is a set of three bazookas mounted on the underwing struts of the Piper L-4H .
“Bazooka” Charlie and his steed. Note the three bazookas on the underwing struts of the Piper L-4H .

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.

 

Updated: September 15, 2020 — 10:29 AM
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