A historic fabric-covered Piper L-4 Cub, nicknamed Rosie the Rocketer, which had some of the most fascinating exploits of any small aircraft during World War II, will be part of this year’s warbirds display at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2023.
The airplane became famous during the war when Maj. Charles Carpenter attached six bazookas to the aircraft and began attacking German tanks and armor while assigned to General Patton’s 3rd Army. “Bazooka Charlie,” as Carpenter became known, had multiple documented armor kills and the aircraft was preserved with its original bullet holes and other battle scars. The L-4 was found in Austria in 2017 and restored to flying condition by Colin Powers in late 2020. It is currently owned by the Collings Foundation of Stow, Massachusetts.
“The further one explores the story of Rosie the Rocketer and Charles Carpenter, it’s obvious that this airplane behind the ‘urban legend’ will be truly appreciated at AirVenture,” said Jim Busha, EAA’s vice president of publications, who with Carpenter’s daughter, Carol Apacki, recently completed a book on the exploits of the pilot and aircraft titled Bazooka Charlie: The unbelievable story of Major Charles Carpenter and Rosie the Rocketer. “While much deserved attention goes to the big bombers and fighter aircraft in the warbirds area, an airplane such as this with a deep personal story attached will certainly be a highlight at Oshkosh this year.”
The experiences of Carpenter, a high school teacher and football coach turned wartime pilot, were acclaimed by journalists of the time, including by the Stars & Stripes military newspaper. He also overcame Hogdkin’s lymphoma as well as personal demons following his wartime service.
Apacki, Busha, and Rob Collings of the Collings Foundation are all scheduled to be in Oshkosh to talk about Carpenter and the aircraft. They will appear at various events, including book signings and a Warbirds in Review forum next to the famed aircraft. Exact times and locations of those appearances will be posted as they are finalized.