America's first active helicopter gunship was born out of the Vietnam War. Armed utility/transport helicopters had been employed during the war but a need for a dedicated gunship soon became apparent. The AH1 Cobra is essentially built around a UH-1 Huey transport, with the same engine, rotors and tail boom.
An array of FFAR rockets and anti-tank missiles are carried on the stub wing pylons and a 20mm cannon is housed in a steerable gun pod beneath the nose. Early Cobra models had a twin 7.62mm minigun pod or 2x40mm 'thumper' grenade llaunchers as their main gun.
The US Army gradually improved the AH-1 Cobra with enhanced engines and firepower. The ability to fire TOW wire-guided missiles meant gave the Cobra the edge when taking on North Vietmanese PT-76 & T54 tanks.
With a relatively weak powerplant, the Cobra was built to be light and so was only very lightly armored. Its narrow profile meant it could hide down low amongst the trees if needed.
During the Vietnam War, unarmed OH-6 scout helicopters would bait Viet Cong fighters into opening fire and revealing their positions, allowing AH-1 Cobra gunships to swoop in and engage the enemy troops.
AH-1(G) Cobra Specifications
The M197 3-barrel gatling gun fires 20mm rounds at a rate of 700 rpm.
|Crew||2 - With Pilot seated above and behind Gunner|
|Engines||1 x 1,400shp Avco Lycoming T53-13 turboshaft|
|Dimensions||L - 58 ft|
W (wingspan) - 10ft 7inches
H - 14ft 2 inches
|Weights||4627 kg (empty)|
6691 kg (max loudout)
|Max Speed||152 kt (282 kph)|
|Armament||M197 three barrel 20 mm cannon (750 rounds)|
TOW wire guided missiles
LAU-68 7-tube rocket pods (70mm FFAR rockets)
LAU-69 19-tube rocket pods (70mm FFAR rockets)
XM-18 7.62mm minigun pods
AH-1 Super Cobra armed with 19.5 inch HYDRA rockets and TOW wire-guided anti-tank missiles. The ultra-slim head-on profile of the Cobra makes for a tough target to track especially once it gets down amongst the trees.