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Bell AH-1 HueyCobra/AH-1J SeaCobra

posted by Jiri Wagner

Bell 209 Cobra is the first really specialized attack and close support helicopter in the known human history used for that purpose.
Korean War which began in Summer 1950 introduced a new tool: the helicopter. Very soon it's advantages on the battlefield has been shown: enormous agility, access on every terrain, no need for arranged landing places, the possibility of fast troop transport or their removal, rescue of the wounded, fast delivery of the stuff in the middle of the battle or in the neighborough. In Vietnam was proved to be irreplaceable...

But helicopter showed it's weaknesses: it wasn't armed; it couldn't be used for direct battle.
At 1963 American Army tried to correct this lack with developing the attack helicopter Lockheed AH-56 Cheyenne, which prototype flew in 1967. However, it was to expensive.
At 1971 Sikorsky enters the competition with it's model S-67 Blackhawk, but Bell won again...
At the same time American company Bell Helicopter tends to achieve the same effect arming thirteen their Bell 204 UH-1B Huey with 16 air-ground rockets and two machine guns. They were used for ground attack and transport helicopters escort.
But, that was not the real thing either.....

At 1963 Bell Helicopter develops a new tandem seat attack helicopter OH-13X Sioux Scout, but the project was cancelled.
Anyway, this concept of attack helicopter was kept, so on the base of proved UH-1C Huey, the most satisfying solution was sought-after: it was used UH-1C Huey's rotor, transmission and Lycoming T53-L-13 turboshaft engine.

Now, the helicopter was on the right way to transform from a tool to a real weapon.
The fuselage was completely new: in the widest point it was just 0.97 m. In December 1965 it was transferred to Edwards Air Force Base for service trials.
The first useful attack and close support helicopter Bell 209 AH-1-G was born.
To make for ease of operation it had a fixed skid landing gear.
The 10 ft 4in (3.15m) span stub wings served for the carriage of weapons and to contribute to total lift in normal cruising flight as well. Performance of AH-1G was such, that in operational service it proved capable of reaching the target in about half the time taken by the UH-1 Iroquois, was able to operate in combat zone for a longer period, and had more than twice firepower. Cabin was two tandem seat with gunner on the front and pilot on the rear seat.

Because it was intended primarily for escort and support operations, HueyCobra had seats, side panels, and protection for other vital areas of NOROC armor. In the beginning, weapons carried beneath the stub-wings were up to air-surface rockets, or two Miniguns pods, while in the armament turret beneath the nose, was housing or two grenade launchers, or two Miniguns or combination.
In 1966 first 110 were ordered. In 1967 first of them arrive to Vietnam under the name AH-1G HueyCobra.
A new weapon, Bell Model 209 AH-1G HueyCobra played it's first role in Vietnam conflict, and continue in a lot of others.
Vietnam conflict showed all the perfects of the Bell's fighter helicopter solution, so HueyCobra concept became a kind of standard for all later attack helicopters.
Helicopter turned out to be a powerful antiarmour weapon so the antiarmour Hellfire rockets, primarily assigned for on-vehicle use, were adjusted for carry beneath AH-1G HueyCobra wings. Presently, the antiarmour Hellfire rockets are standard attack helicopters' weapon, and off all Cobras as well

Once the version AH-1S HueyCobra was a standard, but order requests were more and more complicated, so the new Cobras' variants were better and better.
AH-1S version with the flat canopies became a standard of the American Army. Flat plate canopies were designed to eliminate unwanted reflections and blisters. Flat plate canopy had versions AH-1F and AH-1P as well. Such version was produced under the license by Fuji of Japan.
American Marines required a twin engine version, so in1970 Bell started to deliver AH-1J SeaCobra-e. Twin engine versions became a standard for American Marines Corps.
One of the offered improved version was Bell Model 309 KingCobra in 1971. But the real improvement was AH-1T....
AH-1T+ SuperCobra developed from marines twin engine AH-1T SeaCobra.

The last version AH-1W SuperCobra developed from the version AH-1T+ SuperCobra.
In spite of that later some new attack helicopters occurred, like Mc Donnell Douglas AH-64 Apache, Eurocopter Tiger, Augusta Mangusta, and on the East side Mil Mi 24 hind, Mil Mi 28, Kamov Hokum.... the latest version of Bell Model 209 like AH-1W SuperCobra irreplaceable stays like close support helicopter and mighty antiarmour weapon.
Armed with air-air Sidewinder or Sidearm rockets, Supercobra got another sting....
Bell Helicopter Textron made with it's Cobras a good export deal as well.
Cobra in the loop? Seems that four-bladed AH-4BW SuperCobra entered the small family of helicopters able to do that maneuver...

General characteristics

AH-1 HueyCobra

Primary function attack and close support helicopter
Contractor Bell Helicopter
Power plant One Lycoming T-53-L-703 turboshaft engine
Thrust 1,342 kW
Max. speed 141 mph 227 km/h
Ceiling 12,200 ft 3,720 m
Range 315 miles 507 km
Max. takeoff weight 10,000 lb 4,536 kg
Length (incl. rotor) 53.08 ft 16.18 m
Diameter of main rotor 44 ft 13.41 m
Height 13.4 ft 4.08 m
Armament universal gun tower General Electric for 20 or 30 mm cannon, 8 TOW missiles, Stinger missiles, rockets etc.

AH-1W SuperCobra

Primary function close support helicopter
Contractor Bell Helicopter
Power plant Two General Electric T700-GE-401 turboshaft engines
Thrust 2x 1,212 kW
Max. speed 175 mph 282 km/h
Ceiling 14,750 ft 4,495 m
Range 365 miles 587 km
Max. takeoff weight 14,750 lb 6,690 kg
Length (incl. rotor) 58 ft 17.67 m
Diameter of main rotor 48 ft 14.63 m
Height 14.17 ft 4.32 m
Armament 20mm three barrel cannon M197,  70mm rockets, TOW or Hellfire missiles, next cannons or grenade launchers.


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