The increasing involvement of US forces in the war in Vietnam saw the growing need for a dedicated attack helicopter. After Bell Helicopter’s Model 209 made its maiden flight in September 1965, it was selected by the US Army and named the Cobra. Originally classed as a variant of the UH-1 “Huey”, Cobras and Hueys would eventually operate alongside each other in Vietnam and help to establish the early principles of air cavalry operations. Working closely with their Huey counterparts, Cobras served both as escorts and in support of troop landing zones which were often surrounded by thick vegetation and no more than a few hundred yards in length.
Though only originally intended to serve as an interim aircraft for the US Army until the production of the AH-56 Cheyenne was complete, the Cobra’s success and the cancellation of the Cheyenne’s development gave the Cobra a new lease on life with the US Army as well as the improved twin-engine Super Cobras which remain in service with the USMC to this day.
Though eventually replaced and phased out as the Army’s primary attack helicopter by the AH-64 Apache in the 1990s, as many are still in use with US allies as well as enjoying a successful career fighting fires with the USDA Forest Service.
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|Own||United States||On Display|
|PURPOSE & TYPE||MATERIALS||ERA & DATE RANGE|
First Produced: 1965
Number Built: 1,116
Armament: 20 mm M197 3-barreled Gatling cannon
7 Hydra 70 2.75 in. rockets mounted in M260 launcher
or 19 rockets in M261 launcher
4 or 8 TOW Missiles
Empty Weight: 6,600 lbs
Gross Weight: 10,000 lbs.
Powerplant: Lycoming T53-L-703 turbine engine
Thrust: 1800 shp (shaft horse power)
Maximum Speed: 172 mph
Range: 315 miles
August 2010: Acquired by Yanks Air Museum