The development of the first attack helicopter grew out of experience with the modified armed utility helicopters. Bell Helicopter designed the AH-1 Cobra based on the best features of the U.S. Army UH-1 "Huey" to meet the Army's requirements for direct aerial fire support, armed escort, and reconnaissance.
Today in WW II: 11 Apr 1942 RAF Bomber Command drops the first 8,000-pound Blockbuster bomb [aka "cookie"] from a Halifax aircraft on Essen, Germany. More↓
The Huey Cobra (or just Cobra) uses the basic transmission, modified "540" rotor system, and power plant of the UH-1C, a streamlined fuselage using many parts in common with the UH-1D tail boom and body, combined with the nose components from the experimental Bell (Model 207) Sioux Scout. The Bell (Model 209) AH-1F was delivered in March 1965 and deployed to Vietnam starting in September 1967 to partly replace the UH-1 Huey in its gun ship capacity. The upgraded AH-1G Cobra featured a computerized stability-augmentation system, and was powered by a single Lycoming T53-L-13B 1400 shp engine.
The AH-1 Cobra is distinguished by its wide-bladed rotor and slim fuselage that give it twice the speed of the UH-1B "Huey" and the ability to loiter over the target area three times as long. Other improvements were the armament system and the tandem seating of the two crew members arranged in a 38 inch width, a much smaller target than the 100 inch wide UH-1 "Huey".
In addition to a 7.62mm machine gun, armament of the AH-1G Cobra, or "Snake", has had numerous options:
2.75 inch (70mm) Folding Fin Aerial Rockets (FFARs) in M158 seven-tube or M200 19-tube rocket launchers
Chin-turret on the M28/M28A1 armament subsystem mounting the M134 7.62mm "Minigun" and the M129 40mm grenade launcher
Single M134 7.62mm "Minigun" in a XM64 (TAT-102) chin-turret
M134 7.62mm "Minigun" in fixed side-mounting M18/M18A1 gun pod
Port side mounted M195 20mm automatic gun on the M35 armament subsystem
M118 smoke grenade dispenser
TOW and Hellfire anti-armor missiles
Sidewinder anti-aircraft missiles
Sidearm anti-radar missiles
Hydra 70 rockets
The Army utilized AH-1F, G, E, P and S Cobra models. The Marine Corps flew the AH-1G, AH-1J, and AT-1T, upgraded to the AH-1W Super Cobra in 1986.
AH-1W of the Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369, Al Qaim, Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, 17 November 2005.
AH-1G. U.S. Army Photo.
AH-1G. U.S. Army Photo.
AH-1G Cobra. Photo: Courtesy of Bob Pettit.
AH-1G Cobra with 4ID markings at 4th Infantry Division Museum, Ft. Hood, TX, 2 December 2005. This helicopter served in Vietham with the 11th ACR (Armored Cavalry Regiment) and was damaged in combat twice. Photo: Courtesy of Bob Pettit.