AH-1F Modernized “Cobra” Helicopter

Cobra 78_23107 photo for collections link

AH-1F Modernized “Cobra” Helicopter

By June 1967, the first AH-1G “Huey Cobra” attack helicopters were delivered by the Bell Helicopter company. Originally designated as UH-1H, the “A” for attack designation was soon adopted and when the improved UH-1D became the UH-1H, the Huey Cobra became the AH-1G Cobra or Snake. The AH-1 was initially considered a variant of the H-1 line, resulting in the G series letter. This helicopter was phased through the AH-1F Modernized Cobra program which converted 387 AH-1G Cobras. The AH-1F incorporates all Step 1 and 2 upgrades to the AH-1S. It also featured Step 3 upgrades: a head-up display, a laser rangefinder, an infrared jammer mounted above the engine exhaust, and an infrared suppressing engine exhaust system, and the M143 Air Data Subsystem (ADS). The AH-1F is also referred to as the “Modernized AH-1S”, “AH-1S Modernized Cobra”, or “AH-1S(MC)” prior to 1988

The AH-1S Modernized Cobra was redesignated as AH-1F Modernized Cobra, and could be identified by the air data sensor mounted above the right side of the canopy. The AH-1F Cobra was equipped with the Allied Signal Engines (ASE) T53-L-703 1800 shp turboshaft engine, gearbox, and transmission introduced to the Production AH-1S Cobra.

Armament

Standard Armament (AH-1F):

Armament consists of the three-barrel M197 20mm automatic gun mounted on the M97A4 armament subsystem. The Modernized AH-1F was equipped to fire eight TOW (Tube-Launched, Optically Tracked, Wire Command-Link Guided) anti-tank missiles, and the Hydra 70 2.75 inch rocket system. It was equipped with the M65 TOW/Cobra missile system, the M147 Rocket Management System with the M97A4 armament subsystem. The Cobra could also disperse chaff and infrared jamming flares using the M130 general purpose dispenser. Some AH-1F Cobras received the C-NITE upgrade, which allowed the gunner to designate and acquire targets during night or adverse operating conditions.

Body Armor

Both the Pilot and Co-Pilot/Gunner positions were equipped with carbon fiber side panels and seats.
The small-arms protection aircrewmen armor that was introduced in 1966 was a vest with pockets containing composite laminated plates commonly called “chicken plates”. Improved versions were issued through the war and included pockets on the chest and back in which large additional plates could be inserted. The back plate was often not used owing to the weight, and even the chest plate was deleted

Crews

Two (2) Crew: one Pilot, one Co-Pilot/Gunner (CPG)

Missions and Loads

The Cobra was the first helicopter designed from inception with the specific mission being an attack aircraft. It dramatically changed the nature of the war in Vietnam by offering the Army, for the first time, its own powerful and highly accurate weapons platform for close-air-support missions. To accommodate the crew in such an aircraft, the cockpit was arranged so that the pilot sat directly behind and slightly above the front seat. From there, he could have sufficient visibility to maneuver the aircraft in almost any situation. The front seat, which had a slightly better view of the ground immediately to the front of the aircraft, was occupied by the gunner. He had a few of the control mechanisms available to the pilot, but was not a copilot in any conventional respect.

Specifications

Manufacturer
Bell Helicopter
Model
Bell AH-1F Modernized Cobra
Type
Attack Helicopter
First Year of Production
1967
Production Total
1,116
Engine
1 x Allied Signal Engines (ASE) T53-L-703
Engine Rating
1,800 SHP
Main Rotor
2 Blade Semi-Rigid 44 Foot Diameter
Maximum Take Off Weight
9500 Lbs.
Empty Weight
5810 Lbs.
Never Exceed Speed
190 Knots (219 mph)
Maximum Cruise Speed
149 Knots (171 mph)
Maximum Range
319 nautical miles (357 statute miles)
Service Ceiling
11,400 feet
Rate of Climb
1,230 feet/minute
Fuselage length
44 ft. 5 in. (13.5 m)
Stub Wing span
10 ft. 4 in. (3.15 m)
Total Operating Length
53 ft. (16.2 m) with both rotors turning
Height
13 ft. 6 in. (4.12 m)

History

Bell Model AH-1F Modernized “ Cobra” or “Snake”
s/n 78-23107

The Cobra was the world’s first helicopter specifically designed for the armed helicopter direct fire support role. Although it’s predecessor, the UH-1 (Huey), had been modified to the armed helicopter role, there was a compromise in helicopter performance. The addition of weaponry on the UH-1 created an increase in both weight and drag; therefore, this left the paradox of an escort aircraft which had less speed and maneuverability than the troop and cargo aircraft it was to support.

The quickest improvement was to modify the Huey into an integrated weapons configuration that would maximize utilization of battle proven Huey components and fashioned in a shape that would provide the performance, maneuverability, and mission effectiveness that combat required.

It was under these design parameters that the Cobra took shape. The original Cobra (AH-1G) utilized many of the operational components of the Huey to include the 540 rotor system, T53 series engine, transmission, and tailrotor system. However, a much slimmer fuselage was adapted with a tandem seating arrangement. The slimmer fuselage allowed for a faster and more agile aircraft mainly due to the reduction in aerodynamic drag, while the tandem seating created almost unlimited visibility. The AH-1F Modernized program included 143 production aircraft and 387 converted AH-1G Cobras. The AH-1F incorporates all Step 1 and 2 upgrades to the AH-1S. It also featured Step 3 upgrades: a head-up display, a laser rangefinder, an infrared jammer mounted above the engine exhaust, and an infrared suppressing engine exhaust system, and the M143 Air Data Subsystem (ADS). The AH-1F is also referred to as the “Modernized AH-1S”, “AH-1S Modernized Cobra”, or “AH-1S(MC)” prior to 1988

The original Huey Cobra, the AH-1G, has been modified and improved over the years to the present modernized Cobra, the AH-1F. The lineage and AH-1 differences which have occurred can be seen on the chart below.

AH-1 Differences

Type AH-1G AH-1Q AH-1S AH-1P AH-1E AH-1F
Turret M28 M28 M28 M28 M97 M97
GUNS M-134 M-134 M-134 M-134 M-197 M-197
M-129 M-129 M-129 M-129
SIGHT M73 M73 M73 M73 M73 HUD
Pantograph HSS, TSU HSS, TSU HSS, TSU HSS, TSU HSS, TSU
TOW X X X X X
2.75 FFAR X X X X RMS RMS
Canopy Round Round Round* Square Square Square
Type Engine L-13 L-13 L-703 L-703 L-703 L-703
(MIL) SHP 1,400 1,400 1,485 1,485 1,485 1,485
XMSN SHP 1,134 1,134 1,290 1,290 1,290 1,290
MAX G/W 9,500 9,500 10,000 10,000 10,000 10,000
YEAR 67-73 75-76 76-79 77-78 78-79 79-89
# Produce 1,126 92 290 100 98 ? ? ? ?

*Note The AH-1S was produced as a Mod-S and Prod-S. Most of the Mod-S were equipped with the rounded canopy while the Prod-S were equipped with the square canopy.

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One Comment

  1. TOM SCARBROUGH

    I worked on the AH-1G – AH-1S, UH-1B, CH-57, CH-47. MY MOS 67Y AFTER THE ARMY I WORKED AS A & P & A I AIRCRAFT MECHANIC 1979- 1996 . I live in PA. if you need help let me know.
    1974-1979 army

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