OH-6A “Cayuse” Helicopter s/n 67-16304

OH-6A “Cayuse” 67-16304

Vietnam OH-6A “Cayuse” Helicopter

The OH-6A made its first flight in 1963. The Cayuse was publicly introduced in 1966 and set several records, including record for endurance, speed and rate of climb. In 1966 it entered military service with the US Army. During the Vietnam War the OH-6 helicopters served in huge numbers and were used for light observation and utility roles. The Cayuse (white) was used alongside the AH-1 Cobra (red) attack helicopters, forming (pink) hunter killer teams. It could accomplish missions that bigger, slower and louder helicopters couldn’t do. Under enemy fire this nimble machine had to fly low to the ground, just above the jungle canopy. Once enemy positions opened fire at the Cayuse, they were destroyed by the mighty firepower of escorting Cobras. Due to it’s designation “LOH” (Light Observation Helicopter), pilots and crew nicknamed this helicopter “LOACH”.

Even when this helicopter was shot down, it refused to crack. In the event of a crash the tailboom and engine separate from the egg-like cabin, improving the survival chances of the crew and passengers.


Armament options, OH-6A Cayuse:

2 – M134 7.62-mm 6x barrel, Gatling type twin MG pods
2 – M260 2.75-in Hydra 70 rocket pods (7 or 12 each)
2 – .50 cal MG pods
2 – M75 40-mm grenade launchers
2 – MK19 40-mm grenade launcher
2 – TOW missile pods (2 each)
2 – Hellfire ATGM
2 – Stinger AAM

Body Armor

Both the Pilot and Observer/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.


Two (2) Crew: one Pilot, one Observer/Doorgunner

Missions and Loads

The Hughes OH-6A “Cayuse”, was designed for use as a Light Observation Helicopter (LOH) nicknamed “LOACH”, military scout during the Vietnam war to meet the U.S. Army’s need for an extremely maneuverable observation helicopter. The Hughes OH-6A Cayuse was quite effective when teamed with the AH-1G Cobra attack helicopter as part of what were known as “Pink Teams”, combining the OH-6A “Loach” (white team) with a AH-1G “Cobra” atacke helicopter (red team). The OH-6A would find targets by flying low, “trolling” for fire, and lead in a Cobra, or “Snake”, to attack. The OH-6A could be armed with the M27 armament subsystem, the M134 six-barrel 7.62mm “minigun” or the M129 40mm grenade launcher on the XM8 armament subsystem.

External load capacity was approximately 1,200 Lbs (550 kg), and transport capability 2 or 3 troops or cargo internally.


Hughes Tool Company’s Aircraft Division
OH-6A Cayuse Light Observation Helicopter(LOH) or “LOACH”
Observation Helicopter
First Year of Production
Production Total
1 × One Allison T63-A-5A or T63-A-700 turboshaft, 317 hp (236 kW)
Engine Rating
317 SHP
Main Rotor
4 Blade Semi-Rigid
Maximum Take Off Weight
3,549 lbs (1,610 kg)
Empty Weight
1,975 lbs (896 kg)
Never Exceed Speed
152 knots (175 mph, 282 km/h)
Maximum Cruise Speed
135 knots (155 mph, 250 km/h)
232 nm (430 km (267 mi)
Service Ceiling
15,994 ft (4,875 m)
Rate of Climb
2,067 ft/min (10.5 m/s)
30 ft 10 in – 32 ft 2 in (9.4–9.8 m)
8 ft 6 in – 11 ft 2 in (2.6–3.4 m)
Rotor Diameter
27 ft. 4 in (8.33 m)


Hughes Model OH-6A “Cayuse” or “LOACH”
s/n 67-16304
Served in Vietnam War during 1968 and 1970-1972
Flight Hours in Vietnam: 1,318
Army units this aircraft deployed with in Vietnam:
Troop C, 1st squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division: Oct ’68 – Jan ‘69
Headquarters, 173rd Airborne Brigade: Jan ‘70 – May ’70
79th Transportation Company: Jun ’70 – Jul ‘70
A Troop, 7th Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division: Aug ’70 – Feb ‘72
608th Transportation Company (Aircraft Direct Support): Mar ’72
60th Assault Helicopter Company: Mar ’72 – Jun ’72

Combat Flight Incidents

Information on U.S. Army helicopter OH-6A tail number 67-16304
The Army purchased this helicopter 0968
Total flight hours at this point: 00000265
Date: 02/08/1969
This was a Combat incident. This helicopter was REPAIRED IN THEATER
This was a Recon mission for Unarmed Recon
While Enroute this helicopter was at Level Flight at 0020 feet and 050 knots.
South Vietnam
Helicopter took 2 hits from:
Small Arms/Automatic Weapons; Gun launched non-explosive ballistic projectiles less than 20 mm in size. (7.62MM)
The helicopter was hit in the Cockpit
Casualties = 01 WIA . .
The helicopter made a Forced Landing. Aircraft took off, fully flight capable.
Unknown as to mission impact.
Original source(s) and document(s) from which the incident was created or updated: Survivability/Vulnerability Information Analysis Center Helicopter database. Also: LNOF, 90119, JSIDR (Lindenmuth Old Format Data Base. Joint Services Incident Damage Report. )

Information on U.S. Army helicopter OH-6A tail number 67-16304
The Army purchased this helicopter 0968
Total flight hours at this point: 00000496
Date: 03/25/1970
Unit: 173 ABN
This was a Combat incident. This helicopter was UNK
This was a Recon mission for Unarmed Recon
While in Target Area this helicopter was Attacking at 0060 feet and 010 knots.
South Vietnam
Helicopter took 1 hits from:
Small Arms/Automatic Weapons; Gun launched non-explosive ballistic projectiles less than 20 mm in size. (7.62MM)
The helicopter was hit in the Left Side
Systems damaged were: FUEL SYS
The helicopter Continued Flight.
The aircraft was diverted prior to accomplishing any mission objectives.

Photo Gallery

Painting of OH-6A s/n 67-16304 by Joe Kline
Painting of OH-6A s/n 67-16304 by Joe Kline

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  1. When she was flying for the 173rd Airborne Bde Sep, Casper Aviation Platoon out of LZ English and Ghost Town, she was shot in the fuel system on a mission. Robert MacDonald was the Crew Chief and door gunner at the time.. Wish I had more photos of her from Vietnam to send you, but only have one or two that I had already sent you a couple years ago and have several of her from when she was flying for the Maryville County Sheriffs Dept in New York. Am thrilled she is getting restored.,.Love to see the Ghost on her nose and the 173rd patches on her , but suppose it would not be politically correct to put the HIADD patch on her cowl in today’s day and age.. Still thrilled just to see a fantastic war bird of the Inferno Scouts being restored!! She is a proud little lady that served us well…

  2. Seeking the pilot of a LOACH, who flew in 1968-69, from area around Phu Bai. Flew to the top of Bach Ma, to performa medivac, flying blind into the cloud on top of Bach Ma, to execute the rescue. Picked up 5-6 wounded, and flew off. Never found out who they were. Regular medivac craft had been unable to penetrate the cloud, but this LOACH pilot didso. Read the details on the Tiger Force web site, under “The Fog and the LOACH Pilot”
    I seriously need to meet this man, because I owe him a beer for the last 5 decades.

  3. Kenneth Smith (sp5)

    I flew as ‘crew chief’ right rear door gunner in (Nov 68-Nov 69) A Troop, 17th Air Cav, 1st Aviation Brigade from (sp) Bam Me Tout, near Cambodia border, and 4th Infantry Division HQ at (sp) Pleiku, central Highlands and Ahn Cai. I also flew (Nov 69-Feb 70) with C Troop, 2nd Air Cav, 1st Av Bgd out of (sp) Zion near Saigon. Enjoyed every moment.

    • Michael Mendenhall

      Mr. Smith,,,been doing some research in reference to my cousin who flew a OH-6A helicopter in Vietnam,,,he tragically was shot down November 20th 1969,,,his name was WO1 Fred Exner,,,the Observers name was WO2 Gary B. Nelson,,, he survived the crash and went on to fly Cobras in Germany as the accident report explained,,,just wondered if either one of those names rang a bell.

  4. Dan Aiken

    The OH-6A is the best helicopter bar none that I have ever flown in as a side door gunner, crew chief, scout. I lost one OH-6A to an rpg along with the CO . The army was not thinking right by replacing it with the OH-58A, I guess money talks. RVN 1970-71.


      True. LBJ’s Bell helicopter made in Hurst, Texas. The locals even named a high school ‘Bell’ in Hurst, Texas.

  5. Pete Thompson

    Howard Hughs lost millions of dollars by underbidding Bell and Hiller because he believed in the aircraft and design that was shaped like an egg that can withstand a lot of damage while protecting the crew. When LBJ became POTUS he switched over to the OH-58 which was made in his home state of Texas. An OH-6 can outfly an OH-58 any day anywhere any place. It is more comfortable for passengers, less noisy, that the OH-6 but who cares in a war zone. I’ve flow the Hughs 500D but not as much as the 206 II and III. The 500 was much more fun.

  6. Clyde Adkins MM1{sw} USN

    Hey guys I’m looking for info for my brother Harold Hurt. He was a door gunner on a Loach 68 to 70 sometime. He was in 1st Cav, He retired after 20 years Army. He an I talk often about his time in Vietnam. He would very much like to get in touch with anyone in country that may flown in the Loach group. Thanks

  7. Thomas Harnisher

    When I was assigned to C Troop 1st Squadron 9th Cavalry 1st Cav Division in Oct 1968 I was given a new OH-6A 67-16304 I flew this helicopter as “Cavalier 16” until February 1969 . I flew it as hard as I thought necessary given the missions we were doing . The aircraft was hit by small arms many times, including twice by my own crew [once in the left skid and once in the right skid ] during close contact with the enemy. It was always repaired quickly and once given a total re-paint before reaching its first inspection period [300 hrs.] and sent back to the states for re-build. This aircraft was always very good to me much better than I was to Her. She always did every thing I asked of her which was considerable .


    I stumbled on to this site. I was a crew chief in the Republic of Vietnam 1968, 1st Aviation. One of my helicopters had serial number 67-16313. It was lifted out by helicopter. We ran out of gas once in Indian country. The Australians saved us. I did not like the number 13. But when I returned back from Vietnam, I got number 13 for a post office box number. The best pilot I flew with was Army Captain Ratske [sic]. I would stand out the front door on the skid with my M-16, loaded with 3/20 round clips taped together. We’d fly under the trees. The M-16 malfunctioned often. We shot up all manners of things. The Cong would have board walks out in the swamps with buildings.


    I was a crew chief on the OH 6A helicopter with the 1st Aviation in the Republic of Vietnam in 1968. My main aircraft serial number was 67-16313. Talk about a number. Great pilots. The best helicopter ever without a hydraulic system. I have Kline’s print. God bless all.

  10. Matt Spence

    Looking for information about a good friend who passed away last year. I am Making a plaque for his mermorial and I want to get the information correct on the plaque. I know he was with the 196Th infan, 23 Americal, and flew out of a base near Da Nang. It was would have been there in 71-72 time frame. He was a Doorgunner/ Crewcheif on a OH-6 Cayuse ( Loach). His OH6 had a razorback hog painted on the side. His Name was Donald Eugene Kurtze. Please, if anyone of you Vets, out there know of Don, or his proper group he was with please Email me. Thank You

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