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Bell Model 309 « King Cobra » attack helicopter

Triton

Donald McKelvy
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The Bell Model 309 King Cobra was an experimental attack helicopter based on Bell's successful AH-1 Cobra. The program was started in 1971 as an unsolicited response to the development problems of the Lockheed AH-56 Cheyenne that was chosen for the US Army's Advanced Aerial Fire Support System (AAFSS). Two prototypes were built. The US Army passed on the Model 309, as well as the Sikorsky S-67 Blackhawk, and announced the Advanced Attack Helicopter (AAH) program in 1972.

http://www.1000aircraftphotos.com/HistoryBriefs/Bell309.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_309
http://www.aviastar.org/helicopters_eng/bell_kingcobra.php
 

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Archibald

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Looks like that the Bell 309 and S-67 Black hawk were evaluated by the army in spring 1972.

Some questions

- were they tested against any AH-56 Cheyenne ?
- where did the tests happened ? In Yuma ?

Thanks in advance for any details.
 

Stargazer2006

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If the S-67 was meant to carry troops in any number, I doubt there could have been a fly-off against the Bell 309...
 

yasotay

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I suspect that it was an attempt by Bell to provide a very fast solution to the loss of AH-56 program. Thinking that a new improved Cobra was less risky and costly to an entirely new and costly program. So while Sikorsky was going for the high end (meet original specs but with a conventional helicopter) Bell elected to go with "tweeks" to an existing helicopter. Bell I think missed the position of the Army toward attack helicopters at the time. With that in mind I doubt there ever was any thought of having any sort of fly off.
 

Evil Flower

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Didn't the Kingcobra later evolve into what we know as the AH-1W?
 

yasotay

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Evil Flower said:
Didn't the Kingcobra later evolve into what we know as the AH-1W?
I don't know for sure, but would not be surprised if some of the changes found their way into the USMC Whiskey model upgrades.
 

saturncanuck

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Evil Flower said:
Didn't the Kingcobra later evolve into what we know as the AH-1W?
Near as I can tell, just the twin engine pack for the Marine variant
 

F-14D

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saturncanuck said:
Evil Flower said:
Didn't the Kingcobra later evolve into what we know as the AH-1W?
Near as I can tell, just the twin engine pack for the Marine variant
The Marines' twin engine AH-1J flew two years before the 309, and the 309 used the twin pack from the AH-1J for one of the prototypes (the other used a single Lycoming T55-L-7C, it crashed and the twin was modified to a single for the Army flyoff).

AH-56, S-67 and Model 309 were all flown against each other to meet the Army's AAFSS specification. All three were rejected, and Army started the Advanced Attack Helicopter program instead, saying their requirements had totally changed.

AH-1W was based on the AH-1T+, originally designed for the Shah of Iran. It, I believe, is the only attack helicopter that can use both TOW and Hellfire (AH-64 originally was designed around TOW but "upgraded to Hellfire as its weapon). AH-1Z will only carry Hellfire, which many crews regret since they feel TOW is a better weapon in an urban environment or where it is absolutely vital to avoid collateral damage (plus its cheaper), although they do still want to have Hellfire. They hope to make up for the loss of TOW with the Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System (APKWS), assuming it remains funded.
 

luedo34

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Coming back to the issue whether there was a fly-off between the KingCobra, the S-67 and the AH-56.
Mike Verier (Osprey, 1990) states in his book on the Cobra that there was a fly-off,
while Keneth Peoples (Aerofax Datagraph 4, Midland Publishing 1988) wrote that the KingCobra was tested, but not before the whole AAFSS-Programme was dead anyway. He mentions no fly-off at all. Bell, he wrote, offered the Army the KingCobra as a low cost substitue for the AH-56 when it was already cancelled.
Any ideas who is right?
 

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overscan

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Kingcobra evaluation is available from DTIC at a cost:


http://oai.dtic.mil/oai/oai?verb=getRecord&metadataPrefix=html&identifier=AD0771151


Accession Number : AD0771151
[/size]Title : Attack Helicopter Evaluation, Model 309 KingCobra Helicopter.
[/size]Descriptive Note : Final rept. 9 Mar-6 Jul 72,
[/size]Corporate Author : ARMY AVIATION SYSTEMS TEST ACTIVITY EDWARDS AFB CALIF
[/size]Personal Author(s) : Stringer,Paul G. ; Hepler,Leslie J. ; Smith,Gary A. ; Nagata,John I. ; Skinner,Gary L.
[/size]Report Date : JUL 1972
[/size]Pagination or Media Count : 160
[/size]Abstract : The US Army Aviation Systems Test Activity conducted an evaluation of the Bell Helicopter Company Model 309 KingCobra during the period 5 June to 6 July 1972. This testing was accomplished in support of the Attack Helicopter Requirements Evaluation performed by the Attack Helicopter Task Force. The KingCobra, a growth version of the AH-1G, was tested at the contractor's flight test facility at Arlington, Texas. Performance, handling qualities, and mission suitability were evaluated to provide data for use in determining advanced aerial fire support system effectiveness model inputs, validating material need requirements, and validating contractor claims.
 

overscan

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Accession Number : AD0771914
Title : Attack Helicopter Evaluation AH-56A Cheyenne Compound Helicopter
Descriptive Note : Final rept.
Corporate Author : ARMY AVIATION SYSTEMS TEST ACTIVITY EDWARDS AFB CA
Personal Author(s) : Johnson, John N. ; Bender, Gary L. ; McClellan, Randy D. ; Burden, John R. ; Larsen, Morrie E.
Handle / proxy Url : http://handle.dtic.mil/100.2/AD771914
Report Date : JUN 1972
Pagination or Media Count : 153
Abstract : The US Army Aviation Systems Test Activity (USAASTA) conducted an Attack Helicopter Evaluation of the AH-56A Cheyenne Compound Helicopter during the period 15 April to 15 June 1972. The AH-56A was tested at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona and Mammoth Lakes, California. This evaluation was conducted to provide data for use in determining Advanced Aerial Fire Support System effectiveness model inputs, validating material need requirements, and validating contractor claims. The forward area concealment evaluation was conducted by the US Army Combat Developments Command Aviation Agency and the maintenance characteristics evaluation was conducted by the US Army Aviation Systems Command. The performance and handling qualities testing consisted of 49 test flights totaling 42.2 flight hours. The pusher propeller was a major contributor to several enhancing performance and handling qualities characteristics.
Descriptors : *FLIGHT TESTING, *HELICOPTERS, AVIONICS, FLIGHT CONTROL SYSTEMS, MISSION PROFILES, PERFORMANCE(ENGINEERING), HOVERING, HELICOPTER ENGINES.
Subject Categories : HELICOPTERS
Distribution Statement : APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE
 

overscan

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Accession Number : AD0771161
Title : Attack Helicopter Evaluation, Blackhawk S-67 Helicopter
Descriptive Note : Final rept. May 1972-Jun 1972
Corporate Author : ARMY AVIATION SYSTEMS TEST ACTIVITY EDWARDS AFB CA
Personal Author(s) : Yamakawa, George M. ; Winn, Albert L. ; Smith, Raymon B. ; Anderson, Roy J., Jr ; Griffith, Warren E., II
Handle / proxy Url : http://handle.dtic.mil/100.2/AD771161
Report Date : JUL 1972
Pagination or Media Count : 183
Abstract : The U.S. Army Aviation Systems Test Activity (USAASTA) conducted an evaluation of the Sikorsky S-67 Blackhawk helicopter during the period 25 May to 13 June 72. The S-67, a derivative of the Sikorsky S-61 (SH-3), was tested at the contractor's facility near Stratford, Connecticut. Performance, handling qualities and mission suitability were evaluated to provide data for use in determining Advanced Aerial Fire Support System effectiveness model inputs, validating material need requirements and validating contractor claims. Twenty six hours of flight time were required for these tests.
Descriptors : *HELICOPTERS, FLIGHT CONTROL SYSTEMS, TAKEOFF, HOVERING, GUNSHIPS.
Subject Categories : HELICOPTERS
Distribution Statement : APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE
 

overscan

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August 1970
Review of AAFSS Program commences.


22 September 1970
Sikorsky introduces S-67 Blackhawk.


28 September 1971 Bell unveils King Cobra.


1972 US Army decides to conduct an effectiveness study to examine the Cheyenne and other candidate helicopters.


1972 MG Sidney M. Marks designated as Advanced Attack Helicopter Task Force Director.


1 July 1972 Competitive evaluations begin at Hunter Liggett Military Reservation between Cheyenne, Blackhawk, King Cobra


7 August 1972 Marks' Task Force submits its evaluation of Cheyenne, Blackhawk and King Cobra to the Secretary of the Army.


9 August 1972 The Secretary of the Army officially terminates the Lockheed AH-.56A program and simultaneously announces initiation of a program to develop an
advanced attack helicopter.


22 June 1973 Secretary of the Army, Howard H. Callaway, revealed that Bell Helicopter and Hughes Helicopter were winners of a competitive evaluation designed to
provide the US Army with an AAH in early 1980.


Source:


Accession Number : ADB006756
Title : The Evolution of the Advanced Attack Helicopter
Descriptive Note : Final rept.
Corporate Author : ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS
Personal Author(s) : Camia, Dante A.
Handle / proxy Url : http://handle.dtic.mil/100.2/ADB006756
Report Date : 06 JUN 1975
Pagination or Media Count : 295
Abstract : The United States Army is committed to the development of an advanced attack helicopter (AAH). The problem associated with this research endeavor encompasses tracing the introduction, evolution, and development of the AAH. The record of the past and present was examined to increase understanding of what transpired, to resurrect facts about it, and finally to draw conclusions.
Descriptors : *ATTACK AIRCRAFT, THESES, HELICOPTERS, TACTICAL AIR SUPPORT, AIRCRAFT GUNS, ARMY OPERATIONS, ADVANCED WEAPONS, ARMY RESEARCH, HISTORY
Subject Categories : HELICOPTERS, ATTACK AND FIGHTER AIRCRAFT
Distribution Statement : APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE
 

overscan

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The confusion comes because AH-56 was concelled twice. In 1969, the production contract was cancelled, but development continued. Sikorsky & Bell, sensing an opportunity, launch S-67 and King Cobra. In 1972, the Army test all three, find none are acceptable, and launch AAH.
 

luedo34

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Great picture! Have you got it in high resolution?
Thanks, luedo
 

Stargazer2006

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Close-up of front of prototype KingCobra advanced armed helicopter shows nose-mounted stabilized sight system and turret system with 20 millimeter cannons. Textron's Bell Helicopter Company is proposing slightly different versions of the KingCobra to the Army and Marines.
Source: Bell promotional photo, for release on September 28, 1971
 

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Stargazer2006

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Bell Helicopter's KingCobra is shown during flight test at Fort Worth, Texas. The new advanced armed helicopter is being proposed to the Army and Marines by Bell, largest division of Textron, Inc.
Source: Bell promotional photo, released on September 28, 1971
 

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ouroboros

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Stargazer2006 said:
Close-up of front of prototype KingCobra advanced armed helicopter shows nose-mounted stabilized sight system and turret system with 20 millimeter cannons. Textron's Bell Helicopter Company is proposing slightly different versions of the KingCobra to the Army and Marines.
Source: Bell promotional photo, for release on September 28, 1971
Is it just me, or does the sight look awfully similar to the Cheyenne's sight?
 
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