Kaman helicopter and non-helicopter projects

Mark Nankivil

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We have had a few K-Max helos in our area the past few years. The all red with gold trim one was setting light poles for a soccer field complex and the red with white trim was doing HVAC units for a new building. The red with black trim, with the Bambi Bucket strewn on the ground in front of it, was in Santa Fe, NM in June 2017 on call for fire fighting duties.

Enjoy the Day! Mark
 

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cluttonfred

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I have always been surprised that Kaman never made a straightforward gunship conversion of the K-Max. The K-Max can lift 6,000 lb at sea level and over 4,000 lb even at 15,000 ft. A pair of loaded 19-round 2.75 in/70mm rocket pods weigh about 1,000-1,300 lb all told depending on the rocket warheads, that's a heck of a lot of firepower in a fairly simple, rugged, and relatively cheap package. That's 38 unguided rockets of many different varieties plus guided options that could follow a laser target designator from the K-Max, another aircraft or UAV, or troops on the ground. That would still leave plenty of load capacity for armor for the pilot and key systems plus the necessary military equipment (radios, IFF, maybe chaff/flares). All this on a well-proven airframe and powerplant that costs under $10 million, seems like a good idea to me.
 

P-STICKNEY

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I have always been surprised that Kaman never made a straightforward gunship conversion of the K-Max. The K-Max can lift 6,000 lb at sea level and over 4,000 lb even at 15,000 ft. A pair of loaded 19-round 2.75 in/70mm rocket pods weigh about 1,000-1,300 lb all told depending on the rocket warheads, that's a heck of a lot of firepower in a fairly simple, rugged, and relatively cheap package. That's 38 unguided rockets of many different varieties plus guided options that could follow a laser target designator from the K-Max, another aircraft or UAV, or troops on the ground. That would still leave plenty of load capacity for armor for the pilot and key systems plus the necessary military equipment (radios, IFF, maybe chaff/flares). All this on a well-proven airframe and powerplant that costs under $10 million, seems like a good idea to me.
The first thing that comes to mind is that intermeshing helicopters like the Various Kamans have great vertical lift, they are very, very slow. As one H-43B Husky pilot once told me, forward flight "was like pushing your Grandmothr's Thanksgiving Turkey Platter flat side on in a hurricane." you also lose the real estate for things like sensors, like the Apache Longbow, or the mast mounted designator/illuminators that allow the chopper to use terrain masking.
 

cluttonfred

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All good points and the K-Max has a Vne of 100 knots so it’s certainly not going to win any races, but not every military can afford to buy and especially to maintain even an old surplus Huey Cobra. I think it could be the helicopter equivalent of an armed Cessna Caravan, by no means cutting edge but a huge improvement over a tired old bird or nothing at all.
 

Mark Nankivil

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I have always been surprised that Kaman never made a straightforward gunship conversion of the K-Max. The K-Max can lift 6,000 lb at sea level and over 4,000 lb even at 15,000 ft. A pair of loaded 19-round 2.75 in/70mm rocket pods weigh about 1,000-1,300 lb all told depending on the rocket warheads, that's a heck of a lot of firepower in a fairly simple, rugged, and relatively cheap package. That's 38 unguided rockets of many different varieties plus guided options that could follow a laser target designator from the K-Max, another aircraft or UAV, or troops on the ground. That would still leave plenty of load capacity for armor for the pilot and key systems plus the necessary military equipment (radios, IFF, maybe chaff/flares). All this on a well-proven airframe and powerplant that costs under $10 million, seems like a good idea to me.
In talking to the pilots with these K-Maxes, all commented on its relative lack of manueverability - great lifer since all the power goes to the rotors and not siphoned off to a tail rotor, but the manuveuring is sluggish and not crisp without a tail rotor. They all noted it was something you get used to but once you did, you knew what you can, and better not, do when flying.
 

P-STICKNEY

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All good points and the K-Max has a Vne of 100 knots so it’s certainly not going to win any races, but not every military can afford to buy and especially to maintain even an old surplus Huey Cobra. I think it could be the helicopter equivalent of an armed Cessna Caravan, by no means cutting edge but a huge improvement over a tired old bird or nothing at all.
In that case, quite frankly, the best choice isn't a helicopter, but something like an Air Tractor turboprop cropduster with a 2-seat cockpit, extra fuel and a whole bunch oc sensors in place of the chemical hoppers - the sensors including Thermal Imaging and a Laser Designator, a radio stack that talks to everybody, (AM/FM VHF/UHF, clear and encrypted, even the Phone Network) and a forest of pylons which can carry small LGBs, GPS-guided bombs, laser guided 2.75s, and so on. With that loadout, It can loiter over an area in the top edge of the MANPADS envelope, out of the "bullets" envelope, searching for the Bad Guys and, if they can't drop enough on them, calling in and guiding the heavy hitters. Unless you can hide behind cover, like a helicopter, low level strafing and over the trenches Close Air Support is a mug's game. These days you get bettger coverage and accuracy with a (Nowadays cheap) smart weapon and good sensors. Of course, it helps that these days, the Guys on the Ground actually know where they are.
 

thanos.massias

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Kaman H-2 "Tomahawk" attack helicopter:
View: https://youtu.be/-ywUt3iuOYA


I know that https://www.youtube.com/user/swk91356/videos has already been mentioned on this thread (post #16) but it is worth noting that 7 more excellent videos about Kaman have been uploaded recently.

I suppose that Mr. Steven Kaman—who uploaded those videos—is the son of the late Charles Kaman, the founder of Kaman Aircraft.
 
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