- Bell 309
name=Bell 309 KingCobra
caption=A Bell 309 single-engined variant
Bell Helicopter Textron
United States Army
variants with their own articles=
The Bell Model 309 King Cobra was an experimental
attack helicopterbased on Bell's successful AH-1 Cobra.
The AH-1 Cobra was developed in the mid-1960s as an interim gunship for the U.S. Army for use Vietnam. The Cobra shared the proven transmission, rotor system, and the T53 turboshaft engine of the UH-1 "Huey".Donald, David: "Modern Battlefield Warplanes". AIRtime Publishing Inc, 2004. ISBN 1-880588-76-5]
1967, the first AH-1G HueyCobras had been delivered. Originally designated as UH-1H, the "A" for attack designation was soon adopted and when the improved UH-1D became the UH-1H, the HueyCobra became the AH-1G.
The US Army has purchased the AH-1G as an "interim type" for the "jungle fighting" role, but the Army's broader concern was the task of protecting Western Europe from the legions of Warsaw Pact armor to the east. [http://www.vectorsite.net/avcobra_1.html#m4 Greg Goebel's Vectorsite] ]
The Army had initiated the Advanced Aerial Fire Support System (AAFSS) program to develop the Lockheed
AH-56 Cheyennefor the anti-tank gunship role, but development of the Cheyenne did not go smoothly, and as one writer put it, "the vultures began to gather", with Sikorsky and Bell trying to sell unsolicited alternatives to the Army. The Sikorsky offering was the S-67 Blackhawk, a sleek gunship, which despite the name was no real relation to the later S-70 Black Hawk utility-transport helicopter. The Bell offering was a refined HueyCobra, the Model 309 KingCobra.
Bell announced the KingCobra program in January 1971. Two prototypes were built, one with a P&WC T400-CP-400 Twin Pac dual turboshaft engine system much like that used on the AH-1J, but with a stronger drive train allowing full 1,800 shp (1,340 kW) operation, and the other with a single Lycoming T55-L-7C turboshaft engine with 2,000 shp (1,490 kW).
The twin engine KingCobra first flew on
10 September 1971. It looked much like an AH-1J, except for a longer and distinctive "buzzard beak" nose and a ventral fin like that on the original Model 209 demonstrator.Bishop, Chris. "Huey Cobra Gunships". Osprey Publishing, 2006. ISBN 1-84176-984-3.] However, there were significant changes that were less noticeable:
*The airframe was strengthened and the tailboom was lengthened, making the KingCobra 3 feet 7 inches (1.1 m) longer than the AH-1G.
*A new rotor was fitted, with forward swept tips and a diameter of 48 feet (14.6 m), compared to 44 feet (13.4 m) for the AH-1G. The new rotor blade improved lift and reduced noise.
*An enlarged 20 millimeter ammunition drum, derived from the General Dynamics F-111, was fitted, requiring the KingCobra have a deeper fuselage.
*A sensor system for night and bad weather fighting was fitted beneath the extended nose. This Stabilized Multisensor Sight (SMS) was derived from technology developed for the AH-56 Cheyenne, and included a FLIR, an LLTV, a laser rangefinder, and a missile guidance system. The SMS could display imagery on either the gunner's sight or the pilot's head-up display (HUD). The pilot had his own LLTV, mounted in the front of the rotor fairing, to allow him to fly while the gunner hunted for targets.
New avionics were incorporated, including a Litton inertial navigation system (INS) that could store 16 different preprogrammed navigation waypoints; a radar altimeter with a ground warning system; and other improved navigation and communications gear.
The primary weapon of the KingCobra was to be the new wire-guided
BGM-71 TOWanti-tank missile, which had proven highly effective in combat test firings in Vietnam from Huey gunships. This weapon could be carried in a pack of four missiles, with one pack under each stub wing for a total of eight missiles. On launch, the TOW trailed out wires to communicate command guidance updates. The missile had two infrared flares on its tail to allow the SMS to track it. All the gunner had to do was keep the target in his sight, and the missile fire control system adjusted its flight appropriately. Both the gunner and the pilot had Sperry Univac helmet-mounted sights to allow them to acquire targets for the KingCobra's missiles and gun.
A long-span "big wing", 13 feet (4 m) wide, was designed for the KingCobra, but apparently never fitted except as a static mockup. The "big wing" was to provide additional fuel and stores carriage capability.
The single-engine KingCobra first flew in January 1972. Other than engine fit, it was almost identical to the twin-engine KingCobra. As it turned out, the single-engine prototype was wrecked in an accident in April, and to complete US Army evaluation the twin-engine KingCobra was modified to the single-engine configuration. The evaluation, which pitted the KingCobra against the Lockheed Cheyenne and Sikorsky S-67 in a competitive fly-off, began in the spring of 1972 and was completed in July. In August, somewhat to everyone's shock, the Army rejected all three.
Based on the Model 309 and AH-1 Cobra, Bell derived a new prototype attack helicopter, the Model 409/YAH-63, for the Army's Advanced Attack Helicopter (AAH) competition. [http://avia.russian.ee/helicopters_eng/bell_kingcobra.php Bell Model 309 Kingcobra, 1971] , avia.russian.ee.]
Advanced Attack Helicopter
United States Armyissued a request for proposals (RFP) in 1972 for an Advanced Attack Helicopter (AAH). From an initial list of 5 manufacturers, Boeing-Vertol, Bell, Hughes, Lockheed, and Sikorsky, the finalists selected were Hughes Aircraft's Toolco Aircraft Division(later Hughes Helicopters) and Bell. Hughes' Model 77/YAH-64 was selected over Bell's Model 409/YAH-63 in 1976. [ [http://avia.russian.ee/helicopters_eng/bell_yah-63.php Bell 409 / YAH-63 1975 page] , avia.russian.ee]
* Model 249: Experimental version fitted four rotor blades.
* Model 309 King Cobra: Experimental version powered by one Lycoming T-55-L-7C engine.
* Model 309 King Cobra: Experimental version powered by two engines.
pecifications (Bell 309)
plane or copter?=copter
jet or prop?=prop
crew=2: one pilot, one co-pilot/gunner
span main= 48 ft 0 in
span alt= 14.63 m
length main=48 ft 0 in
length alt=14.63 m
height main=13 ft 5 in
height alt=4.10 m
empty weight main=6,370 lb
empty weight alt=2,890 kg
loaded weight main=
loaded weight alt=
max takeoff weight main=10,000 lb
max takeoff weight alt=4,510 kg
engine (prop)= AVCO Lycoming T55-L-7C
type of prop=
number of props=1
power main=2,000 shp
power alt=1,490 kW)
more general= Alternate powerplant: 1 x
Pratt & Whitney CanadaT400-CP-400 (PT6T-3 Turbo Twin Pac) turboshaft, 1,800 shp (1,340 kW)
*Rotor systems: 2 blades on main rotor, 2 blades on tail rotor
max speed main=178 knots
max speed alt=205 mph, 330 km/h
range main=274 nmi
range alt=315 mi, 510 km
ceiling main=12,200 ft
ceiling alt=3,720 m
climb rate main=1,620 ft/min
climb rate alt=8.2 m/s
armament=* M197 3-barreled 20 mm "Gatling-style" cannon (750 rounds ammo capacity)
*2.75 in (70 mm) rockets - 14 rockets mounted in M or M launchers
*TOW Missiles - 4 or 8 missiles mounted in two-missile launchers on each hardpoint
List of attack aircraft
List of helicopters
List of military aircraft of the United States
* [http://www.aviastar.org/helicopters_eng/bell_kingcobra.php Bell 309 KingCobra on aviastar.org]
* [http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ac/ah-1.htm Federation of American Scientists - AH-1 Cobra]
* [http://www.globalaircraft.org/planes/ah-1_cobra.pl Global Aircraft - AH-1 Cobra]
* [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aircraft/ah-1.htm GlobalSecurity.org - AH-1 Cobra]
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