Aviation & Aerospace Vehicles & Artillery Infantry Small Arms Warships & Submarines Military Ranks U.S. Military Pay Special Forces DoD Dictionary (Alpha-to-Zulu) Military Alphabet Code

Bell UH-1B/C Huey Cobra / Frog

Gunship Helicopter

United States | 1962

"The Bell UH-1 as a helicopter gunship excelled in its given over-battlefield role when pressed into service over Vietnam."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 05/14/2018 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
Flag of Image courtesy of user via email.
One of the symbols of the American involvement in the Vietnam War (1955-1975) became the ubiquitous Bell UH-1 "Huey" transport helicopter. It was excelled in the "air cavalry" role and was also pressed in to troop ferrying into and out of contested zones while also providing critical to MEDEVAC operations. Another one of the system's primary roles became that of helicopter "gunship" as the base design was modified through an array of weapons to serve alongside transport versions and provide covering fire. In this arrangement, the transports could operate with Close Air Support (CAS) immediately on hand over areas where loitering by fixed-wing aircraft proved unrealistic.

Various platforms were modified and tested by the U.S. Army during the course of the war as dedicated gunships and this included the large tandem-rotor, medium-lift Boeing CH-47 "Chinook" transport as well as the smaller Sikorsky H-34 series. Transitions generally revolved around outfitting the existing airframes with wing stubs for rocket pods/tubes and gun pods while machine guns were added at door and window stations when possible. Grenade launchers and autocannons, these fitted to turrets, and even missiles rounded out some of the weaponry tested on these vehicles. These gunships were, by and large, only interim measures until more dedicated attack platforms like the Bell AH-1 "Cobra" line came into being.

The UH-1B became the first helicopter gunship to see operational service in number anywhere in the world. All-gun models were designated "Cobras" (or "Guns") while rocket-carrying forms were known as "Frogs" and "Hogs". The use of the name "Cobra" in this instance was also the first of its kind in U.S. Army helicopter service prior to the arrival of the Bell AH-1 series mentioned prior. Eventually versions emerged that carried both guns and rocket pods. Dedicated troop transports were known simply as "Slicks" and lacked wing stubs/rocket pods but could carry side door gunners for local area suppression of enemy elements.

Cobras and Frogs/Hogs were powered by a Lycoming T53-L-11 turboshaft engine developing 1,100 horsepower while driving the two-bladed main rotor and two-bladed tail rotor. The aircraft could expect to make speeds nearing 95 miles per hour which made them fast platforms quick to respond to changing situations and also keep up with the troop transports. Both UH-1B and UH-1C Huey production models were used in the gunship role during the war.

Content ©MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.
The UH-1 gunship was a true weapons platform and showcased the versatility of the design as a whole. The most potent of these ("Cobra" form) carried wing stubs that mounted a quad 0.30 caliber machine gun array (two guns stacked at each end point) and a single pylon for a seven- or nineteen-shot 2.75" rocket pod for a total of fourteen rockets. Alternatively miniguns could take the place of the quad 0.40 caliber machine gun arrangement (as could a cannon pod as in the "XM-31" 20mm system) and various rocket launchers were fitted over or under the wing stubs (the former as in the "XM-6 Quad Mount" system). At the nose was a powered turret fitting a 40mm M-5 automatic grenade launcher fed by a 107 round stock of projectiles. Beyond these fixed implements were M60 General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMGs) carried at each side door (or M134 trainable miniguns)), trainable and operated by dedicated gunners. A typical crew, therefore, numbered four personnel to man the various onboard systems and weapons. Night operations could be aided by trainable searchlights at the side doors as well and required additional crew to function (sighting devices were also part of this configuration).

UH-1 gunships excelled in their given role for the firepower they carried into battle was a much-needed quality of Army doctrine of the period. Helicopters had access to areas well-beyond front lines and this meant that they were usually operating in zones while taking fire. As such, the importance of suppression was highly valued by warplanners and infantry alike. The role of Huey gunships was also expanded as they formed one-half of "hunter-killer" teams when paired with lighter helicopter platforms such as Hughes OH-6 and Bell OH-58 helicopters. Alternatively, the light helicopters could be switched our for a fixed-wing attacker like the Douglas A-1 "Skyraider" which could fly low and slow enough to be effective alongside the UH-1 gunships. These observation helicopters could locate and assess enemy positions and work in tandem with the awaiting gunship who then brought its lethal payload to bear on a designated area.

Due to their excellent combat record, UH-1 gunships had a direct influence on the expediency of getting the Bell AH-1 Cobra into the skies over Vietnam. The AH-1 eventually took over direct-attack duties from the Huey gunship types during the late 1960s and, while proving effective in their own right, AH-1 helicopters lacked an inherent troop-ferrying capability which limited them tactically -particularly where MEDEVAC and troop extractions were critical to a platoon's success or failure. The Soviets learned this and added a troop cabin to their equally-excellent Mil Mi-24 "Hind" line, effectively making them armored and heavily armed "gun buses".

Content ©MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.
Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Bell UH-1B Gunship Helicopter.
1 x Lycoming T53-L-11 turboshaft engine developing 1,100 horsepower while driving two-bladed main rotor and two-bladed tail rotor.
95 mph
153 kph | 83 kts
Max Speed
18,045 ft
5,500 m | 3 miles
Service Ceiling
311 miles
500 km | 270 nm
Operational Range
1,600 ft/min
488 m/min
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Bell UH-1B Gunship Helicopter.
57.4 ft
17.50 m
O/A Length
47.6 ft
(14.50 m)
O/A Width
14.8 ft
(4.50 m)
O/A Height
5,181 lb
(2,350 kg)
Empty Weight
8,818 lb
(4,000 kg)
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Bell UH-1B/C Huey Cobra / Frog Gunship Helicopter .
4 x 0.30 caliber machine guns on wing stubs (two per wing) OR 2 x Miniguns (one per wing).
2 x 2.75" seven-shot rocket pods (or tube arrangement) on wing stubs (one per wing) OR 2 x 24-shot tube "box" kits OR similar arrangement.
1 x 40mm M-5 automatic grenade launcher turret in chin position.
Notable series variants as part of the Bell UH-1B/C Huey Cobra / Frog family line.
UH-1 "Cobra / Gun" - All-gun variant
UH-1 "Frog / Hog" - All-rocket variant
UH-1 "Slick" - Troop transport sans wing stubs / wing armament though usually outfitted with door-mounted machine guns for local suppression.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Bell UH-1B/C Huey Cobra / Frog. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 1,000 Units

Contractor(s): Bell Helicopter - USA
National flag of the United States

[ United States ]
1 / 2
Image of the Bell UH-1B/C Huey Cobra / Frog
Image courtesy of user via email.
2 / 2
Image of the Bell UH-1B/C Huey Cobra / Frog
Image courtesy of user via email.

Going Further...
The Bell UH-1B/C Huey Cobra / Frog Gunship Helicopter appears in the following collections:
Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Cookies

2024 Military Pay Scale Military Ranks U.S. DoD Dictionary Conversion Calculators Military Alphabet Code Military Map Symbols US 5-Star Generals WW2 Weapons by Country

The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com. No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.

Part of a network of sites that includes Global Firepower, WDMMA.org, WDMMW.org, and World War Next.

©2024 www.MilitaryFactory.com • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2003-2024 (21yrs)