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Authored by Staff Writer. The Hughes OH-6 "Cayuse" popularly recognized as the "Loach" was a revolutionary light helicopter mount primarily in service with the United States Army and saw combat service during the Vietnam War The type was born from the US Army Light Observation Helicopter LOH program which provided its "Loach" nickname and ultimately proved an excellent helicopter system seeing only limited service in the inventories of several American allies worldwide.
Fewer than 2, of the type were produced though the original went on to spawn a plethora of viable performers including the Hughes "Defender" and the special forces-minded MH-6 "Little Bird".
Following the close of World War 2 inrotary-wing flight entered a period of advancement and refinement to produce a viable helicopter solution for both military and civilian markets.
The Korean War was the An introduction to the helicopters in vietnam large-scale combat zone use of helicopters by United States forces who had been entertaining the prospects of vertical flight as early as the s. As the title suggested, the program goal was to stock a dedicated, light-class, rotary-wing system with a multipurpose battlefield role.
Famous American flight pioneer Howard Hughesstill alive by this time, was operating an aircraft division through his Hughes Tool front as the Hughes Tool Company - Aircraft Division.
Understanding the potentially lucrative government contract waiting for such a system, he positioned his company to deliver. However, the Hughes submission was later added to the fold and all three concerns were funded for development of five prototype vehicles. The Hughes Model was outfitted with an Allison TA-5A series turboshaft engine of horsepower and recorded its first flight on February 27th, Should the Hughes development succeed, Allison Engine Company stood to make its own fair share of profit from the long-term US Army commitment.
It later turned out that Howard Hughes purposely undervalued his estimate and deceptively won out against Fairchild-Hiller - his reasoning being that a long-term US Army commitment to his helicopter would, over time, make the deal profitable at some point. The US Army charged Hughes for units with the serial production contract formally announced in May of Sensing its growing battlefield requirements, the US Army then raised the production ceiling to 1, units in all.
The helicopter was inducted as the OH-6 "Cayuse" and would eventually take on the in-the-field nickname of "Loach" in reference to its "LOH" origins. While Fairchild-Hiller did not partake in the subsequent competition, this opened the door for Bell Helicopters and their new "Model " platform.
With that, production of OH-6 helicopters was limited to just 1, complete vehicles when all was said and done. Amidst rising manufacture costs and a slowdown in OH-6 orders, the Cayuse line and its contract was eventually terminated. Globally, the OH-6 failed to achieve widespread use and was featured in the inventories of only a few select US-allied nations including the Dominican Republic, Denmark, Japan, Spain and Taiwan.
The initial production version was designated as the OH-6A and these were powered by a single Allison TA5A turboshaft engine of horsepower.
The standard operating crew was two personnel in the forward cockpit with two removable seats fitted in the passenger cabin.
The fuselage utilized the iconic Hughes OH-6 teardrop shape that made the aircraft instantly recognizable.
The fuselage was designed as just voluminous enough to house the needed avionics, fuel stores, crew and optional passenger seating. The single engine was fitted over the fuselage and coupled to a four-bladed main rotor assembly, a shaft running through the tail stem to power the two-bladed tail rotor facing portside.
The tail was capped by a large vertical tail fin with another canted outward vertical fin offset to starboard. A smaller ventral fin was also noted at the tail unit.
The engine exhausted through a simple circular port under the tail, held well low in the design arrangement. The undercarriage was of the fixed twin skid type, supported at two points, and helped to keep maintenance costs down. Doors at the cockpit sides and passenger cabin were optional though often times left off completely for increased situational awareness.
The frontal panel of the aircraft was largely transparent, offering unparalleled views of the action ahead. The OH-6C was a proposed variant fitted with a five-bladed main rotor assembly coupled to an Allison C20 series turboshaft engine.
The American military furthered their OH-6 line through the EH-6B, an electronic warfare and command post platform for use by special forces. The MH-6B was a special forces-minded mount outfitted with specialized equipment and optional armament.
The MH-6C was yet another special operations variant. With production having begun inthe US Army stock grew until the aircraft was formally introduced in - in time for the American involvement in the Vietnam War Back inthe US Air Force took over all fixed-wing aircraft of the Army and this left only a fleet of helicopters for air service in the latter.
During the Vietnam conflict, OH-6 Cayuse platforms undertook a myriad of frontline sorties and even CIA-directed covert missions, both as unarmed and armed platforms. Their vertical abilities allowed them unfettered access over the jungle canopy and across mountainous terrain of Southeast Asia while delivering all manner of support for ground troops and critically wounded.
In all, sources state that some Cayuse helicopters were lost to enemy fire in the war and a further were lost through accident alone. Japanese OH-6 helicopters are currently being replaced by the all-new, indigenously designed and developed Kawasaki OH-1 series of which over 30 have been produced to date.
The new helicopter entered service in after years of development. Often lost in discussions about the OH-6 is its record-setting design - capturing some 23 helicopter records worldwide including those for speed and endurance. The OH-6 certainly rewrote the light observation category and its stellar design is solidified by the fact that the airframe is still in use today - nearly 50 years since its inception.During the Vietnam War, the United States relied on the helicopter as never before.
The helicopter's role in combat expanded enormously in this conflict as thousands of "choppers" rapidly transported personnel throughout the war zone. Several types of helicopters were used during the Vietnam Conflict- from observation and MEDEVAC to gunships and dedicated attack types.
This is alongside the standard troop carrier which also doubled as supply aircraft and artillery transports. Even some drones, like the DASH, were in .
The introduction of the internal combustion engine at the end of the 19th century became the watershed for helicopter development as engines began to be developed and produced that were powerful enough to allow for helicopters able to lift humans.
A military helicopter is a helicopter that is either specifically built or converted for use by military forces. A military helicopter's mission is a function of its design or conversion. The most common use of military helicopters is transport of troops, but transport helicopters can be.
Helicopters afforded rapid transportation of fighting forces on the battlefield, and have also evolved to embrace a much larger role as an efficient and deadly weapons platform, but also serve vital support roles in medical evacuation, logistical operations, search and rescue operations, and in many other uses.
Jan 01, · The Viet Cong kill most of the crew of a crashed helicopter.