Forces of Valor 85074 USMC Bell AH-1Z Viper Attack Helicopter - HMLAT-303, MCAS Camp Pendleton, CA (1:72 Scale)
"We will carry out a campaign characterized by shock, by surprise, by flexibility ... and by the application of overwhelming force."
- CENTCOM commander General Tommy Franks commenting on the conduct of Operation: Iraqi Freedom, March 21st, 2003
While the ubiquitous UH-1 "Huey" could perform a variety of roles, it was found to be too slow for the gunship or escort role. Bell Helicopter won the competition for an interim fast armed escort helicopter in March 1966, against the Sikorsky S-61 and the Kaman H-2 Tomahawk, while the Army was waiting for the fielding of the AAFSS AH-56A Cheyenne. The AAFSS program was cancelled in 1972.
Some early model AH-1G Cobras mounted either two M134 "Miniguns" or two M129 grenade launchers in a M28A1 chin-turret (TAT-141). Because of problems with the ammunition feed systems, the twin-gun configuration was discontinued. The Cobra was first employed to Vietnam with the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in August 1967. The Cobra's primary mission was to give fire support to troop carrying "Hueys". The AH-1G Cobra was powered by a single Lycoming T53-L-13 1400 shp turbine engine, and had a speed of 196 mph (170 knots), almost twice the speed of the UH-1 "Huey". The AH-1G Cobra used the M73 reflex sight. The Cobra performed it's job so well it was possible for the first time for "slicks" and gun ships to operated as true air cavalry.
Later models of the AH-1G Cobra, or "Snake", were armed with 2.75 inch (70mm) Folding Fin Aerial Rockets (FFARS) in M158 seven-tube or M200 19-tube rocket launchers, used so effectively at An Loc in 1972. The Cobra had a chin-turret on the M28/M28A1 armament subsystem. The chin-turret mounted the M134 7.62mm "Minigun" and the M129 40mm grenade launcher. The AH-1G could also be armed with the M134 "Minigun" in fixed side-mounting M18/M18A1 gun pod, and the port (left) side mounting M195 20mm automatic gun on the M35 armament subsystem. The AH-1G could also mount the XM118 smoke grenade dispenser.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale diecast replica of a US Marine Corps AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter.
Length: 8.75 inches
Rotor Span: 7.25 inches
Release Date: February 2013
Historical Account: "Zulu Cobra" - The Bell AH-1Z Viper is a twin-engine attack helicopter based on the AH-1W SuperCobra, that was developed for the United States Marine Corps. The AH-1Z features a four-blade, bearingless, composite main rotor system, uprated transmission, and a new target sighting system. The AH-1Z is part of the H-1 upgrade program. It is also called "Zulu Cobra" in reference to its variant letter.
Aspects of the AH-1Z date back to the Bell 249 in 1979, which was basically an AH-1S equipped with the four-blade main rotor system from the Bell 412. This helicopter demonstrated Bell's Cobra II design at the Farnborough Airshow in 1980. The Cobra II was to be equipped with Hellfire missiles, a new targeting system and improved engines. Later came the Cobra 2000 proposal which included General Electric T700 engines and a four-blade rotor. This design drew interest from the US Marine Corps, but funding was not available. In 1993, Bell proposed an AH-1W-based version for the UK's new attack helicopter program. The derivative design, named CobraVenom, featured a modern digital cockpit and could carry TOWs, Hellfire or Brimstone missiles. The CobraVenom design was altered in 1995 by changing to a four-blade rotor system. The design lost to the AH-64D later that year.