Development of the Cobra began in the 1960s when the US Army identified the need for an "Air Cavalry" Brigade that would be equipped with armed helicopters. The armed version of the UH1 was successful, but it had several shortcomings, notably its speed, length of time it could remain over its target, and it's relatively small ordnance load.
In response, Bell designed the Model 209, using the same rotor, drive train, and engine as the UH-1B, but with a sleeker, narrower fuselage.
The Model 209 carried a crew of two in a tandem arrangement with the gunner in front of the pilot. It first flew in 1965 and the Army ordered 110 helicopters, which they designated the AH-1G.
The first Cobras arrived in Vietnam on August 31, 1967. Four days later a Cobra scored its first combat victory.
The AH-1G was later modified to an AH-1S that replaced the original engine with the current version and an upgraded dynamic system. Later the aircraft was modified with larger chord composite blades for better performance.
The Army has now replaced the Cobra with the AH-64 Apache. However, Cobras remain in active service with the National Guard and foreign military units.n The twin turbine AH-1W remains in active duty with the US Marines.
Powerplant Lycoming T-53L-703
Armament 8 TOW Missiles
20mm Gatling gun in nose turret
Max DNE Speed 190 kts.
Range 300 NM
Service Ceiling 12,400 ft.