US Helicopter Weapon and Armament Sub-Systems used in Vietnam - Part 1

Page Title - US Helicopters
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Helicopter Armament Subsystems Part I


XM1/XM1El Armament Subsystem (1960-1972). Both the OH-13 Sioux and the OH-23 Raven could be armed with twin M37C .30 Cal. machine guns mounted on the skids, on the XM1 armament subsystem. The XM1 was flexible in elevation and carried 500 rounds of ammunition per gun. The XM1E1 was the product engineering design. Both the XM1 and XM1E1 saw limited production (450 units were built). XM1E1 limited production was up-gunned to the M60C machine gun on the M2 armament subsystem.

XM1 Subsystem - schematic drawing
OH-13 Sioux armed with twin M37C .30 Cal. machine guns
on XM1 armament subsystem line drawing

M2 Armament Subsystem (1961-1972). The OH-13 Sioux and the OH-23 could also be armed with twin M60C 7.62mm machine guns, with 650 rounds of ammunition, mounted on the skids, on the M2 armament subsystem. The guns were electrically controlled, flexible in elevation, and charged pneumatically using high pressure dry air or nitrogen bottles. The M2 was type classified Standard A (1,000 units were built).

Eight-tube Rocket Launcher. Two eight-tube 2.75 inch rocket launchers were installed on new UH-1B Hueys as they arrived at Camp Holloway, Pleiku, Republic of Vietnam from late 1963-1964. This system, a predecessor to the XM3 armament subsystem was used in combination with the M6 7.62mm quad-machine gun mount. For more information and photos, go to Armament Subsystems used at Camp Holloway, Pleiku, 1963-1964.

XM3/XM3E1/M3 Armament Subsystem. UH-1B/UH-1C "Huey" Aerial Rocket Artillery (ARAS) were armed with up to two side-mounting 24-tube 2.75 inch rocket launchers on the M3 armament subsystem. The MK8 reflex sight was used for sighting the M3 rocket launchers. The M3 saw limited production. Also see the Maxwell system (XM3/M22 hybrid) and Armament Subsystems used at Camp Holloway, Pleiku, 1963-1964.

XM3 Subsystem
UH-1B ARA with XM3 24-tube 2.75 inch rocket launcher

M5 Armament Subsystem (1958-1975). The M5 armament subsystem was a flexible, remote controlled, servo-power driven, chin-mounted pod, which held one M75 40mm grenade launcher. The M5 could be mounted on the UH-1B/UH-1C/UH-1M "Huey" and was also used on the ACH-47A "Guns-A-Go-Go". The M5 carried 150 or 300 rounds of ammunition. Ammunition was fed from a 302 round rotary drum by an ammunition booster, through a chute, to the grenade launcher. A reflex-type flexible hand control sight mounted above the co-pilot's seat. A master armament control was accessible to both pilot and co-pilot. The M5 was type classified Standard A (over 494 units were built).

M5 Subsystem
M5 gun pod on UH-1B "Huey"

M6 Armament Subsystem (1959-1972). The UH-1B "Huey" could be armed with quad M60C 7.62mm machine guns on the M6 armament subsystem. The M6 was fully flexible, with two guns per side. The M6 carried 1,500 rounds of ammunition per gun. Sighting was done by the co-pilot using a flexible reflex type sight. The M6, in combination with seven-tube 2.75 inch rocket launchers, was upgraded to the M16 armament subsystem and to the M21 by replacing the quad M60C machine guns with two M134 "miniguns". The M6 was type classified Standard A (444 units were built). Also see Armament subsystems used at Camp Holloway, Pleiku, 1963-1964.

XM8 Armament Subsystem (1967-1972). The XM8 was a Research and Development project for a single M129 40mm grenade launcher that was interchangeable with the port (left) side mounting M27 "minigun" on the OH-6A Cayuse and OH-58 Kiowa fight observation helicopters. The XM8 held 150 rounds of linked ammunition. An integrated feed system fed ammunition from a spiral wound container through a chute to the grenade launcher. The electrically driven XM8, which was flexible in elevation, was mechanically-linked to a XM70 reflex sight. Primary sighting was done by the pilot, but controls were also provided to the co-pilot.

XM8 Subsystem
XM8 40mm grenade launcher on OH-6A Cayuse

XM11 Armament Subsystem (AMCOM system). The UH-1B "Huey" could be armed with up to six NATO Standard Nord SS-11 wire-guided anti-tank missiles on the XM11 missile launcher. The XM70 sight was used for sighting the XM11 missile launcher. The XM11 saw limited production. The XM11 was replaced by the M22 missile launcher.

XM14 Armament Subsystem (1963-1971). The XM14 (Air Force SUU-12/A) was a Research and Development project for a fixed-mounted gun pod for the M3 .50 Cal. machine gun that could be mounted on the UH-1B/UH-1C "Huey" or on fixed-wing aircraft. The XM14 carried 750 rounds of ammunition. The gun was pneumatically charged. The system was used with the MK20 fixed illuminating sight. The XM14 saw limited production (489 units were built).

XM15 Dispensing Subsystem (ARDEC). The XM15 cluster was a Research and Development project for dispensing XM170 flares from the UH-1D/UH-1H "Huey". Each cluster consisted of two six-tube XM18 dispensers held together by dispenser adapters with suspension lugs. One 12-tube cluster could be mounted on each side of the aircraft. Each 2.75 inch tube could hold four XM170 flares, for up to a total of 96 flares per aircraft. Two 12-tube XM15 clusters, attached to a hinged strongback assembly, made up one 24-tube XM165 dispenser. The fixed-mounted dispenser was sighted visually.

M16 Armament Subsystem (1963-1972). The M16 was a combination of M6 flexible quad M60C 7.62mm machine guns and two XM157 or M158/M158A1 seven-tube 2.75 inch rocket launchers for use with the UH-1B/UH-1C "Huey". The M16 was upgraded to the M21 by upgunning from quad M60C machine guns to M134 high rate of fire machine guns. An M60A1 reflex-type sight was used by the pilot for sighting both guns and rockets. The co-pilot's sight was for sighting guns only. The M16 was type classified Standard B (461 units were built).

M16 Subsystem with XM157 Launcher Close-up of M16 Subsystem
M16 quad M60C machine gun mount with
XM157 launcher
Close up of M16 armament subsystem

XM18 Ejection Dispensing Subsystem. The XM18 was a Research and Development project for aft ejection of flares, munitions, or CS grenades from six-tube 2.75 inch launchers mounted on the UH-1B/UH-1C "Huey". One six-tube dispenser could be mounted on each side of the aircraft. Two six-tube XM18 dispensers, held together by a dispenser adaper, made up one 12-tube XM15 dispenser subsystem.

XM18 Subsystem
XM18 Pod

M18/M18A1 Armament Subsystem (1963-1975). The M18/M18A1 (Air Force SUU-11A/A/SUU-1 1B/A) was a fixed-mounted gun pod for the M134 7.62mm "minigun". The gun was electrically driven. Ammunition was fed from a 1,500 rounds capacity linkless MAU-57 storage and feeding drum through a single-ended linkless system which was gear driven by the gun motor. Suspension lugs permitted the gun pod to be mounted on the sides of the AH-1G "Huey" Cobra or on fixed-wing aircraft. An M73E1 reflex-type sight was used for sighting the guns. The M18 was type classified Standard B (over 434 units were built); the M18A1 was type classified Standard A (over 411 units were built).

XM19 Dispensing Subsystem. The XM19 was a Research and Development project for dispensing MK45 flares from the UH-1B/UH-1C/UH-1D/UH-1H "Huey". The XM19, consisting of 24-tubes mounted in the aircraft cargo compartment, was capable of launching up to 24 three-foot long 2,000,000 candle power MK45 flares. Sighting was visual.

M21 Armament Subsystem (1964-1975). The UH-1B/UH-1C/UH-1M "Huey" could be armed with twin side mounting 7.62mm "miniguns" and two XM157 or two M158/M158A1 seven-tube 2.75 inch rocket launchers on the Emerson M21 armament subsystem. The M21 was an up-gunned M16 which used M134 "miniguns' in place of quad M60C machine guns. The M134 used a MAU56/A delinking feeder. The pilot used a XM60 reflex-type sight for both guns and rockets. The co-pilot used a flexible reflex sight which depressed or flexed the "miniguns" only. The M21 was type classified Standard A (over 406 units were built).

M21 Subsystem M21 Subsystem
M21 armament subsystem with M134 "minigun" and M158 seven-tube rocket launcher

M22 Armament Subsystem (AMCOM). The UH-1B "Huey" could be armed with up to six AGM-22B (formerly SS-11B1) wire-guided anti-tank missiles on the M22 missile launcher. The XM58 sight was used for sighting the M22 missile launcher. The M22 replaced the XM11 missile launcher. The M22 was replaced by the XM26 airborne TOW launcher. The M22 was type classified Standard A. Also see the Maxwell system (XM3/M22 hybrid).

M23 Armament Subsystem (1964-1975). The M23 armament subsystem is a door pintle mount for the M60D 7.62mm machine gun equipped with an aircraft ring-type sight, with 550 rounds of ammunition, for use on the UH-1D/UH-1H "Huey". The M23 was type classified Standard A (over 4,316 units were built).

M23 Subsystem - Schematic drawing M23 Subsystem
Door Mounted M-60D 7.62mm machine gun on M-23 armament subsystem

M24 Armament Subsystem (1964-1975). The M24 armament subsystem is a door pintle mount for the M60D 7.62mm machine gun, with ring-type sight, with 200 round ammunition boxes, for use on the CH-47A Chinook. The M24 was type classified Standard A (over 610 units were built).

M24 Subsystem - Schematic drawing
CH-47D schematic with M60D 7.62mm machine gun on M24 armament subsystem

XM26 Armament Subsystem (AMCOM). In June, 1966 Hughes Aircraft was given an initial Research and Development contract to develop a missile launcher for the wire-guided TOW missile for use on the UH-1B "Huey" to replace the M22 missile launcher. Two three-round pods were mounted on each side of the aircraft. The gunner held the target in sight and directed the missile's flight by wire command. The program was terminated in March, 1968 and efforts were redirected to the TOW/AH-56 Cheyenne program. In 1970 studies were started on development of the XM65 TOW/Cobra armament subsystem for use on the AH-1 series Cobra. In May, 1972 the XM26 was removed from storage and rushed to Vietnam to meet the armored threat from the North Vietnamese "Easter" offensive. The XM26 was replaced with the deployment of the M65 TOW/Cobra airborne launch system.

M27 Armament Subsystem (1965-1975). The M27 armament subsystem is a port (left) side mounting gun mount for the M134 Gatling machine gun (7.62mm "Minigun") for use on the OH6/OH-6A Cayuse or the OH-58A Kiowa. The XM70E1 sight was used for sighting the M134 "minigun". The M134 used the MAU-56/A delinking feeder, with 2,000 rounds of ammunition. The M27 was type classified Standard B (over 917 units were built).

XM27E1 Subsystem
XM27E1 armament subsystem with M134 "Minigun"

M28/M28A1 Armament Subsystem (1966-1975). The M28 (TAT-141)/M28A1 was a twin mount chin-turret for use on the AH-1G "Huey" Cobra. It was developed from the XM64 single "minigun" turret, which evolved from the chin-turret used on the experimental Bell (model 207) Sioux Scout. It could mount either two M134 7.62mm "miniguns", with 4,000 rounds of ammunition each, or two M75 or M129 40mm grenade launchers with 400 rounds each. It could also be configured to mount one M134 and one M129 grenade launcher. This was the preferred configuration since there were problems with the ammunition feed mechanisms when used in the twin-gun or twin-launcher mode. The M28 could be elevated between +20 and -50. It could traverse 110 to the right or left of center. The M28 featured a rotary 7.62mm ammunition drum which replaced the belt feed system. The M28 saw limited production (954 units were built); the M28A1 was type classified Standard A (over 332 units were built).

M28A1 Subsystem
M28A1 armament subsystem on AH-1G Cobra
configured with one M134 and one M129

XM29 Armament Subsystem (1964-1965). The XM29 armament subsystem was a Research and Development project for a door pintle mount for the M60D 7.62mm machine gun for use on the UH-1B/UH-1C "Huey". Only two prototypes were built.

XM30 Armament Subsystem (1966-1968). The XM30 was a Research and Development project for a flexible twin mount of the XM140 30mm gun on the UH-1B/UH-1C "Huey", with 600 rounds of ammunition per gun.

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Helicopter Armament Subsystems Part II


Sources

Aircraft Armament, Systems and Components, U. S. Army Weapons Command, Rock Island, December 1971.

Aircraft Weaponization, Subsystem Photographs and Descriptions, U. S. Army Weapons Command, Rock Island, September 1970.

Small Arms of the World, 12th edition of the W.H.B. Smith Small Arms Manual, The Stackpole Co., Harrisburg, 1983.


 

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