Tag Archives: Gunship

Cool Shot of a Mil Mi-17 Hip helicopter firing 57 mm rockets

57mm rockets fired by an Azerbaijani Air Force Hip gunship.

The Azerbaijani Air Force is believed to operate a fleet of 35-40 Mil Mi-17 utility helicopters.

The Hip choppers can also operate in the gunship role carrying 57mm rocket launchers: the photo in this post shows a Mi-17 firing S5 rockets from medium altitude during a live firing exercise.

Image credit: Azerbaijan Air Force

 

How the AC-130 destroyed at least 20 vehicles per night during Vietnam War

During the early days of Vietnam Conflict, the US developed a special kind of attack aircraft to stop the flow of enemy troops and supplies: the gunship.

The Gunship aircraft, born from the conversion of cargo aircraft into powerful aerial weapons armed with big guns, were based on the concept of the circling attack.

In other words, the guns were mounted on the left side of the gunship so that the plane could fly a bank circle, achieving a good accuracy in strafing the target by using high velocity guns with a caliber of at least .30.

The first two types of gunships developed by the US were the twin-engine piston powered Douglas C-47 Skytrain and Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar, but the final leap was made relying on the size, speed and heft of the Lockheed C-130 Hercules which became known in the gunships world as the AC-130 Spectre.

The first AC-130As were deployed in Vietnam in 1968. They were armed with two 20 mm and two 40 mm cannons and they flew their first missions teamed with F-4s, which had the task to attack and destroy with cluster bombs the enemy AAA (Anti Aircraft Artillery) that opened fire against the gunship.

During the first missions  the Spectre was also able to achieve an aerial victory when on May 8, 1969 an AC-130 shot down an enemy helicopter, as told by Wayne Mutza in his book Gunships The Story of Spooky, Shadow, Stinger and Spectre .

But the AC-130s were best and widely used from October 1969 to April 1970, the so called dry season, during which the NVA (North Vietnamese Army) trucks transported ammunition supplies by using the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Spectres crews, that had the task to hunt trucks, were able to destroy and damage 25 of them in one mission: among these there were also AAA vehicles and, some times, the gunships came back to the base badly damaged. In the 1969-1970 dry season the NVA moved about 68,000 tons of provisions on the Trail, 47,000 tons of which were destroyed by the 12 deployed AC-130s with their 20 mm high density rounds and 40 mm Bofors cannons.

The 1970-1971 was even busier for the gunships since American and South Vietnamese soldiers began moving into Laos: in fact, while the numbers of AC-130s increased from 12 to 18, the western part of the Trail became filled with an always increasing number of vehicles coming from east, where interdiction sorties had concentrated. Therefore, during this period a gunship could destroy more than 25 trucks per night and the 1970-1971 dry season ended with 58,500 tons of material destroyed.

By the end of the 1971, after the NVA increased the number of the armored vehicles and the caliber of guns along the Trail, the U.S. deployed the first example of AC-130E.

As explained in detail by Wayne Mutza in his book, the new Spectre model was armed with a new more potent gun, the M102 105 mm Howitzer which replaced one of the Bofors cannons on the left side of the gunship.

The first Howitzer was installed in a gunship after it was repaired from some battle damages. Since it could fire from a distance of 12,000 meters, the Howitzer highly increased Spectre stand-off capabilities: the result was a higher kill ratio against trucks, since a vehicle hit by a 105 round had only a 10% chance to be still operable.

During its first Vietnam deployment this single howitzer-mounted AC-130E destroyed 75 trucks and damaged 92 ones with the 105, and destroyed 27 vehicles and damaged 24 ones with 40 mm fire in 32 missions.

4th Special Operations Squadron

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

 

Video shows Russian Mi-35 gunship helicopters ultra-low altitude flying over Black Sea beaches

Russian attack helicopter pilots must be used to fly well below treetop altitude.

The opening phase of the recent invasion of Crimea saw Russian gunships cross the Strait of Kerch at very low altitude. In the days that followed the first incursion inside the Ukrainian airspace, the Mi-35s were dispatched at low level over the roofs of Sevastopol in Crimea to perform overwatch patrol (and show of force).

Needless to say, ultra-low level flying is part of the daily training of Russian Mi-35M Hind pilots that train for future aerial assaults.

Reportedly filmed at Anapa, Krasnodar, Russia, the following interesting footage shows two Mi-35s flying at low level over the beaches of the northern Black Sea.

H/T to Matt Fanning for the heads-up.

 

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AC-130H Spectre gunship’s final mission

On Jan. 16, the 16th Special Operations Squadron conducted its final mission with the AC-130H gunship at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico.

To celebrate the retirement of the Spectre, whose development began in the early 1960s, the 16th SOS launched its whole fleet of 8 AC-130Hs; a tough and remarkable achievement, obtained thanks to the teamwork of pilots, maintainers, loadmasters and maintenance teams.

In 2013, the Squadron completed its last AC-130H Spectre gunship deployment in Afghanistan after 40 years of active service all around the world.

16 SOS will soon receive the AC-130J, a plane equipped with more modern avionics but more vulnerable to ground fire as a recent report pointed out. Indeed, the new aircraft lacks armor needed to protect some aircraft’s vital parts and, above all, its crew.

AC-130H Elephant Walk

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

 

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Heavy Metal: last missions of the AC-130H Spectre gunship over Afghanistan

According to the U.S. Air Force Central Command, the one below has been their viewer’s favorite in 2013.

It shows the last days of the AC-130H Spectre gunship in its last combat deployment with the 16th Expeditionary Special Operations Squadron, after more than forty year career dating back to the Vietnam war.

In the words of the personnel of the 16th SOS from Cannon Air Force Base, the unit is retiring the H model in this year and ready to move on to the next more advanced “tool” (the AC-130J) that will bring more technology and capability with less personnel.

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