Aviation Historian 12
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W.Thompson - The Scarface Klan
A Bell AH-1G HueyCobra of HML-367 closes in on a suspected Viet Cong hideout in 1970. The HueyCobra incorporated the powerplant, transmission system and rotor of Bell’s tried-and-trusted UH-1C Huey, the new dedicated gunship variant making its first flight on September 7, 1965, a mere six months after development had started.
A ’Cobra of HML-367 peels away towards the base at Marble Mountain after a lengthy patrol. The unit returned to Vietnam in the spring of 1975, its UH-1Es participating in the evacuation of Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees during the fall of Saigon. In 2009 HMLA-367’s Bell UH-1Y Venoms deployed to Afghanistan.
Colonel Haywood Smith, Commanding Officer of MAG-16 and all US Marine Corps helicopter operations in Vietnam, smiles for the camera beside one of the “Scarface Klan’s” HueyCobras.
Captain Robert W. “Robby” Robinson was one of the Scarface Klan’s “top-timers”, having completed some 1,140 combat missions by the time the unit was rotated out of theatre. Robinson later published a highly-readable account of his experiences with the unit in Vietnam, entitled Scarface 42 (Tailwind Publications, 2008).
An armourer loads the 7-62mm M134 minigun on the starboard station of the M28 nose turret. The mini-gun, a Gatling-style machine-gun with electrically-operated rotating barrels, was a scaled-down version of the M61 Vulcan 20mm cannon; the M134 was capable of delivering up to 4,000 rounds per minute without overheating.
HueyCobras of HML-367 in their revetments at Marble Mountain.
A “snake” (HueyCobra) of HML-367 and a pair of US Marine Corps Boeing-Vertol CH-46s - nicknamed “Phrogs” in service owing to the type’s appearance of squatting like a frog when on the ground - await the passing of a thunderstorm at Marble Mountain before undertaking a mission to drop USMC forces deep into enemy-held territory.
The port stub wing of this HML-367 AH-1G, adorned with an appropriate Cobra motif on the nose, is fitted with a 19-tube M159 2-75in folding-fin aerial rocket (FFAR) launcher inboard, with an M158 seven-tube FFAR launcher on the outboard hardpoint.
Spelling it out - the unit’s nickname is written in ammunition on the hangar floor at HML-367’s base at Marble Mountain. This head-on view shows the devastating firepower that each HueyCobra had at its disposal. The front turret is a standard M28 unit, equipped with a 40mm grenade launcher to port and an M134 minigun.
This view from an HML-367 HueyCobra’s “office” shows the comparatively simple instrumentation in the gunship’s cockpit. The instruments show the helicopter climbing through 4,000ft at 74kt; the apparently high altitude is deceptive, however, as much of the unit’s work involved weaving through the Annamite mountains.
A “snake” (HueyCobra) of HML-367 and a pair of US Marine Corps Boeing-Vertol CH-46s - nicknamed “Phrogs” in service owing to the type’s appearance of squatting like a frog when on the ground - await the passing of a thunderstorm at Marble Mountain before undertaking a mission to drop USMC forces deep into enemy-held territory.
This view from the cockpit of an HML-367 HueyCobra was taken while protecting a CH-46 resupplying a remote USMC outpost - note the shadow of the “Phrog” on the slope facing the camera. Such resupply missions required acute vigilance from the Cobra, as the incoming helicopters were extremely vulnerable to groundfire.