Loach Driver

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About Loach Driver

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  1. It depends, but as a general rule, most helicopters are flown PIC from the right seat. The civilian version of the Hughes 500 and Bell 47 are usually flown from the left seat. AS350 and Hueys are often flown left-seat during vertical reference work. LD.
  2. Wow GT! Your boss purchased possibly the finest 530FF on the planet right now. If I recall the sales website I saw it on a few weeks ago, it has a really modern and complete avionics fit and it really is a dream machine.You'll enjoy flying that 530 for sure! LD.
  3. Here is a link to an interview with the guys at Dillon Aero that reveals the recent history of the minigun and how the 160th almost had to change to another gun in the 1990's. http://www.defensemedianetwork.com/stories/the-evolution-of-the-m134d-minigun/ There is a photo of the 160th testing the M2 machine guns that also flew on the Kiowa Warrior. I guess they were really looking for an alternative to the minigun. I'm sure they are pretty happy Dillon came along and revitalised the M134. LD.
  4. The following is my assessment of how the Little Bird/Seaspray 500 evolved from standard airframes into the modified helicopters that went into special ops use. This is based on my research into the history of Hughes/MD500 helicopters since 1963. Starting with the first generation of LBs, the AH-6C was modified with the Blackhole IR exhaust and C-20B engine. The IR Exhaust was probably supplied in kit form from Hughes to the Army and they fitted the AH-6C fleet at either the Loach AVCRAD or at the original TF158 hangars. The rocket pod fit was a standard fit for the 500M-D Defender so it was an easy mod. The C-20B engine conversion probably underwent a short flight test programme at Hughes to get a basic release-to-flight sign-off. Given the urgent need to get the aircraft flying, a short flight test programme was probably flown to get a basic idea of the performance changes the new engine brought. I would guess torque was the major limiting factor with the new engine fitted so it was down to the pilot to keep it within limits. As soon as the Iranian Hostages were released, it appears the AH-6C went into a full flight test programme at Edwards. The MH-6E was probably modified with the first benches by the Army while the rest of the airframe was basically a 500M-D Defender. The AH-6F was almost identical to the 500M-D "Armed Scout" version of the Defender. I reckon any avionics upgrades were undertaken by the Army. The first version of the LB that was a non-standard version of the 500 was the MH-6H/AH-6G. This took the 500D airframe and added the 530F main and tail rotor, 530F drive-train and C-30 engine but retained the 500D transmission. The first airframe was probably sent back to Mesa for conversion and for the McDonnell Douglas test pilots to again run an abbreviated flight test programme to ensure flight safety. Once the MD pilots were able to assess and report on the performance limits of the C-30-engines LB, it went to the test activity at Edwards and they drew up the pilot's flight manual via an Airworthiness & Flight Characteristics evaluation or similar. Any FLIRs, armament upgrades/mods were developed by various companies that had whatever clearance was required to work on classified defense projects. The MH-6N NOTAR was an MDHC conversion and again would probably have first flown with MDHC test pilots before going to Edwards and the 160th for testing. The first H-6M MELB prototype was converted and first flown by Boeing. Once it was approved by the Army, I reckon either all LBs went back to Boeing at Mesa for conversion or conversion kits were sent to Fort Campbell to be converted by the 160th themselves (my guess is Boeing did the conversion at Mesa). It looks like the Block III upgrades for the MELB are all currently being developed by various defense contractors once SIMO have drawn up the requirements. N1111U and all the other Seaspray/CIA ships were either converted in parallel with the 160th ships while any of the top secret electronic gear was possibly fitted by the technical guys at the CIA. The CIA gunships that flew in El Salvador were relatively simple conversions and the CIA or Army probably fitted the early FLIR units to them. At least that's my guess........ LD.
  5. Outstanding work on that Kiowa. Flawless. LD.
  6. Apologies for the slight thread drift but it appears the LWL12 rocket pod is designed with the Little Bird in mind so I thought this might be of interest here. After seeing that 12-shot rocket pod in the photo of Dillonaero's MD530FF, I thought that it might be possible to convert an existing 1/72 19-shot pod into an LWL12. I am assuming that the LWL12 was adapted primarily for the H-6/530 but is offered for use on other platforms. I had a Special Hobby AH-1S IDF kit handy and I don't plan on building it with the 19-shot pods. I started off with parts 27,28 and 23. I glued the front and rear parts to the upper half of the rocket pod. I had cut off the lower section of the rocket pod front and rear so that only 12 tubes were visible. Then I blanked off the underside with some 0.5mm plastic card. Here it is, put togther before clean-up. Bottom of pod blanked-off with plastic card. The underside tidied up. I used tiny strips of plastic card to fill the gaps between the plastic card and the rear corner edges of the rocket pod front and rear. Here is the pod from the side after cleaning up the plastic card join. I haven't sanded down the join between the front and rear parts of the pod. I am not sure if this is apparent or not on the real thing so I have left it for now. If I discover that there is no join line or panel line in this area, I will sand it smooth. I am presuming the length of the pod as it comes in the kit is accurate for an LWL12. Front shot. Overall, it looks like an LWL12. I apply the 90% rule to anything scratch-built in 1/72. If it is 90% accurate, it is alright. It is usually hard to find all the flaws and inaccuracies in this scale on small items unless you use a magnifying visor. I am happy enough with it. Now I just need two things, a 1/72 Little Bird or 530FF to hang this pod from and for someone to make a GAU-19 in 1/72 scale! LD.
  7. I guess it makes sense to cut down the 19-shot pod. Ground-clearance wasn't good and maybe weight was an issue too in hot and high environments. At least it won't be too hard to scratch-build! LD.
  8. Does this mean you'll be getting back in the air in that 530F? Will it be a company test ship or just for the owner's private use? Bet you'd like to get back on the range and spin up some M134s again! LD.
  9. Sorry for posting up that pic, as it now detracts a little from your book. LD.
  10. It is amazing what is being produced in brass nowadays. Think I'll be getting one of these. Does anyone know if there is a GAU-19 available in 1/72? Thanks. LD.
  11. I didn't think of it like that. I was looking at it more from the point of view of an increase in comparison with the 7-shot rocket pod. I thought that rocket pod was a 19-shot pod that had been cut down in somebody's workshop! Interesting that it is an actual design. Thanks for identifying the pod, John. LD.
  12. Here is a photo of Dillon Aero's MD530FF in an interesting configuration. Could this be a possible configuration for the AH-6M? It gives a slight increase to the number of rockets that can be carried. I don't know the date of this photo or the copyright owner of the image. Apologies. The image was found during a google search. LD.
  13. I doubt they have stopped Hellfire production. I'd guess they may have stopped production of the first production variant of the missile and newer versions of the missile have succeeded it on the production line. When you absolutely, positively have to stop the bad guy, the Hellfire is the way to go. An expensive but accurate bullet! The Longbow has a millimetric wave radar. Not sure if it is used for missile guidance or not. Will have to check my references. LD.
  14. Nicely weathered. Not too much and not too little. LD.
  15. ESM, there are huge numbers of photos of 160th ships, past and present, on this website. The majority focus on the Little Bird and in particular, the older versions. There doesn't appear to be much in the way of sensitive images in the pinned Little Bird thread. The one version that has remained classified but arouses much interest here is the EH-6 series. No photos have surfaced although a good description and a drawing (mine, based on guesswork) has appeared here. There were undoubtedly other classified versions of the Little Bird operated by the 160th, they haven't been identified and haven't appeared here. Two other previously-classified versions of the 500 have appeared here. One photo came from the collection of a life-long aircraft spotter who posted the photo up on a spotter's website, unaware of what was featured in the photo. It is more than likely a Seaspray airframe. Another photo of a possible Seaspray 500 has also appeared on this website and the equipment fit is now obsolete but the location of the aircraft is probably of more significance as are the markings it carries. Certain U.S. Government Agencies would probably prefer both photos didn't feature here but they are now out in the open. Both photos date from the 1980's and so nothing, from a hardware point of view, was compromised, it appears. Any photo that is posted here featuring a "Special" airframe is assessed by those here who have good knowledge of the subject and if something is of a sensitive nature, the photo is removed. It has happened only once here, to the best of my knowledge. I don't believe anyone here ever set out to compromise U.S. National Security when posting photos and I imagine that will always be the case here. If you dig long enough on the internet, you would be surprised what you can find out about special ops aircraft. Special Ops helicopters will always attract curiosity from the aircraft modeller and enthusiast and probably draw more attention than their owners would like. That is human nature. Hopefully we can continue to enjoy researching and modelling 160th helicopters and other special ops helicopters, without compromising security restrictions. Welcome to this forum, ESM. LD.