Air and Space Photos from Alternate Worlds.

[JAXA+] 2035-11-19 - The Kagutsuchi Mars mission returns to Earth


The Fw-190 had structural problems in its tail that were never fixed
It was acceptable in a land plane but it would have made it unsuitable for carrier operations
So was the Me-109. But at least the Fw-190's tail would be easier to reinforce than replacing the 109's landing gear...

All this, ofc, assuming the Kriegsmarine would build carriers after 1943/44...
A follow-up to the WS-70 I made.

First off, an alternative paintscheme for the Westland Black Hawk.
WS-70 (2nd variant).png

Second, the Westland Pelican, probably have seen an RAF HH-3E/F in the motion picture The Day After Tomorrow.

More of Comrade Harps

(Left) -
1/1.szazad "Dongo", OVO
Royal Hungarian Air Force
Ukraine, Socialist Union, July 1941

Hungary's main fighter at the time of Operation Barbarossa was the MS.406. These aircraft were known in Hungarian service as the Heja I (either French produced MS.406s, acquired before and after the fall of France, or locally assembled by MAGAV) or Heja II (a MAGAV manufactured development, with local produced engines, Hungarian designed machine guns and detail changes including tail wings without external bracing struts).

This aircraft carries the so-called "mis-interpretation" yellow Eastern Front theatre bands common on Heja IIs of 1/1.szazad at the start of the campaign. The incorrect and over-sized application of the German mandated yellow theatre ID appears to have been the result of a mis-reading of Luftwaffe directives. Nevertheless, the yellow was retained until the Hungarians withdrew from the front-line during the winter of 41-42.

This aircraft, V.640, was struck off following a landing accident in Ukraine during July, 1942.

MAGAV would go on to manufacture the successful Heja III, a development powered by a licence-produced Hispano YS-2 engine.

(Right) -;topicseen#new
MAGAV Heja III Series 5
a/c 4, 102/1st Fighter Bomber Squadron, Royal Hungarian Air Force
Debrecen, Hungary, September 1944
Personal mount of Lieutenant Zoltán Czibor

The Hungarian industrial conglomerate MAGAV produced a series of fighters based on the French Morane-Saulnier MS.406. Starting with licence-assembled MS.406s, known locally as the Heja, the company followed up with the Heja II, which had more Hungarian-designed and manufactured components. Aware that the basic MS.406 was already obsolete, MAGAV closely followed Morane-Saulnier's line of development and entered into a co-development agreement with the company in June 1939. This saw MAGAV produce several Heja-based prototypes with increasingly powerful Hispano-Suiza engines, culminating in the Heja IIII. In early 1940, MAGAV entered the Heja IIII into a Hungarian Air Force competition for a new fighter. To be powered by a MAGAV-produced 1,250 hp Hispano-Suiza YS-2 V12 engine and armed with two Gebauer Minta GKM 12.72mm machine guns and a Gebauer manufactured Hispano 20mm cannon, the Heja III was selected as an interim type. The definitive solution to the requirement was to be the Manfred Weiss WM-23 Ezustnyil. Whereas MAGAV promised they could get the Heja IIII into production by early 1941, the rival Ezustnyil was estimated to be available no later than the end of 1942.

When Hungary joined the Axis invasion of the Moscow Pact nations in June 1941, it did so with a frontline fighter force mostly composed of Heja and Heja II fighters. At the time, the first unit equipped with the Heja III was understrength (with just 5 aircraft), not fully trained and not confident with the reliability of the YS-2. In October, 7 Heja IIIs were sent to the Eastern Front for combat trials. Nobbled by poor engine reliability and spares shortages, the unit saw little action and returned home in late December to regroup. However, the type showed potential and Heja III pilots were credited with 8 kills for the loss of one pilot in combat; another was killed soon after taking off on a ferry flight when the engine cut out at low altitude.

Changes to maintenance procedures, improved quality control measures and the mass production of components over the winter eased the engine issues. By July '42 the Heja III was operated by 4 deployed squadrons, being Hungary's sole fighter employed during the Axis advance towards Volgograd. Flying air defence, escort and visual reconnaissance missions, the aircraft performed well and became the mount of aces.

Remaining in manufacture longer than anticipated, the Heja III was developed through several prototypes to test upgraded and alternative engines (including the German DB601 and DB605), revised fuselage and wing structures, new propeller designs and different armament including bomb loads (2 test airframes were equipped with air brakes for dive bombing) and German cannon. These efforts resulted in orders for new versions, identified by their Series number. With the original production version retroactively named Series 1, the final Heja III production variant was the Series 6. Series 2 incorporated detailed design changes based on operational feedback and a more reliable version of the YS-2. Series 3 introduced squared-off wingtips and replaced the 12.72mm cannon with Gebauer-made 15mm MG151s. Series 4 featured an increased horsepower YS-2, a new propeller and added a ventral hardpoint for bombs (upto 250kg in mass) or an external fuel tank. The Series 5 depicted here was one of 145 delivered. Armed with three Gebauer-made Mauser MG151/20s, the Series 5 featured cropped wingtips and a 4-bladed propeller driven by a 1,5000 hp YS-3 engine optimised for low altitude performance. Evolved from the YS-2 by Hispano-Suiza engineers working for MAGAV in Hungary, the YS-3 not only offered more power but also greater reliability. In addition to the ventral hardpoint, 4 underwing pylons could be installed for the carriage of 50kg bombs. The Series 6 was similar but featured a cut-down rear fuselage with a bubble canopy and provisions for GM-1 nitric oxide boost (believed to have been fitted to only the final 3). 12 Series 6 aircraft were delivered in March and April 1944. In addition, 2 DB605-powered prototypes for a proposed Heja IV were built using Series 5 and 6 airframes, with another prototype for a proposed Heja V being a modified Series 6 airframe powered by a DB603A engine. Despite these promising developments, by January 1944 the Hungarian government's plans had moved on. By then the Hungarian Railway Carriage and Engineering Works was delivering Bf 109 Ga-6s at a rate faster than MAGAV could produce the Heja III and the focus was on standardisation with German types.

While the rival Manfred Weiss WM-23A Ezustnyil technically entered service on time, it was a disappointment. Heavier and slower than expected, its weight issues were resolved by discarding armour and reducing the armament from a pair of 20mm cannon and 2 12.72mm machine guns to 2 12.72mm and 2 7.62mm guns. Although its bubble canopy and cut-down rear fuselage (introduced from the 2nd prototype) provided excellent visibility for dogfighting, it had been designed as an interceptor with a high rate of climb and its manoeuvrability was poor; this was judged as insufficient for air combat on the Eastern Front. Worse still was the slow rate of deliveries. Powered by an imported Piaggio P.XIX, the Italian manufacturer proved to be unreliable and many airframes were rolled out without engines. Rejected by the Hungarian Air Force, 17 MW.23A were bartered to Germany as part of a trade deal. These aircraft were transferred to the Croatian Air Force Legion as a punishment for numerous defections. To rejuvenate the MW.23 program, BMW 801 power eggs were acquired and bolted on to 23 MW.23A airframes to produce the MW.23B. A hastily cobbled together stop gap, the MW.23Bs were issued to interceptor squadrons but, after several accidents, were unofficially declared dangerous and rarely flown. The definitive BMW 801 powered MW.23C featured a longer fuselage, a larger tail, extended wings and an armament of 2 MG151/20 and 2 MG131s. Only 2 prototypes and 3 pre-series MW.23Cs were delivered, with 2 of the latter seeing brief combat service. The shortfall in MW.23 deliveries was made up by continued Heja III orders and, from mid-1943, the acquisition of Bf 109 Gs. According to Hungarian General, Deputy Defence Minister (August 1940 to March 1944) and Defence Minister (August 1944 to April 1946) András Littay, the selection and continued investment in the MW.23 was "a scandal." Before his death in Melbourne, Australia, in 1967, Littay told an interviewer from the Australian War Memorial that the Heja III was "an adequate" fighter, whereas the MW.23 "was chosen for political reasons."

By early 1944, German intelligence was aware that Hungary's Regent, Miklós Horthy, was arguing for a withdrawal from the Axis and a peace deal with the Reds. This prompted Hitler to order the occupation of Hungary and then mount a coup. The Fascist Arrow-Cross government installed by Germany in March '44 cancelled both the Heja and the MW.23 programs. A new fighter plan saw the wholesale introduction of Bf 109s and Fw 190s. In the process, MAGAV and Manfred Weiss were ordered to join the Hungarian Railway Carriage and Engineering Works in the licence manufacture of the Bf 109 Ga-6 (and later, the G-14, G-10 and the K-4, too). This industrial alignment with Germany was maintained after the Arrow Cross Party was deposed following Hitler's assassination in July.

This Heja III Series 5 was photographed in September 1944, based at Debrecen with the 102/1st Fighter Bomber Squadron. Carrying an SC250 bomb, it was the personal mount of Lieutenant Zoltán Czibor. On 25 November he was forced to bail out of a/c 4 when its engine was badly damaged in a dogfight against a BeSS-5 of the Socialist Union Air Force. Although he survived the incident and landed in friendly territory, Czibor was badly burnt and permanently grounded. Given a medical discharge in February 1945, Zoltán Czibor reportedly died of pneumonia in November 1945.


Douglas F4D-2 Skyray
a/c 16, 3 Escuadrilla Aeronaval de Caza y Luchador (3EL), Comando de la Aviación Naval Argentina (Argentine Naval Aviation Command)
ARA Independencia, Atlanic Ocean, May 1960

Having replaced its F9F-2B Panthers, the Argentine Navy’s first combat deployments with the F4D-2 Skyray were a series of Atlantic crossings in 1959. Protecting UN convoys transiting the South Atlantic to and from Africa, the Independencia’s force of de Havilland Canada-built CS2F-2 Trackers and Sikorsky HSS-1N (SH-34J) Seabats were kept busy on ASW duties, engaging several Red Navy Whiskey class submarines. Meanwhile, the pilots of the carrier’s two fast jet squadrons of Douglas A4D-2N (A-4C) Skyhawks and Douglas F4D-2 (F-6B) Skyrays had little to do other than train, test convoy air defences and fly armed patrols.

ARA Independencia was a Commonwealth Class carrier built in Canada and based on a modernised and enlarged British Centaur class design. Commonwealth Class carriers were used by Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, New Zealand and South Africa. ARA Independencia entered service in 1956 and was mostly used to escort convoys across the South Atlantic. That changed in early 1960, when, after transiting the South Atlantic to Libreville, Gabon, the carrier cruised north. The Skyhawks conducted 17 bombing sorties against insurgent positions in Guinea and Mauritania during the first week of March, the Skyrays practising top cover. After a stopover in the Canaries, the Independencia joined Task Force 62.5.3 (TF 62.5.3), which, after a period of training, moved out to provide defence against Red naval air, surface and subsurface activities in the North Atlantic.

TF 62.5.3 was subjected to a series of coordinated, high-intensity air and submarine attacks between 10 April and 3 May 1960 as part of the Reds’ Operacio Botelo Du. The Independencia’s Skyrays (backed by the Sidewinder-armed Skyhawks flying under visual flight rules) were in the thick of the air action, intercepting the Red’s large, long-range, conventionally-armed anti-shipping missiles launched by Tu-16 Badgers. Despite missile attacks often being supported by jamming, 3EL’s pilots became adept at using their combination of APQ-50B radar, Aero 13G fire-control radar and AN/AAS-15 IRST to find, track and target the missiles with their armament of AAM-N-7 Sidewinder IA (AIM-9B) Sidewinders, GAR-3A (AIM-4F) Falcons and four 20mm Colt Mk 12 cannon. Small but predictable, the subsonic AS-1 Kennel could be shot down was some ease once found, but the new, supersonic AS-2 Kipper came as a surprise and was difficult to down. The Badger-launched Kennels and Kippers had to run the gauntlet of fighters, SAMS, naval anti-aircraft fire, decoys and jamming, but were launched en masse and backed with stand-off EW. The missiles caused considerable harm to TF 62.5.3, resulting in significant human casualties, four sinkings and several vessels receiving heavy damage.

3EL’s aircraft 16 is seen here as photographed in early May 1960, after the badly mauled Task Force had been ordered to recover to North America. The Skyray features 5 red star kill markings and was 3EL’s highest-scoring plane during TF 62.5.3. Lieutenant Commander Lionel Messi downed seven Red missiles, three of which while flying a/c 16: two Kennels (one each with Sidewinder and Falcon) and a Kipper with a Falcon. Lieutenant Pedro de Ciancio capped a single Kennel with a Sidewinder while flying a/c 16 (and was credited with two more Kennels flying other Skyrays) and Lieutenant Ernesto Grillo used a/c 16 to bag a Kipper with a Falcon (to which he added three Kennels flying a/c 14).

At no point were the Argentine Skyray pilots vectored against the Badgers that were launching the missiles and conducting EW. This was the exclusive purview of USN aviators, who claimed 36 Badgers during TF 62.5.3, although Red records indicate only seven losses to TF 62.5.3 fighters. It is said that the Argentine pilots on TF 62.5.3 had nicknames for names for their American counterparts, none of which were complimentary.


Moscow Aviation Workers Collective Ilyushin IL-2M3
Blue 9, "From Mariupol Schoolchildren,” 144 Escadrille, 14th Aviation Regiment, Ukrainian Red Army Air Force
Personal mount of Escadrille Leader Ivan Babak and Senior Gunner Volodymyr Yezerskiy

The Moscow Aviation Workers Collective (MAWC) emerged from the state-owned Moscow "Aircraft plant #1 named after OSOAVIAKHIM" or "GAZ No. 1" (which itself had emerged from the Czarist-era Dux aircraft factory). Siding with Trotsky’s Red Army against Stalin, the GAZ No.1 workers occupied the factory, overthrowing their bureaucratic leaders and creating a Workers Collective dedicated to the success of the Trotskyist Army, Pleasants and Workers Revolution. By the time of the War Against Fascism, the MAWC workers were producing the MiG-3T under licence and a new in-house design by Design Leader Sergey Ilyushin, the IL-2 ground attack aircraft. MAWC and the workers at Ural Mining & Manufacturing Association and the Socialist Unity Aviation Collective production complexes produced 36,183 IL-2s from 1941 to 1945.

The Red Army launched the Lvov–Sandomierz Offensive on 13 July 1944 as part of the Operation Bagration series of offensives to liberate large swathes of Eastern Europe from Nazi occupation. The 144 Escadrille, 14th Aviation Regiment, Ukrainian Red Army Air Force was flying in support of this offensive. On the 15th of July, the IL-2M3 crew of Escadrille Leader Ivan Babak and Senior Gunner Volodymyr Yezerskiy posed beside their plane Green 9 "From Mariupol Schoolchildren” on the occasion of their 10th (collective) air-to-air victory over the Fascist invaders.

Babak had been a fighter pilot when the Germans and their allies invaded the Moscow Pact nations on 22 June 1941. Flying a Kyiv Aviation Institute KAI-1, he failed to take to the air before being badly injured in a Luftwaffe attack on his airfield on the 23rd. After recovering he was posted to a series of instructional units, finally landing a job teaching pilots how to fly the IL-2 Sturmovik. Here he met Gunnery Instructor Volodymyr Yezerskiy, who was training IL-2 gunners at the same base, and to two struck up a bond when they realised that they had been to the same school in Mariupol, Ukraine. Although neither had seen combat (Yezerskiy had gone straight from gunnery school to become an instructor), in mid-1943 the pair successfully lobbied to join the Ukrainian 14th Aviation Regiment as a pilot/gunner team. Their flight hours and instructor’s discipline now paid off, as the pair’s performance in combat and on the ground saw them rise through the ranks together. By the end of the war (in May 1946) and with 487 combat sorties logged, Babak had been promoted to Regiment Pilot Leader and Yezerskiy was a Regimental Gunnery Leader, with both still flying as a team at the head of the 14th Aviation Regiment, Ukrainian Red Army Air Force. By then they had been credited with 17 aerial victories (the most of any Sturmovik pilot/gunner team), plus 5 shared with other crews. Red ace Alexander Pokryshkin had the opportunity to escort the 14th Aviation Regiment on several occasions and witnessed Babak and Yezerskiy “vigorously defend their Sturmovik with the skill, determination and discipline of a fighter ace.”

14th Aviation Regiment, Ukrainian Red Army Air Force, consisted of 4 squadrons that rotation through a cycle of combat, rest and regeneration, with two units usually combat assigned at any one time. Each escadrille was identified by a squadron colour represented on the spinner hub and by the colour of the side number: strong azure (141st), yellow (142nd), white (143rd) and green (144th). All escadrille featured a red-painted spinner base. In addition to red stars under wings and on the tail, Ukrainian national markings (a yellow outlined blue shield with yellow Ukrainian trident symbol) were carried by all aircraft on their fuselage sides. Aircraft assigned to Flight, Escadrille and Regimental Leaders also carried the Ukrainian national markings on their wing upper surfaces, plus white arrows on the fuselage that increased in size with rank.
Today special - Dizzyfugu Helis


IAMI HESA-2091 Tiztak (mod. AH-1J), IAAF, 2013​


Some background:
Operated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Iran's small Bell AH-1J fleet has seen a fair share of indigenous modernization in recent years. In 1971, Iran purchased 202 examples of an improved AH-1J, named "AH-1J International", from the United States. This improved Cobra featured an uprated P&WC T400-WV-402 engine and a stronger drivetrain, so that it would have a better performance under “hot & high” conditions. Recoil damping gear was fitted to the 20 mm M197 gun turret, and the gunner was given a stabilized sight and a stabilized seat, too. Of the AH-1Js delivered to the Shah's Imperial Iranian Army Aviation, 62 were TOW-capable.
Iranian AH-1Js participated in the Iran–Iraq War—which saw the most intensive use of helicopters in any conventional war. Iranian AH-1Js (particularly the TOW-capable ones) were "exceptionally effective" in anti-armor warfare, inflicting heavy losses on Iraqi armored and vehicle formations. In operations over the barren terrain in Khuzestan and later in southern Iraq, beside the standard tactics, Iranian pilots developed special, effective tactics, often in the same manner as the Soviets did with their Mi-24s. Due to the post-Revolution weapons sanctions, Iranians had to make do with what was at hand: lacking other guided ordnance they equipped the AH-1Js with AGM-65 Maverick missiles and used them with some success in several operations. About half of the AH-1Js were lost during the conflict to combat, accidents, and simple wear and tear –the rest of the fleet was kept operational and busy during the following years.

However, time and use took their toll on the Iranian Cobras, for which no replacement could be found. In 2001, Brigadier General Ahmad Kazemi, the then-commander in chief of the IRGC Air Force (from 2009, it became known as the IRGC Aerospace Force, or IRGCASF), requested Ali Khamenei, leader of the Islamic Republic, to permit the IRGC to procure two former army AH-1J Cobra helicopters that had been restored by the Iranian Helicopters Support and Renewal Company (IHSRC, called ‘Panha’ in Iran). They belonged to the Iranian Army Aviation Force (IRIAA, as it was then known), which lacked the funds to pay for the necessary restoration and renewal of parts and fuselage sections.
The first of these refurbished AH-1Js was a TOW Cobra capable of using the Iranian-made clone of the BGM-71A TOW anti-tank missile, the “Towfan”, while the second helicopter was a Non-TOW version capable of using only the 2¾-inch Hydra unguided rockets. They entered IRGCAF service at Fat'h helicopter base, Karaj, to the west of Tehran, in 2001. This marked the start of an ongoing but slow modernization program for the remaining Iranian Cobra fleet.

IHSRC also worked on the restoration of two more battle-damaged AH-1J TOW Cobras, in a project known as “Panha-2091”. The front sections of their fuselages had been destroyed by cannon rounds from Iraqi tanks during the Iran-Iraq war and the extensive restoration work required manufacture of new fuselage panels and structural parts. Panha engineers also co-operated with their colleagues from IAMI (Iranian Aircraft Manufacturing Industries, also known as HESA in Iran) and designed a new canopy for the helicopters equipped with a flat, bulletproof windshield instead of the former oval, non-bulletproof version. Under a project named HESA-2091, both helicopters were thoroughly modernized and equipped with multifunction displays and a new weapon control system with a head-up display for the pilot. Internal avionics were revamped with the addition of a GPS system in the nose, and a warning radar with four antennae providing 360 degrees coverage was integrated, too. Design and production of the new digital systems and their components was carried out by the Iranian Electronics Industries Company (IEI) with the assistance of Isfahan University of Technology and a Chinese-connected company, Safa Electronic Component Industries. Installation was performed by IAMI in Shahin-Shahr.

These two helicopters were ultimately named ‘Tiztak-2091’ and became prototypes for a larger modernization project for 102 remaining AH-1J Cobra attack helicopters for the Iranian Army Aviation Force. However, in total, the cost of this bold conversion projects exceeded the whole IRIAA budget for 2001, and this resulted in the cancellation of the wider modernization program just a year later. Step forward the IRGC which procured the two Tiztak-2091 prototypes alongside four more former IRIAA AH-1J Non-TOW Cobra helicopters from the Iranian Defence Ministry. These were revamped and delivered to frontline units between 2003 and 2005. However, further conversions have only be done sparingly since then, due to the lack of funds and material.
Despite these limitations, the IAAF immediately began working on upgrade projects to further increase combat capability of the small but busy fleet of Cobra helicopters. The Tiztak helicopters had been equipped with new targeting/surveillance turrets instead of their M-65 Telescopic Sight Units under a IAMI project named Towfan-2 back in 2012. The first helicopters were equipped with the Oqab EO/IR targeting turret produced by IOI (Iranian Optics Industries) in 2012, while others received an RU-290 thermal camera, a product of Rayan Roshd-Afzar.

After the formation of the Army Aviation Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGCAA) on February 23, 2016, the IRGCASF helicopter base at Fat’h was transferred to the IRGCGF (IRGC Ground Force), of which the IRGCAA was now a part. IRGCAA today operates more than 80 helicopters including nine Bell AH-1J International Cobras, with three examples modernized by Iranian Aircraft Manufacturing Industries (IAMI). IRGCAA had also been trying to equip its small fleet of AH-1Js with a new air-to-surface missile and an anti-tank missile, the Qaem-114 (outwardly almost identical to the American AGM-119 Hellfire), but this did not proceed beyond prototype stage.

Despite the active Iranian AH-1J fleet’s relatively small size after 2001, the Cobras were extremely active during counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in the southeast and northwest of Iran. Both the IAAF and now the IRGCAA had always had two fire support teams, each formed with two to three AH-1Js in Orumiyeh and Zahedan, to be used against the PKK/PJAK and Jaish ul-Adl terrorist groups. The fire-support team at the IRGCGF Hamzeh Garrison in the northwest of Iran had two Bell 214A utility helicopters for SAR operations to accompany the Cobras while the team in Zahedan International Airport had two to three Mi-171Sh helicopters; usually, one armed with B8M1 rocket pods as a heavy fire support gunship.
The most notable use of the AH-1Js in combat by the IRGC took place in spring and summer 2008 when two AH-1Js stationed in Zahedan were extensively used in close-air-support missions during a counter-terrorism operation by IRGC Ground Forces against the Jondollah group (later to be rebranded as Jaish ul-Adl after being listed as a terrorist organization by the US State Department). After the arrest and execution of its leader, Abdolmalek Reigi by Iran, the group stopped its activities in 2009. It resumed again a few years later resulting in the launch of new anti-terror operations involving the AH-1Js in 2013, which continued periodically until 2020.

General characteristics:
Crew: 2
Length: 53 ft 5 in (16.28 m) with both rotors turning
45 ft 9 in (14 m) for fuselage only
Width: 10 ft 9 in (3.28 m) for stub wings only
Height: 13 ft 5 in (4.09 m)
Main rotor diameter: 43 ft 11 in (13.39 m)
Main rotor area: 1,514.97 sq ft (140.745 m²)
Empty weight: 2,802 kg (6,177 lb)
Max takeoff weight: 4,530 kg (9,987 lb)

2× P&W Canada T400-CP-400 (PT6T-3 Twin-Pac) turboshaft engines, coupled to produce 1,530 shp
(1,140 kW; de-rated from 1,800 shp (1,342 kW) for drivetrain limitations)

Maximum speed: 236 km/h (147 mph, 127 kn)
Range: 600 km (370 mi, 320 nmi)
Service ceiling: 10,500 ft (3,200 m)
Rate of climb: 1,090 ft/min (5.5 m/s)

1× 20 mm (0.787 in) M197 3-barreled Gatling cannon in M97 chin turret with 750 rounds
4× hardpoints under the sub wings for 2.75” (70 mm) Mk 40 or Hydra 70 rockets in 7 or 19 rounds
pods; up to 16 5” (127 mm) Zuni rockets in 4-round LAU-10D/A launchers, up to eight Toophan
ATGM in a dual or quad launcher on each wing, AIM-9 Sidewinder or Misagh-2 anti-aircraft
missiles (1 mounted on each hardpoint)


US Navy AH-64N Stage 2+ Sea Apache​


Some background:
The AH-64 Apache originally started as the Model 77 developed by Hughes Helicopters for the United States Army's Advanced Attack Helicopter program to replace the AH-1 Cobra. The prototype YAH-64 was first flown on 30 September 1975. The U.S. Army selected the YAH-64 over the Bell YAH-63 in 1976, and later approved full production in 1982. After purchasing Hughes Helicopters in 1984, McDonnell Douglas continued AH-64 production and development. The helicopter was introduced to U.S. Army service in April 1986. The first production AH-64D Apache Longbow, an upgraded Apache variant, was delivered to the Army in March 1997. Production has been continued by Boeing Defense, Space & Security, and more than 2,000 AH-64s have been produced to date.

The Boeing AH-64 Apache is a four-blade, twin-turboshaft attack helicopter with a tailwheel-type landing gear arrangement and a tandem cockpit for a two-man crew. It features a nose-mounted sensor suite for target acquisition and night vision systems. It is armed with a 30 mm (1.18 in) M230 chain gun carried between the main landing gear, under the aircraft's forward fuselage. It has four hardpoints mounted on stub-wing pylons, typically carrying a mixture of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and Hydra 70 rocket pods. The AH-64 has a large amount of systems redundancy to improve combat survivability.

The U.S. Army is the primary operator of the AH-64; it has also become the primary attack helicopter of multiple nations, including Greece, Japan, Israel, the Netherlands, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates; as well as being produced under license in the United Kingdom as the AgustaWestland Apache. American AH-64s have served in conflicts in Panama, the Persian Gulf, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Israel used the Apache in its military conflicts in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip; British and Dutch Apaches have seen deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Studies for a naval version of the Apache were begun during 1984 and since that time the McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Company has proposed several modified Apaches to both the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy. The navalized Apache was viewed as a replacement for the aging Bell AH-1 Sea Cobras that are in service with the Navy and Marines. With the introduction of a four-blade rotor system to the then current Marine Sea Cobra, the AH-1W, the Bell Cobra was believed to have reached the limit of its development. While older Sea Cobra airframes could be brought up to AH-1W standards, the Marines saw the need for a replacement for the Sea Cobra with some urgency.

The proposed Sea Apache (also known as the ‘Gray Thunder’) was intended for operations from smaller Navy ships such as frigates and cruisers and by the Marines from Amphibious Assault Ships (LHA) and smaller helicopter capable amphibious ships of a Marine Amphibious Ready Group (ARG). These ships would frequently operate outside the air cover of a carrier task group, so that the Sea Apache was also tasked with limited air defense duties and regarded as an offensive surface strike platform, with more capable weapons than the Army's version.

Since 1984, several design studies and formal proposals had evolved, with the Navy requesting changes in the Sea Apache configuration as it refined the aircraft's missions and roles. All in all the project went through no less than three stages, and each of these proposed navalized versions of the Apache differed in several ways from the standard Army AH-64A, although all three proposals had the same powerplants in common, two 1,723shp naval standard General Electric T700-GE-401 engines.
Also in common were increased corrosion preventive measures, improved electro-magnetic interference protection, a Doppler navigation system, upgraded brakes, additional tie down points, and a powered automatic rotor blade fold system.

Some of the missions envisioned by the Navy for the Sea Apache were:
- Escort for amphibious assault craft
- Anti-shipping strike
- Combat Air Patrol (CAP) with up to six Sidewinders
- Over the Horizon (OTH) targeting for surface ships
- Air support for SEAL special warfare teams
- Standoff surveillance
- Long range coastal patrol

Originally (designated “Stage 1”), the Sea Apache was to be a basic AH-64A airframe modified with a folding tail boom, a relocated tail wheel, a mast-mounted radar for surface/air search and attack, and provisions for Harpoon and Sidewinder missiles. Over time, however, the engineering studies and changing roles/missions requirements revealed that the Sea Apache's final configuration would have to be altered drastically.

One of the early problems encountered with navalizing the Apache was the narrow wheel base of the main landing gear. Engineering studies found that the standard Apache main wheel track was too narrow, causing the aircraft to be very unstable on the deck of a small ship. The roll of the deck in heavy seas, coupled with the aircraft's narrow wheel base and a relatively high center of gravity, could easily cause the Sea Apache to tip over. To solve this problem, McDonnell Douglas engineers redesigned the main landing gear, relocating it from the fuselage to the tips of the stub wings. The revised main landing gear was also retractable, with the gear retracting into streamlined housings (although the wheel itself remains uncovered) on the end of each reinforced stub wing. These housings also had provisions for mounting Sidewinder missile launcher rails.

The revised landing gear configuration was put forward in the second proposal (Stage 2) which also deleted the 30mm Chain Gun and its associated ammunition storage system. Furthermore, the Stage 2 Sea Apache featured a revised nose contour and replaced the TADS/PNVS with a nose mounted radar.
Extended fuselage side sponsons carried additional electronics and fuel cells. The sponsons themselves were smoothly faired into the fuselage to lower drag and extended almost to the tip of the nose. This aircraft was to also have provision for carrying two AIM-9L Sidewinder air-to-air missiles on short racks on the fuselage underside, a folding tail assembly and a retractable tail wheel.

This design had been refined still further, and the Stage 3 Sea Apache proposal had the side fuselage sponsons deleted and featured a larger nose radome intended to house an APG-65 Sea Search radar. This radar, developed from the multi-mode radar used on the F/A-18 Hornet fighter/attack aircraft, was compatible for both air-to-surface attack and air-to-air engagements. The forward fuselage was deepened to house additional fuel cells and the relocated avionics bays.

Projected armament included both the Harpoon or Penguin air-to-surface missiles (although the number of stations had been reduced to two) as primary weapons against surface targets, plus two Sidewinder air-to-air missiles for self-defense.
Additional weapons included Stinger, Sidearm, AMRAAM, and Hellfire missiles, as well as 127mm Zuni and 70mm FFAR rockets. Performance goals specified for the Sea Apache by the Navy at this stage included a 370km mission radius, and a four hour endurance on station. To extend the Sea Apache's time on station even further, an extendable in-flight refueling probe would be mounted on the starboard fuselage side below the cockpit. Consideration was also being given to installing the Canadian developed Bear Trap automatic haul-down landing system, which allowed operations during heavy sea states.

In 1989 the Navy gave serious consideration to the purchase of the Sea Apache once adequate funding was made available to finance prototype construction. The Navy desires the Sea Apache not only for its capabilities, but also because the aircraft would cost far less to acquire than to undertake the design of a totally new aircraft to replace the AH-1W in service.

It took until 1992 that the AH-64N, how the Sea Apache was now officially called, was given green lights and a total of seven prototypes were ordered (five for flight tests and in different configurations from Stage 2 and 3, plus two static airframes), and trials took another four years. During this time, one prototype was lost in a fatal crash and the overall budget for the new helicopter was slimmed down, so that the service aircraft became less drastically changed from the Army helicopter, and was eventually designated “Stage 2+”. It carried the Stage 3 avionics suite, but the performance goals became less ambitious, so that the deepened fuselage was not necessary anymore, improving aerodynamics and compensating a little for the reduced internal fuel capacity.

The first production AH-64Ns were delivered in 1998 and entered service on board of US Navy Wasp-class amphibious assault ships, e. g. the newly built USS Bataan (LHD-5), in 1999. Bataan was also one of many vessels in the Middle East region at the beginning of the Iraq war on or about 20 March 2003. After delivering her attack and transport helicopters, troops and vehicles she was employed as a "Harrier Carrier" with primary duties supporting two Marine AV-8B Harrier II squadrons along with USS Bonhomme Richard. USN AH-64Ns of the newly formed HLA-80 light attack helicopter squadron served successfully in the Combat Air Patrol (CAP) role, armed with AIM-120 AMRAAM and AIM-9L Sidewinders, as well as in the escort role for emergency medical care transports in the conflict region.

Until 2003, a total of 80 AH-64Ns were built, exclusively for the US Navy. The US Marines showed interest in the new helicopter, but budget restrictions forced the USMC to stay with its AH-1W helicopters and the AV-8B fleet. A proposed Marine Corps variant would retain the TADS/PNVS and Hellfire missile system, for use in the close air support role and for anti-shipping duties while escorting amphibious vessels. This variant would also relocate the radar dome back to the top of the rotor mast. Another option favored by the Marines was the capability to use the four tube TOW missile system as a back-up to the Hellfire missile system. But due to further budget restrictions, this variant that resembled the initial Stage 1 design of the AH-64N, never left the drawing board.

Further export ambitions received a blow when the British Army successfully deployed license-built AgustaWestland Apaches in 2003 upon the Royal Navy's HMS Ocean, a Landing Platform Helicopter, demonstrating that the land-based Army helicopter was quite capable of naval operations.

General characteristics:
Crew: 2 (pilot, and co-pilot/WSO)
Length: 58.17 ft (17.73 m) (with both rotors turning)
Fuselage length: 49 ft 5 in (15.06 m)
Rotor diameter: 48 ft 0 in (14.63 m)
Height: 12.7 ft (3.87 m)
Disc area: 1,809.5 ft² (168.11 m²)
Empty weight: 11,387 lb (5,165 kg)
Loaded weight: 17,650 lb (8,000 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: 23,000 lb (10,433 kg)

2× General Electric T700-GE-701C turboshaft engines, delivering 1,890 shp (1,409 kW) each,
driving a foldable 4 blade main rotor and a 4 blade tail rotor in non-orthogonal alignment

Never exceed speed: 197 knots (227 mph, 365 km/h)
Maximum speed in level flight: 165 knots (190 mph, 306 km/h)
Cruise speed: 143 knots (165 mph, 265 km/h)
Range: 290 nmi (332 mi, 535 km) with two AGMs and four AAMs
Combat radius with two hours loitering time: 162 nmi (186 mi, 300 km)
Ferry range: 1,080 nmi (1,242 mi, 2,000 km)
Service ceiling: 21,000 ft (6,400 m) minimum loaded
Rate of climb: 2,500 ft/min (12.7 m/s)
Disc loading: 9.80 lb/ft² (47.9 kg/m²)
Power/mass: 0.18 hp/lb (0.31 kW/kg)

No internal gun;
Four pylon stations on the stub wings; the inner pair under the wings can carry a wide range of
AGMs and AAMs, including AGM-84 Harpoon and AGM-119 Penguin against surface targets.
Alternatively, up to eight AGM-114 Hellfire missiles or pods with Hydra 70 70 mm, CRV7 70 mm,
and APKWS 70 mm air-to-ground rockets can be carried
Stations on each wingtip and under the fuselage can carry launch rails for up to four
AIM-120 AMRAAM and/or AIM-9 Sidewinder AAMs.


IAR 328 'Drakula'/Bell AH-1RO - Romanian AF 09​


Some background:
The Bell AH-1 Cobra (company designation: Model 209) is a two-blade, single engine attack helicopter manufactured by Bell Helicopter. It was developed using the engine, transmission and rotor system of the Bell's UH-1 Iroquois. The AH-1 is also referred to as the HueyCobra or Snake.

The AH-1 was the backbone of the United States Army's attack helicopter fleet, but has been replaced by the AH-64 Apache in Army service. Another major operator who drove a parallel development of the AH-1 was the US Marine Corps. The resulting Bell AH-1 SuperCobra was a twin-engine attack helicopter based on the United States Army's single-engine AH-1 Cobra. The twin Cobra family included the AH-1J SeaCobra, the AH-1T Improved SeaCobra, and the AH-1W SuperCobra. The AH-1W, the backbone of the United States Marine Corps's attack helicopter fleet for decades is being replaced by the next generation Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter.

The SuperCobra was furthermore exported to a number of foreign operators, including Iran, Taiwan and Turkey, and in 1995 Romania acquired from Bell the rights for license production of the AH-1W in Romania.
Industria Aeronautică Română (IAR), today IAR S.A. Brașov) was to produce the fuselage, while the engines, a couipled pair of Turboméca Turmo, which were also used in the IAR 330 (a license-built version of the Super Puma multi purpose helicopter) were prodcured from Turbomecanica. No weapon guidance or advanced avionics were part of the deal, though.

The Romanian Air Force had been in dire need for a dedicated attack and anti-tank helicopter, a role that had been for years rudimentarily filled by the IAR 316 (Alouette III) and lately by the IAR 330.
An initial attempt by IAR to make an attack helicopter out of the IAR 316, the IAR 317 "Skyfox", had failed in the Eighties. Equipped with the same license-produced Turbomeca Artouste IIIB turboshaft as the Alouette III, the light IAR 317 featured a stepped two-seat armored cockpit for the pilot and the gunner. The tail boom and rear fuselage was almost identical to the 316. Stub wings mounted on either side of the airframe allowed for the carriage of weapons, including rocket pods, machine guns, and anti-tank missiles. Only one prototype was built. It participated in the 1985 Paris Air Show and later took part in the 1989 uprising, but was damaged and never made it into series production.

The AH-1W deal appeared like a new opportunity to men the Air Force's weakness. The Romanian Air Force planned to produce 96 AH-1W derivatives, which received the local designation IAR 328 and was christened "Drakula". At Bell and within NATO, this variant became known as AH-1RO.

The IAR 328 was basically a stripped-down AH-1W with different engines and domestic equipment. Since the helicopter lacked the guidance capability for TOW missiles, no cheek fairings - characteristic of the late USMC Cobra versions - were fitted. Instead of the single sensor and sight unit in the nose of the AH-1W the IAR 328 received two separate, smaller sensor units: a night vision scope above the pilot's seat, which would also allow persicopic sight from behind cover to a limited degree, and a small sight with a laser rangefinder for the gunner in the nose tip.

Later, from 2005 onwards, the gunner's sight was upgraded with a SOCAT system (Sistem Optronic de Cercetare și Anti-Tanc) procured from Israel, making the IAR 328 compatible with the RAFAEL Spike-ER anti-tank guided missile. Up to eight of these weapons can be carried, and this upgrade was automatically integrated into the final production batches of the helicopter.

Another major difference to any other AH-1 variant was the IAR 328's landing gear: in order to ease ground handling, IAR changed the typical landing skids of the AH-1 into a fixed, wheeled tailsitter landing gear.

Production was slated for 1999, but financial troubles and other, partly political delays, postponed the production of the IAR 328 until 2001. Production lated until 2007, when the last of the 96 "Drakula" helicopters had been delivered to the Romanian Air Force.

General characteristics:
Crew: 2: pilot, co-pilot/gunner (CPG)
Length: 58 ft (17.7 m) (with both rotors turning)
Fuselage length: 45 ft 7 in (13.9 m)
Stub wing span: 10 ft 9 in (3.28 m)
Height: 13 ft 9 in (4.19 m)
Rotor diameter: 48 ft (14.6 m)
Disc area: 1809 ft² (168.1 m²)
Empty weight: 10,200 lb (4,630 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: 14,750 lb (6,690 kg)

2× Turboméca Turmo IVC turboshaft engines, 1,175 kW (1,576 hp) each
Rotor systems: 2 blades on main rotor, 2 blades on tail rotor

Maximum speed: 180 knots (206 mph, 332 km/h)
Range: 317 nmi (365 mi, 587 km)
Service ceiling: 12,200 ft (3,720 m)
Rate of climb: 1,620 ft/min (8.2 m/s)

Chin barbette with a stabilized, single-barrel Nexter THL-20 20mm automatic cannon with 550 RPG
Four stub wing hardpoints for a wide range of ordnance, including LPR 57 unguided rocket launchers,
RAFAEL Spike-ER anti-tank guided missiles and Nexter NC-621 20mm gun pods with 180 rounds
Hello again! It's been a long time since I've posted here, I've gone through a lot of stress in NationStates, mainly after my main account Arpasia got deleted, I decided to quit playing NationStates and posting in it's RMB and forums for good.


The best description I have for this is: a Jolly Green Giant with Westland Sea King intake filters.

Jolly green giant with intake filters.png

And I also made two other variations of the Westland Pelican helicopters, but these are painted in the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm livery (not sure if the HC.4s are painted brown or green), which would be an alternate universe counterpart of the real-world Westland Commando HC.4, aforementioned engine intake filters also included!

WS-61R (2 other variants).png








Landing gear pneumatic-hydraulic system sketch by Jiří Tuma

Interesting but OTL obscure helicopter design from a certain European country. Imagine the ATL possibilities, had this not been the last hurrah.




These last few images depict the OK-15 specimen, which went through trials as a medevac helicopter.

It comes from 1950s Czechoslovakia. The Aero HC-3, the larger 4/5-seater follow-up to the HC-2 "Heli Baby" 2-seater helicopter. Five prototypes were made and successfully flown. By the early 1960s, the communists in Moscow decided to "pull a Duncan Sandys" and had all of the helicopter development outside of the USSR and Poland banned. Czechoslovakia thus lost a whole segment of its aviation industry overnight. Oh, and then the USSR invaded in 1968 and occupied the country until 1991. Thanks for working hard on trying to destroy our self-respect as a society and as an industrialised nation, you soviet muppets...

(It will not surprise anyone that in one of my timelines, I have the Czech aviation industry developing various helicopter types along similar lines, in a democratic central Europe where the USSR never existed. With a bit of effort, you can derive a whole hypothetical alternate lineage from the overall lines and esthetic of the HC-2 and HC-3. A lineage that can very well be an ATL central Europe's version of the Alloeutte, or the Eccureil, or the Bo-105, or the many Bell and Westland helicopters.)



The HC-103 and HC-3B, some of the several planned but never built successors to the HC-3 project.

Remarkably modern designs, aren't they ? This was cooked up in the 1960s !

Image sources: Wikimedia Commons,,
Last edited:
September 1st, 1939 - Germany invades Poland
September 10th, 1939 - Germany surrenders, after Poland's super-hypper-giga-omg bombers destroy the invading force and flatten Berlin.

(no idea who's the artist, but woooow...