Bell Textron Model 249 - The 'Almost' Tiger

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During the 1980s, the Bundeswehr was looking to replace the ageing Bo-105 with a new dedicated anti-tank helicopter. To this end, the Bundeswehr initiated the Panzerabwehrhubschrauber 2 or PAH-2 program to which several helicopter manufacturers responded with proposals, including Westland, VFW-Fokker, MBB, Agusta, and Bell. While other companies could only offer pre-production mockups, Bell would present a fully functional modified version of their combat proven AH-1 Cobra. The Cobra presented to Germany for testing was a modified AH-1S known as the Model 249 and featured the four bladed rotor of the Bell 412 as well as a 412 tail rotor. In addition to its unique rotor setup which provided a significant boost to the Cobra’s manoeuvrability and load carrying capabilities, the armament was also expanded to include the potential addition of Hellfire ATGMs in place of the TOW ATGMs, and either a total of four FIM-43 Redeyes or FIM-92 Stingers mounted in twin pods on each of the wing tips.

This model would be tested in the early 80s by ErpSt 61 and would perform extremely well and would meet or exceed all of the Bundeswehr’s requirements. Unfortunately for the Model 249 however, fate would conspire against it as neither the US Army or Bundeswehr was interested in adopting it. By this point, the US Army had already selected the AH-64 Apache to replace the Cobra and wasn’t interested in upgrading their existing Cobra fleet, while Germany decided to take what they had learned from foreign helicopter designs and apply it to a new design, partnering with France to create Eurocopter Tiger. The Model 249 would continue to be used as a demonstrator before eventually being converted into a regular AH-1F and returned to the US Army, later being withdrawn from service and sold for parts.

The planned production model of the Model 249 for the Bundeswehr (the PAH-2 Cobra) would also be fitted with several additional improvements over the version tested. Firstly, the M65 Telescopic Sighting Unit would be replaced with the TADS/PNVS as featured on the AH-64 Apache, which would provide a significant jump in capability compared to the M65. The Euromissile HOT would also be integrated as well as the improvements present on the AH-1F including the Kaiser head-up display for the pilot, Teledyne Systems digital fire control computer, Hughes laser rangefinder, Sanders AN/ALQ-144 infra-red jammer, Northrop Grumman AN/APR-39 radar warning receiver, AN/ALQ-136 radar jammer, Perkin-Elmer AN/AVR-2 laser warning receiver, and an M130 General Purpose Dispenser for launchings chaff and flares.

War Thunder provides the opportunity to bring this unique Cobra variant to life where it could fill one of the many gaps present in the German helicopter tree. There are two ways I could see the PAH-2 Cobra being introduced, either a) in a form representative of what the WTD 61 would have tested i.e. without the TADS/PNVS optic and the AH-1F improvements; b) with all the bells and whistles, just how it would have entered service with the Bundeswehr (similar to the Yak-141) or; c) some middle ground between the two i.e. with the AH-1F improvements but without the TADS/PNVS. That will of course be up for Gaijin to decide.

Specifications

Crew: one pilot, one co-pilot/gunner
Length: 16.2 m (with both rotors turning)
Rotor diameter: 13.4 m
Height: 4.12 m
Empty weight: 2,630 kg
Max. takeoff weight: 4,310 kg
Powerplant: 1 × Lycoming T53-L-13 turboshaft, 1,100 shp (820 kW)
Rotor system: 4 blades on main rotor, 2 blades on tail rotor
Fuselage length: 13.5 m
Stub wing span: 3.15 m
Never exceed speed: 352 km/h
Maximum speed: 227 km/h
Range: 574 km
Service ceiling: 3,475 m
Rate of climb: 6.25 m/s

Images








Videos

Farnborough 1980 (1981) - YouTube

Sources

Bernd Vetter and Frank Vetter, Modern German Luftwaffe Unit History - Test and Evaluation Unit 61 (2006), p.39
John W. R. Taylor, Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft 1982-1983 (1982), p.309
Kenneth Peoples, Bell AH-1 Cobra Variants (1988), p.52, 60-61
Mike Verier, Cobra! the Attack Helicopter (2014), Chapter 10
The Bell AH-1 HueyCobra

2 Likes

I would really love to see this in the German or even the American tree. As this represents the pinnacle of the single engine Cobra design, it would be a dream for the Cobra fans. In the German version, the “easiest” add would be a essentially a 4 bladed AH-1F without the TADS/PNVS. But the Cobra Airframe had many of the suggested improvements tested on it separately at one time or another. Cobras tested hellfires, flew as modified Apache trainers with PNVS fitted to the nose.

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Could you post a list of armaments in the specifications section? The loadout options and guns are not exactly clear. +1

Things can get messy there because while it was intended to take HOT and Hellfire in German service, only TOW was tested. Two stinger missiles would also be fitted to the inner pylons. No gun was fitted as the requirements specified that it was supposed to be a purely anti-tank helicopter, which is reflected later on the German variants of the Eurocopter Tiger.

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Ah, I see. I think that HOT and Hellfire are reasonable still, as they were in the original specification of the heli.

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