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The AH-56, Cheyenne, was a four-bladed, single-engine attack helicopter developed by Lockheed for the United States Army's Advanced Aerial Fire Support System (AAFSS) program to produce the Army's first dedicated attack helicopter. Lockheed designed the AH-56 utilizing a rigid-rotor and configured the aircraft as a compound helicopter; with low-mounted wings and a tail-mounted thrusting propeller. Prior to the development of the AH-56, all armed helicopters had been modifications to existing aircraft designed for unarmed uses. The third AH-56 (second prototype s/n 66-8827) became a flight test vehicle sans its weapons components. This was the first AH-56 to achieve flight. The Cheyenne had a two-seat tandem cockpit featuring anadvanced navigation and fire control suite. The tandem seating placed the pilot in the rear seat, and the gunner in the front seat. An unusual feature of the gunner's station was that the entire seat, sighting system, and firing controls rotated to keep the gunner facing the same direction as the gun turret being controlled. The gun-sight afforded the gunner direct viewing from the turret by way of a periscope sight. The pilot had a helmet mounted sight system for aiming weapons. In 1966, the Army awarded Lockheed a contract to develop 10 prototypes of the AH-56. The first flight of an AH-56 occurred on 21 September 1967. In January 1968, the Army awarded Lockheed a production contract, based on flight testing progress. A fatal crash and technical problems affecting performance put Cheyenne development behind schedule, resulting in the production contract being canceled on 19 May 1969. Cheyenne development continued in the hope that the helicopter would eventually enter service. On 9 August 1972, the Army canceled the Cheyenne program. Limited Edition. Signed and Numbered by the Artist.
December 12th, 2010
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