Birds, Choppers and the Cobra: Helicopters and the Vietnam War

Posted by on May 8, 2008

As popular as the movie Platoon was, it almost ruined me on Vietnam, at least from the military history aspect. It seems popular media sources concentrate only on the ready topics that come to mind such as drugs, bad soldiers and draft card burnings. Seemingly overlooked is the vast transition of the United States army from the World War II era to one readily mobile via airborne infantry, that is helicopters. Along those lines, I thought it would be neat to take a look at some of the early helicopters and their use.  I can only give a snapshot, but I have some great links below that can give you the needed backstory.


In my previous posts (on my old blog), I mentioned the passing of Piasecki but didn’t spend too much time talking about the uses of helicopters in the Vietnam conflict. It was an ambulance (started earlier in the Korean conflict), troop transporter (slick), and attack platform.  These usages proved very versatile and favorably in the fields of conflict in Vietnam.


Although vunerable to small arms fire, the mobility, especially when used to transport the wounded, was second to none. In his book, Dust Off, the authors state:

“…Records that the Medical Department’s new aeromedical evacuation system performed beyond all expectation…” (3)


As a flying artillery piece, the gunship helicopters, in versions such as the AH-1, were unsurpassed for troop support and suppressing enemy fire.  In fact, the AH-1, though heavily modified, is still in use today!

I’ve assembled some great links below to help illustrate some of the facts mentioned above. If you have a minute, they provide much information about the helicopter’s role in Vietnam and up through today.

Have a great day, see you tomorrow!


Marines & Helicopters, 1962-1973

Dust Off: Army Aeromedical Evacuation in Vietnam

Legacy of Valor: (Vietnam and helicopter usage information)

Center of Military History (U.S. Army)

Vietnam Veteran’s Slang (external site)

Wikipedia: Huey link (UH-1)

AH-1 Cobra Fact Sheet (US Army) (AH-1)


(1) Center of Military History (U.S. Army)

(2) TACOM Integrated Logistics (pic. link here.)

(3) Dust Off: Army Aeromedical Evacuation in Vietnam

(4) Center of Military History (U.S. Army)

Comments are closed.