YouTube – AH-56 Cheyenne
54 ft. 8 in.
13 ft. 9 in.
51 ft. 3 in.
The AH-56 Cheyenne, produced by Lockheed, was slated to become the world’s fastest production attack helicopter, with a speed of just over 250 mph. It was conceived in 1966 as a heavily armed, extremely maneuverable escort helicopter.
Rather than depend on its rotor for lift, thus limiting its top speed, the AH-56 Cheyenne had a 26 foot wing that supported the helicopter at speed. With its wing, the AH-56 Cheyenne was classified as a compound rotorcraft, rather than a true helicopter. Its rotor was feathered during high speed runs, with forward thrust provided by a propeller in the tail.
Armament of the AH-56 Cheyenne consisted of either a 7.62 mm minigun or 40 mm grenade launcher in the nose, a 30 mm cannon under its mid-section, anti tank missiles and rockets under its wing. The weapons system was computer assisted using doppler radar and laser imaging. For extended range, two fuel tanks could be mounted under the fuselage.
The AH-56 Cheyenne had a crew of two, sitting in tandem, with the pilot in the rear cockpit seat, and the gunner/co-pilot up front. This arrangement provided excellent all around visibility for the gunner.
The main landing gear of the AH-56 Cheyenne was lengthened in order to have enough ground clearance for its 30 mm cannon turret. The landing gear retracted into the wing. A wheel under the rear fin supported the tail. With a full load, it was intended that the Cheyenne use a short take off roll to get into the air.
When the first AH-56 Cheyenne prototype took to the sky with successful results in September of 1968, a total of 375 production helicopters were ordered by the U.S. Army. However, further testing showed that the helicopter had stability problems when flown at speeds in excess of 200 mph.
On March 12, 1969 the main rotor of a AH-56 Cheyenne prototype came into contact with its aft fuselage resulting in a fatal crash. A wind tunnel test of a second prototype in September of 1969 found that the problem still was not cured and resulted in significant damage to the aircraft. Nevertheless, prototype testing continued through August 9, 1972 when the project was canceled. It was over cost, stability problems were never fully resolved, and by this time, more advanced, less costly, but slower helicopters were already on the drawing board.
Ten AH-56 Cheyenne helicopters were built. All were prototypes. Four can be seen on display at museums around the United States.
RC AH-56 Cheyenne
The RC AH-56 Cheyenne from Schulter. It is 53 1/2 in. long and uses a 51 in. rotor.
You can find plans by Jim Ryan for the AH-56 Cheyenne in the Dec. 2011 issue of Model Aviation magazine.
Apparently Schluter sold quite a few AH-56 Cheyenne kits during the 1980’s. Although the company is out of business, many are still in circulation.
We are happy to see that Heliooldie.de is selling the AH-56 Cheyenne canopy, plans, and assembly instructions from Schulter. This is a great looking helicopter and we hope that more companies offer it in the future.
Scale RC Helis.com has a posting by drkite with pictures and a description of his AH-56 Cheyenne. It is in the process of being rebuilt so that it can fly.
Richard Morgan started a thread at Run Ryder about building his own AH-56 Cheyenne.
Jim Ryan is building a 450 size of the RC AH-56 Cheyenne. You can find the build thread he started in RC Groups.
The Unwanted Blog has downloadable line drawings of the AH-56 Cheyenne for those who may want to use them to build the helicopter.