The Hughes OH-6 Cayuse (nicknamed “Loach”, after the requirement acronym LOH—Light Observation Helicopter) is a single-engine light helicopter with a four-bladed main rotor used for personnel transport, escort and attack missions, and observation. Hughes Helicopters also developed the Model 369 as a civilian helicopter, the Hughes Model 500, currently produced by MD Helicopters as the MD 500.
In 1960, the United States Army issued Technical Specification 153 for a Light Observation Helicopter (LOH) capable of fulfilling various roles: personnel transport, escort and attack missions, casualty evacuation and observation. Twelve companies took part in the competition and Hughes Tool Company’s Aircraft Division submitted the Model 369. Two designs, those submitted by Fairchild-Hiller and Bell, were selected as finalists by the Army-Navy design competition board, but the U.S. Army later included the helicopter from Hughes as well.
The first Model 369 prototype flew on 27 February 1963. Originally designated as the YHO-6A according to the Army’s designation system, the aircraft was redesignated as the YOH-6A in 1962 when the Department of Defense created a Joint designation system for all aircraft.
Loach 011 – Tail Number 69-16011 (OH-6A)
‘Loach 011’ was manufactured in 1969 and was shipped direct to Vietnam where it served in the 20th Transport Company. Records show that in 1970 the helicopter took 11 hits from small arms and automatic weapons causing damage to the fuel system and some aircraft components. The armour plating protected the flight crew and only one of the three crew on board was wounded in action. Returning from Vietnam, ‘Huey 509’ carried out National Guard duties until 2004 and was then sold and put into storage in Seattle. After extensive research in the US Phil Connolly decided that ‘Loach 011’ would be the ideal fit within the display activities of the MSS Holdings (UK) Ltd Team. In 2008 the restoration of ‘Loach 011’ took place including replacing the interior and adding various ex-military components in order to restore the machine to its original glory. During the process the battle scars from its early life in Vietnam were revealed, displaying a multitude of bullet holes and patches. On completion of the restoration ‘Loach 011’ was able to take its rightful place alongside ‘Huey 509’ appearing in both in static and flying displays around the UK.
To see these aircraft, also known as ‘the Vietnam Pair’, is a real treat for aircraft and history enthusiasts alike and an exciting and unique experience for any newcomers to the Airshow scene. More details of the history of our helicopters can be found on our website www.huey.co.uk.
- Maximum Speed – 152 knots (175 mph, 282 km/h)
- Maximum Range – 267 miles
- Service Ceiling – 15,994 ft
- Optional and variable (attack and special forces versions only). Can include a combination of the following:
- 7.62mm M60 general purpose machine gun
- 7.62mm M134 minigun pod
- 12.7mm M2 Browning heavy machine gun pod
- 2.75″ (70mm) Hydra 70 rocket pod (7 x rockets ea).
- TOW Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) pod (2 x missiles ea).
- AGM-114 Hellfire Anti-Tank (AT) missile pod (2 x missiles ea).
- Also crew-served small arms of various kinds – sniper rifles, assault rifles and light machine guns as required.
- Role Light Observation Helicopter / Utility
- Manufacturer Hughes Tool Co. – Aircraft Division
- First flight 27 February 1963
- Introduction 1966
- Status Active service
- Primary user United States Army
- Produced 1965–present
- Number built 1420 (OH-6A)
- Variants MD Helicopters MH-6 Little Bird
- MD Helicopters MD 500
- McDonnell Douglas MD 500 Defender