The Loach - OH-6 Cayuse

                                                        US Army Photo

This was an Army Helo.  The small and nimble scout helicopter was very effective.  I saw one working out south of the Birmingham Fire Support Base in northern Vietnam.  It flew low and slow, trying to get the VC / NVA to shoot at it.  Someone did shoot at it and four Cobra Gun ships came up from behind the hills and shot up the bad guys.  Very impressive and the pilots who flew the LOACH had to be very brave. Actually all helo pilots are very brave.


The ‘Loach’ was one of the riskiest helicopter assignments in Vietnam

While barely any American helicopters served in World War II and few flew in Korea, Vietnam was a proving ground for many airframes — everything from the venerable Huey to Chinooks sporting huge guns

One of the most dangerous helicopter assignments was a tiny scout helicopter known as the “Loach.” Officially designated the OH-6 Cayuse, these things were made of thin plexiglass and metal but were expected to fly low over the jungles and grass, looking for enemy forces hiding in the foliage.

When the Loach debuted in 1966, it broke records for speed, endurance, and rate of climb, all important attributes for a scout helicopter. It was powered by a 285-hp engine but the helicopter weighed less than a Volkswagen.

They were usually joined by Cobra gunships — either in hunter-killer teams where the Loach hunted and the Cobra killed or in air mobile cavalry units where both airframes supported cavalry and infantrymen on the ground.

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