While everyone can recognize an AH-64 Apache, few would recognize the AH-63, its rival that it defeated 24 years ago today. The AH-63 was produced by Bell (which called it the Model 409) and was basically a larger and more advanced version of the AH-1 Cobra. After an extensive fly-off, the AH-64 was selected over the Bell entry. Key points of the decision were:
@ The AH-63 used a two-bladed rotor, which was three-feet wider than the four-bladed rotor on the Apache.
@ The AH-63 used a smaller three-wheel landing gear, making it slightly more likely to tip over if landing on rough terrain.
@ The AH-63 used a three-barrel 30mm gatling gun, which was heavier than the single-barrel 30mm chaingun developed for the AH-64.
@ The AH-63 was overweight and weight-reduction programs had failed to reduce it.
@ The AH-63 was slower and less maneuverable than the AH-64, despite using the same engines.
@ The AH-63 used a high-speed drive between the engines and transmission rather than the intermediate gearbox of the AH-64. The high-speed drive proved balky, hard
systems.--Stephen V Cole