Back Bell D-255, D-262 "Iroquios Warrior"
1962 - project

D-255 Iroquois Warrior

In June 1962, Bell invited US Army officials to the Fort Worth facility to see the mock-up of a highly innovative combat helicopter. Known at the time as the Design D-255 "Iroquois Warrior" and wearing false s/n 62-00255 (HU-1F), the new aircraft looked like an hybrid between a fighter and a helicopter. Relatively small, the "Iroquois Warrior" retained several features of the famous "Huey" and had a low silhouette, narrow profile and a small cross-section forward fuselage. This new streamlined fuselage with retractable skids had been designed for maximum speed, armament payload and crew efficiency. It featured a stepped cockpit configuration (nowadays widespread among the world's combat helicopters) with the gunner placed just in front and below the pilot. Armament included a ball-turret in the nose, a streamlined gun compartment under the fuselage and various external loads (including French SS-11 missiles and 2.75in FFAR rocket pods). Although innovative, the D-255 retained the powerplant as well as the basic transmission and rotor system of the well proven UH-1C in order to reduce maintenance and development time as well as to cut costs.

On 30 August, 1962, the so-called Howze Board, a study group led by Gen. Hamilton H. Howze, submitted its final report in which recommendations were made for the creation of Air Cavalry Combat Brigades and the design of specific aircraft for that purpose. Bell decided to go further in its company funded attack helicopter research programme but on a reduced cost basis. The first step was to build a flying test-bed by transforming a standard Model 47 into the Model 207 "Sioux Scout", described elsewhere in this book. The flight tests were highly successful but the Army pilots called for a larger turbine-engined aircraft.

Bell went back to work on a redesigned scaled-down version of the D-255, known as the D-262, which was entered in the 1964 Advanced Aerial Fire Support System (AAFSS) competition calling for a fast, armoured, heavily-armed helicopter for which Lockheed (with the AH-56A "Cheyenne") and Sikorsky (with the Model S-66) were eventually selected. The D-262 had been eliminated to the great disappointment of the Bell team.

A.J.Pelletier "Bell Aircraft since 1935", 1992

Bell D-255, D-262 "Iroquios Warrior"

Bell HU-1 Warrior, click here to enlarge

Gregory Cass, e-mail, 03.02.2021reply

I am not the expert here but,I worked on AH-1's in the Army for 8 hrs in the early 80's. The Army manuals and documentation never had an Indian name assigned to it. The unofficial answer comes from Vietnam Vets who said the Viet Cong called the AH-1's "snakes" always tearing up and down to fight and attack (Cobra pilots are the most daring and crazy pilots I have ever met). So the troops called them Cobra's and painted teeth and eyes on the noses of the helicopters. Bell Helicopter liked the Cobra name and it stuck. They figured they created the beast without the Army asking for it, then they get to name it. It was the only Army aircraft without an American Indian name.

David Hatcher, e-mail, 25.05.2013reply

The Bell entrant in the AAFSS was the Model 309 and was called the “King Cobra”. The “Advanced Aerial Fire Support System” or “AAFSS” was a “paper evaluation” an idea conceived by then Sec of Def McNamara. Construction money was provided after the selection was made based on design proposals only, not on actual flying aircraft. Sikorsky, not pleased with not being selected built their proposal anyway, with company money. (Theirs flew before the Lockheed and reportedly “flew circles” around it, which did not please McNamara.) Learning what Sikorsky was doing, Bell made two Model 309s one crashed and the other is in non-display storage at the Army Aviation Museum at Fort Rucker, Alabama. Improvements made in the Model 309 would eventually find their way into later Marine Corp AH1s.
There was no “fly-off” of the AAFSS.
There are books and articles that unfortunately confuse this tiny bit of history. Look at the “timeline”. The two AH1G prototypes were made in 1966 (66-15246 /15247) along with the first production 110 aircraft (66-15248 /15347)! The AH1G was already in mass production and being flown in Vietnam before the AAFSS.

David Hatcher, e-mail, 25.05.2013reply

Although I think there is another, the Army just didn't give the AH1G an Indian name.

homeromj, e-mail, 11.11.2009reply

Spent twenty years in Army aviation maintenance and every once in a while was posed the question of "What was the American Indian designation for the AH-1 instead of Cobra?". Have been looking for some kind of information that would point to the answer, and seeing in this article the term "Iroquois Warrior", I think it may come pretty close.
Looks like Bell Helicopters uses a set protocol with product evolution; case in point, the OH-58 A /C Kiowa helicopter. In the late 1980's our battalion fielded the D model OH-58 Kiowa, which upon later armament upgrades was re-designated the AH-58 D "Kiowa Warrior".
While only a trivia thing, would like to see other opinions on what, if any, American Indian name was bestowed on the Bell 209 /AH-1.

Eric Bishop, e-mail, 10.03.2009reply

Looks like a cobra.

Born2flie, 01.10.2007reply

The three-view is the D-262, also pictured at the top of the page. The D-255 had the stepped cockpit, the D-262 removed the stepped cockpit. Both pictures of the D-255 and D-262 are full-scale mockups, neither aircraft was actually built. After the D-262 was eliminated from AAFSS consideration in 1965, Bell continued to develop it as the Model 209 which became the AH-1G. The Model 209 removes the belly gun pod but retains the nose ball turret

"SUNRISE", e-mail, 16.12.2006reply


David Hatcher, e-mail, 03.01.2007reply

The three view drawing is a "concept" drawing. For "industrial" and national security reasons its not a good idea to give your competitors or potential adversaries an idea what you are up to. The drawing was from the very early concept stage of the D255 project which began the development of the Model 209 /AH1G. Bell was trolling for research and development money from the Army, which never came so they went ahead and company funded the project.

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