50 Incredible Facts About Combat Helicopters

September 16, 2019

Known as the work horses of modern militaries,
helicopters are an indispensable tool of war. Whether ferrying equipment and troops around,
scouting a battlefield, or raining death down upon the enemy, helicopters have proven their
worth time and time again. Combining incredible agility, speed, and firepower,
the modern combat helicopter is a weapon to be feared. Hello and welcome to another episode of The
Infographics Show- today we’re taking a look at 50 incredible facts about combat helicopters,
their culture, and history. 50. Around the world combat helicopters are referred
to as ‘air cavalry’ because they fulfill the role of cavalry from bygone areas- agile,
speedy scouts and quick-response fire support just where its needed the most. 49. In the US Army, helicopter pilots honor their
cavalry heritage by being the only career field in all the US military that is authorized
to wear the old cavalry style hat as part of their uniform. 48. US Air Cavalry’s special headwear is actually
called the Cavalry stetson, named after John B. Stetson, inventor of the world-famous cavalry
hat. 47. US Cavalry officers’ stetsons are actually
not authorized by standard uniform policy by the US Army, but it is up to each individual
unit commander to authorize their wear along with boot spurs. 46. In April 1st, 2011, as part of an April Fool’s
Day joke, the US Army released an official statement that said all current headgear across
the entire US Army would be replaced by the stetson, and included photoshopped pictures
of soldiers wearing the stetson and even a military working dog wearing one. (include photo from 45. The two parts of the word helicopter are actually
not “heli” and “copter”, but rather “helico” meaning spiral and “pter”
meaning one with wings. 44. During the Vietnam War US Army officer Hugh
Thompson prevented the deaths of hundreds of Vietnamese civilians by placing his helicopter
between the civilians and approaching US infantry, threatening to open fire on the soldiers. The event came to be known as the My Lai Massacre
and ultimately saw between 300 and 500 civilians dead and wounded at the hands of US soldiers. 43. On a lighter note, In 1990 the Galapagos Conservancy
launched Project Isabela, declaring all-out war on 100,000 invasive goats in the Galapagos
Islands which were driving Galapagos tortoises extinct. Their plan was to use snipers picking the
goats off from helicopters, and it worked to great effect. 42. Australia’s wedge-tailed eagle is so fiercely
territorial and fearless that it will attack helicopters and small planes to defend the
skies around its nest. 41. During the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu in Somali
between US/UN forces and Somali warlords, helicopter pilot Michael Durant was taken
hostage after his chopper was downed by enemy RPG fire. Knowing he had been captured, US Army helicopters
flew over the city playing AC/DC’s Hell’s Bells on external speakers. It was Durant’s favorite song, and after the
song played it was followed by a voice saying over a loudspeaker, “Mike, we won’t leave
here without you.” He was freed 11 days later. 40. In 1974 a US soldier stole a helicopter and
flew to the White House, hovering over the south grounds. A Secret Service sniper shot and injured him,
forcing him to land. Ultimately he served one year in prison and
earned a $2400 fine for his stunt. 39. The Coast Guard once trained pigeons to help
find people lost at sea. They sat in a dome attached to the helicopter
and pressed a lever after spotting life preservers or debris. In initial trials they had a stunning 90%
success rate. 38. In 1975 $10 million dollars worth of Huey
helicopters had to be pushed off the flight deck of the USS Midway and into the ocean
to make room for an emergency landing of an aircraft loaded with Vietnamese evacuees onboard. 37. In 1986 United Way released 1.5 million balloons
into the Cleveland sky to raise money for charity. The stunt choked the surrounding airspace
with so many balloons that Coast Guard helicopters couldn’t reach an overturned fishing boat,
resulting in two deaths. 36. The bolt holding the rotor blades onto the
helicopter’s body is known as a Jesus nut- it is the only single point of failure that
would lead to a crash. 35. In 2007 Iraqi insurgents used EXIF data from
a picture taken of freshly arrived Apache helicopters to find their exact coordinates
and then launched a mortar attack on them, destroying 4 choppers worth a total of $30
million. 34. Helicopters are used in cherry farming to
dry the cherries off with the rotor wash after it rains so they don’t soak in too much water
and explode. 33. The Mir Mine in Russia is so deep, helicopters
can be sucked in by the downward air flow. 32. The famous raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound
in Pakistan was carried out by two formerly secret and heavily modified ‘stealth’ Black
Hawk helicopters with two Chinook backups. Flying low and with classified stealth materials
built into the hulls, the helicopters were nearly impossible to detect on radar. 31. The classified stealth and electronic countermeasures
aboard the modified Black Hawk helicopters added so much weight to each chopper that
the additional weight of the US Seals who boarded them and their equipment was calculated
down to the ounce. 30. The most famous helicopter raid in history,
the Bin Laden raid was done without alerting Pakistani authorities of the incursion for
fear the Pakistanis would tip Osama Bin Laden off. For years the US had known that Pakistan had
been playing both sides of the conflict, and suspected they were secretly hiding Bin Laden. 29. The two Chinook helicopters providing backup
for the two main assault Black Hawks were armed with 7.62mm miniguns and .50 caliber
machine guns, along with an additional 24 US Navy SEALS. They touched down 2/3rds of the way to the
compound and were responsible for engaging and destroying any Pakistani military units
responding to the raid. 28. One of the two Black Hawks which penetrated
the compound experienced a hazardous airflow condition known as a vortex ring state- the
higher than expected air temperature along with high compound walls stopped the rotor’s
downwash from diffusing, which compromised the helicopter’s ability to generate lift. Its rear rotor grazed the compound wall and
the helicopter crashed. 27. The entire raid was over in 40 minutes, and
the downed helicopter was packed with explosives and destroyed to prevent the classified technology
from falling into Pakistani hands. 26. The Iran-Iraq War of 1980 to 1988 had the
only confirmed air-to-air helicopter battles in history. 25. In 1986 a french woman taught herself how
to fly a helicopter and then used a rented helicopter to fly it over a prison and rescue
her bank robber husband from the prison roof. 24. In 1985 Philadelphia police dropped two bombs
on a house from a helicopter during an armed standoff. The bombs started a fire that killed 11 and
destroyed 60 homes. 23. In 2009 a Japanese whaling fleet used a sonic
weapon against a helicopter full of conservation activists who were recording their whaling
activities. 22. The US has five times more helicopters than
any other country in the world, and as many heliports as every other country combined. 21. Many anti-vehicle mines can be jerry-rigged
to function as anti-helicopter mines. The mines are concealed in very shallow dirt
holes and have additional shrapnel which strikes the helicopter’s body and rotors. 20. The Soviet built Ka-50 is one of the only
helicopters in the world with an ejection seat. The rotor blades are blown away by explosives
milliseconds before the ejection seat’s rocket ignites, preventing the pilot from literally
becoming mincemeat. 19. The Ka-50 also features a counter-rotating
rotor underneath the main rotor which eliminates the need for a tail rotor assembly. 18. To confuse NATO spies, the Soviets painted
false windows on the test models of the Ka-50 to make them think it was a multi-seat chopper
and thus make it difficult to guess what its primary mission was intended to be. By all accounts the ploy worked. 17. The Ka-50 proved it was one of the world’s
most formidable and maneuverable combat helicopters in the difficult and mountainous terrain of
Chechnya during the Second Chechen War. 16. The latest deployment of the Ka-50 was during
the Syrian Civil War, where they were spotted providing escorts for search-and-rescue missions
and supporting Russian special forces. On 5th May 2018 one was shot down near Mayadin,
some suspect by a US-provided MANPAD. 15. The Daisy Cutter is a bomb specifically designed
to create helicopter landing pads in thick jungles. The bomb’s blast levels a circle 300 feet
(91 meters) in diameter without affecting much of the ground itself. 14. In the late 1980s the Soviet Union provided
extensive support for Libyan forces in their conflict against Chad, including providing
them with Mi-25 Hind attack helicopters. 13. After a Libyan Mi-25 was abandoned by retreating
Libyan forces, the US military carried out a clandestine operation to secure and transport
the helicopter, and all its classified technology, to the US. 12. In order to achieve their objectives, US military
forces landed a C-5 Galaxy at N’Djamena International Airport with two Chinook heavy-lift helicopters
and 75 combat troops in its cargo hold. The troops flew towards the abandoned Hind
on the Chinooks, evading detection from Libyan forces by flying low and fast. 11. Despite sandstorms, the Chinooks reached the
abandoned Hind before Libyan forces could return to destroy it, and securing it to one
of the Chinooks, flew it back to N’Djamena International Airport where it was loaded
onto another C-5 and transported directly to the US. 10. On August 18th, 1976, the US and South Korea
sent a force of 800 men and 27 helicopters to cut down a tree in the DMZ. 9. Nicknamed Operation Paul Bunyan, the tree
in question impeded line of sight from one observation post in the US/South Korean side
to the other. Entering the Joint Security Area, a force
of 11 US and South Korean personnel entered to trim the tree. North Korean guards initially watched them,
and then claimed that the tree had been planted by Kim Il Sung and was nourished and growing
under his supervision. Ignoring their commands to stop trimming the
tree, the North Koreans attacked the group and a brawl broke out, killing two Americans. 8. In response President Gerald R. Ford sent
a convoy of 23 American and South Korean combat vehicles, two 30 man infantry platoons, a
64 man task force of South Korean special forces, 20 US utility helicopters, 7 Cobra
attack helicopters, several B-52 Stratofortress heavy bombers, two squadrons of F-4 Phantom
IIs, a squadron of South Korean F-5 and F-86 fighters, several US F-111 bombers, several
infantry, artillery and air defense battalions from both the US and South Korean militaries,
and the aircraft carrier USS Midway’s battlegroup. The tree was cut down without incident. 7. American intelligence analysts monitoring
North Korean tactical radio nets reported that the accumulation of military force “blew
their minds”. 6. In 2005 a man landed a helicopter on the summit
of Mount Everest, and then to prove that he didn’t just get lucky the first time he did
it again two days later. 5. While developed for the US Army, the Apache
attack helicopter is fully capable of operating from aircraft carriers at sea. 4. The first American female combat helicopter
pilot was Gwen Schallow, who would go on to implement new and advanced weapon systems
after her experiences flying combat missions in Bosnia. 3. One of the most important tools in America’s
war on terror, Apache helicopters are widely feared by ISIS forces for their ability to
find and target even lone individuals in the middle of the night with their advanced night
vision and thermals. 2. The battle of Karbala during the US’s second
invasion of Iraq was the most difficult battle the Apache attack helicopter has ever faced. A force of 31 Apaches was tasked with crippling
the Messina Division of the Iraqi Republican Guard, but flew into a planned ambush in a
built-up residential area. Despite this, the Apaches suffered only a
single loss and completed their mission objectives. Heavily damaged but victorious, all but one
Apache made its way back home- with one pilot having being wounded and bleeding out yet
still managing to safely land his chopper at home base. 1. The US’s Apache is the most successful attack
helicopter in history, with over 2000 having been built in its lifetime- more than almost
any other military aircraft in the world. Do you think there are any facts on the list
we missed? Let us know in the comments! Also, be sure to check out our other video
called 50 insane facts about cold war! Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t
forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!

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