ACH-47A Armed/Armored Chinook
Four armed/armored ACH-47A Chinooks were specially built by Boeing Vertol in late 1965. These four aircraft were originally fielded in Vietnam for a six-months TDY test period as the 53rd Aviation Detachment. Following the test period, the unit was attached to the 1st Cavalry Division's 228th Assault Support Helicopter Battalion and redesignated as the 1st Aviation Detachment (Provisional). By February 1968, only one of the original four gunships was still flying.
The ACH-47A Chinook Guns-A-Go-Go, with a crew of eight, was armed with up to five M2 .50 Cal. or M60D 7.62mm machine guns (four XM32 window and one XM33 ramp mounted), and two fixed-mounted XM34 M24A1 20mm cannon and two M18/M18A1 pod-mounted 7.62mm miniguns , or two XM159B/XM159C 19-tube 2.75 inch rocket launchers, and a chin-mounted 40mm automatic grenade launcher on the M5 armament subsystem. They also featured added armor protection for the crew and some critical components. They proved to be effective in the combat assault role, but were involved in several accidents and were difficult to maintain. The experiment was discontinued with the introduction of the AH-1G Huey Cobra in August 1967. Chinooks were more valuable for use as troop carriers. The AH-1G Cobra was fast enough to assume the escort mission, had greater loiter time over the target, and presented a much smaller target to small arms fire.
During the Vietnam War three test ACH-47 Chinooks, nicknamed "Easy Money," "Stump Jumper" and "Birth Control" were deployed for six months temporary duty in Vietnam. A fourth ACH-47A, called "Co$t of Living," was the prototype and therefore stayed in the United States for flight testing. Though these armed birds had a successful evaluation period, each destroyed every assigned target they engaged, three succumbed to fate. In August 1966, "Stump Jumper" was destroyed by a freak ground-taxi accident with another Chinook at the Vung Tau Airfield. After this misfortune, "Co$t of Living" stopped testing and joined the two other aircraft in theater.
In May 1967, "Co$t of Living's" M24-A 20mm cannon vibrated loose causing the weapon to rotate upward and fire into the forward rotor system. The blades separated and the aircraft tumbled to the ground killing all eight crewmembers on board. Then in February 1968, "Birth Control" suffered the destiny of her sisters. "Birth Control" received some bad hits from a gun run and had to auto-rotate into dry rice paddies. "Easy Money" flew in and positioned herself between the enemy and "Birth Control" while rescuing the downed crewmembers.
Due to the extra weight, "Easy Money" fought to stay airborne and though she received numerous hits, which wounded some crewmembers, she made it safely to Camp Evans. Before a recovery team could rescue "Birth Control," she was destroyed by mortar fire from the North Vietnamese army.
Having only one Armed Chinook left, coupled with the fact that lift helicopters were badly needed in the field, the Guns-A-Go-Go unit was demobilized. "Easy Money" went to South Vietnam where she served as a maintenance trainer for the allied Vietnamese. At the end of the hostilities in Vietnam, "Easy Money" returned to the United States where the aircraft at some point served as a sheet metal trainer at Fort Eustis, Va. It wasn't until the late 1990s that "Easy Money" was recognized, restored and later moved to Redstone Arsenal.
Easy Money is now on permanent display in front of the Program Executive Office at Redstone Arsenal. When "Easy Money" came to rest at Redstone in 2000, the Guns-A-Go-Go veterans reunited for the first time and held a reunion every two years since.
The Utility Scout Attack Helicopter Weapons Team at Rock Island Arsenal completed restoration of the armament on Easy Money, an ACH-47A Chinook helicopter used in Vietnam. Once the team identified the weaponry, they searched for similar items they could use and developed plans to fabricate the weaponry they could not locate. They also made plans to demilitarizate the weaponry so it could not be used, but would remain suitable for display. The USA team located five M3 50-caliber machine guns and installed spade grips on them so they could be used as the flank and tail weapons. They demilitarized two 19-shot rocket launchers for the wings, located the M5 armament system, and simulated M24A2 cannons from M2 machine guns. The team found what they believe is the last M5 armament system at Yuma Proving Grounds, Ariz., just in time to meet the dedication ceremony at Redstone Arsenal.
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