The Tamiya RAH-66 Comanche Helicopter Model Kit Makes a Great Addition to a Military Collection
Recently I’ve been interested in military helicopters and have been checking out videos on Youtube. The RAH-66 Comanche helicopter was one of the one’s that caught my eye. Stealthy and quieter than a lot of other helicopters possessing a smart design to help thwart stinger missiles from getting a good lock on. I nabbed me a Tamiya RAH-66 Comanche Helicopter model kit from the local hobby store and when it’s done I’ll post some photos of it. Meanwhile, let’s have a quick look at the model kit and find out more about the helicopter and it’s sad demise.
Tamiya RAH-66 Comanche Helicopter Model Kit
As you can see by the picture on the box and the pictures of the components there’s a lot to like here. The parts have a solid feel to them and are well molded. The detail is pretty good, too. The instructions and step-by-step guide were in Japanese though looking at the pictures I feel confident I can put it together. I’m impressed at the quality of the model. It would have been nice though to have a pilot come with it.
The Boeing-Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche
The Boeing-Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche was an advanced five-blade armed reconnaissance and attack helicopter designed for the United States Army. It incorporated stealth technologies and was intended to designate targets for the AH-64 Apache. It was, however, more than capable of taking out armored vehicles with it’s own deadly array of missiles and rockets. Only two prototypes were ever built and flight testing was conducted from 1996 – 2004. The United States Army eventually decided to cancel the program.
Designed to Screw with the Enemy 😉
The helicopter’s outer surfaces were faceted, had radar-absorbent material (RAM) coatings and infrared-suppressant paint applied. This resulted in the Comanche’s radar cross-section (RCS) to be 360 times smaller than the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter.
The Comanche’s noise signature was also quieter than comparative helicopters thanks in part to it’s all-composite 5-blade main rotor and tall rotor assembly.
It was equipped with sophisticated navigation and detection systems that allowed it to operate at night and in bad weather.
As for armament it had a 20mm three-barrel XM301 Gatling-style cannon under it’s nose that had a capacity of 500 rounds. It could carry within it’s internal bays six AGM-114 Hellfire or twelve AIM-92 Stinger air-to-air missiles or 24×2.75 Hydra 70 air-to-ground rockets split evenly between the two retractable weapons pylons. In addition to these it could externally carry four Hellfire or eight Stinger missiles or 56x Hydra 70 rockets on each of it’s stubs wings if needed.
“This platform is not just another system-it’s an asset with a multirole-ability to gain information dominance and then pass on that information to the critical command and control people, the intelligence people, to the manoeuvre elements and guys in fire support.”
Brigadier General Joseph Bergantz, US Army RAH-66 program manager.
The Comanche helicopter was powered by two LHTEC T800 turboshaft engines.
It was designed in such a way to make it easier to transport to battlefields around the world. It could, however, given it’s ferry range of 1,200nmi (2,200km) make it’s own way there if need be.
Despite it’s awesome capabilities and the staggering US$6.9 billion already spent the RAH-66 Comanche program was cancelled for a number of reasons on 23 February 2004.
Two of these reasons were …
* The Army realized that upgrades would still be required to deal with anti-aircraft threats and chose to spend money instead on renovating it’s existing helicopter fleet of attack, utility and reconnaissance aircraft.
* Funds that would have went to the Comanche program were also channeled into speeding up the development of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s)
Fortunately, much of the advanced technology of the Comanche was incorporated into the latest model Apache attack helicopters.
Without a doubt the RAH-66 Comanche helicopter was a technological wonder of it’s day. It’s size deceptively misleading as to it’s power and it’s armament a lethal concoction of Hellfires, Stingers, Hydra rockets and a turreted gun system.
General characteristics of the RAH-66 Comanche Helicopter
Length: 46.85 ft (14.28m)
Rotor diameter: 39.04 ft (11.90m)
Height: 11.06 ft (3.37m)
Powerplant: 2 x LHTEC T800-LHT-801 turboshaft 1,563 hp each
Rotor systems: 5-bladed main rotor, 8-bladed fan-in-fin anti-torque system
Maximum speed: 175 knots (201 mph, 324 km/h)
Cruise speed: 165 knots (190 mph, 306 km/h)
Range: 262 nmi (302 mi, 485 km) on internal fuel
Combat radius: 150 nmi (173 mi, 278 km) on internal fuel
* Ferry range: 1,200 nmi (1,380 mi, 2,220 km)
Service ceiling: 14,980 ft (4,566 m)
Rate of climb: 895 ft/min (4.55 m/s)
* Ferry range simply means the maximum range the aircraft can fly. It takes into account maximum fuel load, possibly extra fuel tanks and minimum equipment.