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War Stories

LOH Left Side MiniGun - MiniGun Bird

The powerful Minigun was a bit much for the LOH


Coinciding with the 1967 Vietnam introduction of the OH-6A Cayuse Light Observation Helicopter, or Loach to all who came to know and love them, combat testing of experimental armament subsystems were utilized with mixed reviews, including the M27 ARMAMENT SUBSYSTEM.

This mounted one 7.62mm Minigun on the left side and a 2,000 round ammunition box installed behind the pilot with flexible chute feeding ammunition to the gun.

Due in part to airframe stress cracks and rate of fire problems, this system, as well as other mounted weapons, were discarded in favor of gunners with modified M60s (Photo Album of Linford E. Riniker).

Don Borey:This photo shows the left side mounted minigun with a Bullet Catcher in place. Also notice the left side Observer/Gunner seat has been removed (Ray Stanton Slide Show #32)

Steve Borden: The scouts flew in one of two configurations. One was a three man crew with a pilot and observer in the front and a crewchief in the back on the right side behind the pilot. The other configuration was a "minigun bird." Those ships had a minigun installed on the left side and had no observer. The reason it was installed on the left side was due to the considerable torque manifested when it was fired. I flew occasionally with Jackie White (Rookie) and asked him why didn't he fly a minigun bird. He said he preferred the extra set of eyes. I think he told me the installation of the minigun added so much weight that the observer had to be eliminated

Jim Hoag: I flew in Rudy Grimm's LOH a couple of times in the left front and can tell you it was EXTREMELY loud and caused some powder burns.

Jim Walt: I flew more than a few times with the left side mini-gun. We always flew it with three crew. I flew left front seat and was right next to the damn thing. It surely weighed the bird down. But we never got off the ground with a full fuel load without bouncing down the runway for a looong time anyway. We were always over weight with extra ammo, frags, etc. I can say, with unequivocal and unbiased knowledge that the mini could easily roast an ear drum. The torque it would create was always an powerful visual reminder of physics. I didn’t particularly like flying configured that way. It meant the pilot had to fly the bird as a straight and steady weapons platform, instead of a flying wasp veering every which way. I always figured veering this-a-way and that-a-way was much more likely to get my butt back to Cu Chi later in the day. But, when it fired, it was pretty awesome to see the tracers clouding the target zone.

Carl Betsill notes his photo #63 is of an LOH ("Mini-Power") with leftside minigun. It has the left door installed, which makes sense to cut down on the noise and blast from the gun.


Ed Mortimer (KIA) liked flying minigun birds. It was fun to shoot. But as Jackie said, the extra pair of eyes with an M60 might save your life. The other statement that might apply is that the mission of the Little Birds (LOH White Team) was "Hunter" number one and "Killer" number two. bap