Lockheed research into compound rigid rotor helicopters began in the early 1960s using the XH-51. In 1966, Lockheed's design for an operational attack helicopter, the AH-56 Cheyenne, won the contract to build the US Army's Advanced Aerial Fire Support System (AAFSS). The Cheyenne had a 3,435 shp General Electric T64-GE-16 turboshaft engine that powered a rigid 50 ft four-bladed rotor, as well as a 10 ft three-bladed pusher propeller and a four-bladed anti-torque rotor on the tail. In horizontal flight, almost the entire engine output is used to drive the propeller. The AH-56 weighed 12,000 lb empty, had a 55 ft long fuselage and a 27 ft wingspan. Maximum vertical take-off weight was 22,000 lb, but a short take-off could be made at 28,000 lb.

First flight was on 21 September 1967. A maximum speed of 277 mph was reached. The third of ten prototypes crashed on 12 March 1969 when the rotor impacted the front and rear fuselage, killing the pilot. The AH-56 was highly agile and a very capable weapon system, but development was halted in 1972, due to defense cutbacks. A production order of 375 AH-56s had been approved in 1968, but canceled the next year, also as a result of budget cuts.

Source: AHS V/STOL Wheel


Data on design, manufacture and status

Parent type: Lockheed AH-56 Cheyenne

Aircraft status: No longer flying


Primary flight and mechanical characteristics

VTOL type: Compound Helicopter

Compound type: Lift and Thrust compounded with 1 propulsors

Lift devices: 1 Single main rotor

Dedicated control device: 1 Tail rotor

Crew required: 2 in Tandem arrangement

Landing gear: Wheels (all retractable)

Key Characteristics

Data on key physical features

Aircraft Details

Data on aircraft configuration, weights, flight performance and equipment


References and sources used

Lockheed AH-56A Cheyenne
Landis, Tony and Jenkins, Dennis R.
Warbird Tech Series, vol 27, Specialiity Press Publishers and Wholesalers, 2000 (page 64)

Rigid Rotor Rewind: Lockheed Helicopters Come Full Circle
Raymond L. Robb
VERTIFLITE March/April 2017, March/April 2017 (page 53)
Summary description of the Lockheed rigid rotor program and associated aircraft

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