There were 766 Bell UH-1C helicopters built in several equipment modified variants. One
was the “Frog” equipped with side-mounted XM-158 twin rocket pods each holding seven
2.75 inch rockets. The "M-5" fitted the gunship with a nose turret mounting an M-75 40
mm automatic anti-personnel grenade launcher that held 300 anti-personnel grenades.
The crews referred to these as “Chunkers” because of the sound when the grenades
were fired. The infamous “Shark” gunships were created in 1966 when permission was
granted to use the fearsome looking “Tiger Mouth” on the front of the Hueys.
Operation Lam Son 719 was supposed to be an ARVN (Army of the Republic of South
Vietnam) assault to destroy the NVA (North Vietnamese Army) sanctuary base 604 and
the large cache of supplies located there. The operation took place in early February into
late March 1971. Base 604 was located on the Ho Chi Minh Trail in the south east corner
of Laos. From this base the NVA could easily launch attacks into South Vietnam.
The US military helicopters supplied all the aviation needs for this operation by lifting
ARVN troops and supplies in and out of Laos. Part of the operation would also require the
evacuation of wounded. This area was very well fortified area with more than 30 NVA
battalions as well as heavy anti-aircraft, armor and artillery support. The largest tank
battles in the Vietnam War up to that time took place during Lam Son 719. The American
helicopter units faced the heaviest anti-aircraft fire of the entire Vietnam War. In February
1971 while escorting a Dustoff to medevac some wounded UH-1C Huey Frog Shark
Gunship “Surfer Girl” was downed by heavy ground fire from three separate locations. On
board were CPT Souder and WO Bruce Marshall with the latter being wounded in both
legs. They managed to land the Huey even though it sustained over 15 hits and
significant damage. The Dustoff they were escorting had to land and safely rescue them.
The 174 AHC lost UH-1C #66-15161 “Surfer Girl” that day.
The South Vietnamese government had committed 17,000 of its finest troops to Operation
Lam Son 719 but they were badly mauled by the NVA and the entire operation was
deemed a failure and a great blow to the morale of the ARVN from which they never
The South Vietnam government claimed to have killed 13,341 NVA and wounded
countless more. The NVA also lost 75% of their tanks and huge quantities or ammunition
and rice. The ARVN claimed to have lost 5,000 troops and almost all their APV and tanks.
The US estimates place the ARVN troop losses at closer to 10,000. The US losses
totaled 65 helicopter crewmen KIA, 818 WIA and 42 MIA with 618 helicopters damaged. Of
the 618 helicopters, 106 were considered completely destroyed.
Specifications - Bell Huey UH-1C “Frog”
Strictly for use as a gunship.
A Huey gunship with an M-5 load out was called a "Frog"; one with the XM-3 was called a "Hog"; and one with both was called a "Heavy Hog".
Length - 45 ft 10 in
Rotor - 44 ft diameter
The new "Model 540" rotor system eliminated Bell's distinctive “teetering bar" and
replaced it with an electromechanical stabilization that reduced vibration and increased maneuverability.
Larger tail boom than the UH-1B
Larger elevators than the UH-1B
The "C" was given a dual hydraulic control system for redundancy in battle and an
improved inlet filter system for the dusty conditions found in southeast Asia.
Engine - T53-L-11 with 1100 hp
Fuel - increased from 165 gallons to 242 US gallons
Speed - 131 kts
Range - 314 miles
Nominal useful load of 4673 lbs, maximum 9,530 lbs
2 X M -60 7.62mm machine guns
2 X side-mounted XM-158 rocket pods each holding seven 2.75 inch rockets
The "M-5" fitted the gunship with a nose turret mounting an M-75 40 millimeter automatic grenade launcher, with a rate of fire of about 220 rounds per minute.