|Crew:||2: one pilot, one co-pilot/gunner (CPG)|
|Length:||53 ft (16.2 m) (with both rotors turning)|
|Rotor diameter:||44 ft (13.4 m)|
|Height:||13 ft 6 in (4.12 m)|
|Empty weight:||5,810 lb (2,630 kg)|
|Max. takeoff weight:||9,500 lb (4,310 kg)|
|Powerplant:||1 × Lycoming T53-L-13 turboshaft, 1,100 shp (820 kW)|
|Rotor system:||2 blades on main rotor, 2 blades on tail rotor|
|Fuselage length:||44 ft 5 in (13.5 m)|
|Stub wing span:||10 ft 4 in (3.15 m)|
|Never exceed speed:||190 knots (219 mph, 352 km/h)|
|Maximum speed:||149 knots (171 mph, 227 km/h)|
|Range:||310 nmi (357 mi, 574 km)|
|Service ceiling:||11,400 ft (3,475 m)|
|Rate of climb:||1,230 ft/min (6.25 m/s)|
|Guns:||2 × 7.62 mm (0.308 in) multi-barrel Miniguns, or 2 × M129 40 mm Grenade launchers, or one of each, in the M28 turret. (When one of each was mounted, the minigun was mounted on the right side of the turret, due to feeding problems.)|
|Rockets:||2.75 in (70 mm) rockets – 7 rockets mounted in the M158 launcher or 19 rockets in the M200 launcher|
|Other:||M18 7.62 mm Minigun pod or XM35 armament subsystem with XM195 20 mm cannon|
Closely related with the development of the Bell AH-1 is the story of the Bell UH-1 Iroquois—predecessor of the modern helicopter, icon of the Vietnam War and still one of the most numerous helicopter types in service today. The UH-1 made the theory of air cavalry practical, as the new tactics called for US forces to be highly mobile across a wide area. Unlike before, they would not stand and fight long battles, and they would not stay and hold positions. Instead, the plan was that the troops carried by fleets of UH-1 “Hueys” would range across the country, to fight the enemy at times and places of their own choice.
By June 1967, the first AH-1G Huey Cobras had been delivered. Originally designated as UH-1H, the “A” for attack designation was soon adopted and when the improved UH-1D became the UH-1H, the HueyCobra became the AH-1G. The AH-1 was initially considered a variant of the H-1 line, resulting in the G series letter.
AH-1 Cobras were in use by the Army during the Tet offensive in 1968 and through the end of the Vietnam War. Huey Cobras provided fire support for ground forces, escorted transport helicopters and other roles, including aerial rocket artillery (ARA) battalions in the two Airmobile divisions. They also formed “hunter killer” teams by pairing with OH-6A scout helicopters. A team featured one OH-6 flying slow and low to find enemy forces. If the OH-6 drew fire, the Cobra could strike at the then revealed enemy. Bell built 1,116 AH-1Gs for the US Army between 1967 and 1973, and the Cobras chalked up over a million operational hours in Vietnam. Out of nearly 1,110 AH-1s delivered from 1967 to 1973 approximately 300 were lost to combat and accidents during the war. The U.S. Marine Corps used AH-1G Cobras in Vietnam for a short time before acquiring twin-engine AH-1J Cobras.
AH-1 Cobras were deployed for Operation Urgent Fury, the invasion of Grenada in 1983, flying close-support and helicopter escort missions. Army Cobras participated in Operation Just Cause, the US invasion of Panama in 1989.
During Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in the Gulf War (1990–91), the Cobras and SuperCobras deployed in a support role. The USMC deployed 91 AH-1W SuperCobras and the US Army 140 AH-1 Cobras; these were operated from forward, dispersed desert bases. Three AH-1s were lost in accidents during fighting and afterward. Cobras destroyed many Iraqi armored vehicles and various targets in the fighting.
Army Cobras provided support for the US humanitarian intervention during Operation Restore Hope in Somalia in 1993. They were also employed during the US invasion of Haiti in 1994. US Cobras were also used in operations later in the 1990s.
The US Army phased out the AH-1 during the 1990s and retired the AH-1 from active service in March 1999, offering them to NATO allies.The Army retired the AH-1 from reserves in September 2001. The retired AH-1s have been passed to other nations and to the USDA Forest Service The AH-1 continues to be in service with the US military, by the US Marine Corps, which operate the twin-engine AH-1W SuperCobra and AH-1Z Viper.