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Publication numberUS3608426 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateSep 28, 1971
Filing dateFeb 14, 1969
Priority dateFeb 14, 1969
Publication numberUS 3608426 A, US 3608426A, US-A-3608426, US3608426 A, US3608426A
InventorsJackson Lester L Jr
Original AssigneeMartin Marietta Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Down-fire armament pod for helicopters
US 3608426 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
Next page
Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Sept. 28, 1971 Filed Feb. 14', 1969 FIG. I

FIG. 3


p 28, 1971 L. L. JACKSON, JR


j ha, kWh ml ZTTORNEYS.

3,608,426 DOWN-FIRE ARMAMENT POD FOR HELICOPTERS Lester L. Jackson, Jr., Towson, Md., assignor to Martin Marietta Corporation, New York, N.Y. Filed Feb. 14, 1969, Ser. No. 799,294 Int. Cl. F41d 11/24 U.S. CI. 89-3756 3 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A down fire armament pod for helicopter use carrying at least one pair of vertically oriented grenate launchers with limited roll axis and firing rate adjustment for complete saturation of a target area with fragmentation environment at differing helicopter altitudes and flight velocities.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Field of the invention This invention relates to armament pods for impacting ground target areas with a uniform fragmentation pattern from the air and more particularly, to an armament pod for attachment to low flying helicopters or the like and carrying multiple, vertically oriented, down-fire grenade launchers allowing variation in the fragmentation pattern.

Description of the prior art In the past, both high speed and low speed aircraft have been provided with free-falling area coverage weapons, such as bomblets, that are released in the airstream and rely on the airstream to obtain the desired coverage of the ground target area. The normal release results in the bomblets covering the ground target in a random pattern with overlapping fragment environments developing in some areas, while other areas adjacent thereto receive none of the fragmentation environment.

In an attempt to overcome these defects, aircraft have been supplied with rocket launchers or other projectile guns, normally at or near the front of the aircraft, with the gun barrel or rocket launcher being generally oriented with the axis of the moving aircraft. While this type of armament has the added advantage that the projectiles are fired and therefore, impact the target area at aimed points, the fired projectile travels a slanted path. As such, where the projectiles are of the fragmentation type, the fragments on the ground side of the Warhead at the point of impact are generally trapped in the ground plane, while the fragments on the upper side of the warhead are released in an up direction. This results in a large pecentage of the fragments from the forward fired projectile being released in less than the most effective direction. The forward fired projectiles may also be compared, to some extent, to the normal. machine gun fire, which allows tree trunks or other vertically extending natural and artificial shields to act as an effective protection regardless of the direction of the attack, since the troops Within the ground target area may readily shield themselves by hiding behind the obstructions on the side opposite that of the oncoming aircraft.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION This invention is directed to a down-fire armament pod for attachment to a low flying helicopter or the like and consists of a cylindrical pod casing having a launcher section and at least one adjacent grenate storage section. Means are provided for suspending the pod from the helicopter and further means are provided for supporting at least two grenate launchers within the launcher section with their barrels directed vertically downward from the States Patent pod. Grenades are fed from the storage section in serial fashion to respective grenade launchers and means are provided for independently adjusting each launcher barrel from its vertical position to a limited degree about the pod roll axis and for varying the firing rate of the launcher to ensure fragmentation saturation at the ground target area regardless of the velocity of the helicopter and its altitude with respect to the target area.

Preferably, one or more armament pods are provided for each helicopter and the cylindrical pod casing includes a central launcher section and grenade storage sections on either side thereof. Pocketed feed belts carry grenades in serial, chain-like fashion with the belt being folded in accordion pleated fashion within its respective pod storage section for maximum storage capability prior to use. A flexible chute is positioned between the storage section and the respective launcher loading chamber and a sprocketed feed booster is carried by the storage section. The chute coupling the frontal storage section extends to the rearmost launcher and vice versa with each storage section being at least partially removable from the cylindrical, central launcher section to facilitate loading of the loaded feed belt.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a helicopter carrying the down-fire armament pods of the present invention on each side thereof.

FIG. 2 is a side elevational view, partially in section. of one of the down-fire armament pods of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a front elevational view, in section, of the pod shown in FIG. 2 taken about lines 33.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Referring to the drawings. a typical combat helicopter 10 is shown as flying at a given velocity and at a given altitude over terrain, including a ground target area 12, the helicopter carrying one armament pod 14 of the present invention on each side of the aircraft and suspended from a suitable airfoil support 16. Of course. while the armament pod of the present invention is particularly adaptable to aircraft of the helicopter type, the down-fire pods may be placed upon aircraft operating at much higher flight velocities. Each pod carries a plurality of grenade launchers mounted in vertical down-fire position to fire grenades with a spin stability at a predetermined firing rate and a predetermined firing angle with respect to the roll axis so as to completely saturate target area 12 with a uniform fragmentation environment.

In the illustration of FIG. 1, each pod 14 includes a pair of vertically oriented, in line, grenate launchers with their barrels in the down-fire position and with the launch ers for a given pod being set at a different roll axis position to provide the pattern produced by projectile paths 18. The left-hand launcher produces impact detonation at points 20 by being fired at a time prior to righthand pod grenades 22 which are just reaching the target area 12. By varying the firing angles about the roll axis only, it is possible to either spread out the fragmentation effect over the target area or to focus it into a smaller well defined target area. The use of two or more pods makes it possible to saturate a target area with uniform fragmentation pattern from one to several hundred feet wide and lengths up to a limit of several thousand feet long.

The down-fire weapon system of the present invention permits the aircraft crew a longer time to acquire and identify targets before initiating attack. This is a significant improvement over forward firing weapons and the advantage is further increased when the attack is against targets that are camouflaged. The down-fire system of the present invention creates an environment of fragmentation from adjacent warheads which move toward and overlap in all directions and is effective against troops which normally shield themselves by hiding behind large trees or other obstructions, etc. Effectiveness above the surface fragmentation environment is possible when warheads impact on land or water. Warheads entering the trench and fragmenting have eifects on side trenches and tunnel entrances which are incapable with forward firing Weapons. With respect to combat vehicles, a large percentage of personnel carriers have more built-in protection against side attacks than overhead attacks, thus making them more vulnerable against the down-fire system. The wide effect and the complete saturation of the present system permits the aircraft carrying the same to strike by crossing dvr' the trail or road and the vehicles thereon, rather than by flying parallel with the trails as is necessary with the forward firing armament. The downfire weapon system of the present invention may be effective in activating buried land mines and in fact, may be used to open up a path of limited width through a mine field. In attacking small boats, since the down-fire projectile is fired from directly overhead, it easily produces hole penetration fragmentation environment below the water line for maximum assurance that the damaged boat will readily sink. Further, since the down-fire attack on either land or water targets results in the aircraft passing beyond the target before the projectile impact and thermal environment develops, the present system is particularly useful in attacking fuel storage tanks and the like. The down-fire attack on parked aircraft results in fragment saturation of the entire area and maximum damage to the aircraft contained therein.

Turning next to FIGS. 2 and 3, a typical down-fire armament pod 14 is shown attached to airfoil 16 of the helicopter by a single supporting structure 24 of airfoil cross-section, which surrounds one or more pinned suspension members 26 on a 30 inch spacing or members 4446 on a 14 inch spacing, which act to couple the elongated, streamlined pod 14 to the aircraft. The pod 14 is preferably made up of three cylindrical or tubular sections, a central, cylindrical grenade launcher section 30, a forward grenade launcher storage section 32, and a rear grenade storage section 34. In this respect, the edge abutting surfaces of the various sections include annular flanges 36 which may be coupled together by circumferentially spaced bolts and nuts (not shown). For grenade loading and/ or repair, the front and rear grenade storage sections 32 and 34 may be totally removed. Alternatively, removable hatches 38 and 38' allow access to the interior of the cylindrical storage sections 32 and 34, the hatches being removably attached by screws or bolts, nuts or the like (not shown).

In the illustrated embodiment, the grenade launcher section 30 carries, in vertical down-fire position, longitudinally aligned grenade launchers 40 and 42, the launchers being supported by the launcher section side walls 58 and 74. The launchers are adapted to rotate about a horizontal axis to permit transverse adjustment of plus or minus in independent fashion by suitable adjustment means. The barrels 52 for each launcher extends beyond the bottom of the same casing within transverse slots 54, permitting adjustment of the launchers about the helicopter roll axis. The positioning of the launchers from their vertical down-fire position to a desired degree about the roll axis are adjusted on the ground.

Further, means (not shown) are provided for varying the firing rate of the individual launchers 40 and 42 for each pod so as to either maintain a saturation fragmentation environment depending upon change in speed and altitude, or provide less than a saturation environment as desired, regardless of change in altitude and speed. Depending upon the electrical requirement for firing of the launchers and the desired fragmentation pattern, the

launchers in any one pod may be paired and controlled to permit either sequence or simultaneous firing. If desired, a gun-type sight with a depressed line of sight may be adjusted for use with the system in aiming and firing of the grenade launchers. Additional equipment may be provided on the aircraft, such as a low light television system or an infrared system which may have suflicient down-sight adjustment to establish signals to initiate the firing of the launchers.

The individual grenades 22 are carried within the forward and rear grenade storage sections or compartments 32 and 34, in serpentine, chain-like fashion by a pocketed grenade feed belt 64 within spaced side walls. In addition, there are preferably provided driven sprocket type feed boosters 66 mounted for rotation about their axes 68, whereupon the grenades are fed in the direction indicated by the arrows within the storage sections to flexible delivery chutes 70 and 72 for grenade launchers 40 and 42, respectively. In this respect, it is noted that chute 70, for instance, extends from launcher section wall 58 to the fonwardmost grenade launcher 40 to deliver, in serial fashion, individual grenades 22 from the rear storage section 34, while changing the orientation of the fed grenades from their horizontal orientation at their exit position from the storage secton 34 to a vertical orientation in the vicinity of the launcher chamber at the chute termination point. The opposite arrangement occurs with respect to down-fire grenade launcher 42. In this case, the sprocket type feed booster 66 is at the rear of the forward storage section 32 and feeds grenades from this sec tion to down-fire launcher 42 through flexible chute 72 whose forward end terminates at launcher side wall 58. The flexible chutes 70 and 72 extend through spaced, centrally located side walls 74 which separate the two launchers 40 and 42.

The positioning of the accordion pleated grenade feed belt 64, the positioning of the grenades within the storage sections 32 and 34 and the permissible adjustment range about the roll axis of the individual grenade launchers may be best seen by reference to FIG. 3. The forward grenade storage section 32 is provided with spaced side walls 76 defining the area 78 which receives the accordion pleated or folded grenade feed belts 64 carrying individual pockets 78, in which are positioned the individual grenades 22. For balance purposes and as shown in dotted line form, the rear storage section 34 includes spaced side walls 80 within which are positioned, the rear compartment feed belts 64 carrying grenades in the same manner. It is noted that the rear storage compartment area 80 has its axis generally at right angles to that of the forward storage compartment area 78. By means previously referred to, the grenade launchers 40 and 42 may be shifted about their roll axis by an angle a as indicated by the dotted line position of launcher barrel 52 to either extreme position identified by launcher barrel center lines 84 or 84' which is generally on the order of 10, to left or right of the vertical position, as defined by barrel center line 84-". Access to the storage section 32 is obtained by the removal of hatch 38 and by removal of hatch 38- for the rear storage section 34.

The pod, with the exception of the launchers themselves, may be formed of lightweight metal of high strength to the same degree as the other parts of the aircraft. Each launcher is powered by its: own individual battery (not shown) through an electrical control system which is designed as being redundant. The electric motor (not shown) which drives each launcher has its speed (and hence the firing rate) changed by varying the motor circuit resistance. Pod grenade reloading may be achieved without removing it from the aircraft through the hatches 38 and 38' in the front and aft ends of the pod. It is noted that both the nose and the tail of the pod storage section are aerodynamically shaped for minimum air resistance. A lower pod hatch (not shown) may be provided to permit the removal of the launchers from the pod section 30 for maintenance and/or replacement.

As mentioned previously, the pod may be disassembled into three major parts, two ammunition container or storage sections plus the center launcher container. The launcher support structure includes shock mounts to reduce shock transferred to the aircraft. The grenade launchers themselves are in all other respects conventional.

While the pod has been described as being cylindrical in form, it is not meant that the pod configuration must be circular in cross-section. The pod, therefore, may comprise tubular joined sections which are irregular in crosssectional configuration, being more rectangular than circular depending upon the needs for a particular aircraft, etc.

While the invention has been particularly shown and described with reference to a preferred embodiment, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that the foregoing and other changes in form and details may be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

What is claimed is:

1. A down-fire grenade armament system for helicopters and low flying aircraft comprising: a tubular pod; a central launcher section in said pod carrying two longitudinally aligned grenade launchers, means for mounting said launchers for firing grenades in a substantially vertical direction downward from the helicopter or low flying aircraft; means to adjust each of said launchers independently so as to vary its direction of fire about the roll axis of the helicopter or low flying aircraft; separate grenade storage sections forward and rearward of said central launcher section; and chute means for delivering grenades from the forward storage section to the rearmost grenade launcher and vice versa.

2. The down-fire armament pod as claimed in claim 1 further including a grenade feed belt carrying longitudinally spaced pockets, grenades carried by said pockets in chain-like fashion and a sprocket feed booster carried by each storage section for facilitating delivery of said pocketed belt from the storage sections to respective grenade launchers.

3. The down-fire armament pod as claimed in claim 1 further comprising flexible chutes positioned between said storage sections and respective grenade launchers and sprocket feed boosters for delivering grenades from said storage sections to respective launchers and for chang ing the orientation of the same from their horizontal orientation within said storage section to a vertical orientation in the vicinity of the launcher chamber.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,446,000 2/1923 Davis 89-1702 2,376,227 5/1945 Brown l02-5 2,493,945 1/1950 Cocks et al. 8937.5(5) 3,018,692 1/1962 Bilek 89-l.815 3,352,207 11/1967 Proudlove 89-37.5(5) 3,430,533 3/1969 Kifor et al 89-l.5

SAMUEL W. ENGLE, Primary Examiner US. Cl. X.R.

89-l.5R, 33C

Referenced by
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US3911787 *Feb 28, 1974Oct 14, 1975Textron IncSafe aircraft ammunition container
US4524674 *Jan 24, 1983Jun 25, 1985The Unites States Of America As Represented By The Secretary Of The ArmyMilitary vehicles
US4616554 *Aug 13, 1984Oct 14, 1986Westinghouse Electric Corp.Extendable tube for vertically delivered weapons
US4750403 *Jan 27, 1987Jun 14, 1988Loral CorporationSpin dispensing method and apparatus
US4750423 *Mar 12, 1987Jun 14, 1988Loral CorporationMethod and system for dispensing sub-units to achieve a selected target impact pattern
US4893545 *Jan 13, 1988Jan 16, 1990Sanderson Paul HAircraft armament apparatus
US4898069 *Mar 11, 1988Feb 6, 1990Werkzeugmaschinenfabrik Oerlikon-Buhrle AgApparatus for transporting cartridges to a firing weapon with an elevation control system
US4941392 *Dec 22, 1989Jul 17, 1990Messerschmitt-Boelkow-Blohm GmbhScatter ammunition container
US4974499 *Jan 17, 1989Dec 4, 1990Sanderson Paul HAircraft armament apparatus
US5014590 *Dec 29, 1989May 14, 1991Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm GmbhDevice for ejecting submunition
US5024138 *Jun 4, 1990Jun 18, 1991Sanderson Paul HAircraft armament apparatus
US7918153 *Mar 18, 2008Apr 5, 2011Contract Fabrication and Design, LLCAmmunition magazine box with adjustable tilted interior bracket structure
US8082834Feb 15, 2011Dec 27, 2011Contract Fabrication and Design, LLCAmmunition magazine box with adjustable tilted interior bracket structure
US20030121404 *May 4, 2001Jul 3, 2003O'dwyer James MichaelAttack aircraft
U.S. Classification89/37.19, 89/33.2, 89/1.51, 89/33.5, 89/33.14
International ClassificationF41A27/04, F41F3/06, F41A27/00, F41A23/00, F41F3/00
Cooperative ClassificationF41A23/00, F41A27/04, F41F3/06
European ClassificationF41A23/00, F41F3/06, F41A27/04