by Peter Walker and Pieter Thomassen
edited by Tim Wing
- AH-68 Comanchero gallery
Designation: Sikorsky AH-68 Comanchero Heavy Attack Helicopter
- Total Length: 17.0 m
- Total Height: 5.5 m
- Total Wingspan: 15.0 m
- Total Dry Weight: 5.8 metric tons
II. Service History:
- AH-68 Comanche: Served with the US Army from 1996 until 2017.
- AH-68 Comanchero: Served with various militaries from 1998 until 2017. UN Spacy from 2002 until 2017, and with the UEDF Tactical Corps from 2018 until 2031.
- TH-68A Comanche/Comanchero: Two-seat dual-control trainer. Served with the US Army and UN Spacy, then UEDF Tactical Corps until the Invid Invasion.
- A/UH-68A: Four passenger armed VIP transport. Served with the UN Spacy and the Spanish Armada from 2002 until 2017.
- W-6 Dzikus (Savage): Built under license by PZL-Świdnik for the People’s Polish Air Force. Served with the Polish Air Force and the Soviet Air Force from 2007 until 2011, and with the Air forces of the Eastern Block of Soviet Independent States from 2013 until 2031.
- AH-68 Privateer: Served with the UN Spacy surface naval component and various national Navies from 2007 until 2017, and with the UEDF Naval Corps from 2018 until 2031.
- Two man heavy attack helicopter.
- 4 x Rolls Royce Gem 20 1200 shp chemical turboshaft engines.
- Maximum speed: 482 kph @ all altitudes.
- Range (typical): 960 km.
- Design-g limits: 7.5 g.
- Hughes HCEP-4 with infra-red imagers
- Night Vision optics
- Laser ranger/designator
- Standard optics and UV sensors in both the nose and mounted on top of the rotor mast.
Tactical Electronic Warfare System (TEWS):
- Elettronica Radar Warning Receiver (RWR)
- OlDelft Infra-red Warning Receiver (IRWR)
- Westinghouse ALQ-200 active radar jammer
- Chaff dispenser
- Active missile jammers.
- 1 x Oerlikon 32mm autocannon, fires APHE (Armor Piercing High Explosive) and HEI-T (High Explosive Incendiary with Tracer) rounds. Maximum rate of fire 850 rounds/minute. Ammunition supply 500 rounds, maximum effective range 3500 meter. The weapon is located in the left side hull sponson, and is in a fixed-forward fire position. Ammunition is largely carried in the hull near the center of gravity so as to have minimal impact on the balance when expended.
- 1 x Colt M-89/3 12.7mm triple barreled machinegun, firing standard and tracer rounds at 1800 rounds/minute. Armor piercing capabilities are minimal, restricted to a few centimeters of armor even at point-blank range. Ammunition supply of 2000 rounds. Weapon is mounted in the right side hull sponson, on a traversible mount.
- 1 x Bofors ML1 forward firing large internal missile launcher carrying 12 Lockheed ATM-01 Rapier short range (8.2km) combined infra-red imager and passive laser homing 120mm missiles. The missile carries a HEAT warhead.
- 1 x M197 20mm three-barreled electric Gatling-type rotary cannon, firing Armor Piercing Incendiary, High Explosive Incendiary and Multi-purpose fuzeless at 1500 rounds/minute. Ammunition supply of 800 rounds. Weapon is mounted in the right side hull sponson, on a traversible mount.
W-6 Dzikus (Savage)
- 1 x Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-30-4A1 30mm Gatling-style three barrel cannon. The GSh-30-4A1 fires 30×165mm, 390 g projectiles at 2000 to 3000 rounds per minute. Mounted on the right side sponson of the helicopter.
- 1 x Glagolev–Shipunov–Gryazev GShG-7.62D three-barreled rotary machine gun, gas operated, self-powered weapon. This weapon fires the rimmed 7.62x54mmR at 3,500 or 6,000 rounds per minute at a muzzle velocity of 820-850 meters per second. Maximum firing range is 1000 meters.
- 6 Hardpoints under the wings for gunpods, fuel tanks and missiles. Most common load is a missile pod with 10 short range (9km) variable warhead, combined infra-red imager and active radar homing guided Brimstone anti-armor missiles. Also capable of holding 4 Hellfire air-surface missiles or 36 unguided rockets.
The skin of the Comanchero is composed of treated steel plate. The armored skin stops all small arms fire, provides good protection against heavier infantry weapons, such as a 12.7mm machinegun round, and fair resistance to light mecha-mounted weaponry, such as the Zentraedi 22.3mm HE autocannon round.
The AH-68 was project begun by Sikorsky in the early nineties purely on speculation. At the time, there was no call by the United States Army to replace its excellent AH-64 Apache, but many other militaries (to include the United States Marine Corps) were in desperate need of a replacement for their aging fleets of AH-1 Cobras. The AH-68 was designed to compete in this market against export versions of the AH-64, the Italian Mangusta and the French/German Tigre. Combat experience during the Global Civil War (GCW) was showing the Mangusta and the Tiger to be to light, Sikorsky therefore designed the heavy AH-68 helicopter, drawing its inspiration from earlier Russian helicopters rather than from Western gunships. This design was very popular among the Western militaries, and was licensed to a number of manufacturers, including Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm, Westland and Fuji Heavy Industries.
The AH-68 was the first helicopter ever to mount four turboshaft engines, which gave the heavy gunship a very impressive performance. Also impressive was the sensor suite, with both a nose- and a mast-mounted sight system. The armor was equally impressive, capable of withstanding 30mm strikes at vital spots. As additional survival features, the AH-68 was equipped with ejection seats and explosive bolts to sever the rotors. The armament was terrifyingly effective, with a triple 12.7mm machinegun for anti-personnel use, a fixed 32mm cannon for use against personnel carriers and the vulnerable sides of tanks, and six hardpoints under the wing for a normal load of 24 Hellfire missiles, or 16 Hellfires and 68 unguided rockets. If necessary, fuel tanks or gun pods could be mounted as well. The AH-68 was used extensively in the GCW, and later in the Unification War. The Comanchero was picked by the UN Spacy after the GCW as their primary attack helicopter. This was done because, apart from mecha, a helicopter was the only craft that could approach alien mecha characteristics. The Comanchero was thus equipped with the standard radar and electronic warfare systems of the UNDF, and the hardpoints were wired for pods with 10 short range Brimstone missiles. This gave the Comanchero up to 60 missiles at full load. In addition, the 32mm cannon was replaced with the Bofors ML1 internal missile launcher, which carried 12 Lockheed ATM-01 Rapier short range missiles. With the speed and mobility of a helicopter, the Comanchero was as close to the Nousjadeul-Ger Air mobile Power Armor as was possible to achieve with Terran technologies. The Comanchero therefore saw a lot of use in the Malcontent Uprisings, and was later adopted by the Southern Cross’ Tactical Corps.
S-68: Original AH-68 prototype. This model number was also used by the FAA for the civilian registration of de-milled AH-68s used by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and by the U.S. Forest Service for firefighting.
AH-68A Comanche: Initial 1996 production model gunship for the US Army. Armed with an Oerlikon 32mm autocannon in the left sponson and a Colt M-89/3 12.7mm triple barreled machinegun in the right sponson. Could carry Hellfire or TOW missiles systems. Served with the US Army from 1996 until replaced by the AH-68C.
TH-68A Comanche: Two-seat dual-control trainer. The TH-68A served with the US Army from 1996 until 2017, UN Spacy from 2002 until 2017 and with the UEDF Tactical Corps from 2018 until 2031.
AH-68B Comanchero: Original export version, equipped with the Brimstone missile system, improved Telescopic Sight Unit (TSU), and Hughes HCEP-4 with infra-red imager. First purchased by the Spanish Army, after beating out the competing bid by Eurocopter with its Tiger, the AH-68B got its name Comanchero from the Spanish traders who made their living by trading with the Great Plains Indians such as the Comanche’s. Served with various militaries, to include the Spanish Army, from 1998 until 2017.
UH Comanchero: The Unterstützungshubschrauber Comanchero, German for Support Helicopter Comanchero, was the AH-68B built under license by Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm for the German Bundeswehr. Served with the Budeswehr from 1999 unitl 2017.
Comanche AH Mk. I: AH-68B built under license by Westland Helicopters for the British Army Air Corps. Served from 2002 until 2017.
AH-68M Comanchero: The AH-68M (Modernized) was the AH-68A and B upgraded with four Rolls Royce Gem 20 1200 shp chemical turboshaft engines and the addition of the Bofors ML1 forward firing large internal missile launcher in place of the Oerlikon 32mm autocannon in the left sponson. The AH-68M also saw the introduction Hughes AWG-20 X-band pulse-Doppler radar and other Robotechnology improved sensor systems. Served with the UN Spacy and various national armies from 2002 until replaced by the AH-68E.
AH-68C Comanchero: New build version of the AH-68M. Also introduced stronger composite rotors and improved cockpit layout for nap-of-earth (NOE) flight. Served with the UN Spacy, the US Army and various national armies from 2002 until replaced by the AH-68E.
A/UH-68A: Nick-named the “Private Dancer”, the A/UH-68 was a four passenger armed VIP transport. This version featured a slightly widened fuselage with a four person passenger compartment below the pilot’s compartment. The A/UH-68 retained the M-89/3 12.7mm triple barreled machinegun, but only carried 500 rounds of ammunition. The left side sponson lost its weapon system and carried extra fuel instead. Served with the UN Spacy and the Spanish Armada from 2002 until 2017.
AH-68J Comanchero: AH-68C built under license by Fuji Heavy Industries for the Japanese Self Defense Force. Served from 2001 through 2017.
AH-68D: Fully navalized version of the AH-68C with folding main-rotors. All aircraft were constructed from existing AH-68 airframes. The AH-68D served with the Spanish Armada as the Z.25 Corsario from 2004 through 2017. The Corsario was used to support coastal patrol boats.
AH-68N Privateer: New construction version of the AH-68D. Introduced improved corrosion resistance, an extended and folding tailboom and an upgraded transmission. The N in the designation stood for Navalized. Served with the UN Spacy surface naval component and various national Navies from 2007 until replaced by the AH-68Q.
W-6 Dzikus (Savage): Built under license by PZL-Świdnik for the People’s Polish Air Force. Served with the Polish Air Force and the Soviet Air Force from 2007 until 2011, and with the Air forces of the Eastern Block of Soviet Independent States from 2013 until 2031.
W-6A2 Dzikus (Savage): PZL-Świdnik upgrade of their W-6 with one Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-30-4A1 mounted under the nose and a pair of AGS-30 30mm grenade launchers on either side of the aircraft. Served with the Air forces of the Eastern Block of Soviet Independent States from 2015 until 2031.
AH-68E Comanchero: Aircraft with the Enhanced Comanchero Armament System (ECAS) featuring a three-barreled M197 20 mm cannon in place of the Colt M-89/3 12.7mm triple barreled machinegun. Served with the UN Spacy, the US Army and various national armies from 2015 until 2017. Served with the UEDF Tactical Corps from 2018 until replaced by the AH-68F.
AH-68Q Privateer: Navalized version of the AH-68E. Served with the UN Spacy surface naval component and various national Navies from 2016 until 2017. Served with the UEDF Naval Corps from 2018 until replaced by the AH-68T.
AH-68F Comanchero: Incorporated improved head-up display, laser rangefinder, infrared jammers, and infrared suppression of engine exhaust. This version also included a completely modernized and redesigned central data bus, which greatly improved the integration of all sensor and fire control subsystems. Served with the UEDF Tactical Corps from 2024 until the Invid Invasion.
AH-68T Super Privateer: Included all the upgrades from the AH-68F Comanchero, plus additional internal fuel storage for increased range and loiter time and a full anti-ship and Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capabilities. Served with the UEDF Naval Corps from 2027 until the Invid Invasion.
See additional design notes.
Robotech (R) is the property of Harmony Gold. The Super Dimension Fortress Macross (R) is the properties of Big West Advertising and Studio Nue. This document is in no way intended to infringe upon their rights.
Original artwork by: Shoji Kawamori, Miyatake Kazutaka, Haruhiko Mikimoto and Hidetaka Tenjin (Macross) and Wayne Breaux (Robotech RPG Book Seven: New World Order)
Acknowledgement is also extended to the work of Egan Loo and the Macross Compendium. Egan Loo is given all credit for all quotes and paraphrasing of the Macross Compendium that has been utilized on Robotech Illustrated.
Images Courtesy of Chad Wilson (Marchly) and the Macross Mecha Manual. Chad Wilson is given all credit for all images from the Macross Mecha Manual that have been utilized on Robotech Illustrated.
Acknowledgement is also extended to Peter Walker, Pieter Thomassen and Robert Morgenstern of the unofficial Robotech Reference Guide. Peter Walker, Pieter Thomassen and Robert Morgenstern are given credit for all quotes and paraphrasing of the unofficial Robotech Reference Guide that has been utilized on Robotech Illustrated.
Sources: Macross Compendium, Macross Mecha Manual, Robotech the Macross Saga Sourcebook by Jason Marker and Kevin Siembieda.
Content by Pieter Thomassen, Peter Walker and Tim Wing
Copyright © 1999, 1997, 1995 Robert Morgenstern, Pieter Thomassen, Peter Walker, 2015 Tim Wing