A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by horizontally-spinning rotors. This is the story of three main builds of helicopters.
S01:E01 - Air Assault
Air assault is the movement of ground-based military forces by vertical take off and landing (VTOL) aircraft such as the helicopter to seize and hold key terrain which has not been fully secured, and to directly engage enemy forces. In addition to regular infantry training, air-assault units usually receive training in rappelling and air transportation, and their equipment is sometimes designed or field-modified to allow better transportation within aircraft. In 1946, U.S. Marine General Roy S. Geiger observed the atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll and instantly recognized that atomic bombs could render amphibious landings difficult because of the dense concentrations of troops, ships and material at beachheads. During this time, it was recommended that the USMC develop transport helicopters in order to allow a diffused attack on enemy shores. It also recommended that the USMC form an experimental helicopter squadron: HMX-1.
S01:E02 - Gunships
Until the Vietnam conflict, military helicopters were used most often for evacuating wounded troops. In Vietnam, US forces saw an increase in the use of helicopters as troop transports, often flying missions in which they came under heavy fire. The need for heavily armed helicopters soon became apparent. The Huey UH-1C troop transport was kitted out with machine guns and 2.75in FFAR rockets which were mounted on stub-wings attached to the chopper's fuselage. Other gunship configurations that were considered included modified CH-47 Chinooks (ACH-47s) armed with multiple guns, cannons, rockets and grenade launchers although these proved to be too cumbersome for use in the field. In 1967, the US Army fielded the AH-1 Cobra, a dedicated gunship. Built around the UH-1 power plant, the Cobra had a much thinner profile, increased armor, speed and firepower. It proved to be highly effective in action against the NVA and Viet Cong. This is the story of the world's deadliest gunships from Vietnam to Afghanistan.