Images of various Artifacts of the Month's

February 2022

Artifact of the Month

OH-58D Kiowa Warrior

In 1967 the Army selected the newly designed YOH-4A later designated the OH-58 as the newest Scout Helicopter when Hughes Aircraft failed to meet production requirements with their OH-6.

First taking flight in 1969, the Kiowa lacked the power needed in Vietnam. This lack of power would also hamper the Kiowa’s performance when paired with the new AH-64 Apache, forcing the Army to redesign the scout program. The Army decided to focus on modifying existing airframes with the development of a Mast Mounted Sight, allowing the aircraft to scan the battlefield without exposing itself to the enemy, thus changing the way the OH-58 would operate on the battlefield. After its success as an armed escort in the Persian Gulf, the Kiowa’s weapon systems were upgraded earning the moniker the Kiowa Warrior. The OH-58D served in this role in Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and in the war on drugs.

Aircraft 416351 initially entered service in 1971 as an “A” Model 71-20380, this airframe was assigned to Echo Troop, 1-4 Cavalry in Schweinfurt, Germany. In 1985, the aircraft went through an aircraft upgrade and became OH-58C 87-00760. This aircraft continued in Germany until it was again modified in 1994 into OH-58D 94-00176. 176 completed one tour in Operation Joint Endeavor before returning to the US where it flew with various units to include a tour in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Kiowa 176 suffered a tree strike at the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) in 2008 and the airframe was considered a total loss.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had taken their toll on the OH-58 fleet however, and the Wartime Replacement program was established to evaluate, repair, and return formerly damaged aircraft back to the fight. Kiowa 176 was once again resurrected and redesignated as trainer 416351, and sent to FT. Eustis in 2012. This aircraft was the first “A” model to “D” Model conversion aircraft, and also the first aircraft to be resurrected through the Wartime Replacement program, validating the whole process. The aircraft came to the museum in 2014 when the Kiowa program was officially retired with over 40 years of service.