the scarface klan the scarface klan
the BELL hueycobra & HML-367 in VIETNAM, 1969–71
When US Marine Corps helicopter unit
HML-367 — “The Scarface Klan” —
exchanged its Bell UH-1E Hueys for
the same company’s altogether more
formidable AH-1G HueyCobra in late
1969, it lost no time in getting to grips
with the famously fearsome helicopter
gunship. WARREN E. THOMPSON
profiles the unit’s 18-month campaign in
Vietnam and explains why “when you’re
out of Scarface, you’re out of guns . . .”
N EARLY DECEMBER 1969 US Marine
Corps (USMC) helicopter unit HML-367
moved to Marble Mountain, south of Da
Nang in Vietnam, where it gave up its Bell
UH-1Es and took on a full complement of
the same company’s AH-1G HueyCobra
gunships. This move put the squadron in the
heavy firepower mode, with the ability to fire a
devastating load of 2·75in rockets along with a
turret-mounted 7·62mm minigun and, when
needed, a stub-wing-mounted 20mm cannon.
Formed in March 1968 when Marine Observation Squadron VMO-3 was redesignated as
Marine Light Helicopter Squadron HML-367, the
unit used the callsign Scarface, much better
reflecting its new aggressive role than VMO-3’s
original Oakgate moniker, used during 1966 and
the first half of 1967. With the delivery of 24
AH-1Gs in December 1969, HML-367 was ready
to begin operations — its helicopters would
support just about every type of rotary-wing
operation then being flown by the US Marines.
There were also numerous missions flown in
support of the US Army and Korean Marines.
BARRY PENCEK VIA AUTHOR
A Bell AH-1G HueyCobra of HML-367 closes
in on a suspected Viet Cong hideout in 1970.
The HueyCobra incorporated the powerplant,
transmission system and rotor of Bell’s tried-andtrusted UH-1C Huey, the new dedicated gunship
variant making its first flight on September 7, 1965,
a mere six months after development had started.
THE AVIATION HISTORIAN
Issue No 12
Issue No 12
The commanding officer for all USMC helicopter
operations in Vietnam was Col Haywood R.
Smith of Marine Aircraft Group 16 (MAG-16).
Having completed his tour in Vietnam in 1970,
Smith had the following to say about the
“I flew many missions with HML-367 in
AH-1Gs and I firmly believe that the ’Cobra was
the best close-air-support weapon when it came
to covering the insertion and extraction of
friendly troops into hostile territory. LieutenantColonel Harry Sexton was ’367’s commanding
officer during my tenure and he was one of the
best leaders that served under my command.