To them, every Cobra (snake) was a gunship. But then, the Cavalry did receive its fair share of press coverage. So, I guess from that perspective, yes, every Cobra used in Vietnam was a gunship.
For us, for the 4th Battalion, 77th Aerial Field Artillery (AFA), there was a huge difference between houw we used our snakes and the way the Cavalry did.
- Terrain features from the location where the artillery could be fired was blocked from reaching its intended target due to obstructions -- mountains -- that got in the way.
- When you look up above you, unless you're in a building, your view of the sky is pretty much what you see. Conversely, in Vietnam, that sky could be obscured by foliage. Indeed that foliage could be think enough and high enough to cause conventional artillery to explode above the intended target. The levels of foliage is known as double and triple canopy.
- Large rounds such as the 105mm and 155mm may actually work and get to the intended target, but in truth kill more or as many friendly soldiers as it killed the enemy soldiers.
Based on this mandate, the most logical choice was a Cobra. With its sleek 36 inch wide target signature, at 3,000 feet you could bearely see it diving at you. Much less hit it with ground fire. It offered over 108 degree view of the situation and was more than capable of getting the job done.
But this aerial artillery flying platform also needed to carry out to the location where the support was needed enough rockets to mark and stay on target until another pair of Cobras could continue the mission. Therefore, carrying a total of 72 2.75 inch rockets out to a location where friendly forces required very close artillery support was sufficient enough -- when combined with the mini gu and 40mm gernade launcher -- to get the job done.