Aviation 72 AV7224001 RAF Aerospatiale Gazelle HCC.4 Utility Helicopter - XW855, RAF Museum Hendon, England (1:72 Scale)
"Obsolete weapons do not deter."
- British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
The Aerospatiale Gazelle is a French-designed helicopter, created by the company Sud Aviation, which later became Aerospatiale. The Aerospatiale Gazelle originated in a French Army requirement for a lightweight utility helicopter. The design quickly attracted British interest, leading to a development and production share out agreement with British company Westland Helicopters. The deal, signed in February 1967, allowed the production in Britain of 292 Gazelles and 48 Aerospatiale Pumas ordered by the British armed forces, in return Aerospatiale were given a work share in the manufacturing program for the 40 Westland Lynx naval helicopters for the French Navy.
Though the general layout resembles that of the Alouette series, the Gazelle featured several important innovations. This was the first helicopter to carry a Fenestron or fantail, which allows considerable noise reduction. Also, the rotor blades were made of composite materials, a feature now widely used in modern helicopters.
In service with the French Army Light Aviation, the ALAT, the Gazelle is used primarily as an anti-tank gunship (SA 342M) armed with HOT missiles. A light support version equipped with a 20 mm cannon is used (SA 341F) as well as anti-air variants carrying the Mistral air-to-air missile (Gazelle Celtic based on the SA 341F, Gazelle Mistral based on the SA 342M). The latest anti-tank and reconnaissance versions carry the Viviane thermal imagery system and so are called Gazelle Viviane. The Gazelle is being replaced in frontline duties by the Eurocopter Tiger but will continue to be used for light transport and liaison roles.
It also served with all branches of the British armed forces, the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy (including Royal Marines) and the British Army in a variety of roles. Four versions of the Gazelle were used by the British Forces. The SA.341D became the Gazelle HT.3 in RAF service, equipped as a helicopter pilot trainer (hence HT). The SA 341E was used by the RAF for communications duties and VIP transport as the Gazelle HCC.4. The SA 341C was purchased as the Gazelle HT.2 pilot trainer for the Royal Navy. The training variants have now been replaced by the Squirrel HT1. The SA 341B was equipped to a specification for the Army Air Corps as the Gazelle AH.1 (from Army Helicopter Mark 1). It was used as an Air Observation Post (AOP) for directing artillery fire, Airborne Forward Air Controller (ABFAC) directing ground-attack aircraft, casualty evacuation, liaison, and command and control, and communications relay.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale diecast replica of a RAF Aerospatiale Gazelle HCC.4 utility helicopter that is on display at RAF Museum Hendon, England. Now in stock!
Rotor span: 5-3/4 inches
Length: 6-1/2 inches
Release Date: December 2013
Historical Account: "Voice Command" - The Gazelle flown by the British Army Air Corps has recently been enhanced with a Direct Voice Input (DVI) system developed by QinetiQ. It allows for voice control of avionics equipment using standard aircrew helmet microphones and intercom. Being speaker independent, the system does not need to be trained to recognize a specific user. This means high command recognition rates may be achieved whether or not the user has operated the system before. It gives aircrew the ability to control aircraft systems using voice commands and access information without removing their hands from the flight controls or their eyes from the outside world. Gazelles were also manufactured in Egypt by ABHCO and in Yugoslavia by SOKO.