• Review: Abacus SA 342 Gazelle

    SA 342 Gazelle

    Publisher: Abacus

    Review Author:
    Bill Stack

    Suggested Price:

    Buy Here
    SA 342 Gazelle by Abacus

    Image From Abacus

    The SA 342 Gazelle is a light, single-engine, single-rotor, multi-purpose helicopter developed by Sud Aviation in the 1960s. Originally based on French military requirements, it was later modified to make it more versatile and marketable outside France. It has been built under license by several manufacturers in Europe such as Westland Aircraft of the United Kingdom. It was the first helicopter with a fantail for noise reduction, and its rotor blades were made of composite materials that had not been widely used in helicopters.

    Military versions of the Gazelle are used as anti-tank gunships, for aerial reconnaissance, and for light transport by militaries around the world, such as Egypt, Iraq, Morocco, and the United Kingdom. I found numerous photographs of civilian versions but nothing describing their civilian uses. I presume they are used for the same purposes as Bell 206 Jet Rangers and similar helicopters. An SA 342 Gazelle was used in the 1985 James Bond movie A View to a Kill, and a highly modified Gazelle was used in the 1983 action movie Blue Thunder.

    Sud Aviation was an aircraft manufacturer owned by the government of France. It was formed by a merger of two smaller companies that had been nationalized just prior to World War II. Another merger in 1970 formed Aerospatiale. Many mergers and acquisitions followed, resulting in Aerospatiale becoming part of EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company) based in the Netherlands in 2000. Eventually, the SA 342 Gazelle came under the manufacture of Eurocopter.

    A Gazelle that crashed in Tunisia in May 2002 killed several Tunisian Army officers who were returning from an inspection of troops near the Algerian border. A news report from the period said a mechanical fault was suspected, but no further details were provided. A Gazelle operated by the United Kingdom crashed while landing at Bristol Airport. The pilot reported several loud bangs and felt severe vibrations that he thought might have been bird strikes.

    As a general comparison to stock aircraft in Microsoft Flight Simulator®, the SA 342 Gazelle is 25 percent larger, about 20 percent heavier, about 40 percent more powerful, and about 30 percent faster than the Bell 206 Jet Ranger.

    Specification SA 342 Gazelle Jet Ranger
    Occupants 5 5
    Empty Weight 2,000 LBS
    907 KG
    1,640 LBS
    744 KG
    Maximum Take-off Weight1 3,970 LBS
    1,801 KG
    3,350 LBS
    1,520 KG
    Useful Load 1,970 LBS
    894 KG
    1,710 LBS
    776 KG
    Fuel Capacity1 187 USG
    708 L
    91 USG
    344 L
    Maximum Operating Speed 193 MPH
    168 KTS
    311 KPH
    130 MPH
    113 KTS
    209 KPH
    Ceiling 16,405 FT
    5,004 M
    13,500 FT2
    4,118 M
    Range 416 NM
    770 KM
    335 NM
    620 KM
    Length 39 FT
    12 M
    31 FT
    9 M
    Rotor Blades 3 2
    Rotor Diameter 35 FT
    11 M
    33 FT
    10 M
    Power 590 HP 420 HP
    Source: Abacus
    1) See Weight and Balance in the Performance section of this review.
    2) Ceiling is 13,500 feet per several websites and 20,000 feet in the MSFS aircraft.cfg file.

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