SA 342M Gazelle
|This page is about the French utility helicopter SA 342M Gazelle. For the other version, see SA 341F Gazelle.|
The SA 342M Gazelle is a rank VI French utility helicopter with a battle rating of 9.3 (AB/RB) and 9.7 (SB). It was introduced in Update 1.87 "Locked On".
Initially designed by Sud Aviation in 1966, the Gazelle helicopter project (SA 340, SA 341 and SA 342) was continued by Aérospatiale as a French five-seat transport, scout and light attack helicopter manufactured in both France and the United Kingdom. Manufacturing licenses were granted allowing a Yugoslavian company SOKO and the Arab British Helicopter Company in Egypt to also produce these aircraft.
The Turbomeca Artouste Astazou XIV turbine engine powers the SA.342M Gazelle. Initial testing of this helicopter utilised a standard tail-rotor taken from the Alouette, however, design changes switched to a Fenestron-style tail, the first helicopter to do so. The Fenestron tail or "fantail" differs from a conventional tail rotor as it contains eight to eighteen blades housed within the tail unit of the helicopter. Advantages of the Fenestron include substantial noise reduction, protection of tail rotor damage from contact with other objects and protection of ground personnel working around the tail section. With the aid of the Fenestron tail, the Gazelle was the world's fastest helicopter in its class during its early years.
In the service of the French, the Gazelle SA.342M was utilised as a light support helicopter equipped with various rockets, anti-tank missiles and air-to-air missiles. Seven different suspended armament configurations allow the SA.342M to fulfil a versatile role in the fighting zone whether sniping armoured vehicles or hunting other aircraft loitering around the battlefield. Fast and agile with a punch, the Gazelle is a formidable foe with many surprises.
The Gazelle is a fast and agile helicopter which can do tight turns and barrel rolls at a relative altitude. It has similar flight performance as the EC-665 Tiger helicopters but with a more sluggish flight. The weight and small size make the Gazelle one of the fastest accelerating helicopters in the game even with full payload.
|Characteristics|| Max Speed
(km/h at 0 m - at sea level)
| Max altitude|
Survivability and armour
The Gazelle has low survivability even against flak, not only because the cabin has low thickness but also because the cabin glass takes a lot of the cabin surface. Thus, even low-calibre machine gun fire is able to take the Gazelle down with no issues at all.
Modifications and economy
7 x FFAR Mighty Mouse rockets
2 x HOT-1 missiles
2 x HOT-2 TOW missiles
The SA 342M Gazelle can be outfitted with the following ordnance:
- 14 x FFAR Mighty Mouse rockets
- 4 x HOT-1 missiles
- 4 x HOT-2 TOW missiles
- 4 x Mistral missiles
- 2 x Mistral missiles + 7 x FFAR Mighty Mouse rockets
- 2 x Mistral missiles + 2 x HOT-1 missiles
- 2 x Mistral missiles + 2 x HOT-2 TOW missiles
This version of the Gazelle removes the 20 mm autocannon and replaces it with two additional pylons which can be used to carry double the ordnance. It has a really low ordnance capacity compared to other helicopters at the tier but compensates it with the agility and speed, specially when compared with Mi-24's. Both HOT-1 and HOT-2 do not have really long ranges, meaning the Gazelle has to enter within the SPAA range. However, SPAA can be countered by flying low and staying behind cover, specially trees and mountains. It carries a really low amount of rockets but can be deadly if aimed correctly. It also has access to air-to-air missiles, the Mistral missile.
Usage in battles
This helicopter has three main playstyles, centred around the selected loadout.
- Anti-Tank: Using ATGMs, get within 4 km of a target, while remaining hidden by trees or buildings, and guide your missile to the target. Focus on tanks without reactive armour, as they may render your missiles ineffective, and waste your time. After expending your missiles, it is best to return to the helipad and resupply.
- Rocketeer: Using unguided rockets, fly low over the battlefield and assault a single tank with a precise salvo, and then retreat behind cover.
- Air defence: Using AAMs, sneak behind enemy lines, and land in an obscured area, or behind cover, and wait for aircraft or helicopters to get near your allies. Then surprise attack them with your missiles and cannon fire. This will make short work of any helicopter, and most slow-flying aircraft.
Overall you want to avoid direct line-of-sight to your enemies, as they likely can spot you faster than you can spot them, and engage you at longer range. Surface-to-air missiles are a serious threat, as they can take you by surprise, and you have no radar detector to warn you of their presence. The same applies to radar-guided anti-aircraft guns.
In Helicopter Battles (Heli EC) the Gazelle is notably better than either of the two preceding helicopters, finally unlocking AAMs with a greater range (5.5km) than 3/4km ATGMs.
Pros and cons
- One of the smallest helicopters, easier to hide, and harder to hit at high speed
- Mistral air-to-air missiles
- Has access to flares and thermal optics
- Can be equipped with HOT-1 and HOT-2 AGMs
- Surprisingly hard to manoeuvre at speed, and has a tendency to over-roll
- No armour, easy to damage critical components and eliminate crew
- Starts off with one of the weakest stock loadouts for helicopters
- No gun armaments
- Very low unguided rocket count
The SA.342M Gazelle was the anti-tank version of the SA.342F Gazelle, the Gazelle utilized by the French army. It was fitted with the Astazou XIV engine as well as with the Euromissile HOT-2 TOW Anti-Tank Guided Missile. In order to increase the anti-tank capabilities, it was fitted with SFIM APX M397 stabilised sight.
Links to the articles on the War Thunder Wiki that you think will be useful for the reader, for example:
- reference to the series of the helicopter;
- links to approximate analogues of other nations and research trees.
|Utility||SA 313B Alouette II · SA 316B Alouette III · SA 341F Gazelle · SA 342M Gazelle|
|Export||▀SA 313B Alouette II · HKP2|
|Attack||▄H-34 · EC-665 Tiger HAD · EC-665 Tiger HAP|
|Utility||IAR 316B · SA 313B Alouette II · SA 316B Alouette III · SA 341F Gazelle · SA 342M Gazelle|