|This page is about the French utility helicopter SA.341F Gazelle. For other versions, see Gazelle (Family).|
The SA.341F Gazelle is a rank VI French utility helicopter with a battle rating of 9.0 (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 licences were granted, allowing a Yugoslavian company SOKO and the Arab British Helicopter Company in Egypt to also produce these aircraft.
The Turbomeca Artouste Astazou IIB turbine engine powers the 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.341F was utilised as a light support helicopter equipped with a 20 mm GLAT M.261 cannon and various rockets, anti-tank missiles and air-to-air missiles. Over the years, the Gazelle was removed from anti-tank duty and reconfigured for operations as an Air Observation Post directing artillery fire, airborne forward air controller directing ground-attack troops, troop casualty evacuations and communication relay operations.
|Characteristics|| Max Speed
(km/h at 0 m - at sea level)
| Max altitude|
Survivability and armour
Has no armour plating present on the vehicle, this helicopter is incredibly vulnerable to all types of fire. The exposed engine is also vulnerable to being damaged or set alight, dooming the helicopter if hit.
Modifications and economy
The SA.341F Gazelle is armed with:
- A choice between two presets:
- Without offensive armament
- 32 x countermeasures
7 x FFAR Mighty Mouse rockets
2 x HOT-1 missiles
2 x HOT-2 TOW missiles
2 x Mistral air-to-air missiles
The SA.341F Gazelle can be outfitted with the following ordnance:
- 1 x 20 mm GIAT M.621 cannon (240 rpg) + 7 x FFAR Mighty Mouse rockets
- 1 x 20 mm GIAT M.621 cannon + 2 x HOT-1 missiles
- 1 x 20 mm GIAT M.621 cannon + 2 x HOT-2 TOW missiles
- 1 x 20 mm GIAT M.621 cannon + 2 x Mistral missiles
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 [PvE] 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. However, due to the limited armament (2 missiles), the Gazelle is limited to strafing ground targets and trying to lock onto enemy planes.
- Mi-28N, Mi-24P, Mi-24V: Due to the gazelle's lack of a MAW system, it is still possible to shoot it down with the AAMs these helicopters carry. Their Armor also means that it is harder for you to shoot them down in return.
- Ka-50, Ka-52: Both can outrange you, meaning that killing one is the result of their mistakes
- EC-665 Tiger UHT: Similar to the Ka-50, the Tiger has access to IR-guided ATGMS with long range.
- AH-1: Highly manoeuvrable with a high volume of fire, the Cobra family of helicopters is incredibly good at dogfighting. Engage from long range, or use superior speed to flee.
Pros and cons
- One of the smallest helicopters, easier to hide, and harder to hit at high speed
- 20 mm autocannon for engaging aircraft and lightly-armoured vehicles
- Respectable ammo count for the cannon
- Mistral air-to-air missiles
- Has access to flares and night vision 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
- No thermal sights
- Starts off with one of the weakest stock loadouts for helicopters
- Fixed forward cannon is hard to get on target
- Very low unguided rocket count
- High aim angle for rockets, the crosshair get out of screen when zoomed
- Can only equip one type of missile at a time; AGM or AAM
- Carries only two of each missile
The Aerospatiale SA.341 was developed to meet a French Army Light Aviation (ALAT) requirement for a new observation helicopter to replace the Alouette II. Aerospatiale designated the project as X 300, but the prototype's designation was SA.340.
The prototype first flew in 1967, and it seemed outwardly similar to the Alouette II. It did use the Astazou II powerplant and transmission system, but there were a number of differences. For one thing, it introduced a fully enclosed fuselage and a cockpit with seating and controls for two pilots rather than one (although it could be flown by only one). Also introduced on the SA.340 were the fenestron - a shrouded tail rotor - and the Bolkow-type main rotor.
The British became interested in the project as the SA.340 was nearing completion, so a joint development and production sharing agreement was signed on 22 February 1967; it was officially confirmed in 1968. The first prototype (SA.340.001) flew for the first time on 7 April 1967, and the second prototype first flew in April 1968.
Four pre-production aircraft, redesignated as the SA.341, were built next. The third pre-production SA.341 was built to British Army requirements and was then shipped to Britain for testing as the AH.Mk.1. Notably, the first pre-production SA.341 established three new speed records for helicopters of its class on 14 May 1970.
On 6 August 1971, the first French production SA.341 (SA.341.1001) was cleared for test flights. The production version had a longer fuselage, a larger tail, and a more powerful Astazou IIIA engine.
The SA.341F Gazelle was a French Military light support version of the SA.341 Gazelle, which had the improved Astazou IIIC engine. 166 were produced, and many were armed with a GIAT 20 mm M.621 cannon in a nose turret. They could be armed with rocket pods, Euromissile HOT anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), or Mistral air-to-air missiles (AAMs). A number of SA.341F Gazelles remain in service with the ALAT.
- Related development
- Other vehicles of similar configuration and role
|Utility||SA 313B Alouette II · SA 316B Alouette III · SA.341F Gazelle · SA.342M Gazelle|
|Export||◄SA 313B Alouette II · HKP2 · SA.342L Gazelle|
|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|