The Gazelle, produced as part of an Anglo-French venture between Westland and Aerospatiale in 1968, was the first helicopter to carry a fenestron or fantail, which gives considerable noise reduction.

The rotor blades were made of composite materials, a feature now widely used on modern helicopters. The prototype flew for the first time on 7 April 1967.

The Gazelle remains one of the fastest helicopters ever built (with a maximum speed of 198 mph), it served with all four branches of the British Armed Forces - RAF, Royal Navy, Army and Royal Marines filling a variety of roles.

Some Variants

SA 340 First prototype, first flown in April 1967 with a conventional Alouette type tail rotor.

SA 341 Four pre-production machines. First flown in August 1968. The third was equipped to British army requirements and assembled in France as the prototype Gazelle AH.1. This was first flown in April 1970.

SA 341.1001 First French production machine. Initial test flight in August 1971. Featured a longer cabin, an enlarged tail unit and an uprated Turbomeca Astazou IIIA engine.

SA 341B (Westland Gazelle AH.1) Built for the British Army; Featured the Astazou IIIN2 engine, a nightsun searchlight and Decca Doppler 80 Radar. First Westland-assembled version flown in January 1972, this variant entered service in July 1974. A total of 158 were produced.

SA 341C (Westland Gazelle HT.2) Training helicopter version built for British Fleet Air Arm; Features included the Astazou IIIN2 engine, a stability augmentation system and a hoist. First flown in July 1972, this variant entered operational service in December 1974. A total of 30 were produced.

SA 341D (Westland Gazelle HT.3) Training helicopter version built for British Royal Air Force; Featuring the same engine and stability system as the 341C, this version was first delivered in July 1973. A total of 14 were produced.

SA 341E (Westland Gazelle HCC.4) Communications helicopter version built for British Royal Air Force; Only one example of this variant was produced.

SA 341F Version built for the French Army; Featuring the Astazou IIIC engine, 166 of these were produced. Some of these were fitted with an M621 20-mm cannon.

SA 341G Civil variant, powered by an Astazou IIIA engine. Officially certificated in June 1972; subsequently became first helicopter to obtain single-pilot IFR Cat 1 approval in the US. Also developed into "Stretched Gazelle" with the cabin modified to allow an additional 8 inches (20cm) legroom for the rear passengers.

SA 341H Military export variant, powered by an Astazou IIIB engine. Built under licence agreement signed in October 1971 by SOKO in Yugoslavia.

SOKO HO-42 Yugoslav-built version of SA 341H.

SOKO HI-42 Hera Yugoslav-built scout version of SA 341H.

SOKO HN-42M Gama Yugoslav-built attack version of SA 341H.

SOKO HN-45M Gama 2 Yugoslav-built attack version of SA 342L.

SOKO HS-42 Yugoslav-built medic version of SA 341H.

SA 342J Civil version of SA 342L. This was fitted with the more powerful 649kW (870shp) Astazou XIV engine and an improved Fenestron tail rotor. With an increased take-off weight, this variant was approved in April 1976, and entered service in 1977.

SA 342K Military export version for "hot and dry areas". Fitted with the more powerful 649-kW (870-shp) Astazou XIV engine and shrouds over the air intakes. First flown in May 1973; initially sold to Kuwait.

SA 342L Military companion of the SA 342J. fitted with the Astazou XIV engine. Adaptable for many armaments and equipment, including six Euromissile HOT anti-tank missiles.

SA 342M French Army anti-tank version fitted with the Astazou XIV engine. Armed with four Euromissile HOT missiles and a SFIM APX M397 stabilised sight.

SA 342M1 Standard SA 342M retrofitted with three Ecureuil main blades to improve performance.