Author Topic: Westland SA 342P Gazelle of the PoAF  (Read 451 times)

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Online DogfighterZen

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Westland SA 342P Gazelle of the PoAF
« on: November 21, 2019, 03:04:46 pm »
I finished this exactly one year ago, before i started my house search and acquisition mission. That took up a lot of my thoughts and time for the following 6 months but, as you know, it doesn't end when you sign the papers. As i was so busy at the time, i didn't even write a proper backstory for this but i've had it in my mind since i saw the proposal that the PoAF sent to the U.S. in 1974.
Anyway, i had a lot of fun with my first chopper. IMHO, quite a nice little kit, despite it's issues and age.


"After the end of the Colonial wars in Africa, the Portuguese air force needed to renew it's fleet of combat aircraft. Still under sanctions imposed by NATO, the PoAF urgently needed to replace their obsolete F-86F Sabre fighters tasked with the defense of the Portuguese air space.
Due to the lack of sufficient funds to purchase the desired number and types of American aircraft, in June 1974, the PoAF began talks with French government and air force officials, as they had done before the end of the wars in Africa, when they tried to purchase Mirage IIIE fighters.





Besides fighter jets, the PoAF also wanted to buy attack helicopters to support ground troop operations, like the Alouette III had done in Africa. The request for 50 Aérospatiale SA 342 Gazelle to the French government was accepted in March 1979 and in November 1980, the first SA 342P was flying in Portuguese colors. The Gazelle SA 342P was a variant based on the SA 342L, which was the export version offered by Aérospatiale.







Initially armed with two 7.62mm machine guns fixed on either side of the fuselage, it could carry Matra or Brandt rocket pods on the main pylons. In 1985, the Ferranti AF532 observation sight is adopted and 50 kits are bought for assembly at the OGMA, (in English: aeronautical maintenance workshops) in Alverca. During the years, there would be a few upgrades done on the Gazelles, mainly on the avionics and engine, but in 2016, 20 of the 50 units bought were modified to carry two M134 machine guns along with a pair of HOT anti-tank missiles to increase offensive capability.







These armed Gazelle choppers, although they were in service along side the Alouette III, took over the nickname "Lobos maus" (Bad Wolves) of the 20mm cannon armed Alouette III that supported the ground troops in the 3 African theaters of operation in Guinea-Bissau, Angola and Mozambique. Being used in several NATO peace keeping operations throughout the world, the PoAF Gazelles were loved by their pilots and ground crews for it's reliability and ease of maintenance on the field.
Flown by the oldest active helicopter squadron, the 552nd squadron "Zangões" or "Hornets", the SA 342P is still in active service with the PoAF and will be so until it's replacement, which should happen sometime around 2030.
Up to 2019, a total of 3 aircraft of the original 50 were lost due to crashes, causing the death of 1 pilot."

And there it is, the history of the PoAF Gazelles, one year after the model's completion... :rolleyes: As for the kit, it's the Airfix 1/72, 1973 molds in a newer box. The armament was scratched from different parts found in the spares box and the decals are a mix of the kit's sheet and a sheet of PoAF markings and serials by Santa cruz decals











I like this chopper a lot so i had to buy a bigger and better model, the 1/48 Fujimi kit is in the stash waiting for it's turn to become a whiff... :wacko:

Hope you like the little bugger, guys. Thanks for looking!
 :cheers:
"Sticks and stones may break some bones but a 3.57's gonna blow your damn head off!!"

Offline PR19_Kit

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Re: Westland SA 342P Gazelle of the PoAF
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2019, 03:25:15 pm »
That looks VERY good, and having built that kit myself I know it's not exactly simple.  :thumbsup:

How did you keep the nose heavy enough, there's almost NOwhere to put any noseweight in it?
Any aircraft can be improved by fitting longer wings, and/or a longer fuselage

...and I'm not a closeted 'Take That' fan, I'm a REAL fan! :)

Regards
Kit

Offline Captain Canada

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Re: Westland SA 342P Gazelle of the PoAF
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2019, 05:45:17 pm »
Nice little build ! It's funny, one of those birds I've never really liked. But always liked. Seems so dainty. But so powerful.....oh well, looks great in this guise !

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Online DogfighterZen

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Re: Westland SA 342P Gazelle of the PoAF
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2019, 06:13:15 pm »
That looks VERY good, and having built that kit myself I know it's not exactly simple.  :thumbsup:

How did you keep the nose heavy enough, there's almost NOwhere to put any noseweight in it?

Glad you like it, Kit! Thank you!  :thumbsup:

When i began construction, i did a dry fit test of the parts with tape holding them together and noticed right away that it would need nose weight so, i started looking around for stuff i could use that would fit underneath the cockpit floor and the best solution i found was to use a blob of patafix(uhu's blu-tac) pressed and molded into the space left when the cockpit was in place, tested it a few time before i could get the space filled properly without affecting the fit of the fuselage halves. That wasn't enough so i added some more patafix on the back of the cockpit's rear wall, but it also wasn't enough so a pair of used wristwatch batteries were pressed into that section, keeping everything in front of the rear skid legs and that solved the problem.
The pilot figures and the front clear parts also added some weight in front of the CoG so, after i got it firmly on it's legs without those bits, i knew i was safe. You can just see the batteries semi-covered with patafix in pic #1 and 2 of the build.

My Matchbox Saab J-29 Tunnan is a tailsitter because i forgot to check that earlier in the build and when i remembered, it was too late so, that taught me to always check for the need of nose weight on everything i build.

Nice little build ! It's funny, one of those birds I've never really liked. But always liked. Seems so dainty. But so powerful.....oh well, looks great in this guise !

Cheers !

Thank you, Captain!!  :thumbsup:
I know what you mean, it does look very fragile but i love the look of it with the fenestron tail rotor. And i even like it more in the Blue Thunder version, what a beautiful ugly beast!! ;D ;D :wub:

 :cheers:
"Sticks and stones may break some bones but a 3.57's gonna blow your damn head off!!"

Offline comrade harps

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Re: Westland SA 342P Gazelle of the PoAF
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2019, 09:00:13 pm »
Wonderful! Dainty and detailed  :thumbsup:
Whatever.

Offline Tophe

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Re: Westland SA 342P Gazelle of the PoAF
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2019, 09:42:56 pm »
Pleasant model! :thumbsup:
[the word "realistic" hurts my heart...]

Offline PR19_Kit

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Re: Westland SA 342P Gazelle of the PoAF
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2019, 01:15:05 am »
Ingenious use of watch batteries there, a great idea.  :thumbsup:

I recall having to resort to some devious means to get my Gazelle to sit properly, but it was so long ago that I can't remember what I did.  ;D
Any aircraft can be improved by fitting longer wings, and/or a longer fuselage

...and I'm not a closeted 'Take That' fan, I'm a REAL fan! :)

Regards
Kit

Offline zenrat

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Re: Westland SA 342P Gazelle of the PoAF
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2019, 02:29:17 am »
Good job DFZ.
Fred

Another ill conceived, lazily thought out, crudely executed and badly painted piece of half arsed what-if modelling muppetry from zenrat industries.

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Re: Westland SA 342P Gazelle of the PoAF
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2019, 02:35:44 am »
Ingenious use of watch batteries there, a great idea.  :thumbsup:
http://www.whatifmodellers.com/Smileys/default/grin.gif
I recall having to resort to some devious means to get my Gazelle to sit properly, but it was so long ago that I can't remember what I did.  ;D

Thanks, Kit!  :thumbsup: They were the heaviest, smallest thing i could find at home. I've been wanting to buy some fishing weights for this type of use for years now but i keep forgetting about it and then when i need them... :banghead: :banghead: :banghead: ;D ;D

Good job DFZ.


Thanks, brotha! Glad you like it! :thumbsup:

 :cheers:
"Sticks and stones may break some bones but a 3.57's gonna blow your damn head off!!"

Offline chrisonord

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Re: Westland SA 342P Gazelle of the PoAF
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2019, 02:50:29 am »
Very nice  :thumbsup:
Chris
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Re: Westland SA 342P Gazelle of the PoAF
« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2019, 03:05:11 am »
Very nice  :thumbsup:
Chris

 Thank you! Glad you the little bugger! :thumbsup:
"Sticks and stones may break some bones but a 3.57's gonna blow your damn head off!!"

Offline NARSES2

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Re: Westland SA 342P Gazelle of the PoAF
« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2019, 06:20:12 am »
That has come out very well  :thumbsup:

Decals my @r$e!

Online DogfighterZen

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Re: Westland SA 342P Gazelle of the PoAF
« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2019, 03:39:37 pm »
That has come out very well  :thumbsup:

Glad you like it, Chris! Thanks! :cheers:
"Sticks and stones may break some bones but a 3.57's gonna blow your damn head off!!"

Offline The Rat

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Re: Westland SA 342P Gazelle of the PoAF
« Reply #13 on: November 23, 2019, 12:12:30 am »
Beauty job, eh?! [/Canadian]

I have a fond memory of the first time I saw a Gazelle 'in the flesh'. I was working as a ramp rat at Buttonville Airport, north of Toronto, and one day I was fuelling up a Hughes 269* at the helicopter landing pad. A Gazelle had landed there previously, and the pilot wandered over and asked if i could fuel him up once I was finished. I said "Sorry, but we don't carry jet fuel yet." He said "No problem, just top it off with 80 octane." Me went "?!" Yeah, I didn't know that, but you learn something new every day. Jet engines can run fine on low octane avgas!

*Flown by a local traffic reporter, who was an ultra-babe. But you didn't hear that from me. Oh no.  :rolleyes:
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Online DogfighterZen

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Re: Westland SA 342P Gazelle of the PoAF
« Reply #14 on: November 23, 2019, 04:08:33 am »
Thanks, mate! :thumbsup:
Funny that a lower grade fuel makes it work fine, i believed jet engines could only run on the specific type of fuel that it was built to run on but, that's no surprise as i don't have any significant knowledge on that type of subject. Makes me wonder what you could resort to as aviation fuel in a global crisis scenario.
Thanks for sharing that bit.  :thumbsup:

"Sticks and stones may break some bones but a 3.57's gonna blow your damn head off!!"