Heller SA-342L Gazelle

Designed in the late 1960s, the Aerospatiale (now Eurocopter) Gazelle introduced a number of innovations: the “Fenestron” (shrouded tail rotor, later used on the Dauphin and EC 135), composite rotor blades, etc. 

The Gazelle is a small, highly maneuverable helicopter.  It was used as a light attack helicopter by a number of countries including France and the UK.  In France, it is being replaced by the much more capable (and expensive) Tigre.  Note that a Gazelle was used in the movie “Blue Thunder.”

In 1/48 (1/50), the Gazelle was produced by Heller and Fujimi.  It is out of production from both manufacturers, and in the USA, these kits are becoming scarce, but since they’re not fashionable with model builders, the price for these kits is still affordable. 

The pictures below are for the Heller kit (#486).  In a future blog, I will discuss the Fujimi kit (which appears to be somewhat more available in the U.S. than Heller’s). 

Putting together this kit is easy.  Do not forget to place weight under the cabin floor, or the kit will sit on its tail!  Special care is required to properly assemble the cockpit (to align the clear parts making up this section of the fuselage).  The end product is decent, but the kit lacks detail around the cabin area, and most importantly, the main rotor.  Unfortunately, no aftermarkets are available to enhance this long out of production kit.  However, with a little bit of skills, an average modeler can enhance this kit by putting together seat belts, fire extinguisher, and thinning up the parts used in the main rotor.  Also, the use of PE for the side fuselage air vents is highly recommended.  Decals are provided for a French ALAT (Army Aviation) machine, and a British training helicopter.

 Kit Summary:
  • Heller 486
  • Scale: 1/50 (1/48)
  • Availability: Poor
  • Status: Out Of Production
  • Estimated Street Price: $10.00



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