SA342

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Sa-342 "Gazelle"

Sa 342 gazelle royal moroccan air force.jpg

Description

The Aérospatiale Gazelle is a French five-seat helicopter, commonly used for light transport, scouting and light attack duties. It is powered by a single Turbomeca Astazou turbine engine and was the first helicopter to feature a fenestron tail instead of a conventional tail rotor. It was designed by Sud Aviation, later Aérospatiale, and manufactured in France and the United Kingdom through a joint production agreement with Westland Aircraft. Further manufacturing under license was performed by SOKO in Yugoslavia and the Arab British Helicopter Company (ABHCO) in Egypt.

Since being introduced to service in 1973, the Gazelle has been procured and operated by a number of export customers. It has also participated in numerous conflicts around the world, including by Syria during the 1982 Lebanon War, by Rwanda during the Rwandan Civil War in the 1990s, and by numerous participants on both sides of the 1991 Gulf War. In French service, the Gazelle has been supplemented as an attack helicopter by the larger Eurocopter Tiger, but remains in use primarily as a scout helicopter.

Systems Overview

Flight Instruments

Upper Panel

Instrumentation on the Gazelle is fairly straightforward and provides a good overview of the aircraft's status. The main instrumentation can be viewed on page 18 of Chuck's guide.

The most used instrumentation used while flying will be the Vertical Velocity indicator (directly to the LEFT of the main Artificial Horizon), the Indicated Airspeed Indicator (directly to the RIGHT of the Artificial Horizon), the NADIR Indicator (directly BELOW the Artificial Horizon), the Torque Indicator (BELOW and to the RIGHT of the Artificial Horizon), and the Artificial Horizon itself.

The Vertical Velocity indicator indicates the aircraft's current vertical velocity in x100m/min. This gauge is tied in with the Autopilot and Auto-hover and will prevent you from entering an altitude hold or auto-hover if vertical velocity is above 100m/min (1 on the gauge).

The Indicated Airspeed Indicator shows the aircraft's current IAS in km/h. Typical level top speed is around 160-180 km/h depending on altitude and wind conditions. This gauge is also tied to the aircraft's auto-hover and Autopilot systems and will prevent engaging in an auto-hover if IAS is above 10km/h (roughly a needle's-width left of zeroed) and will prevent/disengage Autopilot systems if below 120km/h.

The NADIR indicator shows your current heading along with the indicator to your current NADIR waypoint. An important distinction when reading this gauge is that your current heading is represented by the compass heading at the tip of the arrow at the 12 o'clock position of the gauge, your current NADIR waypoint heading is indicated by the wider internal pointer, and your ADF heading indicated by the thin internal needle. A helpful note is to ensure when proceeding to a NADIR waypoint, to ensure you do orient yourself flying toward the thick "tail" of the NADIR pointer and are heading towards the "open" pointer.

The Torque indicator is quite important to ensure that you do not over-torque the engine and blow off the rotor and should be kept off redline (above 100%) for longer than 30 sec-1 min. Proceeding above the redline will illuminate the Torque Warning Light at the bottom left of the gauge. The current state of the aircraft's damage model doesn't seem to take detailed engine stresses into account unless exceeding the redline of engine torque and thus the torque can be maxed out between 90-100% indefinitely.

The Artificial Horizon is extremely useful, especially in limited visibility missions to accurately identify the aircraft's current attitude. The side-slip indicator at the bottom of the gauge is also very helpful to identify side-slip due to crosswinds so that corrections can be made for top performance.

The Radar and Barometric Altimeters are also used frequently provided that the radar altimeter has been powered on and the Altitude Warning Lamp set above 0m, and the Barometric Altimeter calibrated to 0m prior to takeoff. The Barometric Altimeter is located BELOW and to the LEFT of the Artificial Horizon with the larger Radar Altimeter located below it. An important note regarding the Barometric indicator is that the small hand of the gauge registers altitude in 1000s of meters and the larger represents 100s of meters, thus if the small hand is on 1 and the large is on 6, this corresponds to an altitude of 1600m.

Below these main gauges are a series of 3 smaller gauges. Starting from the left, is the Oil Temperature gauge in degrees Celsius which is functional but unnecessary to monitor in the simulations current state since unless the engine torque is redlined the gauge will remain perpetually in the green zone. Beside it is your fuel quantity in x10 Liters, which is fairly self explanatory. and beside it is your Voltmeter in Volts showing the aircraft's current power generation. The Voltmeter (like the Oil Temperature) is largely unnecessary to monitor since it will stay perpetually in the green in normal flight conditions.

The last gauge on the upper panel, located to the left of the Barometric Altimeter is the Standby Artificial Horizon which is to be used in the event of a failure of the main Artificial Horizon. Both the main and standby horizon indicators will require calibration prior to liftoff.

Lower Panel

The Lower Panel has 3 gauges, one being the Clock/Chronometer (LEFT-most large gauge) which can be used to identify the current server/mission time and as a start/stop timer, the combined RPM indicator (RIGHT-most large gauge), and the Turbine Temperature Indicator. The Clock/Chronometer is simple and provides the current server/mission time as well as a button to the bottom RIGHT to start/stop the Chronometer and the top RIGHT button to reset. The combined RPM indicator shows your the current Rotor and Turbine RPMs with the inner scale (small needle) for the rotor RPM in 100s/RPM and the outer scale (larger needle) for the Turbine RPM in 1000s/RPM.

Just like all other rotorcraft this gauge should be monitored regularly in-flight but must be monitored very closely in startup to prevent Turbine RPMs from exceeding the Rotor RPMs and causing an engine failure. Standard startup practice is to engage the starter and allow it to equalize the turbine to 25000RPM, remove the rotor brake, and bump the fuel flow lever slightly forward to allow the rotors to engage. Once bumped forward, the turbine RPM will increase slightly and the rotor RPM will begin to rise. It is critical that the rotor RPMs are allowed to equalize prior to increasing the fuel flow further to prevent engine failure. Once equalized, the fuel flow lever can be slowly moved forward (keeping the two gauges closely matched) until the lever is fully engaged forward.

The Turbine Temperature Indicator (LEFT-most small gauge) reports the current temperature within the turbine itself in 100s/degree Celsius. This gauge, like others previously mentioned, does not require monitoring in normal flight since currently in regular operation the temperature will perpetually remain in the green.

Communications

UHF Radio

VHF Radio

Navigation

NADIR Operation

The NADIR is the primary INS navigation system utilized in the Gazelle and allows for input of up to 9 unique waypoints. Full alignment requires 70 seconds and once completed, the takeoff location is automatically written to waypoint 0 (it can be overwritten). The pilot can then enter latitude and longitude or UTM coordinates for waypoints 1 through 9.

Waypoint entry is very simple, once aligned ensure the top Parameter Selector knob is set to BUT (for Ground) press the number key for the waypoint you'd like to enter followed by the ENT key to begin entry. Next enter either 2 or 8 to select latitude in NORTH or SOUTH followed by the 5 digit latitude. Next select the DOWN ARROW key to begin entry for longitude, select either 4 or 6 for WEST or EAST longitude followed by the 5 digit longitude. Finally, select ENT again to save the waypoint. The process start to finish is as follows:

Parameter Selector to BUT (ground mode)
Number key to select Waypoint Number
ENT key to begin entry
Select Latitude as NORTH or SOUTH with 2 or 8 keys
Enter 5 digit latitude
DOWN ARROW key to begin longitude entry
Select Longitude as WEST or EAST with 4 or 6 keys
Enter 5 digit longitude
ENT key to save

To enter a waypoint in UTM coordinates, a similar process can be used, however prior to selecting the waypoint the NADIR must be togged to GEO/UTM mode by pressing the GEO/UTM button and the current zone must be set with coordinate entry. The process is as follows:

Parameter Selector to BUT (ground mode)
GEO/UTM key to enter into UTM mode
Select waypoint Number
ENT key to begin entry
Enter X coordinates
DOWN ARROW key to begin Y entry
Enter Y coordinates
DOWN ARROW key to begin Zone entry
Enter UTM zone
ENT key to save

ADF Operation

Weapons

Weapons Panel

Countermeasures Panel

Gazelle Variants

The SA342 Gazelle currently has 4 variants in-game with varying weapon load outs and mission usage. All variants are multi-crew enabled and have both a pilot and copilot seat up front. The recent (as of patch 2.5.1) minigun variant also possesses a 3rd slot to man and fire the minigun. The slot is currently unable to be filled by an AI, meaning that a player will need to man the slot to fire the weapon. Single pilots still however maintain the ability to control the aircraft using their regular bindings with the minigun aiming automatically linking to where the pilot is looking and to fire controls.

All variants come equipped with the SFIM APX M397 gyro-stabilized sight system, however currently on the M variant has access to the Infrared modes on the sight.

Mistral

The Mistral is the Air-to-Air variant of the Gazelle posessing 4 Mistral IR seeking missiles. When selected, this variant changes the pilots drop-down sight to a twin-ringed IR seeker sight to align the IR seeker cone to enemy aircraft. When the master arm is enabled and the weapons have been selected via the weapons panel, enabling the pilot sight will engage the audible seeker tone for the missiles with a pulsed beeping to indicate the seekers are active, and a solid tone on target acquisition.

M Variant

The Gazelle M is the anti-tank variant of the aircraft and can equip 4 A/G Euromissile HOT missiles. These missiles are wire-guided to the target utilizing the Gazelle's SFIM APX M397 gyro-stabilized sight system. The sight system possesses both CCD and Infrared modes with variable zoom settings. The sight's TV display and weapons are controlled by the copilot (LEFT seat) allowing the pilot to concentrate on flying the aircraft. In single-player settings, the DCS version has a coded auto-hover mode which allows the pilot to hold the aircraft's current position for weapons employment.

L Variant

The Gazelle L is the light support variant of the aircraft and comes equipped with a 20mm cannon and can be equipped with 6 unguided rockets. This variant (like the Mistral) provides a drop down sight for the pilot to aim the cannon and rockets when armed and does not require further usage of the copilot seat.

Minigun Variant

The Gazelle Minigun is the latest variant added for light attack and comes equipped with an M134 Minigun in a special "Gunner" seat behind the pilot (RIGHT seat). This variant is rather interesting as the minigun is currently only accessible to human players and cannot be manned by an AI unit at this time. To allow for singleplayer usage, the aircraft retains it's standard controls when the player is controlling the minigun (allowing the pilot to fly) and view controls for the minigun are bound automatically to head-tracking (i.e. TrackIR or VR headsets) or mouse view controls. Fire controls for the minigun are also automatically mapped to the standard cannon fire bindings. These settings allow a singleplayer pilot to access the minigun, aim via head-tracking and fire the weapon while simultaneously flying the aircraft without having to remove their hands from the flight controls.

Tutorial Videos

Aircraft Manual

Bunyap Sims Gazelle Series

Bunyap's Fuel Planning, Electrical Systems, and Startup

Bunyap's Startup (cont.), Radios, and System Checks

AC DCS NADIR Tutorial (no audio)