AV7224002 – 1/72 scale diecast model of Westland Gazelle serial XZ103 of the British Army. Limited edition, production of only 840 pieces, complete with uniquely numbered card.
The Aérospatiale Gazelle originated in a French Army requirement for a lightweight utility helicopter. The design quickly attracted British interest, leading to a development and production share out agreement with British company Westland Helicopters. The deal, signed in February 1967, allowed the production in Britain of 292 Gazelles and 48 Aérospatiale Pumas ordered by the British armed forces, in return Aérospatiale were given a work share in the manufacturing programme for the 40 Westland Lynx naval helicopters for the French Navy.
This was the first helicopter to carry a Fenestron or fantail, which allows considerable noise reduction. Also, the rotor blades were made of composite materials, a feature now widely used in modern helicopters.
The Gazelle was used in combat in the Falkland Islands, Kuwait, Iraq and Kosovo and with 8 Flight Army Air Corps in support of 22 Special Air Service Regiment. It was also used for air patrols in Northern Ireland. British Gazelles were only armed when used in the Falklands, where they were fitted with machine guns and rocket pods, but these were not used. three Gazelles were lost in action in 1982, two due to ground fire and one shotdown by a Pucara. British Gazelles performed as scouts for other attack platforms in 1991 Gulf War.
The Aérospatiale (Westland) Gazelle is a five-seat helicopter, commonly used for light transport, scouting and light attack duties. It is powered by a single turbine engine and was the first helicopter to feature a fenestron tail instead of a conventional tail rotor. It was designed and manufactured in France by Sud Aviation, later Aérospatiale; the Gazelle has also been manufactured under licence by Westland Aircraft in the United Kingdom as the Westland Gazelle, 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.