Sud Aviation/Aérospatiale Gazelle

As the French army was in search of a new helicopter to replace the Alouette 3, Sud Aviation came up with the Gazelle. While the prototype still had a conventional, open tail rotor, the version that went into production was the world's first helicopter with a shrouded or fanned tail rotor, called 'fenestron' by the French.

The Gazelle has a droplet shaped fuselage with a lot of glass at the front. The single turboshaft engine in placed on a pylon slightly above the fuselage and tail boom, in a separate nacelle. It powers a three blade main rotor. The tail boom has a tall vertical stabiliser at the end. Horizontal stabilisers with end plates are just in front of the tail rotor.

The Gazelle was built under license by Westland Helicopters in the United Kingdom and SOKO in Yugoslavia.

If to name a single recognition point of the Aérospatiale Gazelle, it is the engine placed on a pylon on top of the fuselage/tail boom.

The Gazelle has a droplet shaped fuselage with a lot of windows and large access doors.

Different versions

The different versions of the Gazelle can be recognised by looking at

  • the type of tail rotor
  • the length of the cabin
  • the presence of a cannon
  • the presence of pylons to carry missiles

More details will follow later.

Confusion possible with

Eurocopter EC120


The EC120/H120 falls in the same class as the Gazelle and also has a shrouded tail rotor. The droplet shaped fuselage is also similar, as are the tail and main rotor. The EC120 has its engine placed in a bulge above the fuselage though. The tube skids are attached to the fuselage at the front and have a wide streamline body at the end attachment. 

Airbus Helicopters H130 (Eurocopter EC130)


The H130 is similar to the EC120/H120 in many ways, as essentially the EC130 is an EC120 with a wider cabin. So most differences compared to the Gazelle apply to the EC130 as well.

Airbus Helicopters H135 (Eurocopter EC135)


Another Eurocopter product, but larger than the EC120 and thus Gazelle. It has two engines, with air intakes and exhausts in the top of the fuselage. Furthermore, the EC135 has a four blade main rotor and a small gear box hub.

Leonardo AW09 (SKYe SH09)


The SKYe SH09, now the smallest helicopter in the Leonardo (AgustaWestland) line-up, is of similar size as the Gazelle and also has a shrouded tail rotor. This is much bigger though compared to the tailboom and tail. Additionally, the AW09 has a higher placed tail boom and a five blade main rotor. (photo: Kecko/WikiMedia)