Aerospatiale Gazelle XX444

The Gazelle was first produced in 1968 under an Anglo-French agreement between Westlands and Aerospatiale.

The Gazelle, fondly referred to as the “whistling chicken leg”, has proved an incredibly reliable observation and reconnaissance helicopter for many years. Although, having only one engine, it is not as powerful as many others, but its lightweight chassis offsets any deficit it might have. Advantages include its small agile nature, and its unparalleled visibility from the cockpit.

This particular helicopter, XX444, actually served with 663 Squadron 3 Regiment at Wattisham in the late 1990’s.

Click here to view the service history of XX444.

Specifications
In service date: 1973
Maximum all up weight: 1,900 kg
Engines: 1 x Turbomeca Astazou III N2 592 shp
Crew: 1 or 2 + 3 passengers
Length: 12 m
Main rotor diameter: 10.5 m
Height: 3.2 m
Maximum speed: 168 knots
Range: 250 nm

Brief history of XX444

08 Mar 1976: First flight Yeovil
05 Apr 1976: Delivered to Wroughton
15 Dec 1976: To ARWF at Middle Wallop, coded K
21 Nov 1977: Transferred to Rotary Conversion Squadron at Middle Wallop
09 Feb 1982: To Fleetlands for mods
01 Mar 1982: Returned to Middle Wallop
15 Apr 1982: To Fleetlands for RADALT to be fitted
19 Apr 1982: Returned to Middle Wallop, and allocated as Battle Casualty Replacement during Operation Corporate
24 May 1982: Issued to 3 CBAS Royal Marines to replace the downed XX411
27 May 1982: Air-freighted from Lyneham to Ascension Island
Embarked MV Contender Bezant for shipping to The Falkland Islands
18 Jun 1982: To 3 CBAS in The Falkland Islands, allocated code CE
23 Jun 1982: To 656 Sqn and flown from Port Stanley to Fitzroy
01 Aug 1982: Departed by ship from Port William to Felixstowe, arriving 20 Aug 1982
21 Aug 1982: Road move to Netheravon with 656 Sqn
07 Feb 1984: Road move to Fleetlands for re-spray
16 Feb 1984: Road move back to Netheravon with 656 Sqn
23 Aug 1985: To Fleetlands for mods
Returned to 656 Sqn at Netheravon
24 Feb 1988: To Fleetlands for mods
07 Apr 1988: Returned to 656 Sqn at Netheravon
19 Dec 1990: To Wroughton for mods
15 Jan 1991: Returned to 656 Sqn at Netheravon, eventually code E
By January 1995: Stored at Fleetlands
July 1999: With 3 Regiment at Wattisham
November 1999: Transferred to 25 Flight in Belize
05 Oct 2003: Airfreight to Brize Norton from Belize
06 Oct 2003: Road move from Brize Norton to Fleetlands for storage
By July 2005: Preserved at Wattisham, provisionally for Gate Guard duties
Transferred to Wattisham Station Heritage Museum