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Aircraft Review : SA 341B and SA 342J Gazelle by JRXDesign


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Aircraft Review : SA 341B and SA 342J Gazelle by JRXDesign


The Aérospatiale Gazelle (company designations SA 340, SA 341 and SA 342) is a French five-seat helicopter, that is commonly used for light transport, scouting and light attack duties. The Gazelle originated in a French Army requirement for a lightweight observation helicopter intended to replace the Aérospatiale Alouette III, which was known for their easy handling and excellent high altitude performance.

Very early in it's development, the Gazelle attracted British interest, which resulted in a major joint development and production work share agreement between Sud Aviation (French) and Westland (United Kingdom). The deal, signed in February 1967, allowed the production in Britain of 292 Gazelles and 48 Sud Aviation SA 330 Puma medium transport helicopters ordered by the British armed forces.


The first prototype SA 340 flew for the first time on 7 April 1967, it initially flew with a conventional tail rotor taken from the Alouette II. The tail was later replaced in early 1968 with the distinctive fenestron (enclosed fan) tail on the second prototype. Four SA 341 prototypes were flown, including one for the British firm Westland Helicopters. On the 13 May 1967, a Gazelle demonstrated its speed capabilities when two separate world speed records were broken on a closed course, and with the helicopter achieving speeds of 307 km/h over 3 kilometres and 292 km/h over 100 kilometres, On 6 August 1971, the first production Gazelle conducted its first flight.

Another point of that the British requirements required was for a longer cabin over the original design, and the more powerful Turbomeca Astazou IIIN2 (480 kW (644 shp) uprated from the original Turbomeca Astazou IIIA (390 kW (523 shp) engine. This specification became the "Classic" version of the aircraft.


There are two variants of the Gazelle in the SA 341B (military) and SA 342J (civilian) in this package by JRXDesign, and both are downloaded separately and loaded into X-Plane (aircraft Folder) as two completely different folders (JRX - SA 341 - Gazelle) and (JRX - SA 342 - Gazelle), and so you have to set different view preferences for each aircraft.


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First inspection shows you the parked machine with it's "Remove Before Flight" tags, that are animated to blow around in the wind and the effect is nicely done.


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Overall the modeling is very good, but not to the ultra detailed quality as well we expect from our developers today. First thing to distinguish between the Military and Civil variants is the huge "Homing" antenna situated on the front of the Military aircraft...


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...  this leads to the excellent cockpit glass, that has great shape, thickness and reflections. Hard to do right, the glass here is perfect.


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Most of the detailing is very good, but some items are just modeled and not textured, i.e. the opening window frame and catch...  the bodywork panels and rivets are also painted on and not mapped (raised), but you have to have a very curious eye to tell the difference.


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The important antennas are correct with VHF (large one), VOR/DME and HF/SSB Aerial... missing however is the aerial cable and it's support fins that runs underneath the full length of the boom tail.


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...   Astazou IIIN2 engine exhaust is well done and it also vibrates under power, the vibration animation is a bit average, but still it looks good. I do however really like the burnt exhaust outlet and the lovely mesh shroud. Noticeable however is the driveshaft? On the Military version it just sticks out....


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...  on the Civil version there is a shaft tunnel or a cover, and you can easily see on the Military of were the shaft ends abruptly. The shaft vibrates but it is not animated in rotation? There are only a few aerials positioned on the civil tail as well.


You can tell a good helicopter design and it's quality via the rotor head assembly. This one is simply excellent modeling wise, but only halfway animated in detail...


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...  only the collective (bite) assemblies are active, were as the rotor head tilt (pitch/sideways) are not active. But that is not to takeaway from the impressive head assembly detail, all the links, rods, rubber covers that make up the rotor head are all very well crafted, if not perfect. The three blades also droop nicely when static.


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The main rear "fenestron" rotor system was originally based upon the rigid rotor technology developed by Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm for the MBB Bo 105; however, due to control problems experienced while at high speeds upon prototype aircraft, the rigid rotor was replaced with a semi-articulated one on production aircraft. The difficulties experienced with the early design of the main rotor was one of the factors contributing to the lengthy development time of the Gazelle. The individual rotor blades were crafted out of composite materials, primarily composed of fiberglass, and had been designed for an extremely long operational lifespan; composite rotor blades would later become a common feature of all helicopters.


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Overall the design and construction of the fenestron rotor is very good, but there are again a few untextured items, but it is hard to distinguish unless you are a real nut for ultra detail. The composite blades in the rotor are animated for yaw, which is nice.


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All four doors are opened manually via "Hotspots" on the door levers, revealing a very nice interior.


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The Civil version is different in that the tone is black, rather than the Military Green. And on the civil there are also five other interior colours to match the livery in; White, Blue, Green, Red and Yellow.


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The Military has storage pockets in the lower doors, were as the Civil has an all glass pane, the Civil also has top and lower wire cutters and thicker landing strut covers as well.


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There are three optional crew members with a co-pilot and two rear crew/passengers. (the pilot is only shown externally and when the engine is running). The Military Crew are in fatigues, and the Civil crew are in matching colours to the livery, mostly with coloured helmets or hats.


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All heads are animated to turn, the rear crew/passengers all turn opposite to the view, and front crew members turn their heads to the stick left/right movements, overall the crew are really well done and active. When not in view, the rear crews/passengers headsets (great quality) are hung up in brackets.


Instrument Panel (Military)

The Gazelle's instrument panel is tall and aligned right for the pilot, and between the two variants Military and Civil, their layouts are quite different.


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The Military Instrument Panel is quite complex and there is a lot to learn.


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Top Right are your main flying instruments, with a huge ball Artificial Horizon that can be caged, and a built in Yaw/Slip indicator, to the AH right is the Vertical Speed (V/S), below the AH is the Heading Dial with built-in Course pointer, below the V/S is the Torque Meter.


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Left side of the panel is dominated by a Central Warning Panel (CWP), that can be tested and dimmed. Instrument dials are; left CWP the Airspeed Indicator, and below is the Attitude Indicator or Kollsman Window (note; you can change the baro from MB or inHg by clicking on it).

Left below the CWP is a backup (or co-pilot) smaller Artificial Horizon. Anti-Collision switches are top and Nav/Light are lower left.


Lower right instrument panel are the engine readouts in; Eng. Oil Temperature, Fuel Contents and Voltage (Volts), main power switchgear is below. Lower stub panel has some very important instruments in T-4 Gauge (Turbine Outlet Temperature ), Clock/Timer and the very important Engine RPM/Rotor RPM dial.


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The huge adjustable Radar Altimeter dial dominates the left lower panel, and the Winch/IC/Pitot/Wiper/UHF switches are below.


Avionics are all Military focused in this variant. Top of the stack is a very interesting unit in a PBDI or Position Bearing Distance Indicator. It is guiding instrument that uses pre-planned routes to get you to your destination, it uses the X-Plane FMS. system to input the co-ordinates, and then it directs you (in a basic form) in waypoint by waypoint to your destination.


Below the PBDI is a Military VHF combat net radio, Military UHF radio (civilian/ATC chatter) and bottom a Standard VHF com radio.


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Pedestal avionics panel has a IFF Transponder top, NAV1 and ADF1 radios below that are still Military focused with TAC1/TAC2 and UHF/VHF. Lower panel is the Doppler and Radio Altitude selections.


Instrument Panel (Civilian)

In the actual main instrument panel there is not a lot of differences to the Military in the Civil. Obvious are the two coloured ball Artificial Horizon(s), but otherwise the panels are identical.


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The avionics are however totally different. Top of the panel is a "Garmin" Autopilot, which is highly detailed and excellent in detail. Below is a custom version of the X-Plane GNS350, with the usual pop-out panel. Below is the Com Selection panel (again custom and well done), then below is the "Garmin" Transponder, with SBY (Standby) XMT (frequency) select...


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...   and lower stacked are all the frequency selections COMM 1/2, NAV 1/2 and ADF1


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Menu and Options

There is no main menus on the JRX Gazelle, but there is a small popup menu on the top of the instrument panel. Selection toggle is via a "hotspot" on the top of the panel below the menu popup.


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Top of the tab is the "Remove Before Flight" toggle, then below you can set the fuel load by percentage; 100%, 75%, 50% and 25%. Next two rows cover the toggles of the; Co-Pilot and the two Crew members, then lower the toggle of all four doors.


The two bottom tabs cover the "Show Tablet" and "Show GTN750"...  the GTN750 I presume is the "Reality XP GTN 750/650 Touch" optional from Reality XP


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There is an attached tablet that can be positioned stored or in view (you click on the hinge).


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There are three tablet options via Hotspots, two are positioned top left in "Map" and "Services" and one centre bottom for the "GNS 530".


But the "Hotspots" here are a rough term? they are hard to find and almost impossible to use, in fact the whole tablet is confusing to use, and there is no explanation in the manual either or reset of any menu selection. What I did find was a replication of the GNS 530 flightplan, Services, which is a large digital readout of the engine and time data, and the Map feature is the Avitab (plugin required).


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The GNS 530 screen can also show the same data as the optional tablet, in the "Services" page, "Map" page and the GNS530 can even have access to the AviTab.


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Again lower left on the GNS 530 facia the buttons are very ambiguous in their use (again no instructions in the manual) so I recommend to set what you want on the ground before fight as to not get lost and distracted by the confusing layout, one bonus though is that you can set the GNS screen for one page and the tablet for another, or the other way around and have both screens active and this layout is highly useful when flying.


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The Military options are slightly different. The AviTab option is moved to the GNS 750 pop-out panel, but slightly squished? There is also in replacement for the large pop-out screen a smaller pop-out tab for "Transponder Codes".


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And the there is the option for showing HOT 3 Munitions (noted as "Inert"). The rest of Civil menu selections are worded differently, but still options the same "Remove Before Flight", Fuel % and Second Pilot and two rear crew members.


All the popup menu selections are again quite ambiguous and can be hard to use, selecting one can bring up another, or nothing.


In the Military door pockets (left a map that is inert) and in the right pocket is a "Flight Reference Cards" or Checklist. Press the bottom left of the Flip chart and you go to the next item on the checkiist, press the top left and you can flip the charts backwards... very good.


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Overhead panel has three levers; one very long rotor brake, a Governor and an emergency fuel cut-off lever. Rear is a "wander" light but it is not animated or if it even works?


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Collective is nice, with a short stick assembly. There is a moveable grip rear that in most cases is the throttle, but here it is the collective friction lock.


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...   the collective head has a Rad(io) Alt(itmeter) warning horn mute, Landing Light switch, Light Retraction switch and a Servo on/off switch.


Flying the Gazelle

There are two variants to fly here, and obviously we can't cover both, so I will stay with the SA 341B (Military). There are also a few important things to set up before flying, so we will look at them first.


In X-Plane there is no governor control (throttle, yes). So JRX have devised their own system via the X-Plane "Wing Sweep" command, so you set up the Governor (in my case with the Throttle1 lever (reversed axis)) set on the X-Plane "Wing Sweep" command) via the Menu/Joystick settings. (The collective is set up on my Throttle2 Command (reversed axis)). The "Experimental Flight Model" option is also recommended. There are a few custom settings as well, mostly in "Force Trim" for a HAT switch or keys.


One very important setting is the friction lock on the cyclic, get it wrong (tight) and the Gazelle is unflyable (as I found out to my disgrace). all these small notes but not really covered or in any depth in the manual.


JRX note that to start the Gazelle's Astazou IIIN2 is always from cold, not hot via the X-Plane "Start with engines running" option, but I found you could anyway if you set the governor position correctly.


The Starting procedure is quite easy anyway, it just takes more time to get to the point of when the engine is at the right performance situation.


The there is a three way start switch OFF - RUN - IGN (Ignition), rotor brake off and the fuel pump on, and switch the three way gate switch to RUN (note, have the governor lever all the way forward), then switch to IGN and bring the governor into play, but not to the full way back position, as you need to just to feed it in as the power grows, then as the engine catches you re-switch back to the centre RUN position...


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....  there are two indicator needles for the Rotor RPM (primary needle) and Engine (secondary needle), and the RPM will advance first, but the trick is to balance the (smaller) Engine needle to disappear behind the Rotor Needle when between the two red markers at 43,700 nominal RPM... this is again done with the Governor lever...


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...  a guide is that if you push the Governor lever too far or too fast the "Red" alarm light (below left) will tell you to back off.


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When the two needles are aligned, your ready for flight, but you feel the lift power from the blades anyway. The process takes a little time as the Gazelle adjusts to reach it's full operating power, the procedure is very realistic. The start up sounds are excellent right through the start up procedure to the "turbine whine" running mode, so the whole sequence is actually very easy and quite authentic.


A quick look at the PBDI or Position Bearing Distance Indicator (Military Only). This instrument is not an autopilot, but a reference pointer to the next set of installed waypoints...   you can also use the X-Plane FMS. file to insert the route and the required co-ordinates by pressing the right of the two "Slew" switches and the FMS. file pops-up to select your route.


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When the flightplan is loaded then switch to either LAND or SEA via the left dial, the right dial will give you six selections with DEST ETE (Estimated), BRG DIST, GS (Ground Speed), POS (Co-Ordinates), HDG (Heading to next waypoint) WIND (Speed) and TEST, all selections are shown below.


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The whole setup and the use of the PBDI is excellent and it feels extremely realistic in the aircraft.


There is the infamous "Frenestron Stall" and because of the dynamics of the anti torque systems is that they require a lot of power in the hover. There have been a number of cases over the years where people have lost directional control in the wind and ended up in an accident. It is also called LTE (or Loss of Tailrotor Effectiveness) which is an uncommanded, rapid yaw towards the advancing blade. The Frenestron, because of it's enclosed position can do this, in other words the aircraft can quickly lose its rear thrust and snap.


From your perspective in the takeoff or hover the tail is snappy, all helicopters do this to a point, until you balance the weak yaw to the high power on the collective, but here it is quite violent, and the pilots say the real aircraft is even worse?


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So it is hard to get a balance on takeoff or the lift into the hover, again the trick is small cyclic movements...   but once past this initial phase the Gazelle is fine in forward flight.


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The aircraft is certainly very powerful, lift is incredible so you are known that you have to fly the aircraft with a strong but light touch, if that contradiction makes sense.


Fast the Gazelle is...


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...   Maximum speed is 310 km/h (190 mph, 170 kn) at sea level, the Cruise speed: 264 km/h (164 mph, 143 kn) at max cruise at sea level and the economical cruise speed is 233 km/h (145 mph; 126 kn), but in a Military mode then a forward speed of around 150 kn is not unusual. Add in a range of Range: 361 km (224 mi, 195 nmi) at sea level with maximum fuel and you can see how effective these aircraft where in The Falkland Islands conflict. The Service ceiling is 5,000 m (16,000 ft).


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Setting the "Force Trim" via my HAT is a huge help in relaxing more behind the controls, it brings the cyclic back to neutral and the set correct nose down altitude to remain at the best fast forward speed...


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Impressive is the Autopilot (AP) in the Civil. The AP Panel is also really well done, and also performs really well (in other words easy). Although the panel selections are lower left, the main AP selections are lit top right in your line of sight.


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Selections include AP, FD (Flight Director) and YD (Yaw)...  you can hold the; HDG (Heading), NAV (Route), APR (Approach), BC (Back Course), VNV (Vertical Navigation), IAS (Speed) and VS (Vertical Speed) and it does all the operations very well.


There is the option to carry a slung-load. There is a key option to set the hook onto the aircraft and open and close it. You have to set the Cargo Master switch to on, and to the "Cargo" selection on the panel, and then the tricky bit is that to pick up the load you need to hover...


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If the flying is done correctly the Amber "Hook" light will come on (Amber) and the "Load" light will also. I'll be honest in that I am not skilled enough here on the Gazelle in the fine hover to do that yet, but you never know.


Watch you don't overspeed as the Gazelle then becomes quite physical to fly, and jerky as well, and you can very easily loose the aircraft...


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The aircraft comes with some custom failures, including; Engine failure, Engine fire, Engine over-torque, Hydraulic failure, Hydraulic switch off, Flame out, Compressor stall, Hard landings (< 425 f/min) and Crash detection, personally they are a just a bit too touchy, with just a small bounce on landing is all there is to set them off? With the nature of this aircraft you need just a slight more tolerance in this failure aspect or every landing is going to result in a fire?


Sounds are really, really good with top notch 3D external sounds with doppler effect and over 50 sounds have been sampled from a real Gazelle helicopter...   I really love the custom blade slap, that highlights dips and turns. Another interesting feature is the custom radio chatter both civil and military that can be tuned into on the com radios and the aural custom warnings and alerts are also excellent. Overall the sound experience is the best yet to get feedback fro the machine.


So what is the best way to fly the Gazelle, smoothly...  with as little input of the controls as possible, you don't move the cyclic as nudge it slightly, with the same minute movements to the collective to control the height, so constant practise here is a religion on this aircraft, you feel the inputs, touch this way, then that, but absolutely nothing sharp or with any long movements of any of the controls, and then feed in slowing the rudder (yaw) to counter the tail swing...  it can be done...


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... you just have to be more neutral and more minuscule in your movements than in most Helicopters I have flown...


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... it took me about four flights to get the landing right, but I am still not good enough for a tight space landing, I'll practise out in the open if you don't mind.


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The Gazelle is however highly addictive in challenging your skills, get it right and the rewards keep on coming...  it is an amazing aircraft.



Basically the lighting is quite basic, but well done here. Panel and Console is fantastic (Civil), and is adjustable.


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The roof mounted "Wander" light does not work (arrowed above), but it is really needed inside the cockpit, certainly also to be animated for use. More so because the rear is pitch black, so another couple placed in the rear would also be a nice feature.


External is the basic single landing light in the nose, Navigation lights, and top tail and under fuselage beacons, that can be switched from red to white (Red only on the Military).


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There are an insane amount of liveries to choose from for the Gazelle, as most armed services are covered and the selection is probably and easily the biggest I have ever done in reviewing... 


There are 18 Liveries for the Military Variant.


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There are 19 Liveries for the Civil Variant.


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And if you are still not happy, there is also paintkit available...  overall there are 37 Liveries, jeeeze.



This is the first aircraft from JRXDesign in the SA 341B (Military) and SA 342J (Civil) Gazelle, which is a light transport, scouting and light attack Helicopter, that was built in collaboration by Sud Aviation (French) and Westland (United Kingdom) in the 1970's.


The unique design including the famous Fenestron (enclosed) rotor tail, is very well done, and this Gazelle is overall an excellent and highly detailed reproduction of this significant machine. Detailed Turbomeca Astazou IIIN2 gearbox comes with vibrations, internally there are pilots and passengers, AviTab, opening doors and animations, and a slung load feature that is also available. There are thirty seven liveries between the two variants, and a paintkit is also available.


Both the Military and Civil variants come with their own instrumentation layouts to reflect their roles, including a authentic PBDI or Position Bearing Distance Indicator, Military VHF combat radio, Military UHF radio (civilian/ATC chatter) and a Standard VHF com radio. The Civil comes with a full GNS350 and an excellent Autopilot system. The Reality XP GTN 750/650 Touch can also be used if you have the custom addon.


To note this is a first time payware development for JRXDesign, but not their first release, as that was a nice freeware Bell 206 Jetranger here, and in that context the design is exceptional, but there are quirks. The menu system is an odd flip up card and the "hot spot" selections can be hard to find and sometimes almost impossible to use, not only on the menus but with the switchgear. Driveshaft and lower aerial cable is missing on the Military, and internal cabin lighting (Wander light(s)) are fitted but not working. Manual is a bit vague on many details which are important here.


Generally I would note this aircraft for the professionally skilled helicopter pilots, low speed and hover requires skill or a lot of practise to get right, the Gazelle in flight characteristics is really well done, but it was noted as a tricky aircraft to fly in real life, I would say it is hard to fly but not impossible.


Overall a very competent aircraft and extremely well done, very good helicopters are rare, brilliant ones with a lot of detail and features are even rarer and at this exceptional value price, but this machine also got my ultimate award as the Best Helicopter released for X-Plane in 2020, and in that aspect the award is fully deserved...  Highly Recommended 🏅



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Yes! the SA 341B and SA 342J Gazelle by JRXDesign is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : 


SA 341B and SA 342J Gazelle

Price is US$29.99



Model and Textures:
  •  Integrated GTN750 / 725 and AviTab compatible
  •  Detailed animated 3D model both internal and external
  •  High quality pilot, co-pilot and passengers
  •  Animated rotor head and tail rotor
  •  All textures are PBR
  •  4k external textures including all liveries
  •  4k instrument panels
  •  All custom-made instruments with no legacy stock X-Plane instrumentation
  •  All doors and windows fully functional with sound attenuation
  •  Animated rotor tie downs and engine / pitot covers
  •  Animated yaw string
  •  Custom engine vibrations
  •  Animated friction locks for the cyclic and collective
  •  AH cage functions
  •  Custom animated instrument gauges and needles
  •  Dynamic aircraft ID plate based on livery
  •  Dynamic seat colours and pilot helmet / flight suit based on livery
  •  Custom external lighting (NAV / STROBE / LANDING / FLASH / DIM) with light spill
  •  Rotor blur and ground shadow
  •  All panel switches / buttons / controls are animated with sound
  •  Custom and fully functional warning and annunciator lights with test where applicable
Fuel, Equipment and PAX loading:
  • Fuel and passenger loading are done within the cockpit
  • Fuel weights are dynamically changed
  • Pilot, co-pilot and passengers modelled – with dynamic weight
  • Door removal – with dynamic weight
  • Munitions (for the SA341 (INERT)) – with dynamic weight
  • Sling loads are invoked in cockpit with no third-party plugin required – with dynamic weight / CG
  • Detailed flight reference cards (FRCs) are included in-cockpit with all procedures
Full FMOD sound is included in both version’s with over 50 sampled sounds from a real Gazelle helicopter mixed live with FMOD studio.
  • 3D external sounds with doppler effect
  • Custom radio chatter both civil and military. Tuneable on the com radios
  • Headset attenuation (helmet simulation)
  • Custom blade slap
  • Custom warnings and alerts
  • All switches / buttons have sound assigned
Flight Model:
  • Realistic flight characteristics
  • Start-up to shutdown realistically modelled on the flight reference cards
  • The new X-Plane experimental flight model recommended
  • Fully working under the 11.50 beta programme and compatible with Vulkan
  • Longer shelf life for future X-Plane updates and will not “break” like many others
  • VR and manipulator ready
Customised Failures:
  • Hydraulics (WIP)
  • Over-Torque
  • Hard landings > 425 f/min
  • Crash detection
  • Engine fire
  • Flame-out / Compressor stall
  • With custom fire / sounds / smoke


X-Plane 11
Windows, Mac or Linux
4GB VRAM Minimum - 8GB+ VRAM Recommended
Download Size: 1.8 GB (Both Aircraft)
Current and Review Version: 1.1 (August 9th 2020)



Installation and documents: Separate downloads are required for both the 549Mb (SA 341) and 1.6Gb (SA 342) and both aircraft is deposited in the "General Aviation" X-Plane folder.


Documents supplied are:

  • End-User License Agreement (EULA) of JRX Design Gazelle Helicopter for X-Plane.pdf
  • JRX Design SA 341-2 user guide


Checklists and loads of Performance graphs are provided in the manual.



Aircraft Review by Stephen Dutton 

4th February 2021

Copyright©2021 : X-Plane Reviews 


(Disclaimer. All images and text in this preview are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions)


Review System Specifications: 

Computer System: Windows  - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo 1TB SSD 

Software:   - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.51

Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00 : Environment Engine by xEnviro US$69.90

Scenery or Aircraft

- EGGD - Bristol International Airport by Pilot-Plus + (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$22.95


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Another excellent review.  As a lifetime fixed wing pilot, I've always viewed rotary wing flying with a degree of skepticism.  The sim allows us to get our feet wet with rotaries and not generate too much alarm - this model shows that's it's not all 'a walk in the park' and you better do your homework to even get off the ground and that's when the fun really begins.  

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