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The Aérospatiale Alouette II is a French light helicopter, incorporating many innovations of its time.
It was powered by a single Turbomeca Artouste II turboshaft engine capable of generating a maximum output of 400 hp.
The speed of the main rotor is controlled by an automated fuel supply governor, eliminating the necessity of a twist-grip throttle and a conventional link between the throttle and the collective-pitch.
Instead, the Alouette II uses a simple control lever arrangement, which acts to directly regulate the collective-pitch and actuate the governor while immediately and automatically applying the correct level of power to conform with flight condition.
Without a clutch, the transmission is considerably simplified in both design and maintenance aspects.
Despite being a light helicopter, the Alouette II possesses a reasonable lift capacity and can carry under slung loads on an external sling, during one high-profile public demonstration, one helicopter was able to air-lift a compact Citroen truck weighing in excess of half a ton without visible difficulty.
While flying at sea level, the Alouette II uses only 300 of the power plant’s available 400 hp, accordingly, performance can be maintained while operated at a high altitude and within tropical conditions where the additional power would come into play.
It was capable of flying at altitudes of up to 2,286 meters above sea level while possessing an average climb rate of 250 meters per minute and a typical maximum range of 563 miles.
Various alternative landing gear configurations could be fitted, including skids, wheels, or pontoons.
The Alouette II is capable of accommodating a seating arrangement for up to five personnel, including the pilot, access to the cabin was provided via a pair of side-hinged doors.
The compact cockpit was provided with a dome-shapred windscreen which provided for excellent levels of external visibility.
The Alouette II also made innovative use of armaments.
It was the first helicopter worldwide to be equipped with anti-tank munitions in the form of the SS.11 MCLOS wire-guided anti-tank missile.
In addition to anti-tank missiles, the French Army chose to arm their Alouette IIs with machine guns, while the French Navy outfitted theirs with aerial torpedoes to conduct anti-submarine warfare (ASW) duties.
Under operational conditions, the Alouette II often proved to be a relatively maintenance-intensive rotorcraft.
It required a high level of regular lubrication, the main rotor head alone featuring 20 grease nipples that had to be re-lubricated after every five flight hours, while the drive shaft for the tail rotor was similarly demanding.
Due to its high susceptibility to dust ingestion, some operators would have to remove the Alouette’s rectangular sand filters after every landing in order to clean them.
Capacity: 4 passengers
Length: 9.66 m (31 ft 8 in) (overall, blades folded)