Super Frelon and developments

kaiserbill

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I can't find a thread dedicated to this helicopter, and have some questions, so here goes..

Until very recently, this was the largest helicopter designed and built in Western Europe.
Sikorsky were involved with the rotor design, and Fiat with the transmission.

It first flew in 1962, and served with France until 2010.

Only 99 were produced between 1962 and 1970.

A large 3 engined helicopter with a large carrying capacity, and a boat shaped hull.
Apart from France, it was exported to South Africa, Israel, Iraq, Libya, and China.

Why was this helicopter not more successful?
I know it was designed primarily for the maritime environment.
South Africa did use it up in hot and high conditions and in combat, before deciding it wasn't suitable for the climate, and relegating it to coastal environs.
Israel re-engined theirs with GE T-58's pushing out far more power.

I think the only current user is China.
This was a very important helicopter for the Chinese, as it was the first helicopter capable of serving from a naval deck, with the first ever landing on a vessel being in 1980, with a Super Frelon.
It was also used in the recovery of China's first ever proper ICBM.
Recently, a version sporting a rear mounted radar has been spotted, and is mooted to be an AEW airframe for carrier use.

It appears China ordered 13 from France, and then produced it under the designation of the Z-8.
This Z-8 provides the basis for a vastly upgraded version called the AC-313, which seems to be aimed at the civil market..

How did Israels re-engined SF's perform?
Is the Z-8 a licence produced airframe, or a copy?
The modernised AC-313 version - is it purely aimed at the civil sector, or are there military versions planned?
This I assume is an indigineous chopper now?
 

famvburg

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Why was it the first capable of operating from a ship? Surely there were smaller helos that could have done that earlier. After all, doesn't a helo just need enough room to sit?
 

kaiserbill

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I'm not quite sure, although it is worth bearing in mind that the Chinese navy was a coastal force with small vessels until that time.
I think up until that time their major vessels were a few obsolete hand-me-down Soviet destroyers with no air facilities.

It certainly is a big helicopter to cut your teeth on.
 

Jemiba

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I found a set of drawings in "Der Flieger", May 1964. Showing what principally are known versions (though
I have some difficulties in identifying them correctly), there's at least one, that remained a project.
On the left, there are, I think:
- SA 3210-01 (first prototype)
- SA 3210-02 (second prototype with sponsons)

and on the right:
- SA 321G (ASW with foldable tail)
- SA 321F (commercial transport)
- SA 321, suffix unknown (crane helicopter, project)
 

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Deino

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Latest family member, the Z-8YJ AEW version ! ;)
 

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circle-5

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Photo of the SA 3210 rotor head. If the arrangement looks familiar, that's because it was designed and built by Sikorsky in Stratford, Connecticut. France did not have the know-how to build hydraulically self-retracting rotor blades, while Sikorsky had already built a similar (though larger) system for the massive HR2S and H-37 helicopters.

After a small run at Sikorsky, these assemblies were later completed by Sud Aviation under license. Shown here is the first prototype SA 3210, now in a museum at Le Bourget airport, where Lindbergh completed his famous flight in 1927.
 

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Kiltonge

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A couple of other notes about the Frelon.

Flight in 1964 reported:

The West German Government was interested in the development of the SA 3210, but—
in view of the Weser licences for the S-61—now appears to be reviewing the situation
very carefully.

https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1964/1964%20-%201543.html

FIAT produced the main gearbox, having previously built the dynamic systems for Sud's license-production of the S-58. Don't know if the also built the other gearboxes but they participated in their design.

What baffles me about South Africa's experience of the Frelon is that Sud tested the helicopter to MTOW at ISA+22 and 2,000 metres. Alternatively it could lift-off at MTOW at ISA and 4,000 metres. So why did they have such hot-and-high problems...?
 

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kaiserbill

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Kiltonge said:
What baffles me about South Africa's experience of the Frelon is that Sud tested the helicopter to MTOW at ISA+22 and 2,000 metres. Alternatively it could lift-off at MTOW at ISA and 4,000 metres. So why did they have such hot-and-high problems...?


I'm not sure. I noted this remark in SA Arms and Armour by Romer Heitman: Experience has shown that it is not efficient when operated under "hot and High" conditions.


Also, the SA Airforce Museum has this on their website:


It was during this operation that the SAAF discovered that although the Super Frelon performed exceptionally well at sea level, this helicopter was completely outperformed by the Puma helicopter at high altitudes and in very hot and dry areas. As a result, all the Super Frelon helicopters were transferred to the coast and were based at 15 Squadron in Durban and 16 Squadron based at Ysterplaat in Cape Town.


http://www.saafmuseum.org/exhib/aircraft-on-display/helicopters/318-aerospatiale-sa321l-309


A few things to consider then, in my opinion. Perhaps SA had early less powerful engines? I do know that power was increased during the Super Frelons production or lifetime.
They are comparing it also to the Puma, which was a great helicopter all round, so not surprising really.
Perhaps the French testing were flown in conditions not experienced in SA? ISA+22 I take it to be International Standard Atmosphere 22 degrees? If so, this is nowhere near some of the conditions it would have been operated in, but I stand under correction on what is meant by ISA+22.
Wiki does state that ISA is measured according to mid latitude atmospheric conditions.
Perhaps France didn't test with dust filters? I know in the operational area where the SA Airforce was operating those would be a must.
Also, there must be a reason Israel also re-engined theirs. Spares commonality I gather, but I doubt they did it simply for that only.


Or maybe a combination of all.
 

Archibald

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Indeed the reason why the Super Frelon was not build in greater number is that the Puma filled the transport role cheaper - the Armée de Terre still use large numbers of totally obsolete Pumas (no de-icing system to fly during winter...)
As for the French Navy the smaller Lynx filled the ASW role better - it could land on smaller ships.
Israel bought some Super Frelon because they were impressed by its payload - think it could carry a small armoured vehicle part of Israel arsenal (can't remember the name).
Once the super Frelon operational the Israelis discovered its performance dropped substantially with their very hot, desertic climate. Their Super Frelon were then used for SAR - during the Six Day war they searched and recovered pilots that had bailed out within arabs territories. Later the Israelis bought Sikorsky S-53 for the heavy transport role and they tried to re-engine their Super Frelons with american turbines - with very limited success.
 

Deino

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Latest variant, the Z-18A - or better to say officially Z-8G - entered service.
 

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dan_inbox

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kaiserbill said:
Apart from France, it was exported to South Africa, Israel, Iraq, Libya, and China.
Some of the Israeli machines were re-exported to Argentina, as well.

How did Israels re-engined SF's perform?
They were re-engined after Yom Kippur war. By that time the CH-53 Yasur had entered IAF service, with superior performance and lower operating costs. Even the T-58s did not completely close that gap.
The Tsira was still used, notably during the 1982 Peace for Galilee war, but no longer as the spearhead it once was.

When an opportunity arose, they were sold off to Argentina.
 

Archibald

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And the Iraqis used these choppers to throw Exocets at tankers during the epnymous tanker war of 1985. Later Super etendards and Mirage FEEQ did a better job.
 

galgot

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SuperFrelon in Argentina ? sure you're not mixing with the Daggers ?

Edit: Ah yes ! just checked, some sources mention 8 sold to Argentina.
Would love to see a pict of these...
 

retrofit1

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Huuum, 8 ex-Israeli SA321 in Argentina???

Total 12 SA321K were delivered to Israel between 1966 & 1969.
In "Le Fana de l'Aviation" n° 370 (table here-after), 7 are preserved at the IDF/AF Museum and one preserved at Tel Nof AFB
 

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galgot

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Indeed 8 seems a bit much then :)
This is the (only) page i've found mentioning these (without pictures of any argentinian example):
http://fdra.blogspot.fr/2015/11/helicoptero-pesado-aerospatiale-sa-321.html
It says "Ocho aviones israelíes volvieron a motor con motores T58 y más tarde vendido a la Argentina."...
Dunno spanish but what i read is "eight aircrafts flew with T58 then later sold to Argentina". .?
 

dan_inbox

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I wrote this from memory, without thinking much about it --and without verifying.
In fact, going to the IDF/AF page on the Tsira at http://www.iaf.org.il/208-he/IAF.aspx , it says "ב-1991 הוצא המסוק משרות פעיל", ie that they were taken off service in 1991, not that they were sold off.

So most likely this was a red herring rumor and the sale never happened. My bad.
 

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