The world's first jet-powered helicopter. Its beginnings were a number of prototypes developed by a state-run aircraft production firm in France. The company made use of German know-how, and was assisted by Prof. Focke, who had been an expert in the field of helicopter development under the Nazis.
The prototype held its maiden flight in March of 1955. The Alouette quickly proved it was an excellent chopper, and broke a number of world records.
In 1957, a delegation of Israeli officers was sent to observe the French usage of helicopters against the FLN rebels in Algeria, a delegation which included both air force and paratroops officers. Headed by the first helicopter squadron commander of the IAF, upon its return the delegation recommended the purchase of the Alouette II.
The first Alouette was donated to Heyl Ha'avir by a member of the French Deutsch-Lamarre family. At her request, a biblical quotation was inscribed on its side, and it was not used on missions of actual warfare. It arrived in June 1957, transported by a Nord Noratlas and was given the serial 03. The donated Alouette was indeed used mainly for transport and evacuation, but on a number of occasions was used for more combative missions such as tracking infiltrating terrorists. For four years 03 was the only Alouette in service, until 1963 when it was joined by a further three examples from a failed local enterprise. In the Six Day War, the Alouette served to carry commanders to the front lines. A further dozen were purchased after the war, during which the Alouette proved its reliability and effectiveness.
The peak of the Alouettes service was in the days of the “mirdafim,” the chases, as the IDF operations against terrorist targets in Jordan in the early 60's were known, and during the War of Attrition. In the Yom Kippur War, the Alouettes carried out medevac and patrol missions, and gave chase to Egyptian ground troops.
In late 1971, Bell-206 choppers began joining the ranks of the IAF, and the Alouettes were phased out in a gradual process which lasted until May of 1975. In 1978, two Alouettes were brought back into service at the request of Ezer Weizmann, who was then Minister of Defense, and were used for carrying VIP's.
They were retired in 1983. The last two Alouettes were flown to the IAF Museum at Hatzerim, where they are today.
Specification: Aerospatiale SE 313B Alouette II
Type: light general-purpose helicotper.
Powerplant: one Turbomeca Artouste II C6 turboshaft.
Performance: max speed - 115mph, ceiling - 7,050ft.
Weights: empty - 895kg, max weight - 1600kg.
Dimensions: rotor diameter - 10.20m, overall
Sources: IAF Inventory