Ever since the Alouette III was announced for the game I was looking forward to making a Belgian Navy Alouette III skin. For me the aircraft holds a special place in my heart together with the Westland Seaking. I used to spend my summers as a kid at the family house which was near the Koksijde Air base, and as such saw both aircraft fly over many times. The Alouette III skin was such a massive pain in the ass to work with however (and still is) so it got put aside for a while. Thankfully I finally got around to finishing the details and this beauty can now be enjoyed in 4K DDS form on the premium IAR 316. Parts for the French Sa316B are coming soon.
Seen here is Alouette III construction number 1812. Delivered in March 1971 to the Belgian Navy the aircraft received its registration as M-1. Over the years it also received a civil registration as OT-ZPA at some point. On the 3rd of August 1985, M-1 could be seen on static display at the Koksijde Air Show. It was there that the aircraft was spotted with a rather unique little piece of art of a sailor looking through a spyglass adorned with the initials ZM-FN. The initials referres to a number of things, the official is the Dutch ‘ZeeMacht‘ and French ‘Force Naval‘ (Navy Force). However, the conscripts at the Koksijde base had other sayings for the abbreviations, the French conscripts had their ‘zut, merde, faut nager‘ (Drats, Damn, have to swim), while the Flemish were more keen on ‘Zonder Meisjes – Flauwe Nachten‘, which translates to ‘Without Girls – Dull Nights’.
Even though the aircraft was delivered nearly 50 years ago, it is still in service today with 40 Squadron based at Koksijde Air Base, outlasting even the legendary Westland Seaking MK48 which was delivered in 1976 and retired since last month in March of 2019.
The Alouette III with the Belgian Armed forces.
In 1971 three Sud Aviation Sa316B Alouette III helicopters were ordered for the Belgian Navy. These aircraft were meant to quickly deliver supplies to ships at sea. Though the aircraft are part of the Navy and flown and maintained by Navy personnel, the aircraft are stationed at Koksijde Air Force Base and are part of N° 40 Squadron. In the 80’s the aircraft had been adjusted so they were able to deploy on other ships than the Belgian A960 Godetia, and have even operated on Dutch Ships operating in the Caribbean.
Since the complete reorganization of the Belgian Armed Forces in 2004 all three aircraft were completely integrated withing 40 Squadron of the Belgian Air Component. Even though the aircraft have been in use since the early 70’s, there has not been a single accident of note with any of the Belgian Alouette III’s.