Blue Thunder was a 1980s film made in the United States using a highly modified Aerospatiale Gazelle helicopter. For the film the producers obtained two SA-341G Gazelle helicopters (c/ns 1066 and 1075) both built in 1973. After filming they were sold to Michael Gruben, an aviation salvage collector in New Mexico and one, N51BT (c/n1066 ), subsequently was leased to another film company making ‘Amerika’, a Television series. It was later dismantled and sold for parts. The other machine N52BT (c/n 1075) was scrapped in 1988. A third airframe was used for static display for close up filming and, after some deterioration, was scrapped by 2009.
An Australian enthusiast obtained an Aerospatiale Gazelle airframe and commenced conversion to represent a Blue Thunder helicopter. It was fabricated of wood and metal and had an electric motor to turn the main rotor. It had a kerosene heater to simulate the engine heat and vapour from the exhaust and was aimed at being used for static display. It had a sound system to represent the engine sounds. Some fibreglass was used in the construction. It seems the project was never completed and was noted for sale in 2011.
Photograph: The Australian replica of the Blue Thunder helicopter (Author’s collection)
Information on this aircraft is currently limited. The Author welcomes any further specifications and/or details to update the site.