AEROSPATIALE SA-330C PUMA SERIAL 133

During January 1970, the first if SA330C Puma helicopters (serials 121-140) were delivered to the South African Air Force and allocated to 19 Squadron after assembly at 11 Air Depot at Ysterplaat.  19 Squadron at that stage was divided into two flights, "A" Flight was stationed at Zwartkop and "B" Flight was stationed at Durban.  The Puma helicopter was involved in all the major search and rescue as well as aid operations since 1973.  The Puma's endurance, speed and reliability, made it the most versatile helicopter in SAAF service.

During 1975/1976, another batch of SA330H model Puma helicopters was delivered (serials 141-159) and was easily distinguishable by the square shaped undercarriage fairings.  The next batch to be Puma helicopters to be delivered was the SA330L models (serials 160-188).  These helicopters were fitted with composite rotor blades and were delivered between 1976 and October 1978.

The Puma helicopter was eventually operated by 15, 16, 17, 19, 22, 30 and 31 Squadrons.  All the surviving SA330H models and one SA330C model were converted to SA330L standard and the final delivery consisted of two ex-civilian SA330J models.  These two helicopters were used as XTP-1 development helicopters for the Rooivalk project.  Two SA330J model helicopters (ZS-HIZ and ZS-HJA) owned by the Department of Transport were flown by members of 30 Squadron and 22 Squadron in support of the SANAE Base in the Antarctic.  At sea-level the Puma C model could carry 16 passengers but at high altitude on the Highveld as well as in the hot, dry conditions of South West Africa (Namibia), it could carry only 12.

The SA330C Helicopter on display was delivered to 19 Squadron on 3 May 1971 and saw service in Northern South West Africa (now Namibia) and Southern and Central Angola during the middle 1970’s for trooping, search and rescue and casualty evacuation.  In South West Africa, the Puma helicopter the engine intakes were fitted with box-type sand filters that were later replaced by two cylindrical filters fitted over the engine intakes.

Puma 133 was allocated to 31 Squadron on return from South West Africa (Namibia) and was stationed at Air Force Base Hoedspruit.  When the SAAF replaced the Puma helicopter with the new upgraded Oryx helicopter (most of the H and L models were upgraded to Oryx standard), the Puma SA330C was withdrawn from service.  Puma 133 is one of three SA330C models currently with the SAAF Museum.

Country of origin: France Manufactured as Aerospatiale SA-330C Puma. Served with 19, 30 and 31 Squadrons
Role: Air-Sea Rescue, Troop and Cargo carrier.
Power Plant: Two turbo shaft engines, each delivering 991 kW (1 328 hp)
Max take-off mass: 6 246 kg
Max speed: 294 km/h
Max range: 527 km