The SA-321L Super Frelon was developed by Sud-Aviation and flown in for the first time on 7 December 1962.  Both civilian and military versions of the Super Frelon were built, with the military variants being the most numerous by far, entering service with the French military as well as being exported to Israel, South Africa, Libya, China and Iraq.  The fuselage resembles the hull of a boat as this helicopter was designed as an amphibious, anti-submarine helicopter, but the SAAF bought them for use as a land-based heavy-duty work-horse.

The transport version purchased by the SAAF was capable of carrying 38 equipped troops, or alternatively 15 stretchers for casualty evacuation tasks.  The South African Air Force ordered 16 Super Frelon helicopters (Serials 301-316) and used them in counter insurgency operations during the South African Border War, both in South West Africa (now Namibia) as well as in Angola.  This helicopter completed five tours in the Operational Area of South West Africa (Namibia) and was one of the helicopters used to airlift SADF Parachutists and other ground forces out of Southern Angola after the Battle of Cassinga during Ops Reindeer in 1978.  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.  The Super Frelon features a three-engine layout, two in front of, and one behind the main rotor.  This helicopter can safely fly on two engines and can carry out a safe, “controlled” emergency landing on one engine.

To many stranded flood victims, this helicopter was an angel of mercy.  The floods experienced at Laingsburg and the lower Orange River-area west of Upington were the theatres of operation that the population of South Africa remembers, as being synonymous with the Super Frelon helicopter.  In 1990, all the Super Frelon Helicopters were withdrawn from service and replaced by the Puma and later, by the more modern Oryx helicopters.

There are two intact Super Frelon helicopters left in the RSA.  The one displayed at the SAAF Museum at Zwartkop flew her last flight 07 February 1991 when she was ferried from Durban to Zwartkop by Major Zandy Greeff.  In her service lifetime, she had carried out 6 829 landings and had flown 3 082.7 hours.  The other Super Frelon is at the SAAF Museum in Ysterplaat.

Country of origin:  France
Manufactured as:   Aerospatiale SA-321L Super Frelon
Served with:  15 Squadron at Durban
Role:  Air-sea Rescue, troop and cargo carrier.
Power Plant:  Three turbo shaft engines, each delivering 985 kW (1 320 hp)
Max take-off mass:  13 000 kg
Max speed:  275 km/h
Max range:   820 km