bt_gazellePre-Modification (Image: Bayard Lawes)

(Info below originally compiled by Stipe Zivaljic)


SA.341G; S/N 1075; Production Year 1973

1973 – August 7 – Registered N94494 to G. D. Turner (Vought Helicopters Co.)
1973 –  September 25 – Re-registered N94494 to N777GH Holley & Beck
1977 –  March 2 – Registered to F.R.B.C. Leasing Co.
1977 –  March 14 – Leased to Mocomb Contracting Corp.
1980 – September 29 – Leased to P. Bosco & Sons, Inc. (formerly Mocomb Contracting Corp.)
1981 –  August 17 – Purchased by F.R.B.C. Leasing Co. to Moceri Management Co.
1981 –  August 19 – Purchased to Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.
1981 –  November 16 – Allocated experimental and registered N52BT to Columbia Pictures, Inc.
1986 –  March 21 – Registered same registration to Mr. Michael E. Grube
1988 – August 16 – Cof Reg. cancelled. Dismantled (scrapped) for parts, w/o


Gazelle Cutaway Illustration (Go here for full size)


Pre-Production Sketch sent to Cinema Air (Image: Bayard Lawes)

‘Fictional’ Modifications;

– Bullet-proof glass
– Armour plating
– 0.787 in (20 mm) barrel cannon
– Jet turbine engine with boost capability
– FLIR (forward-looking infra-red)
– TADS (helmet-mounted target acquisition and designation system)
– PNVS (pilot night vision sensor)
– Closed circuit TV-camera with a 100:1 zoom-lens
– Twin long-range, high-sensitivity shotgun microphones
– Cabin microphone ¾” code-numbered video-system
– Three TV-monitors
– Wide-band scanner
– Computer-databank links
– Whisper-mode for silent flight, etc.


Helicopter purchased by Columbia Pictures in 1981 for approx. $190,000

During 1981, modified as per movie requirements on 1,704.7 total hours in conjunction with R. W. Martin, Inc. (Cinema Air); b) Used as modification for film & TV Series “Blue Thunder” and “Amerika, 1997” TV mini-series (pilot: Jim Gavin)

“Blue Thunder” modifications designed/fabricated by Mickey Michaels, Philip Harrison, Bill Yoak.

The ‘02’ on the engine pods was an addition by Bill Yoak to honour the fallen second prototype Apache helicopter.

(Images: Gary Mason)

Distinguishing features;

* Full mockup interior

* Registration plate N77GH visible on port side camera pod

* Flapped ‘Barrel’ fittings visible on top of both camera pods

Murphy_Steals-001Roy Scheider on set with the ‘Hero’ helicopter – note registration on port pod and missing cylindrical barrels (though mounts are clearly present)

Recent Posts

“Where You Look, Is Where You Hit…”



In the very same week where, 33 years ago, BLUE THUNDER made its debut on Prime-Time TV, the best website online resource for the helicopter in all media makes its comeback with an all-new look and plenty of new content –

While posts were fewer than anticipated in 2017, the site pages (SPECIAL BASE) have been regularly updated – there you will find constant additions to the gallery and a revised page on the elusive Casio AA-85 Digital Watch as worn by Roy Scheider in the 1983 movie.  The collection has also continued to expand with the addition of some original artefacts from the TV show that will be showcased soon..!

I’d like to take the opportunity to thank all the fans who have been in touch and left comments since the site began, your contributions continue to be incredibly valuable and often lead to great things, a great example of which is below courtesy of Thomas Dozier.  Please enjoy the feature on his incredible one-of-a-kind Helmet project and standby for more to come…!

“Gentlemen, this is your Harrison Fire Control Helmet. This baby…is the heart of your system.”

“This was built from the same model HGU Series Dual Visor Flight Helmet used as the actual prop in the movie. I added the rear control box that, in fiction, is supposed to be part of the Heads-Up Display (HUD) system. There is a VCR type jack in the back along with a removable cable so it could be displayed it with or without it.
The boom mic was quite the adventure. After months of searching I realised there are no three section boom mics and the filmmakers custom made them for the film. Both the Blue Thunder helmet as well as the regular flight helmets in the film have these custom made boom mics. The first two sections are original vintage parts that match the film’s helmet exactly, and then like the prop makers, I had to scratch build the front section. I was able to locate the exact vintage microphone as was used in the film.

The helmet has a new old stock original chin strap, not the new lesser quality ones, as well as a new old stock vintage leather roll also. It also features new old stock earphones. Both the earphones and boom mic work so this is an actual working flight helmet.

The color is a dead-on match which I was worried about as it’s not a common blue.  Needless to say it does not have any targeting features…”

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