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Back in 1987 I read a Russian article that assessed the three main combat
threats the Soviets saw in the NATO armies. The Challenger 1 was dismissed out
of hand as "quaint" (mind that this was pre-Operation Granby) due to its design,
suspension, and two-piece manually loaded rifled gun. The US Abrams was
considered a severe threat but not with the 105mm gun. The German Leopard 2,
however, scared the daylights out of the Soviets with its 120mm gun and layered
armor arrays. (Note that the LeClerc did not even rate a mention!)
The Leo 2 was something else when introduced, and with a 1500 HP diesel engine
was the equivalent of the US Abrams in most areas of performance, exceeding it
in mileage. Even ADAC, the German auto club, had warnings in its magazine on
what to do and what not to do when encountering one on the autobahn. They noted
the tank could cruise at 60-70 kph (up to 42 mph) and had brakes sufficient to
stop it in less than 75 feet from that speed. They showed a stunt driver
tailgating one when it hit its brakes, and the result was a squashed Opel. (They
did have a roll cage around the driver!)
Overall, this was a great tank and even in its initial form is a serious
battlefield threat. German training films show the gun staying rock steady (with
stabilizers engaged) as the tank turns "neutral steer" 360s underneath it. The
early models (2A1 to 2A4) were rather chunky vehicles, even with a turret fully
as large as a WWII light to medium tank, and most modelers have shown a
preference for the later long-barreled 2A5 or uparmored 2A6 with the "wedges" on
the front of the turret. However, many NATO countries bought the earlier
versions and use them today, including the Poles, Finns, Swedes, Swiss and
DML is now offering this version of the tank as part of its "Armor Pro" series
kits, which includes new cut molds and more options for a slightly higher
pricetag. Among the details are the multitude of "non-skid" plates on the top of
the hull for crew safety.
This kit provides two different guns (the shorter original gun and the longer
L/55 barrel of the 2A5), two types of engine fans (plus etched brass screens for
them), two types of smoke projectors, and training aids such as a Hoffman
gunfire simulator and a "whoopie light" on a mast for the rear of the turret.
The suspension is a full one with separate road wheel arms, twin wheels (not "siamesed"
as with the T-34 kits), and very nicely done skirts.
Many modelers (me in particular) will be very pleasantly surprised that the
vinyl tracks come pre-painted – a brownish metallic color with the rubber pads
in the Diehl tracks painted black. These look really good and capture the look
of tracks with a bit of use (e.g. paint worn off) but not bright rust red.
The model comes with two sets of markings – a very thorough decal sheet and a
set of stick-on "exercise" markings for German force-on-force training. These
are red Xes and simulate the real thing, which also just stuck on. The kit
provides markings for eight German Leo 2A4s to include four in winter
camouflage, one Polish, one Swiss, one Finnish, and two Dutch vehicles.
The problem I have is that the directions do not differentiate one tank from
another, as I recall they use different smoke projectors and arrangements but
all the kit does is indicate "optional" parts and not which vehicles use them.
The same goes for the engine deck fan covers (the plastic bases, not the nickel
screen). This is a bit of a shame, as the kit is otherwise very nice and
complete. (You will need references to check on these details.)
Overall, this is a nice kit and should please a lot of NATO fans.
Thanks to Freddie Leung of DML for the review sample.
Review Copyright © 2005 by Cookie
Page Created 04 June, 2005
Last updated 04 June, 2005
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