Norwegian Big Cats
Looking at all the nations who have had the Leopard 1 Main Battle Tank in the service of their country Norway has been one of the nations who were very modest about their tanks yet developed very capable crews and proved the tanks could be used in extended adverse winter conditions. Norway’s Leopard 1NOs began service in 1971 and trundled on for 40 years until it was retired in 2011. This is very impressive and a testament to getting everything possible out of a fighting machine.
Over the years the Norwegian Leopards were upgraded a bit at a time until culminating with the Leopard 1A5NO. This version did not have any add-on armour on the turret. To add to the fleet an additional 33 ex-German Leopard 1A5s were obtained and brought to the Norwegian standard. Even though the ex-German tanks did have the turret add-on armour package. These new tanks also received the designation of Leopard 1A5NO. So, to summarize, you can have a Leopard 1A5NO without turret add-on armour and you can have a Leopard 1A5NO with turret add-on armour.
So, you may ask yourself what’s puts the “NO” in Leopard 1A5NO? On the glacis plate a large storage box was placed in order to stow the grousers and other items. The second very unique component are the “Thercam” thermal shields designed to be fitted over both exhaust louvers and the crew heater exhaust on the right hull side. You can only imagine the thermal signature that is produced on a tank operating in near Arctic conditions. These low tech components assist in reducing the thermal signature of the tank and therefore potentially reduce detection on a snow covered battlefield.
Other items added to the Norwegian Leopards are visible anti-slip patches on the turret top and glacis storage box. Trust me; slipping off a tank in the winter is not fun! On the left hull storage box a small open bracket was fitted to store a small can. I am not 100% sure if the can is for oil or is actually the standard issued small Leopard NBCW water can.
The Norwegian Leopards sported multiple camouflage schemes. The eye catching splinter camouflage, the splinter camouflage adapted for winter, and a solid green scheme.
Legend Productions, in consultation with Leopard Workshop, has created a 1/35th scale conversion set to create a Leopard 1A5NO. The conversion is designed for the Meng Leopard 1A5 kit with the turret add-on armour.
This small but poignant conversion consists of 18 resin parts, 158 PE parts on two frets, as well as two lengths of brass rod, two lengths of brass wire, and nylon thread as replacement tow cables. There are also a large number of two sizes of resin bolts included. Can you ever have enough extra resin bolts?
All of the resin parts require removal and clean-up from the resin pouring lugs. Take your time with both the big and small parts to ensure you remove the resin and clean up the parts without breaking them. The detail on grey resin parts is really top notch and surface details whether raised or recessed pop out in the crisp castings.
One colour double sided page is provided instructional purposes. Study the instructions carefully so that you understand well in advance what needs to be done to prepare the parts and the base kit to accept the parts.
There are no decals included in the set however Leopard Workshop has created a unique and colourful decal set exactly for a conversion such as this.
The hull conversion is fairly straight forward with the following taking place:
1. Pioneer tools on the hull sides and back deck are replaced with PE and brass rods for the cleaning staves. Tool clamps moulded on the kit parts will have to be removed. Any locating points on the hull side will have to be removed.
2. The rear mud flaps are replaced with multi-piece PE versions.
3. Racks are provided in PE for the hull side stowage bins for which a small can is placed. While two racks are included only one should be mounted on the right side bin. Also note that some of the tanks don’t mount the rack at all. Two small cans are provided in resin.
4. The characteristic glacis plate bin is provided in resin with brass rod and PE details.
5. Hull fording plugs are provided in resin with long PE chains.
6. Nylon string is provided for the tow cables. This would have been much better suited if they were provided as metal cables. PE locking clamps are provided for the tow cable eyelets.
7. Anti-slip patches for the front hull and back deck are provided in PE.
8. The small activation light on the tank phone is provided in resin.
9. The Thercam covers for the engine exhausts are provided in resin and supplemented with PE clamps. In order to use these parts if so chosen you must trim down the kit exhaust parts.
10. The Thercam cover for the crew heater exhaust is provided in resin.
11. The half circle mounts on the right and left rear corners of the hull are provided in resin.
12. A small PE screen is provided for the NBCW housing.
13. Two sets of PE registration plates are provided.
The turret conversion has the following taking place:
1. Replacement resin blanking plates of the correct shape/size are provided.
2. Multiple PE anti-slip panels are provided for the turret top. Again, you don’t want to slip of an icy turret top!
3. A sunshade for the gunner’s sight housing is provided in PE.
4. Antenna mounts are provided in resin.
5. Resin fording plugs and PE chains are provided for the mantlet armour.
6. Machine gun locking mounts are provided in resin for both hatch rings.
7. PE retaining chains are supplied for the grenade dischargers.
8. A set of great looking very details snow shoes are provided.
9. Finally, eight PE padlocks are supplied to secure your Leopard as desired.
This is a conversion were you have to do hardly any cutting, chopping, sanding, or bashing. The Leopard 1A5NO had subtle modifications and Legend Productions has reproduced those details and differences faithfully.
Now, I stated in the introduction that the Leopard 1A5NO could have turret add-on armour or no turret add-on armour. The conversion focuses on the add-on armour version. If you wanted to build the version without add-on turret armour you would have additional work to do.
If you used the Meng Leopard 1A5 kit you would have to use a good amount of elbow grease to sand off all of the turret add-on armour mounts because they are mould on in the Meng kit.
If you used the Takom Leopard 1A5/C2 kit you don’t have to sand off the add-on armour mounts because they are separate. You will have to fill in some holes on the turret sides. You would have to make some adjustments to the rear turret basket as the side frames are moulded into the Takom add-on armour panels. Additional detail is required to improve the turret and hull details.
If you used the Italeri/Revell-Germany Leopard 1A5 kit needs some hole filling on the turret sides. The advantage is that the turret rack and bustle and independent of the add-on armor panels. As with the Takom Leopard kit the Italeri/Revell-Germany kit can use some additional detailing on the hull and turret basic components.
I think this conversion set has very good cross-over potential to create the plain turret version of the Leopard 1A5NO using one of the three mentioned kits. Each one has advantages and disadvantages.
Whatever route you choose you will be able to add another classic Leopard 1 version to your growing Big Cat collection.
Highs: High standard of castings and detail and excellent PE details. A great looking Leopard conversion.Lows: The nylon string provided for the tow cables is a step backwards and would have been greatly improved with metal cable.Verdict: A simple and well detailed conversion to create a unique European Leopard.
Our Thanks to Legend Productions USA! This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.