by: Ethelian Middleton [ ]
introductionAs the title suggests this book covers the service history, and development, of the Leopard 1 in the German Army. This is mainly achieved through the use of photographs, but there is a brief written history and a section on the modifications that the Leopard underwent during its career. At the back of the publication there are also several 1/35th scale drawings of the various versions of the Leopard. There are five side views, all of the left hand side, four overhead views and four views of the front and rear.
contentsThe book is split into sections, each one dealing with a particular upgrade of the Leopard. We start off with the first upgrade to the Leopard program, the A1A1. This was the only upgrade in the mid to late 70’s it was not until the 80’s that the leopard started to be upgraded on a frequent basis. The second section covers the upgrades carried out throughout the 80’s. These included the addition of various night sites, including the PZB were fitted as well as newer and more powerful radios. Smaller modifications are also discussed and explanations given as to why they were introduced and when they were introduced.
There is some discussion as to the actual camouflage colours used, or more correctly when they were introduced. Early Leopards were only painted in NATO Green, but there is photographic evidence that this was not always the case, and the two tone, and three tone camouflage schemes were introduced earlier than thought, if only in an unofficial way. This section also discusses the markings for various Units and goes into some depth to explain the numbering system, which did not always follow the normal Company/Platoon/Tank system.
The biggest upgrade to the Leopard came with the realization that the Leopard 1 would be in service for longer than originally thought. The fire control system, the laser range finder, new thermal sights, and a new 120mm gun are just some of the conversions that are discussed in this section. It is also at this point that the Bundeswehr officially adopts the standard NATO scheme.
The sections following the discussion of the 1A5 deal with the export versions of the Leopard, but do not list the modifications made by each country when they received their Leopard’s. This is followed up by a brief discussion of the phase out of the Leopard and about the use of the Leopard as a test bed and some unique vehicles. This leads into a section on the Leopard 1A6. This is a short section as only two of these vehicles were built and the main differences could be found in the up armouring program and the fire control systems.
Towards the end of this section there are several smaller paragraphs that deal with specialized vehicles such as the Leopard 1A2 with a dozer blade, a Leopard 1A5 turret on a T-72 chassis and an Artillery Observation vehicle.
The photograph section is divided into the same order as the text at the front of the book and you get several pages of photographs on each variant, including the experimental variants. The photographs in these sections range from distance shoots, to close up detail shoots and should be a help to anyone needing confirmation of the location of a part, the colour of some small detail that is not included in the kit. Of particular note here I would mention the photographs of the add on armour plate mountings on the turrets. This provides the sort of hidden detail that is often hard for a modeller to find good photographs of.
In other photographs you can even see the texture of the steel used for the turrets. This would be most useful when texturing kit parts and is reminiscent of World War 2 photographs of German amour plate.
After the completion of the photographic section there is a brief two pages on the technical aspects of the Leopard 1. After this section is a section on “Unique Conversions”. Some of these conversions finally found their way onto the Leopard 2, while others did not get past the testing stage. The photographs do show some unique AFV’s that could be the basis for a model conversion. The section containing the 1/35th scale plans completes the book.
conclusion.After reading this book several times, I was left with the impression that this is an essential book for anyone wanting to model any of the earlier variants of the Leopard 1. Not only are the photographs well taken, but also the many detail shots, I think, will provide an indispensable aid to the modeller. Of note is the inclusion of an “exploded” view of the various components for the Leopard 1A5. This is reminiscent of a stage from an instruction sheet and should benefit anyone, immensely, who wants to build a 1A5 variant.
The book does not cover all the variants of the Leopard 1, only the 1A1 to 1A5. A second book is promised that will cover the later variants of the Leopard 1 including the up-armoured versions. The photographs are very varied in their locations. Leopards in the field, on the practice ranges, factory fresh, and many detail shots, including the engine removed from the Leopard. The text is brief but informative, and lists the full modifications made to the Leopard. The captions are well written but there are a few typos in the translation from German to English, but nothing too drastic.
If you have an interest in Leopard 1’s, or even if it is modern tanks of any nation, I doubt you would be disappointed if you bought this book. Although it only covers German Leopard’s, many of the detail photograph’s are applicable to other nation’s Leopard’s. For your money you will find many interesting and detailed photographs, that will provoke the imagination and inspire you to build that Leopard 1, that was certainly my first thought after I had initially read it, and I had not had any plans to even think about building one, truly excellent reference work.
88 Colour photographs
German & English text