Monday, 26 December 2011

Leopard II Family

Revell anounced to release a Leopard II A5NL version. Looking at the picture from the revell webiste it looks more like the Leopard II A6 as used by the Dutch army. Time to bring some order in this 'leochaos' by looking at the leopard II family tree. Added for modellers are the names of manufacturers that produce models of a specific variant in 1/72. Since this is a modeling weblog, the text will concentrate on the difference between the versions that can be seen on the outside.

For all versions upgrades from existing vehicles and factory fresh vehicles are in service. Click on the diagram for a larger version.
Note: I've updated the legenda, I mixed up the colors for 'no longer in use' and 'no MBT version'.

MBT (Main Battle Tank) versions

Leopard II A0 to A3:
The first production batches are called A0 to A3. The changes between the different models are minimal and mainly involve internal upgrades like better fuelfilters and radio's. The difference on the outside are minimal. All A0 versions are upgrated to the A1 version, then to the A2 version, then to the A3 versions and finally to the A4 versions. Hasegawa makes a model with a slighty different attenna as used on the A4 versions. If I remember correctly this antenna was used on the A0 to A2 versions if I remember correctly. (I couldn't find the part where I read it)
A picture of one of the first leopards in use.

Leopard II A4:
The leopard II A4 can be seen as the last version as it was used in the late 80's and early nighties. The difference on the outside with the A0 to A3 version is minimal, actually just a small hatch in the newer production vehicles. As said all leopard tanks are upgraded to this standard. This model of the Leopard II is the most used and exported version. It is used for example by Poland, Turkey, Finland, Austria and Chilli. Dragon and Revell (no. 03103) make of model of this version in 1/72. The Hasegawa Leopard can also be used since the difference is only an antenna.
A leopard II A4 as used by the Finnish army on parade.

Leopard II A5:
The difference between the Leopard II A4 and A5 is big on the outside and thus of interest for modellers. The largest difference is the addition of a wedged shaped piece of armour to the turret. Newer electronics all also added on the inside of the tank. Revell makes at least one model of this version as product no.03105. Maybe the new A5NL model is a A5 version as advertised but I'm not sure.
A german leopard II A5 during an exersize.

Leopard II A6/A6M:
The Leopard II A6 differences from the A5 version by the L55 gun which has a barrel that is 1,3m longer as the L44 gun from the leopard A0 to A5. The A6M version is a version of the leopard with an extra armoured underside to protect the crew against mines. This modification is an addaption to the situation in Afganistan. Revell no.03180 is a model which can be build as both versions.
A dutch Leopard II A6 on exersize in the Caribian.

Leopard II A4 Revolution:
The Leopard II A4 Revolution is an A4 model upgraded to meet the demands of the new century. It features better electronics and a allround armour upgrade changing it's appearence considerably. Singapoure uses this version of the Leopard.
The A4 Revolution on the move, the additional armor can be clearly seen here.

Leopard II A6E:
Leopard II A6E is short for Leopard II 'Espania'. This version of the leopard is not only used by Spain but also by Greece and Sweden where they are called 'HEL' and 'StrV. 122' respectively. The main difference on the outside with the A5 and A6 version is the extra armor and headlights. Unfortunately there is no model of this version in 1/72.
The Leopard II A6E in action.

Non MBT's

Tanks are originally developed as support for the infantry in WWI effectively repleacing the horse based cavalry which had that task for centuries before in European armies. (In other parts of the world cavalry had a more independend role) Horses where not just used in the cavalry but also to support armies by transporting guns and wounded. The tank follows this patern and different versions are made for other purposes as shooting down the enemy. Of the Leopard II there are six different 'support' versions.

Driver training vehicle
The name of this version explains preciesely what it does, training the driver to drive the tank.

Buffalo recovery vehicle
A tank can have engine failure or get stuck in in the mud. A lagere power source is needed to get the compromised vehicle out of trouble. Usually this is done by an other tank especially modified for this purpose known as 'Armored Recovery Vehicle'. The Buffalo is the ARV-version of the Leopard II and features a dozerblade, crane and machinegun for it's defence.
A Buffalo recovery vehicle of the german army.

Kodiak Combat Engineering Vehicle
Sometimes it is needed to dig a large hole, get obstacles out of the way or build a command center in rough terrain far from the civilized world or in a devastaded city. For this pupose Combat Engineering Vehicles (CEV's) are used. The Leopard II CEV is known as Kodiak. A prominent feature of the Kodiak is it's large excavator. The dutch version will also be able to clear minefields.
A Kodiak digging during trials.

Bridge layers
Tanks are able to wade through deep water. With the right equipment a leopard can even 'dive' dissapearing completely under water. The tanks have to be specially prepared for this however, other vehicles can't do this and it can be done to cross rivers with steep edges. Laying a potoon bridge is an alternative way to cross a river but a third option is using a 'fast bridge'. There are two versions of the leopard II capable of laying a bridge in recordtime: The 'Leopard II Fast bridge' made by MAN and the 'Leopard II LEGUAN' made by Patria for the Finnish army.
The 'Pänzerschnellbrücke' or 'Leopard II Fast bridge' by MAN.

The LEGUAN in action.

Leopard IIR
A classical task of the tank is clearing mines. The leopard IIR is a minesweeper made by Patria for the Finnish army and is the version of the Leopard II dedicated to sweeping mines. The Dutch version of the Kodiak can also be used for this task but is capable of performing other duties as well.
A Leopard IIR during an exercise of the Finnish army.

Prototypes

Leopard II A4 140mm
During the armsrace of the cold war militairy equipment was continually improved. For the Leopard II this was no difference and she was tested with a 140mm gun. Tests where succesfull but it was decided to keep the 120mm gun since it was sufficient at the time.
The Leopard II A4 - 140mm in a workshop. Also note the gun and mound of the A5 version on the right which is dwarved by the 140mm gun.

Leopard II A5PSO:
The leopard II A5PSO (Peace Support Operations) is a prototype of a leopard version optimized for urban warfare. It features allround protection, a short barrel, secondiary weapon system, dozerblade and better sensors.
The prototype on eurosatory 2006.

Leopard II A7+
The Leopard II A7+ is the newest version of the Leopard II designed as an allround battle tank. The most prominent changes with it's predecesors are the improved armour and a machinegun that van be controled from the inside of the turret.
The Leopard II A7+ on eurosatory 2010.


Concluding remarks
With 10 MBT versions, 6 support versions and 3 prototypes the leopard II family is quite extended. Some versions in the family tree are almost identical on the outside. Fact is that this family tree is not complete yet. Every country has it's own 'style' of Leopard II. The differences between smoke granate launchers are largre for example and there is also a large variantion in side skirts. These differences or minor however. A somewhat lager difference will be formed by the Leopard II A4's of the Chilean army because these will be fitted whit the L55 long barreled gun as used in the A6 version. The leopard II's used in Afganistan by Canada and Denmark are also fitted with bararmor to protect them against hollowpoint charges. The result is that the Leopard II complete family three looks like the family tree of the real leopard (the animal). This is a reflection that, just like in nature, weapon development is a proces of small steps improving to addapt to the latest challenges put up by the environment.
The original version in winter camouflage.

The basic A4, A5 and A6 version are made as a 1/72 model. To make other versions one has to modify these models or maybe buy a resin version. More about a few models of Leopard II's van be read on this weblog, more on the Leopard II tank itself on here wikipedia.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Amourfast Firefly

I'm in the middle of moving from one house to an other but found some time to update this weblog. This time some pictures of a models I've made a few months ago. It are two armourfast fireflies.

The Firefly was essentially an American Sherman modified to carry a British 17-pounder AT gun. The 17pdr was hastily developed to counter the Tiger tank which was pretty much invunrable to virtually any allied AT gun at the time of it's introduction. The 17-pdr fired a 76,2 mm shell with a muzzle velocity of 884 m/s and was able to knock out heavy german tanks. When the weapon was ready there was no tank developed to carry the gun. About 200 'Challengers', an extended version of the Cromwell, where made but finally the Sherman was chosen to house the gun. The turret was too small for this gun however so the radio was moved to a separate basket at the back end of the turret. Apart from this and the gun itself there are no real differences between these and other Shermans. The gunbarrel was longer and was painted in a special way to hide this fact. This was necesserry because the Firefly was a prime target for german tankers since it was the most dangerous tank from there point of view.

Armourfast is a company based in the the UK and produces 'fast build tanks'. These are tanks with 10 to 15 parts for wargamers. Italeri also has a few models after this concept. The models of Armourfast are quite sparese; The have no tools molded on for example. I like the tanks from Armourfast better though since Italeri's details are a bit soft. The tracks are also better.

The basic model is very good and in true 1/72 scale. The only other model in 1/72 scale is from Dragon and quite expensive and hard to find. Revell has a 1/76 Firefly which is quite good but really to small compared with 1/72 models. Sometims 1/76 models can be mixed with 1/72 ones but not this one. For my armourfast models I've made extra parts, most notably the headlights, rearend and tools. The modifications can be seen here:


The finished models:

Boxart for TPz 1 Fuchs A4

I've found a picture of TPz 1 Fuchs A4 here at the www.modeluniversum.de :

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Revell releases for 2012 announced

At the end of each year Revell announces what new releases it will come with in the first 4 quarters of the next year. Usually these are variations of models in production and models that have not been released for a while and are being put back in production. For armor fans revell has some interesting news:
-TPz1 Fuchs A4, back in production release: January.
-Leopard II A5NL, variation of there excellent Leopard II A6, release: Februari.
-Mörser & Famo pack, a set of cuurently seperately released vehicles, release: April.

I've never build the Fuchs but I have build the A6 version of the Leopard II and the Famo with Mörser and there are highly recommended. See my reviews here & here.

More news on releases in other categories can been found on the website of the IPMS germany.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Dual at the wall

Here a very small fignette of two figures set in medieval asia. It features a mongol and a chinese in a dual. The chinese cavalry man is an Italeri figure while the mongol is from Zvezda, not from there newest set though.

The chinese figure is made from the SSM plastic of Italeri which one can sand to remove moldseams. With the Zvezda figure this is a little more difficult since it is made of the plastic usually used for figures. Despite priming the paint didn't adhire so good as with most other figures but the painting was quite doable.

The Italeri figure is a bit over scale but extremely detailed, it won't doa bad job as a 1/32 figure. The flag was made by my self from paper. The base is made from a theecoaster with a piece of painted paper glued on top.


It was nice to make a small diorama for a change. The extensive use of bright colors mixed with silver paint to make them shiny is also a welcome departure from the camouflage colors usually applied to tanks or the non metalic uniform colors of european knights.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Revell Leopard II A6/A6M

Yesterday I bought the latest release of Revell: The Leopard II A6 / A6M. It's the only really new release of 1/72 armor in 2011 of Revell and it is finally here! So was it worth the wait? To be short: Yes, it was. Time to take a look at what we preciesely get. I haven't build the whole model yet but did assemble the most important bits. I still have to add quite some parts but these are the smaller details which will always fit because there simply glued 'on top' of the turret and hull. All parts which require a critical fit have been assembeld.

Revell has 4 leopard tanks in there range at this moment, the Leopard I A5 (no. 03115), the Leopard II A4 (no. 03103), the Leopard II A5 (no. 03105) and now also the Leopard II A6 (no. 03180) with extra parts to make a A6M version.

The most odd thing about the box is the fact that is 'licenced by Krauss Mayweg Staffel' which is the manufacturer of the real Leopard II. The Leopard II A4 model is a model made by Matchbox and the mold was taken over by Revell, later Revell added a sprue to make a Leopard II A5 version and released this as a seperate model. The model of the A6 is a completely new model however and no parts are taken from these other kits. A few flaws of the older kits are the missing non-slip patches over the hull of the tank, missing wheel rims, over simplyfied turret baskets and unclear instructions on how to place the smoke dischargers. These things all have been fixit with this latest release, in addition the overall detail is simply stunning as can be seen for the upper hull in this photo:

The kit has quite a few parts, the hull is made out of several different parts, an underside, two sides for the lower hull, the rear, the top & right side of the upper hull and the left side of the upper hull. This kind of way to make a hull requiers a very good fit of the parts. The fit is in one word 'perfect' and the result looks like the real thing.
The suspension is very detailed and complex. Each swing arm has to be fitted separately and each wheel is made out two separate tires, what a difference from the earlier models! The fit of the swing arm is quite delecate, be carefull when you have asembled it!

The turret is also an affair with many parts which all go together like Lego. The add-on armour on the sides of the turret can be made moving. In reality this is needed when the engine has to be replaced. (unfortunately I was not able to find a picture of this procedure)

The most noticeble thing of this model are the tracks, these are made out of two long pieces per side. These pieces have to be bended into shape and Revell recommends to do this with WARM water if you don't get it right. There is an explicite waring not to use boiling water since you will burn your hands. At first I was a bit sceptical about this procedure but it works quite well actually. The model is made in green plastic and this is always a bit softer then plastics of other colors. This requiers care when cutting the parts from the sprue but makes it easy to bend the tracks in shape. I used hot water and the procedure went quite well. It just seems to be very difficult to bend the tracks over the front idler wheel, there they breached a little which is not a big deal since the tracks can be glued back again like a link & length track. You have to de the bending before you paint the tracks ofcourse. Finally the tracks are a bit longer as needed so you don't have to align things perfectly.

As said before the suspension is quite fragile but I has no trouble bending the tracks around it. You also don't need to fit all the road wheels for this. It does is important to follow the instructions however. I glued the parts containing the front end of the fenders to check their fit. This is a problem when you try to put on the tracks in their turn since you can't check how it bends around to front iddler wheels. Make sure you follow the instructions on this one!

So is this a perfect kit? Not completely. The wheels are slightly off center. The tires are also a bit conic which actually helps when to try to sand the wheels round. This was again not as difficult as I thought but the off centricity is the odd man out on this model. I also don't really understand how an experienced kitmanufacturer like Revell can make such a mistake. A picture to make things more clear:

Also the softer green plastic is prone to sinkmarks and a few can be seen here and there but this is not a real problem in my view since non can be seem when the model is completed. Some people might be dissapionted with some tiny sinkholes in the middle of the innerfaces of the tracks.

So what is the final verdict on this little gem? It can be recommended, the new way Revell made the tracks might be a bit of a challenge and the wheels are a bit off centric which is the biggest flaw in my few. These are not really big issues however. This is a very good release from revell of an interesting subject and I recommended it to all modern armor fans.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

News Update: Revell Leopard II A6 / A6M Availible

Although not anounced yet at the revell website the Revell Leopard II A6/A6M is availible at modelshobbies.co.uk which can only mean it is due to arrive in your local hobbyshop soon.

The boxart:

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Revell releases update

Revell had three 1/72 armor releases planned for the second half of 2011, namely the Spz 1A3 Marder (No.03113), the Leopard II A6M (No.03180) and the M1A1(HA) Abrams (No.03112). The Marder and Leopard II A6M where sceduled for release last month. The Marder is released one and a half week ago with the following boxart:

The Leopard II A6M is not released yet and thus is delayed. On the website of the IPMS germany photo's of the testshots are shown however so the release date can't be far away. A few shots of the sprues are shown here.
The first sprue contains most parts of the turret:

The second sprue has parts of the turret and hull:

The third sprue contains parts of for the wheels and track:

And the last sprue contains parts specific for the A6M version like the longer barrel and antimine armor for the underside of the hull:

More pictures can be found here.

Form as far as I can see the Leopard II A6M is a brand new model and not the A4/A5 version with some extra parts. It seems that it is not possible to build the newwest IIE version which is a bit of a dissapointment.

More information as soon as I have it.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Famo & Mörser 18

A post of two models this time. It's the Sd.Kfz. 9 "FAMO" and the Mörser 18.
The Famo was a halftrack capable of towing 28 tons and was developed as the Whermacht's heavy hauler.
The Mörser 18 was one of the most heavy german howitsers and fired a shell of 113 kg and 210 mm in diameter. It could be towed by two Sd.Kfz.7's or a single FAMO.

Both of the models are from Revell, the Famo is no.03141 and the mörser is no.03169. both models are also availible in an other version.
There is a kit of the Famo with an 'earthspade' used to aid the vehicle when recovering tanks, this is kit no.03100.
The kanone 18 is a slightely different version of the mörser 18 featuring a different gun and wheels. This kanone 18 was the successor of the mörser 18. The difference between the gun kits is only the wheels and gunbarrel, it is really a shame revell doesn't give you these parts so you can choose which version you want to build. Especially because the wheels included with the kanone 18 can also be used with the mörser 18. Boxing slightely different versions of models as separate kits is they way almost all major kitmanufacturers do their buisiness these days however. The kitnumber of the kanone 18 is no.03176.

Both of the boxes.

The models themselves are extremely well engineered and moulded. These are prime examples of the top model kits that are made these days. Both of them have a large amount of parts, 150 for the Famo and 200 for the mörser. Both of the kits go together very well but I won't recommend the mörser 18 for beginners since it is a quite complecated kit. The mörser can be build in two ways, deployed or on the wheels of the carriage. I choose the latter option so I could have it towed by the Famo. It painted the models to represent vehicles used by the Afrika Koprs. The red parts of the mörser are parts where the paint has worn of to the level of the primer or parts that where never painted in camouflage color.

On to the pictures!

Of the mörser:



The Famo:

The figures are from the Revell german Atillery set no.02515, the flak from a fijumi set.

Both of the behemots:


Both kits are highly recommend, but the mörser for somewhat experienced modelers only because of it's complexity. (It shouldn't be the first model you make, more like your 4th etc.)

Monday, 12 September 2011

Tech Tip III - Uniform colors

When I plan to paint figures of knights etc. I always have ideas about how to paint the uniforms. Color combinations, scheme's and heraldic signs are all in my head until the painting begins! Then my imigination seems to have fled my mind. To make sure I have ideas about how to paint my figures I've made the following chart to help me:


Maybe it can be of service to you too! (click on the picure for a larger version)

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

C1 Ariëte

The C1 Ariëte is a tank developed by Italy in the early nineties. It has a 120mm smootbore main gun and two 7,62 machine guns. The engine is the same as used in the Centauro APC and Dardo IFV so it's a little underpowered tank.

The only model availible is from Trumpeter, the brand has two in 1/35 and one in 1/72. The 1/72 model of trumpeter consists of about 60 parts most of which are used for the wheels. The tracks are of the rubberband type. This model is a typical Trumpeter model, good molding but simplefied in some areas to keep the part number low.



Pictures of the build model:




Although slightly detail as the Revell offers and about half of the parts I can still recommend this model!