The Leopard 2A4’s main gun was selected due to the ability of the weapon to destroy enemy heavy armour with the first hit and for the significant potential for future improvements. The use of a 120 mm main gun on a tank was not something new and had been fielded during the Cold War on the British Conqueror, the British Chieftain, and the U.S. M103/A1/A2. What set the L44 120 mm cannon apart from those guns was the smoothbore barrel. The key with the L44 smoothbore compared to rifled 120 mm counterparts is that more gas pressure is produced and conversely there is less barrel wear in the smoothbore barrel. Less barrel wear means a longer life span and less impact on the ballistic accuracy while firing. The higher gas pressure means an increase in the velocity of the rounds fired down range thus increasing the chance of destroying the enemy target with the first round.
Leopard 2A4 kits have provided a variety of L44 barrels. These have all had the standard two parts barrels with that nasty seam. Even the new Meng Leopard 2A4 with all of its fantastic details still provides an old school two piece barrel. From the aftermarket world several metal L44 barrels have been marketed over the years. Some of them have had basic details and others have been very well detailed. The downside to the all metal aftermarket barrels was the steadily climbing price.
The Leopard Workshop has continued their Leopard lineage with a new L44 barrel designed to be assembled and simply be exchanged with the Meng Leopard 2A4 kit barrel.
The LW017M Leopard 2A4 Barrel set consists of the following parts:
1. L44 Barrel
2. Early Counterweight
4. Fume Extractor- smooth finish
5. Fume Extractor- Fine Fibreglass texture
6. Fume Extractor- Rough Fibreglass texture
7. Barrel base for MENG Leopard 2A4
These seven parts provide the ability for the L44 to be built in a variety of configurations based on the production batch and barrel details.
Examination of the parts brought a smile to my face with plenty of large and small details. The barrel has subtle drainage holes, the Collimator has excellent angles and bolt detail, and the barrel base has a very nicely moulded dust jacket.
Selecting to use either the muzzle counterweight or the Collimator will depend on the version of your Leopard 2A4. The counterweight was used from initial production to about 1991. From 1991 onward Batch 8 Leopard 2A4s were fitted with the Collimator. If you do your research you’ll be fine.
To top it off you are provided with a selection of three different fume extractors each exhibiting a different level of finishing on the outside. I can 100% verify that the fume extractors on used on the L44 barrels have variations in the external texture ranging from smooth to very visible criss-cross fiberglass texture. I believe that Leopard Workshop has gone above and beyond with providing the three options as you and I as the modellers get to reap the reward.
Assembly of the barrel is very simple once you clean up the parts. The fume extractor needs some clean up from the inside out of the smaller front hole in order for the barrel to fit snuggly. The barrel base will fit exactly like the kit barrel into the mantlet.
A slight bit of clean up may be required to attach the counterweight or Collimator parts. Note that the Collimator attaches to the barrel with the mirror on the right side of the barrel.
The instructions show the breakdown of the parts and explains part of the clean up, the different fume extractors and provides images of the real tanks showing the counterweight and Collimator set ups.
This is a superb set for the Meng Leopard 2A4. I am very impressed with the multiple fume extractor options. Even the most discerning modeller should be impressed with the quality and the value.
Highs: Excellent detail and well thought out variation options.Lows: Tactful cleanup and careful part alignment is required.Verdict: Very highly recommended.