Since first entering service back in 1979 the German Leopard 2 has evolved over three decades and has been upgraded to enhance firepower, armour protection, crew survivability, battlefield management, and serviceability. Advancements in armour technology, tank gun design, and digital fire control systems and continually being sought by Krauss Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and by the worldwide users of the Leopard 2 series.
Over the past decade and a half the Leopard 2 has seen some significant developments beginning with the Leopard 2A5 providing increased armour protection and advanced fire control systems, then the Leopard 2A6 with increased firepower with the L55 main gun, and now the culmination of all uses of technology and lessons learned in combat is the Leopard 2A7 .
The Leopard 2A7 was revealed by KMW in the summer of 2009, and was designed based on requirements of the German Army for a tank to conduct warfare in the non-traditional and lop-sided battlefield of urban areas. The ever increasing threats of hostiles using RPGs, IEDs, and other close range deadly armour defeating weapons has shown the need to adapt tanks to fight effectively in urban areas.
As a result the Leopard 2A7 has incorporated the following:
- All-around armour protection to defeat a variety of traditional and non-traditional weapons systems
- A turret mounted stabilized secondary weapon system (FLW 200)
- Auxiliary Power Unit (APU)
- Air Conditioning Unit (A/C)
- Infantry Tank Telephone
- 360 degree camera and sensor system
- White light searchlight
The Leopard 2A7 takes on a new sleeker look than the 2A5 or 2A6 with newly designed hull and turret armour, the various cameras and sensors, the rear turret mounted APU and A/C units and the very distinctive and ominous looking FLW 200 on the turret roof.
The FLW 200 is a heavy fully remote controlled weapon system. On the Leopard 2A7 a variety of weapons such as a 12.7 mm Heavy Machine Gun (HMG) or the GMK 40 mm grenade launcher can be mounted. The FLW 200 is fully stabilized, self contained, and has built in features that will not permit the system to fire at the host vehicle in error.
The German Army intends to upgrade a total of 150 Leopard 2s to the 2A7 standard over the next several years. Without a doubt portions of the technology utilized will also be attractive to other nations looking at upgrading their Leopard 2 fleets over the following years.
German model producer Y-Modelle
has created a 1/35 conversion for the Leopard 2A7 . The conversion depicts the demonstrator version of the tank with all of the incorporated components. The Y-Modelle conversion is designed for use with the Hobby Boss Leopard 2A5DK #82405 kit.
The conversion consists of a total of 37 parts. There are 31 resin parts and 6 photo etched parts. The resin parts in my conversion are cast in a light tan. The overall appearance of the parts is very high quality. The main hull and turret parts show fine details and are void of air bubbles. I have to say that the level of detail found on the resin parts such as the A/C unit, APU, spotlight, remote weapon system mount, the 12.7 mm HMG, and the GMK 40 mm grenade launcher is some of the finest I have seen done in resin. The barrel of the 12.7 mm will need a quick dip in hot water to straighten it out but this is totally overshadowed by the fantastic details found on the receiver itself.
The conversion parts are package in heat sealed plastic bags and well packed into the sturdy cardboard box with foam chips to keep everything tight.
There are nine pages of instruction provided in a booklet form written in German only. The instruction pages provide a breakdown of the parts and move through the assembly process for the addition of the conversion parts. Colour images of each step are provided with particular attention paid to how the Hobby Boss Leopard 2A5DK kit must be modified in order for the conversion parts to fit properly. There are six colour images of a completed and painted Leopard 2A7 conversion in the booklet. Overall the instructions are workable, but it would have been nice to have had larger images to show the blending of the conversion parts with the Hobby Boss kit and both German and English text.
The new design for the heavy armoured side skirts adds to the sleek look of this new Leopard. The skirts simply replace the kits versions. Other additions to the hull include the belly armour, the tank phone, the driver’s camera, and an additional hull stowage box. The placement of the camera components on the mid hull area are shown in the completed images but not in detail during assembly.
The turret uses the majority of the conversion parts with chunky modular armour and a significant turret rear extension with the APU and A/C units. The grenade dischargers require some modification due to the modular armour package. The rifle box and white light spotlight all fit naturally with the kit parts. The spotlight will require a cable to be added. The photo etched parts should fit very nicely to bridge the gap between the turret roof and the turret add-on armour.
The turret and hull cameras and sensors are crisply cast but do lack some details with respect to the actual optics of these devices.
The culmination of the conversion is the addition of the FLW 200 Remote Weapon System. The conversion provides parts to mount either a 12.7 mm heavy machine gun or the GMK 40 mm grenade launcher and the associated ammunition. The FLW 200 without a doubt makes a huge visual impact on the Leopard 2A7 . One thing I noted that was omitted in the conversion is that as a result of the FLW 200 being mounted on the turret the loader’s hatch ring and hatch needs to be rotated nearly 180 degrees to permit the opening of the hatch toward the front of the turret instead of to the rear. This should be a relatively easy fix.
A simple RAL painting guide is provided for the unique camouflage scheme applied to the demonstrator version of the Leopard 2A7 . With any luck over the next few years we will see the Leopard 2A7 in standard NATO three colour camouflage.
The associated paints to match the colours used for the build as seen on the Y-Modelle site and in the instructions are:
Tamiya XF57 Buff or XF55 Deck Tan
Revell 87 “Erdfarbe”
Revell 17 “Africabraun”
These colour matches are directly from Y-Modelle. If there other paints that match the real vehicle it will have to take some experimenting.
The Leopard 2A7 conversion by Y-Modelle creates a very unique ultra-modern tank. Hopefully the Leopard 2A7 will be seen in service over the following years and provide excellent reference material for modellers. The conversion parts are very nicely cast and include lots of details which will enhance and transform the Hobby Boss Leopard 2A5DK kit. The price tag makes this unique conversion reasonably priced for all Leopard aficionados.
For those interested in building the conversion the best reference images I have seen for the Leopard 2A7 are on Ralph Zwilling’s site: