by: Darren Baker [ ]
The Leopard tank in its various forms has a lot of appeal with modellers both past and present, and its improvement programmes have kept it current with world militaries and again the modeller. Tankograd Publishing has followed the Leopard tank progression closely and has now released two new books written by Ralph Zwilling looking at the development, technology and active service of the Leopard 2A5.
The following portion of the introduction is written by Tankograd Publishing.
The quantum leap in the modernisation of the German Leopard 2A4 main battle tank was the upgrade to the A5 version. With this project the Leopard also received a radical new armour suite that significantly enhanced its protection level and changed its external appearance. All most recent Leopard 2 variants such as the 2A6 and the 2A7 are based on the Leopard 2A5. This publication, for the first time, grants an in-depth view into the development history, deployment and use as well as the groundbreaking technology of this major asset of the modern Panzertruppe. Two parts with a total of 144 pages illustrated with 320 colour photographs, 28 graphics and one five-perspective 1/35 scale drawing are a worthy documentation for Germany's most formidable fighting machine!
Both of these new titles from Tankograd Publishing are duel language offerings in German and English, German on the left and English on the right side of each page. Tankograd Publishing has also supplied the captions that accompany each image in English and German. These two books total 144 pages of good quality glossy paper with a soft cover of glossy card, the page numbers run concurrently across the two titles and I would not be surprised to see further titles added to these offerings.
The first of these titles begins with a welcome introduction from Lieutenant General Carsten Jacobson who is the Commander Field Army and Vice Chief of the German Army. Having read the introduction it is clear that this officer knows Ralph Zwilling very well.
The book begins with the M47 and later the M48 and M60 tanks that were to be replaced by the Leopard series of tanks. These tanks provided stirling service during their time with the Bundeswehr, but a replacement was needed. Initially Main Battle Tank 70 was to provide a replacement tank for the M48 during the 1960’s and was a joint venture with the Americans.
The Leopard 2 proper has been traced back to 1970 in this book, a full 25 years before the Leopard 2 went into military service with the Bundeswehr. The history has been kept concise in this offering from Tankograd Publishing, but it does do a good job of keeping the story interesting and functional.
This title then carries on with the various changes and developments that took place over the years and the introduction of the Leopard 2A4. Tankograd Publishing has also looked at the effects that the end of the Cold War had on the Leopard 2A5’s development and keeping the project alive. This is followed by the changes made to the vehicle before finally being issued to the Bundeswehr in 1995.
This title now moves onto the Leopard 2A5 proper and initially provides a short text on the official handover ceremony. Ralph Zwilling then covers early identifiers that were changed in a series of five pictures. The Leopard 2A5 fielded by the 33rd Armour Battalion, this unit was commanded by the then Lieutenant Colonel Carsten Jacobson. A couple of the images of some art painted on the tanks are a great inclusion. This section is followed by a short part on the Leopard 2A5 at the Combat Manoeuvre Training Centre.
Tankograd Publishing then presents a series of images with excellent captions covering Leopard 2A5 in use with various units. These sections are excellent visual reference on the vehicles, but especially the weathering of a tank that is in or has been in the field. The units covered here are:
33rd Armour Battalion – 2nd Company
33rd Armour Battalion – 3rd Company
33rd Armour Battalion – 5th Company
33rd Armour Battalion – CMTC Winter Battle
214th Armour Battalion
393rd Armour Battalion
104th Armour Battalion
There are now three sections looking at the:
Leopard 2A5 KFOR Operations in Kosovo
Leopard 2A5 today
Leopard 2A5 at the German Army Combat Training Centre
These sections are again mostly photographic with captions and these are again excellent reference sections.
The crew roles of the Leopard 2A5 gets covered next. The roles of the four man are clearly explained and make it clear why you would never want to be a loader unless you are a glutton for punishment. This section is followed by a short segment on the Leopard 2A5 urban operations and brings the first book to a close. The second book begins with a breakdown of the upgrades of the Leopard 2A4 to the 2A5.
The second title is a joy for the eyes as this is where Tankograd Publishing starts with a look at various aspects of the Leopard 2A5. This begins with the hull of the vehicle and consists of a short write up followed by many images of the hull of the 2A5. This section also covers the interior of the vehicle in very nice detail. The chassis is next up and again is a combination of written and visual information. A nice inclusion here is a couple of 1/35th scale line drawings. Even the central hydraulic system gets a section to itself here. The fire warning and suppression system plus the electrical system are the next areas looked at and then moves onto the heating system.
The power pack of the Leopard 2A5 is looked at next and along with a nice series of images showing the power pack out of the tank you also get a good look at its empty home. This is followed by excellent photographic reference covering the turret. Tankograd Publishing has not called quits there as they have given specific aspects of the turret sections of their own for the modeller to hunt down just what they are after. As you would expect these aspects also cover the main gun and support weapons. Looking at the MG3 close up you cannot fail to see its heritage of the MG42. The section on the turret also provides five way drawings of the Leopard 2A5 in 1/35th scale.
With that all done you may be forgiven for thinking the book is at an end but no, the title then looks at the:
DARKAS Gunfire Simulator
Radio and Intercom
Deep Fording System
And only then does the second book come to an end with a data sheet printed out on the rear cover.
These two new offerings from Tankograd Publishing are a great combination that provides the modeller with everything they would need when it comes to a visual reference. The first book can be considered an informational title with the benefit of all round visual reference on the Leopard 2A5. This first book also has the benefit of pointing out the differences between the early and later Leopard 2A5 tanks. The second book that follows naturally on from the first is an excellent walk around of the Leopard 2A5, but rather than being considered just a walk around this book takes the reference about as far as it is possible to go. On their own they are both really nice titles, as a pair they make an all round excellent reference.