ARM: Review - DML 1/72 Scale Armor Pro Leopard 2A4

Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/72 Scale Armor Pro Kit No. 7249;
Leopard 2A4; 118 parts (113 in grey styrene, 2 etched nickel, 2
pre-painted vinyl, 1 section of braided steel wire); price about US
Advantages: nice, cleanly done kit with plenty of options to match
specific user countries' fits; pre-painted tracks (!) something
really new
Disadvantages: no explanation in kit as to which parts go with what
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all modern armor fans
Back in 1987 I read a Russian article that assessed the three main
combat threats the Soviets saw in the NATO armies. The Challenger 1 was
dismissed out of hand as "quaint" (mind that this was pre-Operation
Granby) due to its design, suspension, and two-piece manually loaded
rifled gun. The US Abrams was considered a severe threat but not with
the 105mm gun. The German Leopard 2, however, scared the daylights out
of the Soviets with its 120mm gun and layered armor arrays. (Note that
the LeClerc did not even rate a mention!)
The Leo 2 was something else when introduced, and with a 1500 HP
diesel engine was the equivalent of the US Abrams in most areas of
performance, exceeding it in mileage. Even ADAC, the German auto club,
had warnings in its magazine on what to do and what not to do when
encountering one on the autobahn. They noted the tank could cruise at
60-70 kph (up to 42 mph) and had brakes sufficient to stop it in less
than 75 feet from that speed. They showed a stunt driver tailgating one
when it hit its brakes, and the result was a squashed Opel. (They did
have a roll cage around the driver!)
Overall, this was a great tank and even in its initial form is a
serious battlefield threat. German training films show the gun staying
rock steady (with stabilizers engaged) as the tank turns "neutral
steer" 360s underneath it. The early models (2A1 to 2A4) were rather
chunky vehicles, even with a turret fully as large as a WWII light to
medium tank, and most modelers have shown a preference for the later
long-barreled 2A5 or uparmored 2A6 with the "wedges" on the front
of the turret. However, many NATO countries bought the earlier versions
and use them today, including the Poles, Finns, Swedes, Swiss and
DML is now offering this version of the tank as part of its "Armor
Pro" series kits, which includes new cut molds and more options for a
slightly higher pricetag. Among the details are the multitude of
"non-skid" plates on the top of the hull for crew safety.
This kit provides two different guns (the shorter original gun and the
longer L/55 barrel of the 2A5), two types of engine fans (plus etched
brass screens for them), two types of smoke projectors, and training
aids such as a Hoffman gunfire simulator and a "whoopie light" on a
mast for the rear of the turret. The suspension is a full one with
separate road wheel arms, twin wheels (not "siamesed" as with the
T-34 kits), and very nicely done skirts.
Many modelers (me in particular) will be very pleasantly surprised
that the vinyl tracks come pre-painted - a brownish metallic color
with the rubber pads in the Diehl tracks painted black. These look
really good and capture the look of tracks with a bit of use (e.g.
paint worn off) but not bright rust red.
The model comes with two sets of markings - a very thorough decal
sheet and a set of stick-on "exercise" markings for German
force-on-force training. These are red Xes and simulate the real thing,
which also just stuck on. The kit provides markings for eight German
Leo 2A4s to include four in winter camouflage, one Polish, one Swiss,
one Finnish, and two Dutch vehicles.
The problem I have is that the directions do not differentiate one
tank from another, as I recall they use different smoke projectors and
arrangements but all the kit does is indicate "optional" parts and
not which vehicles use them. The same goes for the engine deck fan
covers (the plastic bases, not the nickel screen). This is a bit of a
shame, as the kit is otherwise very nice and complete. (You will need
references to check on these details.)
Overall, this is a nice kit and should please a lot of NATO fans.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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Leclerc entered service with French army in 1992, so there is nothing unusual in the fact that it was not mentioned in the mid-1980s article.
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Some more comments:
Mixed up versions: 2A5 is uparmored and 2A6 is long barreled one.
Actually Poland has not bought any Leo's, we received them free from Bundeswehr stocks.
Again - L/55 barrel is for 2A6 version.
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