Leopard 1

West Germany's first new Tank since the end of the Second World War, the Leopard 1 proved to be both a very good design and a sucessful export earner for the FRG. In the mid 1950s it was proposed that both France and Italy should join forces with Germany to develope a standard tank. A disagreement among the partners however led to France developing the AMX-30 whilst Italy purchased the American M60A1 instead, although later they did purchase the Leopard 1 as well. Germany, left alone, continued with the project. The first Leopard prototypes were completed in 1960 and equipment of Bundeswehr units began in September 1965. KLAUSSE-MAFFEI were chosen as the prime contractor for production, with Krupp-MaK of Keil being selected as the contractor for specialised versions. In all some 2237 Leopard 1s were built for the German Army with many more for Export.

The Leopard 1 is armed with the standard NATO 105mm L7 series rifled tank gun for which 60 rounds of ammunition is carried as a normal load. Early models had an unstabilised gun but this was soon replaced by the Leopard 1A1 with an autostabilised gun that could give a 50% first-strike probability even when firing on the move across country, and greatly improved the speed of gun laying and the standard of accuracy in observing the fall of shot, even after the tank had begun moving again. Another innovation on the 1A1 was the introduction of a thermal sleeve around the gun barrel to minimise distortion when the barrel became hot. In addition spaced armour was also introduced on this model.

The Leopard 1A1A1 introduced in 1971 had applique armour on the turret whilst the 1A2 of 1975 was a similar vehicle to the 1A1 but without the spaced armour. The 1A3 (1976) had a modified turret and a wedge shaped mantlet; The 1A4 (1978) had an Integrated Fire Control system; and the 1A5 entering service with the Armies of Denmark (1994) and Norway (1992) was equipped with the Advanced Fire Control system.

The Leopard 1 MBT is also equipped with a deep fording kit which allows the Leopard to ford water obstacles to a depth of 2.25m; Day/Night vision equipment; a fire detection and suppression system; and NBC protection as standard. A hydraulic dozer blade can also be mouinted on the front of the tank if desired.

Powered by a MTU MB308 Ca M-500 10 cylinder muti fueled engine the Leopard can produce 830 bhp through its ZF4 HP250 automatic transmission, which can propel the tank to a maximum speed of 65 km/hr (40.3 mph) with a range of 372 miles.

The Leopard 1 was soon found to be both cheaper and simpler for conscripts to operate than its main rival, the British CHIEFTAIN, and as a result, in addition to the FRG it was purchased by many other NATO armies, including Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Norway and Turkey. The Australian army also operates the Leopard AS-1 which is a 1A3 model fitted with a laser fire control and thermal imaging equipment.

As is usual with a successful tank design there were a number of specialised vehicles built on the Leopard's chassis. Among these are an Armoured Engineers vehicle ( with dozer blade ,crane and Auger capable if drilling holes 70cm in diameter to a depth of 2 metres ); a bridgelayer (BIBER) which can span gaps up to 22 metres wide; an armoured Recovery vehicle; a SP 155mm Howitzer using the turret and gun from the French GCT ; and the Gepard self propelled anti-aircraft tank armed with a pair of 35mm AA guns and surveillance Radar.

Pages with the same tags

Page Tags
M24 Chaffee tanks
Challenger 1 tanks
Tiger tank tanks
List of main battle tanks by country list tanks
M3 Lee tanks
AMX-30 MBT tanks
Tank tanks
Challenger 2 tanks
T54/55 MBT tanks
TOG 1 Tank prototype tanks wwii
page 1 of 3123next »
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under GNU Free Documentation License.