France and West Germany hoped to develop a common MBT, but
each nation then decided to go its own way, with the Germans developing the
Leopard. First appearing in 1963, the Leopard MBT entered production in 1965. A
total of 2,347 Leopards (later the Leopard 1) were built for the German Army by
Krauss-Maffei (later Krauss-Maffei-Wegmann) during 1965-1984, and the tank
remained in service until 1999. The Leopard was also built under license in
The Leopard 1 resembled the French AMX-30 in that it sacrificed
armor protection for speed and maneuverability. It went through a variety of
marks and submarks during the period it was in service, the final versions
including computerized fire-control and thermal night-vision systems. Its 105mm
main gun allowed use of the full-range of standard NATO ammunition.
This reliable, effective MBT attracted a number of foreign
purchasers, and Germany exported the Leopard 1 to a number of other nations,
including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Greece, and Norway. Withdrawn from
service in Germany (which had since reunited following the collapse of the
Soviet Union) in 1999, the Leopard 1 has undergone upgrades and remains in
service with the armies of half a dozen states.
Krauss – Maffei Leopard 1 to 1A3 Series
TheLeopard1familygrewoutofthemid fifties agreement between
France and West Germany to develop a common MET design. In Germany the
programme resulted in two competing design team vehicles series with the chosen
vehicle design being approved for production in 1963. Since then a number of variants
have been built, these are:
Leopard 1 – main production variant and armed with a Royal
Ordnance 105 mm L7A3 rifled tank gun firing all NATO standard 105 mm tank gun
ammunition types. The gunner has a TEM 2A stereoscopic rangefinder sight. The
commanderhashisownTRP2Asight. For night combat infra-red sighting and driving
systems are used. There is also a dismountable white light/infra-red searchlight
which can be fitted over the main gun.
Leopard 1A1 – refitted Leopard 1 with gun stabilisation
system, thermal gun sleeve and new running gear components.
Leopard1A1A1-retrofittedLeopard1A1 with special armour on turret sides and
roof. Most of the vehicles are being upgraded to the Leopard 1A5 standard with
a computerised fire control system and thermal imaging system for night
fighting/poor visibility combat.
Leopard 1A1A2 – modified Leopard 1A1A1 with LLLTV
observation and sighting system. Most vehicles are being upgraded to the
Leopard 1A5 standard.
Leopard 1A2 -limited production model differing from Leopard
1Al in only minor respects such as stronger turret, improved ventilation
filters and the use of passive image intensifier night vision sights for the
commander and driver.
Leopard 1A3 -limited production model as Leopard 1A2 model
but built with new welded turret using all-round special spaced armour
construction and other minor equipment modifications.
Krauss – Maffei Leopard 1A4 to 1A5 Series
The Leopard1A4 was the last production model of the Leopard
1 series and is virtually the same as the Leopard1A3 but with a computerized fire
control system coupled to a fully stabilised main armament in place of the
gunner’s mechanically linked stereoscopic rangefinder sight.
A total of 250 were built of which 150 have been transferred
to Turkey as military aid, after modification to the new build Leopard1T1(1A3) standard
already in service with the Turkish Army.
In the early eighties West Germany trialled a number of
computerised fire control systems in the Leopard 1 MET for a proposed retrofit
package. The system chosen was the EMES 18 and this, together with a passive
thermal imaging night fighting system, was used from 1986 to 1992 to upgrade
1300 Leopard 1A1A1 and Leopard 1A1A2 vehicles to the Leopard 1A5 standard.
However, this conversion was originally to be an interim standard as a further
modification package was deemed necessary to improve the tank’s battlefield
survivability factor by enhancing the armour protection with add-on armour and adding
additional protection systems such as an explosion suppression unit to the
turret area. This variant was to be designated Leopard 1A6. A batch of 75
upgraded Leopard 1A5 tanks has been passed to Greece by the Germans.
A number of combat support vehicle types have either been
built on 01 converted from the basic Leopard 1 chassis. These include the
Bergepanzer and the Product-improved Bergepanzer ARVs, the Pionierpanzer 1 and
Pionierpanzer 2 AEVs and the Bibei AVLB. There is also a tank dozer conversion
kit used on the Leopard 1 and 2 variants
Summary: First tank produced by the Federal Republic
of Germany. It flowed from a plan by France, Italy, and Germany to develop a
common MBT, but each nation then went its own way. A reliable, effective tank,
the Leopard was also built under license in Italy, and it was exported to a
number of other countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Greece,
and Norway. Although withdrawn from German service in 1999, the Leopard 1
remains in service in the armies of a half-dozen states.
Production dates: 1965–1984
Number produced: 2,437 for West Germany
1: initial production model
1A1: improvements include additional turret armor
1A2: improved turret and passive nightvision equipment for
commander and driver
1A3: new all-welded turret and enhanced armor protection
1A4: all-welded turret and integrated fire-control system
1A5: A4 with computerized fire-control system and thermal
Crew: 4 (commander, driver, gunner, loader)
Armament: 1 x 105mm (4.13-inch) gun; 2 x 7.62mm machine gun
(one coaxial and one antiaircraft); 2 x 4 smoke grenade launchers
Weight: 89,041 lbs.
Length: 23’2” (31’4” over gun)
Armor: maximum 70mm
Ammunition storage and type: 60 x 105mm; 5,000 x 7.62mm
Power plant: MTU MB 828 Ca M-500 10-cylinder 830-hp
Maximum speed: 40 mph
Range: 373 miles
Fording depth: 3’4” (7’4” with preparation; 13’1” with
Vertical obstacle: 3’9”
Trench crossing: 9’11”
Special models: armored recovery vehicle; armored vehicle–launched bridge armor engineer vehicle; artillery observation vehicle; air-defense tank (with twin 35mm guns)
A friend was in the Canadian military, and they were doing joint maneuvers with the German ‘Bundeswehr’. The Canadians noticed the German tank treads were incredibly wide. “Why is that?” (In deep German accent) “So we will never get stuck in Russian mud.”