German Leopard 1.A4 Main Battle Tank

ESCI 1:72 Scale Vehicle Review

German Bundeswehr Kampfpanzer Leopard 1.A4 Main Battle Tank

The ESCI model represents a Leopard 1.A4 when built straight from the box, although it may be converted to a Leopard 1 A3 by removing the armoured gun sight in front of the commander's hatch and replacing it with a periscope. Australian, Canadian and Greek Leopard tanks are similar to the Leopard 1 A3 and they will require some conversion work. The Australian Leopard tanks are equipped with stowage bins above the track guards which need to be scratchbuilt as well. The ESCI kit would have been much more attractive if optional parts had been included. Leopard 1 A3 ist the more common of the two very similar variants, and it is still in service in several NATO countries, whereas Leopard 1.A4 has been completely replaced by Leopard 2.

Contents

  • German Bundeswehr Leopard 1.A4
  • Decals for a Leopard 1.A4 of the German 10. Panzerdivision
  • Decals for a Canadian Leopard C 1 (similar to Leopard 1 A3)
  • Decals for a Australian Leopard AS 1 (similar to Leopard 1 A3)
  • Decals for a Greek Leopard 1 GR (similar to Leopard 1 A3)

Evaluation

Satisfactory choice of subject. The Leopard 1.A4 is unique in this scale, but a model of the Leopard 1 A3 would have been more useful to wargamers and modellers. ESCI has published several variants of the Leopard 1 main battle tank, all based on the same chassis parts.

The rear track skirts have been cut back to prevent dirt from clogging the drive sprockets. This is a common modification.

The model is slightly larger than scale, and it is not compatible with the Leopard 1 A5 produced by Revell.

There are no crew figurines in the kit, despite the fact that the turret hatches may be modelled in the open position.

The canvas cover over the gun mantlet does not fit well. A spare part may be scratchbuilt from tissue paper.

The stowage bins of the Australian Leopard AS 1 are not included in the kit, even if decals are provided to build this version of the tank. Serious modellers will want to build the bins from scratch.

The inner and outer road wheels are modelled as a solid cylinder, rather than the two separate wheels one would expect.

The track is not detailed enough on the inside, and the track teeth are missing.

There are no antenna sockets on the turret roof. The AA Machine Gun is modelled without the ammunition box. The hand-rails on the turret sides and the guard around the smoke dischargers may be scratchbuilt from brass rod to add detail to the turret.

The pioneer tools are cast directly onto the hull sides, and they lack detail as a result. Discerning modellers will want to sand the tools off and replace them with cast items from another kit or detail set.

The gunfire simulator consisting of optional parts No. 42 and No. 37 should be mounted behind the smoke extractor, not in front of it. The instructions are in error.

German Leopard 1.A4 Main Battle Tank, 1:72 Model Kit ESCI 8302

Possible Conversions

  • Leopard 1 A3 of 10. Panzerdivision
    Remove the armoured gun sight in front of the commander's hatch and replace it with a periscope.
  • Australian Leopard AS 1
    Convert the vehicle to a Leopard 1 A3 and add stowage bins on the track guards. Decals are included in the kit.
  • Greek Leopard 1 GR
    Similar to a Leopard 1 A3, but with armoured gun sights of the Leopard 1 A5 and PZB 200 camera. Decals are included.
  • Canadian Leopard C 1
    Similar to a Leopard 1 A3, but with PZB 200 camera on the right side of the gun mantlet and a searchlight on the left. Decals are included.
  • Danish Leopard 1 DK
    Convert the vehicle to a Leopard 1 A3 and add stowage bins on the track guards. Danish Leopards are upgraded with armoured gun sights of the Leopard 1 A5. These upgraded vehicles are designated Leopard 1 A5 DK, but they must not be confused with the German Leopard 1 A5 featuring cast turrets. Danish Leopard 1 A5 DK are Leopard 1 A3 upgrades with welded turrets.
  • Leopard OF-40 Export Version
    This Italian export version of the Leopard 1 A3 has been sold to the United Arab Emirates.

Leopard 1.A4 was deployed exclusively in the 10. Panzerdivision of the Bundeswehr, and it was eventually replaced by modern Leopard 2 main battle tanks. Leopard 1 A3 remains in service in a number of NATO countries, and a model of this variant would have proved more successful for ESCI. The only obvious difference between the two variants is the periscope of the Leopard 1 A3 which was replaced by an armoured gun sight on the Leopard 1.A4. ESCI should have chosen the Leopard 1 A3 as the main subject of this kit, and it would have been a good idea to include optional parts for both variants.

ESCI Modelling

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