bookThe Leopard 1 MBT in German Army Service - Early Years

By Frank Lobitz

Tankograd Militarfahrzeug Special No 5013.
Soft cover, A4 size, 64 pages

Review by Peter Brown

When it was formed in the mid-1950s, the West German Army or Bundeswehr had to use foreign equipment as there was no arms industry in Germany at the time. Its first heavy tanks were American M47 and M48, these were not seen as the ideal solution as they had features which were not what the users wanted. A new German tank was then designed from scratch, the resulting Leopard becoming a standard tank in NATO and even selling as far afield as Australia. But it is its use in its native land which is described here.

Its development is described from the earliest prototypes, pre-production 0-Series and the initial production types through to the A4. Many changes in small details were made in production, these can be hard to follow but they are shown using sketches and photos. Most of the book is photos, a mixture of period images in black and white with some in colour showing factory record shots and vehicles in the field as well as detail views taken to illustrate specific points. Line drawings and photos taken from the vehicle manual show vehicle layout and areas not often seen such as the engine bay without the engine, ammunition stowage and gun sights.

Level of detail should be enough for even the most demanding modeller, not only are the different styles of infantry phone boxes shown but there are photos of them opened up to show the phone itself. In the field photos will be useful for different model finishes and diorama ideas, as will the small section showing crewmen from various eras and the different types of headphones.

Scale plans in 1:35 trace the changes, four-view drawings show tanks of the first production batch, 1A1 and 1A4 types with additional side, front and back views of 4th production batch and 1A2 models which between them show the many differences.

A lot of ground is covered, note however that this is only the early part of the whole story with another book promised on the later era such as the uparmoured versions. Although vehicles in German service only are covered, many details will be relevant for tanks used by other counties while some had specific features which are not included.

For Leopard fans or those into German post-war tanks, this is another well-produced book which is worth adding to your references.

Available from Tankograd distributors, for more details contact the publishers Verlag Jochen Vollert on My thanks to Justin Gainham at Bookworld for the review copy.

Page created May 22, 2006

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