LEOPARD 2 (A1-A4) MBT gallery 1

(German Leopard 2 image). The Leopard 2 MBT’s development was very long and complicated, although after the success achieved in these more than 40 years since its entry into service, it can be said without a doubt that all that effort was worth it. Even the most modern variants like the A7 continue to maintain many of the mechanical components of the original Leopard 2, certifying the excellence of its design.
(German Leopard 2 image). The Leopard 2 MBT is an impressive vehicle with a good balance between mobility, protection and firepower, the 3 basic factors to take into account in the design of any tank. In addition, in its design, the ease of maintenance as well as the modularity of its components, made with excellent quality materials, were taken care of to the maximum.
(German Leopard 2 image). The combat weight is 55,150 kg and about 52,000 kg empty. The hull weighs 37.8 tons and the turret 16 tons. The running gear is made up of seven double rubber-tired roadwheels and four return rollers on each side, with the idler wheel at the front and the drive sprocket at the rear. The suspension consists of torsion bars with advanced friction adjusters on roadwheels 1, 2, 3, 6 and 7.
(German Leopard 2 image). Tracks are 82-link Diehl 570F, 635mm wide with removable rubber-lined end connectors. Each link is made up of two rubber pads. The vehicle has up to 18 snow “grousers” of greater width that can replace the same number of rubber pads to drive on ice or soft ground. These devices are a kind of “crampons” that are stored in the front of the vehicle when they are not used.
(German Leopard 2 image). This tank has side skirts that protect the upper part of the running gear and the tracks. The first four sections, located at the front, are heavily armored and can be raised when the vehicle is transported by train. The remaining three sections are made of rubber and metal and can also be lifted up if necessary.
(German Leopard 2 image). The internal layout of the Leopard 2 tank is conventional, with the driving post at the front, combat chamber in the middle and the engine group at the rear of the vehicle, separated by a fireproof bulkhead. The crew is made up of 4 members, the driver, located in the front right part of the hull, and the gunner, the loader and the commander, all of them located inside the turret.
(Spanish Leopard 2A4 image). The driver has an access hatch that opens to the right. On this hatch there are two observation periscopes and to the left of these there is another periscope for driving from inside the vehicle. The hatch’s center periscope can be exchanged for a passive infrared sight for night driving. To the left of the driver is a magazine with twenty-seven 120mm rounds for the gun, and under the driver’s seat is an escape hatch.
(German Leopard 2 image). The turret is mounted in the center of the hull and houses the other 3 crew members. The commander and gunner are located to the right of the gun, with the gunner sitting below and in front of the commander. The loader is located to the left of the gun. Both the loader and the commander have their own circular hatch that opens to the rear, with the commander’s hatch having six periscopes that provide 360º vision. These two hatches have a machine gun mount, although it is usually installed on the loader’s hatch. A further 15 rounds for the gun are stored in the left rear of the turret. This ammunition is separated from the fighting chamber by an electric door and stored in a compartment designed to direct an explosion upwards away from the crew compartment if hit by the enemy.
(Spanish Leopard 2A4 image). Leopard 2 tank is powered by an MTU MB 873 Ka-501 liquid-cooled V12 twin-turbo diesel engine developing 1,500 hp at 2,600 rpm. This engine is a four-stroke, 47.6 liter with multi-fuel capability that has an exhaust gas supercharger. Average consumption is about 3 liters per km on roads and 5 liters per km offroad. The vehicle has 4 fuel tanks with a total capacity of about 1,160 liters with which it can travel about 400 km on roads and about 230 offroad.
(Spanish Leopard 2A4 image). The engine is geared to a Renk HSWL 354 hydrokinetic planetary gearbox with integral auxiliary brake. The engine and gearbox form a set that can be changed in 15 minutes. The Leopard 2 has four forward and two reverse gears, which are automatically shifted within limits pre-selected by the driver. This tank has a failure detection system (RPP) that alerts of any technical failure.
(German Leopard 2 image). The top speed of the Leopard 2 is 72 km/h, and 31 km/h in reverse, but according to unofficial conversations, the vehicle can reach 110 km/h on roads and more than 85 km/h offroad. Acceleration from 0 to 32 km/h is 6 seconds and from 0 to 50 km/h is 33 seconds, and the vehicle makes a complete turn on itself in 10 seconds. It can overcome vertical obstacles of 1.10 meters, cross ditches up to 3 meters wide and ford watercourses up to 1.20 meters without preparation. Properly prepared, the Leopard 2 can wade up to 2.35 meters and with the installation of a snorkel it can overcome depths of up to 4 meters.
(Spanish Leopard 2A4 image). The protection is made up of spaced multilayer armor plates, both in the hull and in the turret. Although the composition of this armor is secret, it is known that the layers are made of different types of steel, ceramic and non-metallic materials that provide protection against different types of warheads. It is based on the British Chobham (Burlington) armor.
(German Leopard 2 image). The frontal armor is designed to resist impacts from shaped charge and arrow-type projectiles, some sources claimed that it can resist impacts from 125mm APFSDS rounds fired from a distance of 1,500 meters. The sides and the rear area is protected against medium caliber ammunition and all kinds of heavy machine gun rounds, and the floor is reinforced to withstand mine explosions. Frontal protection on the turret is estimated to be similar to that offered by 690mm rolled homogeneous armor (RHAe) and on the glacis it would be similar to 600mm RHAe.
(German Leopard 2 image). In addition to passive protection, the Leopard 2 has various systems such as a halon gas fire extinguishing system. This system consists of four 9 kg bottles located behind the driver connected to a network of tubes that are automatically activated by the fire detector. The system is activated when the temperature in the fighting chamber or in the engine compartment exceeds 92.5º. On the floor, under the barrel, there is another 2.5 kg halon fire extinguisher.
(German Leopard 2A4 image). This tank has an independent NBC protection system that produces an overpressure of 4 millibars inside the vehicle. This system is installed in the hull, to the left of the turret and its filter can be easily changed from an external hatch. Various hydraulic components and ammunition located in the turret have been mounted in isolated compartments in order to protect the crew. These compartments are designed to divert potential explosions to the outside by installing blow-off panels.
(Canadian Leopard 2A4CAN image). The main armament is a Rheinmetall 120 mm L/44 smoothbore gun. The gun is fully stabilized in both azimuth and elevation and is controlled by a WNA-H22 electro-hydraulic system. The gun can be aimed and fired by either the gunner or the commander. The muzzle velocity is 1,800 m/s and the barrel elevation sector is from -9º to +20º. The effective range is over 4,000 meters and the maximum rate of fire is 9 rounds per minute. The total ammunition for the gun is 42 rounds and the barrel life is about 1,500 rounds. This gun is the same one installed in the American M-1A1 Abrams MBT and its later variants, manufactured under license in the USA.
(Spanish Leopard 2A4 image). The barrel is a monobloc piece of cold-machined chrome steel, self-strapping, with a chamber pressure of 7,100 atmospheres. It weights 1,190 kg and does not have a muzzle brake, it has an anti-curvature GRP (fiberglass) sleeve along its entire external length. In the middle of the barrel it has a gas evacuator also made of GRP. The gun has a vertical wedge lock and the brake and recovery system consists of two recoil damping cylinders, located one on each side of the breech. It also has another battery return cylinder located to the right of the breech. The recoil length is 340mm and the pressure on the trunnions is 570kN.
(German Leopard 2 image). German Leopard 2 tanks uses two types of 120x570mm fuel case ammunition. Both rounds have been developed by Rheinmetall. One is called the “DM-23 KE Patronen armor-piercing kinetic energy staged round”, and the other is the “DM-12A-1 MZ Patronen multi-purpose shaped charge effect shatter staged round”. Other users of the Leopard 2 and M-1A1 Abrams tanks have other types of rounds at their disposal.
(Austrian Leopard 2 image). DM-23 KE round consists of a sub-caliber, fin-stabilized, kinetic energy armor-piercing projectile type APDSFS-T, effective against heavily armored targets. This projectile is a monoblock penetrator or “arrow” with a hard tungsten core, with a muzzle velocity of 1,800 m/s. The complete round measures 884mm in length and has a total weight of 18.6kg, (7.17kg of the penetrator). There are the combat variants DM-13 KE, DM-23 KE and DM-33 KE and the training round KE-üb DM-38A1.
(Spanish Leopard 2A4 image). DM-12A-1 MZ round consists of a high explosive shaped charge projectile, type HEAT-MP-T with a muzzle velocity of 1,140 m/s. The complete round measures 981mm in length and has a total weight of 23.2kg, (13.5 kg of explosive) and is effective against all types of targets, although its effectiveness against other MBTs is limited. There is a variant for training called MZ-üb DM-18.
(German Leopard 2A4 image). The secondary armament is composed by two 7.62mm machine guns, one coaxial with the gun and another mounted on the loader hatch. Usually the vehicle carries 4,750 rounds for these weapons of which 2,000 are stored inside the turret. Lastly, the armament is completed by eight 76mm Wegmann smoke/fragmentation grenade dischargers mounted externally on each side of the turret, which can be fired electrically single at a time or in a salvo.
(Dutch Leopard 2NL image). The fire control system and observation devices were essential elements during the development of the Leopard 2 tank. It can be assured that when it entered service, this tank was the most modern and efficient in the world, even taking into account that the EMES-15 primary thermal sight was not available during the manufacture of the first batch. However, all the vehicles left the assembly line with a pre-installation for the aforementioned device.
(German Leopard 2 image). The Krupp-Atlas-Electronik EMES-15 / FLT-2 fire control system is the Leopard 2’s main combat system and it is composed by a stabilized primary sight, a Carl Zeiss thermographic camera and a Nd:YAG laser rangefinder, all of them linked to the fire control computer. The complete fire control system consists of: – laser transmitter and receiver, – laser electronics compartment, – thermal imaging system, – commander and gunner control units, – commander display unit, – commander manual control, – primary sight for the gunner, – computer control unit, – digital ballistic computer, – crosswind speed sensor, – gun elevation sensor, – bank angle sensor, – set of interconnection cables.
(German Leopard 2A4 image). The commander has a Carl Zeiss PERI R-17 panoramic periscope mounted on the turret roof just in front of his post. This device is stabilized, can rotate 360º and allows day and night observation. The thermal sight has two sights of 2X and 8X magnification and presents the images on a monitor installed inside the turret. The commander has the ability to override the gunner’s control at any time and take over the gun if necessary. The gunner has an 8X magnification FERO-Z18 auxiliary periscope installed coaxially to the right of the gun.
(German Leopard 2A4 image). The laser rangefinder offers up to 3 distance measurements in 4 seconds, transmitting them to the fire control computer for firing calculations. The rangefinder has a range of 0 to 9,990 meters and an accuracy of +/-10. The Leopard 2 can fire both stationary and moving at stationary or moving targets with a high first shot hit probability. Regarding communications, the tank had a SEM-25 radio and a SEM-35 radio that worked in the 26-70 Mhz band. The maximum range of these radios was 25 and 12 km respectively.

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