LEOPARD 2 (A1-A4) MBT gallery 2

(German Leopard 2 image). The first batch included the manufacture of 380 vehicles delivered between October 1979 and March 1982. Kraus Maffei built 209 (Nr.10001 to 10210) and MaK manufactured the remaining 171 (Nr. 20001 to 20172). These 380 tanks were delivered to the 1st and 3rd Panzerdivisions. As the EMES 15 fire control system was not available yet, 200 Leopard 2s were temporarily fitted with a PZB-200 Low Light Intensity TV (LLLTV) system which allowed them some night fighting capability. These tanks are known simply as the Leopard 2 MBT.
(German Leopard 2 image). The second batch consisted of 450 tanks manufactured between March 1982 and November 1983. Krauss-Maffei built 248 (Nr. 10211 to 10458) and MaK manufactured the remaining 202 (Nr. 20173 to 20374). This second batch already had the factory installed thermal sight in the EMES-15 primary thermal sight. In addition, the crosswind sensor was removed and the protection of the commander’s vision blocks wére modified. The fuel tank inlets were moved to a more comfortable position for refueling and the failure detection system (RPP) now included the gun control system.
(Spanish Leopard 2A4 image). Finally, the towing cable clamps were repositioned towards the rear and the cables were replaced by 5 meter long ones that were carried crossed. An external headphone connection for the crew intercom system was added to the left rear of the turret and two running boards were placed on the engine block to prevent damage to the electrical wiring and steering system. Due to all these modifications, the tanks of this second batch were designated as Leopard 2A1.
(German Leopard 2A1 image). The third batch was built between November 1983 and November 1984. Krauss-Maffei built 165 (Nr. 10459 to 10623) and MaK built 135 (Nr. 20375 to 20509) totaling 300 more Leopard 2s. The most notable modifications were: the elevation of the commander’s PERI R-17 main panoramic periscope by 50mm, improving the angle of vision and the installation of a thicker armored plate over the NBC protection system. The vehicles in this batch were also designated Leopard 2A1.
(German Leopard 2A2 image). When the thermal sight for the EMES-15 fire control became available, the tanks of the first batch were modernized to the same level as those of the second and third batches. This modernization was carried out between 1984 and 1987, parallel to production of the third, fourth and fifth batches. During these works, the PZB-200 LLLTV system was removed, the PERI R-17 periscope was raised, the 5-meter towing cables were repositioned, the crosswind sensor was removed and a thicker armored plate was installed over the NBC protection system. These first batch Leopard 2s were redesignated Leopard 2A2 after modernization.
(German Leopard 2 image). The manufacture of the fourth batch was carried out between December 1984 and December 1985. A further 300 tanks were delivered, of which 165 were manufactured by Krauss-Maffei (Nr. 10624 to 10788) and the other 135 were in charge of MaK (Nr. 20510 to 20644). New VHF SEM 80/90 digital radios were installed along with shorter antennas and the exhaust grills were revised. In addition, an adjustable chest support was installed in the gunner’s position to lean on while observing or aiming with the moving vehicle.
(German Leopard 2A3 image). Other modifications in the tanks of the fourth batch were the welding of the left side ammunition hatch to avoid leaks into the interior of NBC agents if it was hit and new parking brakes. Lastly, all these vehicles left the factory with new decontaminable infrared reflection suppressing paint. The new camouflage consisted of three colours: bronze green (RAL6031), leather brown (RAL8027) and pitch black (RAL9021). The tanks in this batch were designated the Leopard 2A3.
(German Leopard 2A4 image). The fifth batch was produced between December 1985 and March 1987 and included the production of 370 new Leopard 2s. Krauss-Maffei built 190 (Nr. 10789 to 10979) and MaK the remaining 180 (Nr. 20645 to 20825). The firing computer of this batch had a new digital core that allowed the use of new ammunition. Starting with vehicles Nr. 10968 (Krauss-Maffei) and Nr. 20788 (MaK), the position of the second and third return rollers was changed, delaying their position with respect to the previous vehicles.
(German Leopard 2A4 image). In this fifth batch, a new fire and explosion suppression system developed by the Deugra firm was installed to improve crew survivability. On some of the later vehicles the left side ammunition hatch was eventually removed, and the last tank built by MaK (Nr. 20825) was assigned as a Component Test Vehicle (KVT, Komponentenversuchsträger) for future Leopard 2 improvement programs. The vehicles of the fifth batch were designated as Leopard 2A4.
(German Leopard 2A4 image). Although production was initially divided into 5 batches, an additional order for 150 new vehicles was placed in June 1987. This sixth batch was manufactured between January 1988 and May 1989. Krauss-Maffei made 83 vehicles (Nr. 10980 to 11062) and Mak built 67 (Nr. 20826 to 20892). Some of the novelties of this lot consisted of the introduction of new Diehl 570FT tracks, zinc chromate-free paint and new maintenance-free batteries.
(German Leopard 2A4 image). The new improvements of the sixth batch were completed with the fitting of new box-shaped front side skirts, starting from vehicles Nr. 11033 (Krauss-Maffei) and Nr. 20869 (MaK) and the suppression of the left side ammunition hatch. The tanks of this batch kept the designation Leopard 2A4.
(Spanish Leopard 2A4 image). Between May 1989 and April 1990, another 100 new Leopard 2s were built, making the seventh batch. Krauss-Maffei built 55 (Nr. 11063 to 11117) and MaK manufactured the remaining 45 (Nr. 20893 to 20937). These tanks were identical to the sixth batch and retained the Leopard 2A4 designation.
(German Leopard 2A4 image). The last batch, the eighth, was manufactured between January 1991 and March 1992 and included the delivery of another 75 new tanks. Krauss-Maffei built 41 (Nr. 11118 to 11158), while MaK built 34 (Nr. 20938 to 20971). With this batch, the total number of Leopard 2s built reached 2,125. Changes were minor and included modifying the mounts for the smoke grenade dischargers and installing a collimator for the gun’s homing system on the right end of the barrel. With this, the gunner could quickly check the distortion of the gun in relation to the optical sight. This device was later installed in all Leopard 2s.
(German Leopard 2A4 image). On this eighth batch the rear side skirts were divided into six parts and were of a different design and material, although they were not fitted to early vehicles, they were fitted as production progressed. Of these last 41 tanks manufactured by Krauss-Maffei, two were intended as troop test vehicles (Truppenversuchsmuster). They were designated as Nr. 11156 “TVM max.” and Nr. 11157 “TVM min”.
(German Leopard 2A4 image). It should be noted that subsequently, all Leopard 2 tanks from the first four batches were modernized to meet the A4 standard. During this upgrade, new Diehl 570FT tracks, SEM 80/90 digital radios and maintenance free batteries were installed. New 120mm rounds were also introduced such as the APFSDS-T DM-23 KE and DM-33 KE. However, they were not equipped with the fire suppression system installed from the fifth batch onwards, keeping only the original extinguishing system. All modified vehicles became generically designated as Leopard 2A4.
(German Leopard 2 IMP image). The German Leopard 2s were assigned to the Armored Battalions within the Armored Brigades of the Army. In 1984, barely two years after entered service, the German tankers already suggested numerous improvements for the Leopard 2. These suggestions have led manufacturers to strive to constantly improve their products and adapt to emerging technological developments. The first of all was the so-called Leopard 2 IMP (improved) from the late 80s that had new spaced armor modules installed to detonate hollow charges before reaching the base armor. This new armor could also deflect kinetic-energy penetrators making them less effective. These and other improvements would result in the Leopard 2A5 variant.
(German Leopard 2 VT-2000 image). Around 1988-1989 an interesting prototype for tests on the Leopard 2 chassis called VT-2000 (Versuchsträger 2000) appeared. In this vehicle, the possibility that a combat vehicle could be operated by only two crew members, that is, a driver and the weapons operator, as in two-seater combat planes, was tested. All kinds of sensors and visors were installed so that they could be handled indistinctly by both crew members. The results showed that although it was feasible, the number of actions to be carried out in combat are so many that a vehicle with only two crew members was not effective at all.
(German Leopard 2-140 image). Again, in the late 1980s and within the third phase of the KWS, a new test tank was built with a new 140mm NPzK-140 gun and automatic loader. This powerful weapon was intended to counter the rumors that the USSR was going to install guns of up to 152mm caliber in their future battle tanks. With the NPzK-140 gun, a muzzle velocity of 2000m/s were achieved, but the appearance of the 120/55mm gun and new ammunition, as well as the dissolution of the USSR, caused the project to be canceled in 1995. It can be affirmed that this tank is the father of the current British, French and American prototypes with 130 and 140mm guns.
(Swiss Panzer 87 140 image). In 1989, the Swiss company RUAG developed a test tank with a gigantic 140/75mm gun. The vehicle was called “Panzer 87 140mm Versuchskanone“, and was built with the sole intention of testing the gun, but without planning its installation in their battle tanks. This gun achieved a muzzle velocity of 1,900m/s, which is still unmatched to this day by any tank gun in service.
(German Leopard 2 KVT image). From 1989 onwards, the KWS (Kampfwertsteigerung) program to enhance combat capabilities began, which was carried out in 3 phases. In 1989 during the KWS I phase a Leopard 2A4 from the fifth batch was converted into a Component Test Vehicle (KVT, Komponentenversuchsträger) for future Leopard 2 improvement programs. Mainly, measures were taken to increase protection with the installation of additional armor plating, and the crew hatches were modified. This vehicle later served as the basis for the IVT (Instrumentenversuchsträger) vehicle.
(German Leopard 2 IVT image). In 1991, the Leopard 2 KVT was transformed into the Leopard-2 IVT (Instrumentenversuchsträger) instrument test vehicle. On this vehicle, a kind of system like the current “Battlefield Management System” were tested for the first time.
(German Leopard 2 TVM I image). In 1992 two tanks of the eighth batch were used for the construction of two vehicles for troop tests called TVM I / TVM Max. and TVM II / TVM Min. / TVM Mannheim (Truppenversuchsmuster). The TVM I / TVM Max. was a very sophisticated tank with vast improvements in protection and electronics. This prototype was presented to the Swedish tests in the mid-90s and was chosen by the Army for manufacture under designation Strv.122. The Spanish Leopard 2E also derives from this prototype.
(German Leopard 2 TVM II image). The next test vehicle based on the Leopard 2A4 was created in 1993 and named TVM II / TVM Min. / TVM Mannheim. This variant was built based on improvement requirements established at the 1992 Mannheim Conference between Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands. This tank was a less sophisticated and cheap version that would serve to test the improvements applicable to all Leopard 2A4 in service to develop future A5 and A6 variants.
(Spanish Leopard 2A4 image). Although Germany has been the largest user of the Leopard 2, many other armies have included the Leopard 2 in their ranks. Despite the fact that 2,125 were built for the Bundesheer, after the reunification of Germany, many of them were sold and transferred to other countries at low prices in the 1990s. The quality of these vehicles is demonstrated by the fact that after several decades, there are still many Leopard 2A4 in service in different countries.
(Dutch Leopard 2NL image). The first foreign country to show interest in acquiring the Leopard 2 was The Netherlands, which in March 1979 placed an order for 445 tanks to replace its fleet of Centurion MBTs and AMX-13 light tanks. The decision was made after evaluating the tests carried out in the United States in the summer of 1976 between the American XM-1 Abrams MBT and the German Leopard 2AV MBT. It was agreed that the Dutch industry should participate in the manufacture of components for their tanks up to 60% of the cost. The new tank was designated as Leopard 2 NL and the first four vehicles were delivered in July 1981.

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