by: Kevin Brant [ ]
The Leopard 2, developed by Krauss-Maffei, has been exported to many countries, including Canada. The latest variant to join the Canadian armoury is the Leopard 2A4M. The tanks came to Canada via the Royal Netherlands Army surplus, and were modified specifically for Afghanistan, based on experience of other Leopard 2 operators. While the original plan was to upgrade the main gun to the L55, it was found not as effective for the theatre, and the tanks retained the L44. It should also be noted that the Leopard's in theatre were equipped with the Barracuda camouflage system, which was removed when the tanks returned to Canada, leaving the look of all the velcro patches.
Recently Hobby Boss released the kit to match the Canadian Leopard 2A4M, and to follow a new detail set from Legend Productions soon followed.
21 Resin Parts
1 Photo-etched Fret
1 Brass Rod
1 Length of Brass Wire
The kit from Hobby Boss for the Leopard 2A4M went through a direct adviser from a Canadian Army tanker, who provided advise on "Canadian-izing" the Leopard for this kit. While not all details got included, this new detail set from Legend Productions fills in the remaining details. Hence the set from Legend is not the biggest in terms of parts, but does include the right parts to sharpen the details of the plastic kit.
The resin parts are very well cast, with great looking details and the photo-etched fret provides the extra details. As for the detail included, it covers the commander periscope with two options, the details around the gun sight, pioneer equipment tie downs, smoke discharger chains, tow cable ends, antenna mounts, and the C6 gun mounted on the loaders hatch. All parts are a great improvement over the kit provided parts.
As I was about to start this kit to add to the Canadian Leopard shelf, this was a great opportunity to use it. To start, the included instructions are well laid out in determining the modifications need to use the kit. This includes showing what molded kit detail needs to be shaved off for the new details.
So work started with shaving off the molded on tripod on the rear deck, which had almost no details, and replaced with the part from Legend that really improved the look, including a nice cast on clamp. As for the pioneer tool tie downs, I found this a little bit of a mixed bag, I like the molded on plates on the tank for the tools, but did shave off the tie downs off the tools, and replace with the new parts. Also includes were the brackets for the tow cable, which were much better then the kit provided parts.
The set from Legend also includes a length of wire that can be used to replace the kit molded on graps. This was an easy jog, shaving off the kit parts, drilling holes, and using my grab handler to form the new handles.
Within the kit from Legend new photo-etched parts were included for the skit on the bottom of the side armor. This caused a bit of a dilemma, as the kit provide PE had ovals cut into the interior bracing, while the Legend kit did not. But both did include the Canadian Maple Leaf cut in, and I found the sharpness of the Legend part better looking. After scanning many images of the real tank, I came to the conclusion that the Legend parts was correct.
Next it was onto the turret, where the first task was to cut the upper canvas cover for the gun mantlet off, this was replaced with a new part in the Legend set that is definitely more detailed then the kit. This required a little work in sanding the opening to the right size to get the detail set part to fit correctly.
The kit only provides the option of having the gun sight closed, while the detail set provides the details to leave it open. This was a very nice addition to improve the look of the tank. As for the commander periscope, Legend provides two options in the set, having reviewed my reference images, I found the smaller of the two to be more prevalent on the Leopard 2A4M, and again hands down more detailed then the kit provided part.
Some of the other detail includes chains for the smoke dischargers that really adds great looking detail, as well as the new loops for the tow cables. Also photo-etched is provide to the Canadian T-antenna mounts, including the antenna mount itself. As I was planning on using the Leopard Workshop antennas on the build, I did find the resin cast mounts from Legend much better cast, with sharper details. Though I did cut off the cast springs in favour of the metal springs provided by Leopard Workshop.
As for the C6, the machine gun, and parts provide from Legend are first rate, the gun itself is very well detailed, and the mount and ammo can are very well done. I did find the assembly a little tough as there is not much surface contact on some parts, but a little extra CA and VERY careful handling, and re-gluing of parts a few times seemed to do the trick. A nice touch is a resin cast belt of ammunition for that extra touch.
Overall I am very impressed with this detail set from Legend Productions. It completes the detail required to build a great looking model. The parts are well thought out and you are not overwhelmed with details that some sets provide. I did not find anything in the set that I would consider a let down or disappointment, with the exception of the finicky gun assembly, it all went straight forward with great looking results. With great looking casting and execution, this should be a must detail set for anyone wanting to build the Leopard 2A4M, highly recommended.