This conversion kit was released by Mouse House Enterprises (Mouse Armour) for modern armour modellers interested in modifying a 1/35 Leopard 1A4 kit into a tank mounting a dozer blade. The style of dozer blade depicted in the kit was used by Australia on the Leopard AS1, the Canadian Leopard C1 before they were retired, and is still in use on the Canadian Leopard C2 in both Canada and Afghanistan. A similar dozer blade was also used on the Danish Leopard 1A5DK-1 but it had extensions that could be added to increase the width of the blade. While the kit is specifically designed for the Italeri Leopard 1A4 and 1A2 kits it should be able to fit the Tamiya Leopard 1A4.
Included in the kit is a total of 35 parts. The parts are comprised of resin, brass rod, fuse wire (8 and 16 amp), and white metal. The parts are very well moulded and have excellent detail. The casting blocks are solid but they appear to be easy to remove with a razor saw and some minor follow up sanding. None of the parts in my kit appear broken or warped. There is some minor flashing that will need to be cleaned up off of some of the smaller detail parts. Four pages of instructions are included and consist of a parts breakdown, written instructions as to how to prepare and assemble the parts, colour reference images of actual dozer blades, profile drawings showing proper parts placement and alignment, and links to internet reference images.
As with any kit modellers should be encouraged to seek out reference material to ensure accurate assembly and placement of parts. The kit instructions do a good job of pointing out kit parts that should be left off or mounted in other ways. It is important that modellers follow the instructions in the kit in particular to the front tow hooks and headlight positioning.
The assembly sequence is fully explained and with checking the part names, photos, and diagrams the modeller will be able to properly assemble the dozer blade, pusher arms, and hydraulic components.
A unique feature of the kit is that with proper preparation it can be made to raise and lower. This requires the drilling out of the hydraulic rams so that the pistons will have a free range of movement. It should be noted that brass wire is included to make the "L" shaped pins that secure the hydraulic reservoir to the glacis plate lifting eyes and for securing the pusher arms to the dozer blade mounting plate. The pins used to secure the pusher arms to the mounting plate are only fitted while the dozer blade is in the travel lock mode as this will not permit the blade to raise or lower. Once again, ensure you refer to images of the real dozer blade to assist you in deciding how you want to depict the dozer blade. All of the bolt details on the mounts, hydraulic rams, reservoir, and the blade itself appear to have been added and well researched. Very nice weld beads have been added to the mounting plate and hydraulic reservoir .
Both 8 and 16 amp wire is included in the kit. The 8 amp wire is used to make the extended wiring from the hull headlight mounts to the dozer blade headlight mounts. An important point to remember is that when the dozer blade is mounted the headlight are removed from the hull and remounted on the dozer blade upside down. White metal headlight guards are included and must be bent to the correct shape. Modellers will have to add the unique twist lock connections to the hull headlight mounts when fitting the cables as they are not included in the kit. There is no detail on the back of the headlight guards and to depict the accurate set up of headlight wiring and cable attachment points proper reference material will have to be sourced. The reference link included in the instructions to the Anzac Steel images of the Leopard AS1 are good but they fail to show the details of the headlight mount wiring. If Volume 3, Foreign Usage of the Leopard Trilogy is available as reference material I highly recommend it as it includes all the images required. The 16 amp wire is included to represent the electrical cable which runs from the back of the right side headlight mount to the armoured electrical outlet on the top of the glacis plate. The armoured electrical outlet cowling is included in the kit as is the other components of the armoured cable cover which runs across the glacis plate and track grousers.
I was very impressed with the blade assembly. The blade is comprised of the blade front, the blade rear, and the lower edge. The assembly allows for a realistic depiction of the blade as the blade itself is semi hollow. The result is a finely detailed blade assembly with a scale thickness.
Additional information is supplied in the instructions regarding the painting of the dozer blade and markings used on Australian Leopard AS1s mounting the dozer blade. Modellers will have to seek out additional information on Canadian Leopards using the dozer blade as only specific tanks mount the dozer blades. There is also a list of other conversions, reference material and accessories that can be sourced through Mouse House Enterprises to add to an Australian Leopard AS1 project.
This kit is an excellent addition to any Australian or Canadian Leopard 1 project. The level of detail is very high and very accurate when I compared the kit parts to my references and my experiences from commanding a Canadian Leopard C1 mounting the dozer blade.
It is fantastic to see more modern armour conversion kits coming out and especially when they are well researched and time is taken to produce accurate masters and cast high quality copies.
It would be incredible to see follow up kits of the Leopard 1 track width mine plough and the mine roller system also being released by Mouse House Enterprises.
This kit will for sure be used on my Canadian Leopard C2 MEXAS Afghanistan project.
Highs: The only kit of the Leopard 1 dozer blade available. It is highly accurate and very well detailed.Lows: Additional reference material is a must have for modellers to accurately place the electrical cables and some of the smaller details.Verdict: This is a fantastic unique kit that will change the look of any Australian or Canadian Leopard 1 project. Highly Recommended.