The popularity of the Leopard Main Battle Tank has grown monumentally over the past several years among mainstream model manufacturers and aftermarket producers.
Combat deployments to Afghanistan have highlighted the Leopard’s ability to engage and destroy the enemy with great impact. However, long before Leopard track pads touched the scorching heat of the Afghanistan dust the Leopard served alongside soldiers as part of the UNPROFOR mission in the very bloody conflict in the Balkans.
Danish Leopard 1A5DK tanks belonging to the Jutland Dragoons deployed to Bosnia in the Tuzla area during the spring of 1994. This was to provide Danish and other UNPROFOR involved nations attached to NORBAT with an armoured capability that could easily deal with any armour used by the various warring factions. The Danish tanks were modified for the UN mission with the additional of the XSW-30V searchlight from Danish M41DKs. This modification included a metal conduit covering the power cable running from the mantlet to the turret stowage bin. A smaller conduit covered the cable to the control unit positioned on the Commander’s hatch ring. Turret stowage boxes from Danish transport trucks were attached to the right rear of the turret on the deployed Squadron’s Leopard 1A5DKs. The large black UN markings emblazoned over the stark white UN paint scheme made for a very unique looking Leopard that stood out among other Leopards.
The Danish Leopard stood up against those who threatened fellow UNPROFOR forces and the civilians. During Operation Bøllebank
the Leopards recorded their first combat engagement by targeting hostile forces in Bosnia.
Until recently, the only conversion in existence to create a Danish Leopard 1A5DK was the Accurate Armour
C072 Danish Leopard 1A5DK conversion designed for the Italeri
Leopard 1A4 kit. This conversion was obtained from Dan Scale
and updated by Accurate Armour
with additional PE parts. The conversion is excellent but it is lacking some of the details to create an accurate UNPROFOR version. I had used the Accurate Armour
conversion as the basis for my UNPROFOR Leopard 1A5DK back in 2003.
Moving forward to 2014 I was pleasantly surprised to see Legend Productions
release LF1283 the Leopard 1A5DK UN Version conversion for the Meng Model
Leopard 1A3/A4 kit. I have always wanted to build another Danish UNPROFOR Leopard 1A5DK and this conversion I was not to be disappointed once I laid eyes on it.
have grasped Leopard conversions and detailing sets by the tail and have created top notch conversions over the past year. This conversion consists of 31 primary resin parts and 67 PE parts. The conversion is designed for the Meng Model
Leopard kit and as such it will not be an immediate fit to existing Italeri
Packaging is straight forward with a small box containing individual zip lock bags for resin parts and for the PE, brass, and string parts. There were no breakages that I could identify in my sample set. The instructions are on a single page which consists of colour images showing the parts attached to the Meng kit. The parts are numbered but careful study is required to ensure you know the placement locations and if any additional preparation or modifications are required. The part detail is of high quality, but careful cutting and sanding will be required to remove the delicate parts from the casting blocks.
On Danish Leopards the standard pioneer tool racks have been replaced by enclosed stowage bins. Legend faithfully reproduces the four unique bins in resin. Also included for the hull are the lower front hull mounts, which are for the dozer blade and mine plow, the glacis plate cable conduit, glacis plate fording plugs (with chains) PE rear mud flaps, resin U brackets for the rear hull, engine deck PE track tool brackets and the tank telephone mounted indicator light. Missing from the details are the two rear hull mounted camouflage pole brackets. This is an easy scratch build add-on with plastic tube and a few reference images.
The turret gets an overhaul and updated with the EMES18 gunner’s sight housing. You will have to modify the turret to fit the sight housing. Be sure to pay attention to the instructions as they detail where to make the cuts. I would recommend cutting smaller than the listed dimensions and increasing the size of the cut out while test fitting the part. Once installed you have the option to have the shutters open or closed. A nicely formed PE sun shade is provided for the EMES 18 housing.
A nicely detailed resin mantlet cover with the proper lacing is provided as a direct swap with the Meng part. To further detail the mantlet two resin mantlet plugs with chains are provided; A great little detail! The muzzle of the main gun is replaced with a resin version sporting a nice rendition of the MRS mirror. Both sets of grenade dischargers are treated to PE chains which definitely enhances the turret details. One the left grenade discharger brush guard a PE mounting frame for a bore brush container is added. This is another unique feature of the Leopard 1A5DK.
On the turret rear the add-on stowage box is provided in resin as are the enlarged antenna mounting units. These stowage boxes were a unique feature on the Jutland Dragoons’ Leopards. On the turret front the blanking plates for the turret sight openings are provided in resin with nicely detailed weld seams. The plates were added as the openings were redundant once the EMES 18 sight was installed. On the Commander’s side of the turret the extended TRP-2 sight and front facing periscope are provided in well cast resin. Mounted at the 12 o’clock position of the commander’s hatch ring is a resin searchlight control unit. A PE periscope cover is provided for the commander’s 11 o’clock periscope.
The XSW-30V searchlight is a great piece of resin and is further detailed with addition of bent brass angled handles. There are small locating points for the four handles on the top of the searchlight to aid in measuring the size of the handles when bending the 0.5 mm brass wire provided in the set. A length of flexible tubing is provided for the searchlight power cable.
On the Loader’s side of the turret a PE cover for the rotating periscope is provided to detail the kit. On both turret hatch rings a PE machine gun mount locking bracket is provided. This is a feature almost always missed on Leopard conversions and PE detail sets. Running from the mantlet cover back to the right antenna portion of the turret rear is a PE conduit designed to protect the searchlight cable. A small perpendicular conduit splits off and goes to the area of the Commander’s searchlight control unit.
Added to the top of the conduit are two PE and resin brackets for the Danish M/96 Carbine (a modified Canadian Colt C8 Carbine). These brackets were not fitted on UNPROFOR deployed Leopards and therefore should not be used in this conversion to create an accurate UN Danish Leopard 1A5DK. As a result the small angled PE part on the conduit cover should be trimmed off before fitting. Finishing off the turret is a small resin cover for the turret stowage bin where the cable conduit terminates.
To finalise detailing the hull, a length of string is provided for the tow cables and two spare resin road wheels are included as additional detail parts. However, the string is not up to par with available aftermarket metal tow cables. Spare road wheels were commonly carried on the glacis plate of the Leopards. Note that the grouser racks are not used on the Danish Leopards leaving the glacis plate relatively smooth. For your use as you deem fit multiple PE padlocks are provided to add to the stowage box or tool box.
I am very happy with the look of this conversion and the parts included. Obviously decals are not included but the Leopard Club
has produced a decal set specifically for use with this conversion.
With slight modifications and detailing you can create different versions of the Danish Leopard 1A5DK. If you do not use all of the components related to the searchlight (searchlight, conduit, rear cover, control unit) you have a basic 1A5DK. Again, if you do not use the turret stowage box you have an even more generic 1A5DK.
For an additional option, from the reference material I have studied, the UNPROFOR Leopard 1A5DKs were simply repainted when the UNPROFOR mission transitioned to IFOR in December 1995. There were no additional modifications to the tanks during the IFOR mission. With the standard Danish green and black paint scheme and IFOR markings you will have created a Danish IFOR Leopard 1A5DK. These tanks also received a very unique white, green, and black winter camouflage while deployed on the IFOR mission.
As an alternative, with using a combination of the conversion parts; the MENG kit parts; and a bit of scratch building, you could actually back date a build to a Danish Leopard 1A3DK.
To summarize this conversion is another great offering from Legend Productions. While a couple of the details are incorrect they are easily rectified during the build. This conversion will without a doubt instantly transform your Meng Leopard 1A3/A4 kit into a very menacing looking UNPROFOR mission deployed Danish Leopard 1A5DK.