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Leopard 1 A1A1-A1A4 (05656) 1:35


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Leopard 1 A1A1-A1A4 (05656)

1:35 Carrera Revell




The Leopard Main Battle Tank (MBT) was designed in the mid-50s as an answer to a requirement by the newly reformed German Army to replace the outmoded American cast-off M47 and M48 tanks they had been using up until that point. It was based upon the premise that manoeuvrability and armament were more important than armour, as the rise of the HEAT round had rendered most standard rolled steel armour ineffective due to its massively increased penetrating capability.  To make for a more agile target, the Leopard was designed to withstand 20mm rounds from all directions, weighing in at 30 tonnes, and with Nuclear, Biological, Chemical (NBC) protection to counter the Soviet hordes that they expected to be flooding across the border.  Three design teams competed for the Tank contract from Porsche, Rheinmetall and Borgward. The Porsche prototype was eventually selected as the winner. Production was set up with Krauss-Maffei in Munich and deliveries began in late 1965. Provision was also made for bolt on Lexan armour, and it could carry the 120mm gun of the Leopard 2, even though this was never used.  Export sales followed, and the Leopard 1 would go on to serve with the Armies of Belgium, Holland, Norway, Italy, Denmark, Australia, Canada, and Turkey. The A5 with Germany, Holland and Chile.


The initial A1 variant reached service in the mid-60s carrying a NATO standard 105mm gun, then in the 1980s research was begun with a view to upgrading the tank, improving the turret to store more ammunition, and a more advanced fire control system was fitted to increase accuracy.  An important upgrade to the A1A1 standard formed the basis of the A5 in the 80s, which with the benefit of retro-fitting, became the de facto standard Leopard 1 up until its replacement by the Leopard 2 in Bundeswehr service early in the new millennium.



The Kit

This is a new boxing of the 2015 tooling from Revell, as evidenced by the raised copyright details on the underside of the engine deck.  It is a multi-version boxing, and arrives in a substantially oversized box as a gift-set, with enough room for another kit inside despite the extras, which seems a little wasteful of shipping space in our modern cost-conscious age.  Inside the large top-opening box are ten sprues in grey styrene, a sprue and two track lengths in black flexible plastic, a 15cm length of metal wire (not pictured) taped to the colour instruction booklet, decal sheet, and profiles on the rear of the instructions for the four decal options that are included in this issue.  The afore mentioned extras include six thumb pots of acrylic paint, a #2 paint brush, a 12.5ml bottle of Revell Contacta Professional cement with a needle applicator, and an A3 poster of the box art without all the frippery necessary for the packaging.  It’s hard to photograph well, and there’s a thumbnail of it on the box top in case you can’t picture it.  Detail is good, and it shows up better in grey styrene rather than the older green styrene Revell used to use, which was not only difficult to photograph well, but made it difficult to see too, as well as appearing a little old-fashioned.  It’s an exterior kit, and offers the option to build the major variants, with traditional ‘rubber-band’ tracks that might deter some, and attract others.  The cast texture on the mantlet and other parts is good, as is the Lexan armour that is applied to the turret sides, which has a fine waffle texture moulded-in, plus attachment bolts in recesses.





















Construction begins predictably with the lower hull, starting with the floor and adding the sidewalls that are supported by a bulkhead that slots into two grooves at around mid-way.  The rear bulkhead is next, pointing out the detail painting of the moulded-in rear light clusters using letter codes that correspond to a table at the front of the booklet in Revell colour codes.  Suspension details are added on both sides of the hull, including bump-stops, shock absorbers for the rear axles, and swing arms for all stations, locking in place on a keyed peg.  The road wheels are made in pairs, fourteen road wheel assemblies, two idlers, plus four return-rollers on mounts higher on the hull sides.  The road wheel pairs are slid onto the axles in groups of seven per side, plus the idler wheels at the front of the hull, then the drive sprockets are made from three layers ready to be fitted onto the hull with the tracks.  Being of the rubber-band type, their ends are joined by threading the turrets at one end of the run through corresponding holes in the other end, then melting them flat into rivet-shapes with a hot screwdriver or similar item, turning them in a continuous band.  One end of the loop is wrapped around the idler wheel, inserting the drive sprocket in the opposite end, and pushing the lengths over the road wheels, and gluing the sprocket into position at the rear.


The upper hull is prepared by drilling out flashed-over holes in the front, three on the glacis plate, and two on each side ‘cheeks’ over the fender.  While the part is inverted, the vision blocks for the driver are painted and pushed into their recesses in the forward deck, detail painting sensors over the fenders, and some filler caps on the engine deck.  Detail inserts are applied to the sides of the hull once the two halves are mated, drilling a hole in each one before applying glue.  Another small insert is fitted on the left side around the turret ring, then you have a choice of three styles of cooling grilles on the rear hull sides depending on which variant you are building, and for the A1A1 or A1A2 there is a tie-down at the rear that should be removed for some vehicles.  The side skirts are fixed to the hull sides on small pegs, adding mudguards at the rear before the installation of detail parts begins, fitting lifting eyes, stowage boxes and pioneer tools on almost every surface.  The rear bulkhead is adorned with towing eyes, shackles and a convoy shield light with cross decal, plus spare track links, and an equipment box on the top left.  The towing cables are moulded in the same flexible black styrene as the tracks, and whether you use them is up to you, as you have separate styrene eyes for each end, so replacing them with cord or braided wire would be a simple task.  The instructions show where they should be fitted, and their location as they snake toward the front of the vehicle, with arrows showing where the various tie-downs should be.  More parts are added to the glacis, including light clusters, triangular blocks between the fenders and glacis, and a rack of cold-weather track grousers in three rows that mount on three pins.  The driver’s hatch can be fitted opened or closed, although a figure would be needed to hide the empty interior, the location of the open hatch shown in a scrap diagram nearby.


The turret upper begins as a hollow part, adding three vision blocks to the roof, then building the gun pivot from a hollow rectangle with pegs at each end, held in place by two trunnions in the lower turret.  The vision blocks around the commander’s cupola are painted in, then the two halves of the turret are mated, adding detail parts and sensors on either side of the main gun on cylindrical projections, with open or closed covers possible using the same parts.  The commander’s cupola and the gunner/loader’s hatches have top rails fitted, and a periscope is installed in front of the commander’s hatch.  The gun barrel is provided in two vertically split halves, and has the cooling jacket and its straps moulded-in, inserting the keyed rear into the mantlet after drilling out several holes from within depending on which variant you are portraying.  The completed assembly is glued to the box-shaped pivot to complete the basic structure, then additional details are layered over it in the next several steps, starting with a bustle stowage box with cylindrical tubes to each side, which is fitted to the rear of the turret, and covered with a back panel and tubular framed basket on each side, taking care to locate the ends to align the assemblies correctly.  The crew hatches are both circular and made from two spaced layers, adding a central boss inside, both of which can be posed open or closed in their respective hatches, as per the accompanying diagrams on the following page.  A canvas mantlet cover is fitted to the space at the front of the turret, adding lifting eyes to the top surface, then two racks of smoke grenade launchers on curved rails are made, glued to the turret sides, and surrounded by Lexan armour panels that cover the majority of the sides, adding two more panels to the bustle baskets, and a piece of appliqué armour to the mantlet with its own lifting eye.  Various rails are added over the armour on the sides, and the gunner’s MG3 machine gun is fitted to a two-part pintle-mount, inserting the peg into the ring around his hatch, and aerial bases into a sockets near the rear of the turret roof.


An TV camera is made from three parts and attached to the top of the mantlet for the A1A2 and A1A4 variants, mounting a three-part cage with a protective door to the front, while all variants have an Infrared night vision system in a box with the hatch posed open or closed, the open option involving cutting the hatch down the centre.  It is mounted on the left side of the mantlet with a short frame supporting the front, and a thick cable leading back and into the turret at the corner.  The completed turret is then lowered into the hull and twisted into position on a pair of bayonet lugs.  The build isn’t quite over however, as there is a two-part travel lock applied to the rear bulkhead, which can be posed lowered for action or vertically to clasp the barrel while the turret is reversed for travel.  The final two styrene parts are used to make the driver’s wing mirror that is mounted on the right fender at an angle, using a long or short support.  You’ve probably forgotten about the piece of wire taped to the front of the instructions, but it has a use.  Aerials of two lengths are cut depending on the variant, their ends warmed in a flame until they’re hot enough to melt plastic.  Then they are inserted into the aerial bases, although I’d rather use super glue in case the plastic melts too freely.  I have used wire and carbon rod for AFV aerials in the past, and would entreat you to be very careful when looking closely at your model, as the end is very sharp.  If you’re clumsy like me, perhaps a dot of super glue forming a ball on the end could save your eyesight.




There are four decal options on the small sheet, but there are additional digits for number plates that permit you to build your own vehicle registrations.  From the box you can build one of the following:


  • Leopard 1 A1A1 (4. Baulos) PzBtl 24, Braunschweig 1977
  • Leopard 1 A1A2 (3. Baulos) JgBtl 511, Flensburg, 1988
  • Leopard 1 A1A3 (2. Baulos) PzBtl 354, Hammelburg, 1987
  • Leopard 1 A1A4 (2. Baulos) PzBtl 324, Hammelburg, 1987






Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas.




It’s a well-detailed exterior model of this important Cold War warrior, and while the flexible tracks may put off a few, it’s swings and roundabouts.  There are plenty of variant options, and tons of number plate choices that should allow you to build a good replica of the first Leopard.


Highly recommended.


Carrera Revell model kits are available from all good toy and model retailers. For further information visit

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It should be noted that while the box art shows the D1392E2 tracks with the chevron rubber blocks as used on early Leo 1s, the kit tracks are of the later type with solid blocks used on the A1 so despite the box art the correct tracks seem to be in the box.

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