When the Germans designed the Leopard 1 and 2 they understood the concept of a fast moving battlefield in Europe. The need for armoured forces to advance at break neck speeds and in turn to provide blocking forces that would be able to maneuver seamlessly while encountering any terrain was key in including a number of features in the Leopards.
One of these features was the ability for the Leopard to conducting fording and underwater driving operations in order to cross the large amounts of streams and rivers found in Europe. No longer would highly mobile armoured forces rely on existing bridges or wait extended periods of time for Engineering equipment. At many locations in Germany fording sites were created and maintained in the event bridges were destroyed or alternate water crossing sites were required. As a result the Leopard tanks have a submerge hydraulic system allowing the tank to self-seal and create an over-pressure system so that it can cross suitable water features.
One of the simplest components of preparing the Leopard 2A4 for fording or under-water driving is the four rubber mantlet plugs. These plugs, located on the mantlet and upper front hull, are designed to seal the coaxial machine gun port and gunnerís secondary sight aperture. As a bonus the plugs also prevent additional dirt and dust from entering the turret when they are installed.
As far as I know there are no separate mantlet plugs available on any Leopard 2A4 kit currently available. Leopard Workshop
comes to the rescue with an inexpensive and high quality set of mantlet plugs perfect for use on your Leopard 2A4 build.
In this set you get ten resin mantlet plugs. The detail is very nice and you can clearly see the rounded top and the ribbed sections. Due to the casting block the middle will have to be drilled out after removal. Four mantlet plugs are required for each standard Leopard 2A4 so you will have a couple of extras.The PE fret is tiny but it does include parts to add mantlet plugs to two Leopard builds.
- 4 x long strands of PE chain for the hull
- 4 x PE cotter pins for to retain the hull chains
- 4 x short PE chains with rings for the mantlet plugs
- 4 x short strips of PE to be used as straps/collars around the mantlet plugs between the rounded top and the ribs
Diagrams and images are provided to show the assembled and mounted mantlet plugs. On the hull the cotter pins should slip though small welded on mounts. You will have to check your Leopard to ensure these are present and potentially drill them out to accept the cotter pins. It may be simpler to simply sand them off and replace them with very small pieces of styrene.
The PE chain has detail only on one side so pre-plan and takes care when attaching the parts so they keep the 3D effect.
Assembly of the parts should be straight forward. Be careful with the short PE strips as they need to be bent around the narrow circumference of the mantlet plug. The instruction images of the assembled parts do not show the short PE strips in place but the images of the actual mantlet plugs show them clearly.
Take a look at the image I provided of a mantlet plug for the secondary sight aperture on a Canadian Leopard 2A4 and you can see the small welded on ring to attach the chain as well as the metal collar.
The mantlet plugs can be used on other Leopard 2 variants as required. Depending on the version the plugs may be used in different locations such as on the Leopard 2A5/A6 extended coaxial machine gun port.
This is a very timely set to add additional details to a Leopard 2A4 build. If you use this set take the time to look at the parts, instructions, and reference images so you understand how to use the parts and where they attach to the hull and turret.