The Canadian Leopard 2A6M entered service with the Canadian Forces with a baptism by fire in Afghanistan. Seldom does a tank enter service in modern times and go directly into combat operations. In true fashion with Canadian AFVs the new Leopards have received a variety of modifications before they left Germany and while they have served in Afghanistan.
External modifications done while the tanks were in Germany included new antenna mounts, additional glacis plate armour, a full array of slat armour, and increased mine protection in the form of belly armour and reinforcement bars. While in Afghanistan a rifle stowage box, a cooling system vent, and electronics stowage boxes were retrofitted to the turret. An additional modification on the tanks has been the attachment of the Barracuda mobile camouflage system to cool the tank on the outside and inside.
The tanks have been very effective in combined arms operations whether providing over watch from high ground positions, an immediate reaction force for securing sensitive areas, or slugging it out in close combat with the enemy in the grape fields and villages.
The Canadian Forces have entered the world of modern armour with a very big bang.
As a newcomer to the aftermarket scene Storm Miniatures leaps into view with the production of their Leopard 2A6M Conversion Set No. 35001. The kit provides resin conversion parts to create an accurate version of the Canadian Leopard 2A6M as deployed to Afghanistan. The conversion parts are based on actual detailed photos and measurements of all the components on the Canadian Leopard 2A6M. This conversion set is designed for use on the Tamiya 1/35 Leopard 2A6 kit No. 35271. The only major component of the Canadian Leopard 2A6M that the conversion set does not include is the slat armour package. The slat armour set designed for a Canadian Leopard 2A6M project is the Eduard Leopard 2A6M Armour Slat #36019, also Reviewed Here
on Armorama. The Instructions
The instructions are provided on three pages and are well written and easy to understand. The instructions give a brief overview of the modifications to the Canadian Leopard 2A6M, parts photos and descriptions, and nine step-by-step instructions for the assembly and placement of the conversion parts. The instructions are written for the modeller by a modeller. Take the time to read them and know the parts before assembly. The written instructions are supplemented with photos showing the placement of the parts on the Tamiya kit, assembly diagrams, and actual vehicle photos. This does not preclude the modeller from seeking out more reference images in particular for the layout of the grenade dischargers.Contents
The Leopard 2A6M CDN conversion includes 48 resin parts and if ordered the Echelon Fine Details Canadian Leopard 2A6M #D356044 decal set. The resin parts are cast in medium grey with some casting blocks attached. It was evident to me upon inspection of the parts with the casting blocks were produced with a modeller’s perspective to permit easy cleanup while retaining the details of each part. The parts are very well cast and very nicely detailed. The parts are easily on par for crispness and detail with any of the major high quality resin aftermarket part or kit producers.
The following are the resin parts included in the kit:
- Hull Bottom Armour
- Hull Bottom Escape Hatch Armour
- Upper Glacis Plate Armour
- Hull Reinforcement Bars
- Turret C8 Rifle Box
- Late style grenade discharger mounts
- Multi-barrel grenade dischargers
- Turret electronics boxes with lids, ductwork, and handles
- Turret ventilator
- ‘T’ style antenna mounts
- Antenna mounting units
- Slat armour support arms
- Support arm brackets
As a matter of evolution the Canadian Leopard 2A6M received the majority of the modifications in Germany before arrival in Afghanistan. When the Leopard 2A6Ms initially arrived in Afghanistan in August 2007 they did not have the turret C-8 rifle box, the turret ventilator, or the turret electronics boxes fitted. These modifications were planned and added as parts became available in Afghanistan. It appears by February 2008 the modifications had taken place.
In conducting research for a Canadian Leopard 2A6M project and this review I have viewed literally several hundred detailed images of the Canadian Leopard 2A6M. I am very pleased to say that the conversion parts are very accurate.
The hull bottom armour and escape hatch armour are very nicely formed and no warping in my kit. The curve and cut out notches at the front of the armour is correct. At the rear of the hull bottom armour plate on the real tanks there is a small curved skid plate. This plate prevents the blunt end of the armour plate from hitting objects and possibly damaging the armour when the tank is reversing. This has been replicated on the resin hull bottom armour by two tiny notches on either side to simulate the barely visible gap. Modellers should make note that the escape hatch armour does not extend fully to the edge of the bottom hull armour. This is the way it is supposed to be and the size of the escape hatch armour is correct. The hull reinforcement bars are a very nice inclusion as no published images of the Leopard 2A6M show them in place. It is important to note that not all of the Leopard 2A6Ms in Afghanistan have them welded to the hull bottom so they are optional. The reinforcement bars consist of three rounded half-section bars that attach under the power pack compartment. Modellers may want to add a small weld bead around the bars after they are fitted to the hull.
The upper glacis plate armour is cast in one piece and is very well detailed with the two different sizes of bolts and a slight rough texture on the anti-slip pads. Modellers note that when mounting the glacis plate armour you do not fit the camouflage net poles or the bracket to the left of the driver’s hatch.
The turret rifle box has excellent details and does not even require clean up. It simply drops into place between the Commander’s hatch and the main gun sight housing. The only thing missing from the box top is the anti-slip surface. Modellers will have to add this detail using the method of their choice. On the actual tank the box is attached to the turret roof by bolting it to an ‘H’ shaped bracket. The ‘H’ shaped brackets were mounted to the turret roof while the tanks were in Germany. The ‘H’ shaped bracket is not included in the conversion kit and is not visible when the box is mounted so it is easy to understand why it was not included in the set. However, because the box is mounted to the ‘H’ shaped bracket the box appears to be raised above the turret roof by about a ˝ inch. This will be easy to replicate when attaching the box to the Tamiya turret. Modellers wanting to build a brand new Canadian Leopard 2A6M will leave the rifle box off and add the ‘H’ shaped bracket to the roof based on the appropriate reference material.
Most of the Canadian Leopard 2A6Ms in Afghanistan have the late version multi-barrel grenade discharger set up on the turret. This consists of mounting rails with six grenade dischargers on the top and two on a lower rail. I have seen images of one Leopard 2A6M in Afghanistan with the standard four upper and four lower grenade discharger set up. The replacement rails and grenade dischargers are very well cast and include subtle but defined bolt details. Twelve grenade dischargers are included for the upper rail and four for the lower rail. Modellers will have to add the cap retaining chains from the photo etched chain source of their choice. Good reference material is a must for accurately placing the grenade dischargers correctly on the rails. On the real tank they do not mount flush on the rails and they are at different angles to maximize the coverage of the grenades. Slight modifications and filling is required to the Tamiya turret to mount the new grenade discharger rails.
On the rear of the turret behind the Commander’s hatch and the PERI-R 17A2 electronic storage boxes have been mounted. These have been included as multi-piece units that include the box, two lids, handles, and ductwork. While it appears that there are two separate boxes due to the offset set up there is in fact only one box but two compartments fitted with independent lids. The parts require next to no cleanup and look very accurate compared to reference images. On both the sides of the box and lids of the real components there are multiple ventilation slits to cool the internal systems. This is a difficult feature to replicate and all of the slits are included on the parts. The definition of the slit detail is not as pronounced as on the real box and lid but modellers should be able to carefully scribe deeper detail should they choose to do so. Slight anti-slip coatings are present on the lids and this may be a feature that modellers may also want to enhance, as there should be a plain metal border visible around the anti-slip surface. The ductwork is very nicely detailed with bolt heads and the small locking pin. A turret ventilator housing is included and this is also a part that is optional depending on the specific tank. Not all the tanks have this ventilator and it may have been another case of fitting the system when they came available. In my research this ventilator housing is for the cooling vest system. The part is very well detailed and even includes the mesh screen visible inside the housing. It simply attaches to a small access hatch on the Tamiya turret if the modeller chooses to use the part.
A key visible part on the Canadian Leopard 2A6M is the unique ‘T’ shaped antenna mount. In the conversion the two antenna mounts are comprised of six parts each. The parts include the tower base that attaches to the turret roof, the tower riser, the ‘T’ shaped tower, the antenna mounts, and the tower cap. All of the parts are very well cast and the level of bolt detail in the ‘T’ shaped tower is excellent. Modellers will have to add the three large antennas and the one short thick antenna according to reference images.
The final resin parts included in the kit are the two slat armour support brackets and the two slat armour support arms. This was an excellent inclusion to the set as these parts correct two of the photo etched slat armour support arms in the Eduard set. The slat armour support arms for the most part are square tubular frames running from the slat armour sections to the slat armour support brackets that have been welded to the turret and hull. Eduard provides all of the support arms in their excellent set. However, in reality two of the support arms are of a different configuration in order to facilitate attaching to the support bracket while passing through the grenade discharger set up. A resin rectangular support bracket is supplied and is to be attached to the turret sides. The placement is critical, as it must line up with the slat armour section. Taking time to select the correct location will pay off. The trick is to remember that the support bracket is positioned at about a 45-degree angle on the turret side in between the second and third grenade discharger. Attached to the support bracket is the support arm. The end that attaches to the slat armour is square and it reduces down to a supported tube that narrows to pass in between the grenade dischargers and attached to the support bracket. This feature could have been overseen by Eduard during the development of their photo etch set but kudos go to Storm Miniatures for carefully studying reference images and producing the correct part. Modellers must use good reference images and study the instructions to properly place these parts.
On the real tanks the turret rifle box, electronics boxes, ductwork, and the ventilator are painted tan. The antenna mounts and the upper hull glacis plate armour are painted NATO green. Due to the ability to pretty much assemble the parts and attach them the modeller will have the ability to construct the parts, paint the parts, and attach them after the Leopard 2A6M has been painted in the three colour NATO camouflage. Painting the tan and NATO green parts after attachment is totally possible but now there is an easier way to do it in my opinion.The Decals
Storm Miniatures provides the modeller the option at the time of ordering the conversion kit to include or not include the Echelon Fine Details Canadian Leopard 2A6M #D356044 decal set. While this is not a formal review of the decal set the following provides a break down of the decals included:
- White lettering English back deck stencils
- Black lettering GPS antenna stencil
- Black Maple Leafs x 2
- Canadian flags for the antennas x 2
- Bridge classification
- Canadian Forces Registration (CFR) numbers and spare numbers
- White Troop barrel rings x 4
- Grenade discharger numbers x 16
- Vehicle serial number identification red rectangle
- Climbing location “Ladder Man” stencils x 8
The decal set is very well done and very accurate as it was developed from actual vehicle photos. Some of the decals such as the grenade discharger numbers and the variety of stencils are very small and modellers must take care in applying them to their project. A small instruction card is included showing the decal placement but the correspondence between the vehicle registration number and to which Troop the tank belongs as denoted by way of the Troop barrel rings is not mentioned. Modellers will have to seek out reference material to replicate accurate marking combinations. It should also be noted that while eight of the climbing location “ladder man” stencils are included only two of them are actually used per tank.
To put it bluntly, I am extremely impressed with this conversion set. This is an excellent example of when a master maker combines high quality references with fantastic model making abilities and a modeller’s eye.The ability for a modeller to build a state of the art Canadian Leopard 2A6M has come to reality. The conversion has been very well thought out to make it easy for the modeller to use the parts with very little cleanup overall.
Hats off to Storm Miniatures for producing this high quality conversion set and for getting all the details included correct. I am sure future releases will be very welcome.The conversion set is offered with the Echelon Fine Details Canadian Leopard 2A6M #D356044 decal set for $43.00 CDN plus shipping. The cost of the conversion kit without the decals included is $35.00 CDN plus shipping. Either option can be purchased by contacting Andy Bass of Storm Miniatures at: [email protected]