ESCI 1/35 Leopard 2 Kit First Look
By Ray Mehlberger
|Date of Review||December 2008||Manufacturer||ESCI|
|Kit Number||5022||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Neat modern West German tank||Cons||No crew figures or interior detail. Not told the names of the units that the decal marks represent, other than the 2 countries|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||Out of Production|
In general, the Leopard 2 was built to the same design as the previous Leopard I, but it is slightly bigger and had a larger turret with more sophisticated fire-control equipment. It was also fitted with a more powerful engine.
The Leopard 2 was carefully evaluated, and it was concluded that it was too expensive, the fire-control equipment was too involved, and the armor protection inadequate. It was therefore supplanted with the Leopard 2A version. It was more combat-worthy than the Leopard 2. The principal changes involved the turret. By replacing the optical range-finding apparatus with a laser range finder, it has been possible to give the turret a better shape. A U.S. manufactured Hughes fire-control system that was evaluated for the 2A series included a thermal-imaging night vision system and a television target-tracking camera.
In August 1977, it was announced that 1800 Leopard 2 tanks would be delivered to the German Bundeswehr between 1979 and 1986, at a cost of DM 6500 million. These were modifications of the Leopard 2A model. They were fitted with the 120mm (4.7-in.) smooth-bore gun.
The Leopard 2 was an offshoot of a cancelled joint development between the USA and West Germany in the late 1960’s. The project being the MBT-70. The West Germans continued the project, however. The first production vehicles were delivered in 1977 and exports were soon equipping the Dutch Army. The Leopard 2 has a NBC (nuclear-biological-chemical) defense system and has amphibious capability. It’s fire system is unusual in that the cartridge cases are combustible. When the shell is fired, all that remains is the base of the cartridge, which frees up extra space. It has a 30% better power-to-weight ratio than the Leopard 1 did. This resulted in increased cross-country mobility and thus better survivability too.
Ertl is a company based in Dyresville, Iowa. They are most noted for production of farm equipment toy replicas and have been in that business since 1945. In the late 1980’s till about the middle of the 1990’s, Ertl sold Esci model kits under their label. Esci was an Italian model company that has gone out of business. Ertl no longer makes armor or aircraft kits in plastic, only their AMT line is still active producing model car kits. The pressing of their plastic models has also been moved to Mexico.
This kit is a close representative of the Leopard 2A-3 out of the box (I am told). The kit comes in a tray and lid type box. The boxart shows a Leopard in West German marks and a 3-color wave pattern camouflage of black, dark green and tan. On the front of the right fender is the white letter numbers 60 7. There is a white license plate with the black numbers Y-411994 on it, with a small German flag to the left of the numbers. The left fender has white rectangle with a oval inside it, flanked on the left by the white number 2 and on the right with the white numbers 244. Modern German black crosses with white outlines adorn the turret sides. This illustration of the tank is posed against a plain background of orange and white that divides the box’s length. There is a small illustration of the link and length type tracks in the kit in one corner and mention that there is decals for West German and Swiss vehicles.
Side panels say that the kit is not advised for kids under 10 and that it contains small parts that could be a hazard to them and the kit does not include paint or cement. This is repeated in 6 languages, including English.
Inside the kit 3 large light tan parts trees. 1 medium sized tan tree and a off-white tree. All are in individual sealed cello bags.
The decal sheet and instructions complete the kit’s contents.
The instructions consist of a single sheet that accordion folds out into 8 pages in 8 ½” x 11” format.
Page one begins with a very inky black copy of the boxart, followed by the history of the Leopard in the same 6 languages as the box side panels.
Page 2 begins with general warnings about the kit, again in the same 6 languages. This is followed by a listing of Humbrol brand paints suggested to use to finish the model. The bottom of the page has decal application instructions.
Pages 3 through 7 give a total of 5 numbered assembly steps. However, there are actually 24 separate assembly drawings in these numbered steps. In the numbered step 2, there are four assembly drawings showing how to assemble the tracks with the link and length type track pieces. Where and how many of the links go around the running gear.
Page 8 has a 5-view marking and painting illustration for a West German tank in the wave pattern of tan, black and dark green. The decal sheet offers the scheme shown on the boxart, already described above. However, this scheme also has a coat of arms that goes on one side of the rear of the turret. The license plate number is repeated on the back of the tank.
This same camouflage can be marked as another West German tank that has a yellow triangle with 3 vertical bars inside it that goes on both sides of the rear of the turret, a white outlined number 325 that goes on the center of the side of the turret, a white circle with the number 60 inside it on the right front fender, a white license plate with the number Y-533718 in black letters on it, with the little German flag to the left of the lettering again. It has the white triangle on the left fender with the white oval inside it and the number 3 in white to the left of it and white 363 on the right. The license plate is repeated on the back of the tank.
On the decal sheet is a area marked as group C. I think these are meant for a Swiss Leopard in the same camouflage. A black license plate with a small white Swiss cross and the number M-0810 in white on it goes on the left side of the rear of the tank and a repeat of it goes on the bow. There is white square outlined in black that has the black letters DL above L2 on it. This mark goes on the right side of the rear and on the left front fender.
There are no parts illustrations in the instructions. However, the trees are alphabetized and part numbers are molded next to the parts on them. You will have to identify things from the parts drawings then, rather than having parts tree drawings to refer to.
Large light tan letter A tree holds: the turret top and bottom parts, the rear hull panel, side skirts and the 120mm gun barrel (8 parts)
Medium sized off white letter B tree holds the link and length type tracks.(39 parts) Some flash is present on the sprue, but not on the parts themselves.
Large light tan letter C parts tree holds: the road wheels, drive sprockets, return rollers, suspension arms, rear view mirrors, turret mantle, 2 machine guns, hatches etc. (118 parts)
Medium sized light tan letter D tree holds: round rear engine deck air intake grills, various other panels, 2 rear engine deck domes etc. (16 parts)
Large light tan letter E parts tree holds the hull top, bottom and side pieces and smoke launcher barrels. (32 parts) There are 6 each of parts numbers 5E and 6E on this tree, that are nowhere to be seen on the instructions and will therefore be excess.
The decal sheet, already described above completes the kit’s contents. There are no crew figures or clear parts for telescope of headlight lenses included in the kit. Although some hatches can be posed open, there are no interior details either.