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The Danish Leopard 2A5

The Danish Leopard 2A5 Book Review

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review August 2009 Title The Danish Leopard 2A5
Author Thomas Antonsen Publisher Barbarossa Books
Published 2008 ISBN 978-1-84768-027-3
Format 172 pages, softbound MSRP (BP) £27.95


Nobody thinks very much about Denmark. No, I am not disparaging that country in the slightest; but as it is one of the smaller of the NATO nations and located on the Jutland Peninsula to the north of what used to be the main arena of a prospective war with the USSR, its armed forces were not generally seen as first line defenders of NATO. This is something of a shame, as for many years Denmark has shown a very solid and rationally thought out view of its armed forces and their weapons with brave and solid troops to man them.

Like many other NATO countries, most of whom do not produce their own major weapons systems, the Royal Danish Army had only a few choices for arming their forces. The usual choices have been to purchase either British, American or after 1960 German equipment, both as they were NATO countries and backers and they came designed to meeting NATO compatibility standards with common weapons and calibers, common fittings, compatible radio communications and fuel requirements, and other standardized features. For example, the Danes purchased British Centurions and American M41 Walker Bulldogs in the 1950s and later moved to German Leopard 1 series tanks in 1976; they also had American M113 series APCs and M109 SP 155mm and M110 SP 203mm howitzers. While not lavishly funded, the Danes were able to make thrifty use of these forces and keep them both well-prepared and serviceable for all Cold War needs.

In the early 1990s Denmark began looking at replacing the 230 Leopard 1A3 and 1A4 tanks then in service, even though by then all of these tanks had been upgraded to Leopard 1A5 standards. Due to changes in technology, even with the upgrades they were not seen as world standard and a replacement had to be found. The main competition came down to whether or not to select the turbine-powered American M1A1 or the German Leopard 2 tank. When the German Army offered to sell them Leopard 2A4 tanks in 1997, the Danes accepted. The purchase of 51 of these tanks was soon followed by negotiations to upgrade them to Leopard 2A5 standards.

The tanks, serial numbered by the Danes in the 68.6xx series, have many detain differences from their German cousins and other export versions. This book covers the tanks in their original delivery condition as seen in 2000 and 2001 and then follows and details their upgrade to Leopard 2A5 standards. Seven pages detail the early years, followed by a description of what changes were made and then 42 pages of detailed photos of the upgrade components and detail changes made to the Leopard 2A4 to turn it into the 2A5.

For general fans of the Leopard 2, the next chapter covers maintenance of the tank and provides 24 pages of detailed color photos of the tank with its engine removed and other components under maintenance, which is a detailer’s dream when it comes to the internals of the engine bay and other parts of the tank. Eight more pages show how to ship your Leos using road, rail, sea, and even contract air (with the An-124 being rented from Volga-Dnepr Air.)

The next 24 pages cover the Leo 2A5 on exercise and in training. Chapter 9 provides 28 pages on the evolution of the tank as it moves from being a “Cold Warrior” into a mobile fire support system for use in today’s modern conflicts against what the Russians called “illegal armed formations” or extremists. Ten more pages cover the deployment of part of the Leo 2A5 tanks to provide fire support in Helmand Provice, Afghanistan, starting in 2007.

The next chapter looks at modeling the Danish Leo 2A5 with its primary focus being on the extant Tamiya Leopard 2A5/2A6 kit or for those not interested in extreme detailing, the Hobby Boss 2A5 kit. The author provides his reasoning as well as covers the best detail set options to create an accurate Danish 2A5 from the Tamiya kit. The book also provides a set of 1/35 scale plans for the Danish Leo 2A5 (which barely fit inside the A4 sized pages!) and a small camouflage scheme for the European camo version. The last few pages cover the history of the Leo unit and also some of its operations when deployed with its Leo 1A5 tanks to Bosnia-Herzogovina in 1994.

Overall this is a very thoroughly researched and laid out book, and while somewhat narrowly focused on just the Danish versions of the tank, there are a number of general use items and information for anyone modeling the Leo 2A4/2A5 series tanks to make it worth serious consideration.

Thanks to Russell Hadler of Barbarossa Books for the review copy.