Italeri Leopard 2A6
Since 1980, the main battle tank of the West German (later just German) army, as well as a number of other armies around the world, has been the Leopard 2 tank. It had its origins in the ill fated MBT70 joint venture with the U.S., which also spawned the M1 Abrams. Over the past 39 years, the tank has gone through many incarnations, and is still being upgraded, with plans to keep it in production until at least 2030.
The first series of Leopard 2s ended with the Leopard 2A4, and were easily distinguished from the second series by the vertical, slab sided turret. The second series originated from a "Leopard 2 Improved" prototype, and began production with the Leopard 2A5. This series is currently at the Leopard 2A7 model. The second series introduced, among other things, sloped, spaced armour on the front of the turret to defeat hollow charge rounds (due to the spacing) and deflect kinetic energy rounds (due to the sloping). The Leopard 2A6, introduced in 1999, is similar to the 2A5, except that it mounts a longer, L/55 version of the 120 mm smoothbore gun.
Italeri was the first manufacturer to release an injected moulded version of the Leopard 2 tank in 1985. Since then, this kit has been upgraded several times, with a Leopard 2A5 coming out in 1998 and a Leopard 2A6 being released in 2004. The subject of this review is a re-release of the 2004 kit, with an additional sprue, new tracks and new decals. Italeri says in their marketing for this kit that the moulds have been upgraded to provide crisper detail.
What's in the Kit
The standard sized box is packed with three full sized sprues, one medium sized sprue, two smaller sprues, some nylon mesh, a small clear plastic piece, two sets of tracks, a decal sheet and instructions, all in two sealed plastic bags. The packing is done to ensure that nothing will break while in transit.
Sprue A holds the upper and lower hull, the hull rear and a few miscellaneous parts:
The moulding detail on the upper hull is comparable to what you would get with a Tamiya Leopard 2, and includes moulded in screens for the two large engine deck fans and anti-skip patches on the hull front.
The driver's periscopes are moulded solid and the driver's hatch is moulded shut. There is a mould seam on the front glacis that is probably due to Italeri modifying the original Leopard 2 upper hull mould to incorporate the Leopard 2A6's driver's hatch.
Sprue B has the roadwheels, suspension arms, drive sprockets, a deep wading tube for the commander's hatch, and some other miscellaneous parts.
The moulding of the roadwheels is fairly good, with bolt detail on par with Hobby Boss, but in my opinion, not as good as Tamiya's roadwheels (I'll show the roadwheels for all three side by side when I do the full build). Similarly, the drive sprocket detail is pretty good.
Spruce C contains the turret and one of two sets of side skirts. This sprue is actually the turret sprue from Italieri's Leopard 2A5 kit, with the shorter 120 mm gun barrel.
The turret includes moulded in bedrolls which fortunately can be covered over with a hatch. The moulding quality is pretty good.
Sprue D is a small sprue that includes a "wooden" box, a couple of round to put in the box, some tools and the fire simulator apparatus for the turret (which you can leave off if you want).
The wood grain is kind of cheesy and reminds me of the Italeri kits I built in the 70's and 80's.
Sprue E is specifically for the Leopard 2A6, and includes the longer 120 mm gun barrel (in two halves), the turret baskets and additional parts for the sloped turret front armour.
The only new sprue in this kit compared to the 2004 kit is Sprue F, which contains alternate side skits for the three non-German marking variants in the kit.
The tracks come as two parts per side. Italeri says these are moulded in "gluable" plastic.
There are numerous injector pin marks on the inner surfaces of the track pads, and there is no end connector detail. Nothing a little "mud" won't solve, right?
A nylon mesh is included for the screening around the turret bins, and a clear plastic sheet is provided to cut out pieces for the periscopes on the turret.
The decals in this kit are also new compared to the 2004 release. This set includes 4 different marking for a German, Dutch, Portuguese or Finnish tank.
The instructions are in a booklet form, with 11 pages. Assembly is split over 14 steps, with the last two pages reserved for colour renditions of each marking variant.
While not a 1000+ part Bronco or AFV Club kit, this kit appears to be moulded well and looks to include everything one would need to build a Leopard 2A6 tank. When I do the full build, I'll compare hull and turret sizes to published specs and the Tamiya and Hobby Boss versions of the vehicle.
Highly Recommended for Beginner to Advanced builders.
Thanks goes out to Model Rectifier Corporation for this review kit.
Reviewed by Chuck Rothman,
AMPS Webmaster and occasional Reviewer
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