The main German tank Leopard 2A

The main German tank Leopard 2A

Since programm «one» tank once again failed miserably, the Ministry of Defence of Germany in 1977, had no choice as to arrange an order for the creation of 1,800 tanks «Leopard 2» only for the Bundeswehr. Installation batch of 30 vehicles produced from October 1979 at the factory Krauss-Maffei’s office in Munich; 1980 began to produce tanks at the company’s MaK (Krupp MaK Maschinenbau) in Kiel. First production tank «Leopard 2» was handed over to the Bundeswehr October 25, 1979 By the end of 1981 the pace of production of tanks reached the 20 cars per month, and the highest rate of release for both plants was 25 tanks per month (for comparison: one Uralvagonzavod in Nizhny Tagil in the 80s produced by 40-50 tanks each month). Middle of 1987 programm mass production of tanks for the needs of the Bundeswehr has been completed; 990 cars were assembled in Munich, 810 — in Kiel. In 1988-1990,. was built 250 additional tanks «Leopard 2» for the Bundeswehr.

In the manufacture of tanks «Leopard 2» More than 1,500 companies participated; general contractor was the company Krauss-Maffei, is responsible for supplying tanks, spare parts, documentation, simulators, technical service and repair. Engines manufactured in the factory office in Fridrihsgafene MTU, transmission — factory office Renk in Augsburg, etc.

Although the first «Leopard 2» was officially handed over to the Bundeswehr October 25, 1979, the daily operation of these machines combatant units started in 1982

Tanks «Leopard 2» Bundeswehr issued for the eighth installment in 4 versions «Leopard 2», «Leopard-2A1/AZ/A4.» The first batch of tanks «Leopard 2» built from October 1979 to March 1982 (delivered 380 tanks). First batch of tanks «Leopard-2A1» — 450 cars were built from March 1982 to November 1983, the second — 300 tanks — from November 1983 to November 1984 300 tanks «Leopard 2AZ» was built from November 1984 to March 1987 370 tanks «Leopard-2A4» was built from December 1985 to March 1987, in 1988 was another 108 machines of this modification, 108 — in 1989, 34 such tanks in 1990 and another 55 — to 1992 In addition to the initial order for 1,800 tanks, the Bundeswehr ordered another 325 machines, part of which was intended to fill the tank «Leopard 1», decommissioned and sold in Turkey.

Internal volume of the tank «Leopard 2» is 19, 4 m3, of them 2, 3 m3 accounts for the separation of management, 10, 1 m3 fighting compartment and 6, 9 m3 MTO. Chassis, office management and power pack, also the power unit tank «Leopard 2» without significant configuration borrowed from the tank «Leopard 2» and «Leopard 2AV.» By installing additional 2-Accum (eight instead of six on previous models) to 500 A. h increased the total capacity of the battery. To protect the hull sides installed new screens, the front of which (covering the separation of management) is made of multilayer spaced armor. Front section screens have a thickness of 110-120 mm and width of the body to reduce transportation tank for inspection and maintenance, coil can be folded up for special mounting. Several changed occupancy inspection device driver, two motionless device installed in the cover flap, one — in the case before the hatch. Central unit having a larger field of view, can be replaced with night vision device podsvetochnym PERI D53 (lights carried out from the headlights mounted on the upper front hull). The total field of view of 3-observation devices 140 °. Hatch itself is modified in comparison with flap driver of the tank «Leopard-2K» form.

Installed on the tank hull triple welded turret. Tower design is similar to the tower layout number 20.

The tower 120mm smoothbore gun Rh-120. Connect with the breech of the gun barrel performed using quick pie thread. Shutter — vertical wedge. Mounting and dismounting the gun through recess without removing the tower tank. The center of mass of the oscillating tools is located in the axis of the pins. Gun mounted on two symmetrically located recoil brake. In order to avoid significant load when fired on the design of the tower and, in particular, on the elements of the fire control system, the largest resistance force rollback left at the level of the tank «Leopard 1» 69 and does not exceed TC, while recoil length increased from 300 to 340 mm. Due to significant weight guns together with mantle result (4290 kg) and the absence of dynamic shoulder shot to the worsening impact of firing accuracy is minimized. Gun barrel is made of fiberglass heat shield; closer to the breech mounted ejector to remove powder gases, eccentric installation ejector angle reduces lowering the gun. The inner surface of the barrel shiny, barrel life is calculated on 500 shots.

For gun Rh-120 created two types of unitary shots with burned down the sleeve and iron pan: armor-piercing projectiles DM23 (weight 18 6 kg, the core of tungsten alloy) and shaped-charge fragmentation of DM 12 (weight 23 kg 2). In 1987 has been adopted DMZZ armor-piercing projectiles. After the shot straktiruemye eq-liners fall into trays mounted on the gun gilzosbornik. To remove the pallet and load ammunition used hatch in the left side of the tower. Cannon charging is done manually. Ammunition is 42 shots. Of ammunition (15 rounds) is located in a comfortable access for installation on the left side aft turret recess for armored bulkhead. Charging cycle time of this stacking is 6 seconds. The rest of the ammunition (27 rounds) is laying located in the department of management, to the left of the driver’s seat.

Height of the tower from the rotating Polikem to the roof is 1650 mm — the size a little riding to ensure normal conditions of charging standing. Gunner taken place right in front of the gun, the commander of the place — behind and slightly higher charging is left of the gun.

The fire control system developed by «Krupp Atlas — Electronic» based on a similar system office Hughes intended for XM-1 tank. MSA allows the crew to detect and identify targets, lead by shooting funny day and NIGHT MODE, with space and movement. The system includes a laser rangefinder sight EMES-15 gunner, panoramic periscope sight-surveillance device commander PERI-R17, auxiliary telescopic gunner’s sight FERO-Z 18, the two-plane stabilizer arms with an electrohydraulic drive WHA-H22, analog electric ballistic computer, electronic synchronous connection with gun sights, built-in test system operation and system OMS-rangefinder sight adjustment. System management tools allow you to keep the fire out of the cannon and the commander and gunner, while the commander acts to restore tools are a priority.

The main gunner’s sight with integrated laser rangefinder has independent stabilization of the field of view of a 2-planes; in one block with it installed passive thermal imaging system, designed to work in NIGHT MODE criteria low light. On the first 200 tanks «Leopard 2» for combat operations in the black during the day was established television PZB-200, which transmits this camera system mounted on the mask gun, and a monitor device in the workplace commander and gunner. Then, with the launch in mass production with the thermal sights they were arranged and the first tank, after their installation designation «Leopard-2A2». Fiber Optic sight has a 12-fold increase. Rangefinder sight has no mechanical connection with a gun. Laser rangefinder allows simultaneous determination of distance till 2 targets located in the alignment of the beam rangefinder accurate to ± 10 m in the spectrum ranges from 200 to 10,000 km. To protect the eyes from the laser gunner in the optical channel filter installed. In addition, there is a curtain to protect the eyes from the flash self shot, triggered by clicking on the «Shot». In case of failure of the main gunner’s sight can use an auxiliary articulated telescopic sight FERO-Z18 with dependent stabilization of the visual field and 8-fold increase.

The commander periscope mounted panoramic sight-surveillance device with PERI-R17-independent stabilization of the field of view; improving sight or 2-fold or 8-fold (switchable) Commanding sight associated with gunner’s sight, allowing the commander to use a laser rangefinder and thermal imager. Cupola made nonrotating, but the perimeter flap has 6 prismatic observation devices, giving an overview of the total groove. Wheel unit can be replaced overnight podsvetochnym surveillance devices installed in the same driver.

We installed one charging device periscope observation. All optical instruments have tank icing devices and systems cleaning. The functions of the loader comes as providing radio and firing coaxial machine gun MG3A1 (machine gun ammunition rounds in 1200). Another MG3 machine gun mounted on the turret ring tower hatch loader. Information about the distance to the target enters the ballistic computer, which also takes into account the angular velocity of the target in the vertical and azimuth, speed and wind direction, air temperature, barometric pressure, angle pins. These charges on the temperature and wear of the bore are entered into the computer manually.

Reconciliation is done without sight of the crew to the machine. From devices reconciliation rather cooperate reticle sight-rangefinder observed in his field of vision crossbeam brand collimator. Specifically, this system forbade Americans to use when firing tank «Leopard 2AV» at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

Armament is stabilized in 2-planes. Drives guidance — with electro-hydraulic accumulator. Executive Tower is a slider drive motor and drive cannon — ram. Tank with hydraulic fluid accumulator and are in the rear recess of the tower on the right and separated from the crew compartment and ammunition partition. Access to the hydraulic system is provided through a special hatch in the roof of the tower. When failure of electrohydraulic actuator used backup manual hydraulic vertical and horizontal interference. The highest speed of the guidance in the horizontal plane 48 deg. / Sec, vertical — 9.5 deg. / Sec. Angles pointing vertically — from -9 ° to +20 °.

Preparation time Aimed Shot gunner when firing on the move is 15 commander — 17. When shooting from a place that time respectively decreases to 9-10 and 11-12.

According to the professionals of the magazine «International Difens Revue», who had the opportunity to compare tanks «Leopard-2A» and M-1A1 «Abrams» polygon in the criteria of the first fire control system provides tremendous accuracy, it is more complicated and expensive and, as a consequence, a more complex operation, requiring a decent gunner training.

Diversity multilayer armor tower similar British armor «chobhem», consists of front and back layers of steel armor and crotch filler layer. In the upper front hull on the outside flap has to spoof packets filler. In the frontal part of the installed recessed into the body of the tower powerful gun mask width 950 mm, made of combined armor. Frontal vertical tower beveled sheets in terms of approximately 35 degrees. Area zones booking weakened notches, compared with the tank «Leopard 1» substantially reduced. Devices fire control system (not counting rangefinder sight gunner) located on the horizontal or having huge angles armor sheets. The total mass of the armor of the tank «Leopard 2» is 29 m or 52% of the total weight of the tank. In the roof of the aft turret recess over ammunition, expelling installed panel. In general, body armor provides no penetration of armor piercing projectiles 105-mm guns, and L7 120mm Rh-120 at a distance of 1 — 1.5 km course firing angles of ± 20 degrees.

The tank mounted system creation excess air pressure inside the enclosure for protection against weapons of mass destruction and automatic sprinkler system.

At the rear of the sides of the tower on both sides found eight rocket launchers designed to fire smoke or frag grenades; shooting grenades produces a tank commander, likely shooting from 1st grenade, or groups of all at once.

As previously mentioned, the option «Leopard-2A2» released by setting sights with infrared channel on tanks «Leopard 2». Tank «Leopard-2A1» different from the «Leopard 2» new filler combined armor and reliability inflated number of systems and units. Tanks «Leopard-2A3» installed new radios and improved parking brake. The composition of the ammunition tank «Leopard-2A4» introduced shots DM33, it installed a digital ballistic computer and brand new fire alarm system. Last modified on tanks used tricolor camouflage pattern previously «Leopards» painted monotone or grayish olive paint.

Immediately after receipt of «Leopard 2» the Bundeswehr began to get different drawbacks, more significant were the highest level of noise inside the machine when driving on concrete roads and incomplete combustion liners unitary shots. The easiest way to remove comments turned on ammunition. It was found that the first serial ammunition were made with deviations from the technical documentation. Highest noise load (at a speed of 30 km / h the noise level inside the tank reached 130 dB) when driving on concrete roads cause resonance of the body and reduce the noise without altering the design does not seem likely. Unique recipe for lowering noise pollution put in charge of the project last tank «Leopard 2» Krapka engineer, explained that the introduction of tactical tank anticipates its use in rough terrain, where the resonance appears.

Historically, that Russian tanks, which was intended to destroy «Leopard 2», and have remained a virtual opponent. But from birth to the present day it is a real competitor to the South American M-1 «Abrams». It is very difficult to list all full-time and correspondence comparative tests of these 2-tanks. To paraphrase a famous phrase: «We (in other words they are in the West) say» Leopard » — Think «Abrams», say «Abrams» — Mean «Leopard.»

In addition to «unblemished» tests, «Leopard» and «Abrams» not once ever shlestyvayutsya together very of favorite in the armed forces of NATO cup competitions at the Canadian Army (CAT — Canadian Army Trophy). These competitions are held in 1963 and listed as something like the Western world championship by shooting from the tanks. With initsativoy their conduct at the time acted as Canadian army command, the main prize — a silver model of the tank «Centurion». Competitions were held once every two years in one of the ranges of Germany, in their checked fire training tank crews. Stud driver-mechanics by substituting motor conducted out of competition and in the overall standings were not included. In accordance with the criteria of the competition, tank crews composed of platoons were shooting guns on 32 goals and 80 machine gun at a range of 800 to 2400 m Targets consisted of lifting and falling on the target size 110h190 when shooting at rather short distances and up to 230×230 at shooting at distant or human figures. Appearing on the target 40. Competitions were held in 5 steps of different difficulty. For every step to be allocated a certain amount of points, taking into account the rate of fire and accuracy of target lesions. Prestige «prize Canadian Army» in the armies of NATO countries only high.

Usually in two international competitions participated Teams: North and Central Army Group. But crews fought not so much for the team win, how much for the honor of the army groups, and for the prestige of their own ground forces.

In 1987, won the South American Cup tankers to «Abrams», the South American tank platoon also took third place, the second was the participants who spoke at the «Leopard 2». Last place was occupied by the British, who spoke on the tanks, «Challenger», undermining the very prestige of English in general and the office of tank Vickers viz. As a consequence — Britain did not put up their own crews to compete in 1989 in the competition in 1987 participated tanks «Abrams», armed with 105 mm gun, and in 1989 — the first time — «Abrams» with 120-mm guns, guns like tanks «Leopard» because very exciting results CAT’89. Competition in 1989, in which participated 21 tank platoon armed forces of Germany, USA, Canada, the Netherlands and Belgium, held at the training center of Bergen-Khoi nearby Hanover. In the same year for the first time organized night shooting. It was a complete success of the German design. All six crew took the top lines «Leopard 2», first place went to the 2nd Platoon of the 41st Tank Battalion of the armed forces of the Netherlands, speaking on «Leopard.» The crew became the best and shooting speed and accuracy, hitting 31 of 32 targets. Americans, however, showed the best results when shooting NIGHT MODE. Crews «Leopard» approximately two times faster find and hit targets than crews «Abrams». As a result, instead of the official emblem of the CAT-89 is often used informal — yellow leopard, carelessly based on the number 89. Breathtakingly What, a similar sign was applied to the side of its own machines and South American tankers. The role in the Prix-91 Americans, like the British in 1989, refused.

Fierce is competitive struggle for the right to supply the armies of third countries also turned first between those 2 tanks. First decided to purchase «Leopard 2» armed forces of the Netherlands; contract with the company Krauss-Maffei for the supply of 445 vehicles was signed in 1979, deliveries were carried out in 1982-1986. «Leopards» in the Dutch army changed the outdated British tanks «Centurion» and French AMX-13.

From 1981 in Switzerland at the site near Thun Swiss military running comparative tests were two tanks «Abrams» and two — «Leopard 2». The armed forces of the country were planning to adopt the best tank on the test results and acquire a license for its creation. At the American tanks were noted problems with the brakes. During downhill driving a tank, losing control, suffered a tragedy. German tanks had similar problems. Comprehensive tests lasted two years and ended in 1983

During the tests verified the reliability of the systems and units, the ability of tactical use of tanks in mountainous specific criteria. South American tank showed low reliability powertrains and chassis greater fuel consumption; Swiss is very doubtful that the U.S. will in rather short time to increase the reliability of the tank Ml. The win was for the German design, but because Americans just do not give up: the political and economic discussions (with appliances-all was clear) lasted until 1985, only 12 December 1985, the Swiss Parliament decided to purchase 380 tanks «Leopard 2 » and taking them into service under the designation «Pz.87 Leopard.» First 35 tanks were made at the company Krauss-Maffei (the last of them passed in Switzerland in May 1987), while others were built in Switzerland at the municipal tankosborochnom plant in Thun until 1993 with the release rate of 73 cars per year. Pz.87 corresponds to the option «Leopard-2A4», but it is running the South American radio AN/VRC-12, used Swiss armed forces, brand new sprinkler system, improved protection against weapons of mass destruction and a modified driver’s hatch; there are a number of smaller improvements. «Leopards» changed tanks Pz.68.

In the 80s also working ability supply tanks «Leopard 2» in England and Saudi Arabia. In both cases the opponent played all the same «Abrams». British after long hesitation refused to buy imported equipment, betting on the tank «Challenger-2» its development. All the same, the German design own trail left in tank England: British company Vickers tank developed Mk.7, using chassis «Leopard 2». Export «Leopard» Saudi Arabia rebuked the government of Germany. The first buyer of tanks «Leopard-2A4» in option «second hznd» Sweden was the contract for the purchase of 160 former West German tanks was signed in 1994, the Swedish army tanks «Leopard-2A4» were designated Strv. 121. According programmke «Armor 2000» armed forces of Spain signed an agreement to acquire 650 tanks «Leopard-2A4/A5.» Tanks «Leopard-2A4» the first batch of 108 cars (all tanks were previously in service with the Bundeswehr) began arriving in Spain in 1995; they planned to re-10th Mechanized Brigade, included in Eurocorps. A first shipment of tanks designed for 5 years. First 80s Spain considered the possibility of licensed production of tanks «Leopard 2».

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