Leopard 1 (Family)
The Leopard (or Leopard 1) is a main battle tank designed and produced by Porsche in West Germany that first entered service in 1965. Developed in an era when HEAT warheads were thought to make conventional heavy armour of limited value, the Leopard focused on firepower in the form of the German-built version of the British L7 105-mm gun, and improved cross-country performance that was unmatched by other designs of the era.
German Combat Variants
After the first batch of Leopard 1s, the next three batches were of an improved model, called the Leopard 1A1. The 1A1 model added a stabilizer for the gun, developed by Cadillac Gage. Additionally, a thermal sleeve was added to the gun to prevent overheating, and side skirts were added to the sides of the tank, in order to provide more protection for the tracks. The rubber blocks fitted with two-pins on the tracks was changed to a one-pin track style.
All the Leopards of the first 4 batches were upgraded to the Leopard 1A1A1 standard between 1974 and 1977. They received additional turret armor developed by Blohm & Voss.
Leopard 1A1A1 tanks with the PZB 200 image intensification system, mounted in a box above and to the right of the gun. The system was originally found on the Leopard 2 series.
Leopard 1A1A2 tanks with a new SEM80/90 all-digital radio.
Leopard 1A1A3 tanks that had upgraded image intensifiers.
The first 232 tanks of the fifth batch were Leopard 1A2s. The Leopard 1A2 had an up-armored turret, so they never received the Blohm and Voss armor upgrades, but they were upgraded similarly to the Leopard 1A1 tanks.
Leopard 1A2 tanks that were upgraded with the same PZB 200 image intensification system as the Leopard 1A1A2.
Leopard 1A2 tanks upgraded with the SEM80/90 all-digital radio.
Leopard 1A2 tanks upgraded with both the SEM80/90 all-digital radio and the PZB 200 image intensification system.
The last 110 vehicles of the fifth batch were of the Leopard 1A3 model. The 1A3 model was fitted with a new turret. The armor consisted of two steel plates with a plastic filling in-between them, and the mantlet was of a wedge shape. The commander received an improved TRP 2A independent sight.
Leopard 1A3 tanks upgraded with the PZB 200 image intensification system.
Leopard 1A3 tanks upgraded with the SEM80/90 all-digital radio.
Leopard 1A3 tanks upgraded with both the SEM80/90 all-digital radio and the PZB 200 image intensification system.
The sixth batch of 250 tanks consisted of the Leopard 1A4 variant. The 1A4 version featured a new computerized fire control system (FCS) and an EMES 12A1 sighting system. The commander received a new PERI R12 independent night sighting system. The ammunition load was reduced to 55 rounds, 42 of which were stored to the left of the driver.
Leopard 1 "Verbeterd"
The Netherlands improved on the Leopard 1 model and simply called it the Leopard 1 Verbeterd, which is currently in service with the Chilean Army. The Leopard 1 Verbeterd is thought to be equivalent to the German Leopard 1A5.
The Leopard 1A6 was a project to equip the Rheinmetall 120mm L/44 gun on a Leopard 1. It used a Leopard 1A1A1 hull but with an up-armored turret, with the 120 mm gun instead of the previous 105 mm gun. The project was cancelled in 1987 before the design entered production; the Leopard 2 had already entered service and the Leopard 1A6 was not a large enough improvement over the 1A5 to be worth the cost.
Modified and Derivative Vehicles
Flakpanzer "Gepard" (German)
Flakpanzer "Gepard" (Dutch)
Leopard 1 Marksman
Foreign Variants and Upgrades
An license-built Italian Leopard 1A3 for export sale, differing from the German produced version only in being tropicalized for Middle Eastern conditions. The project was cancelled for unknown reasons after a single prototype was built.