Porsche Leopard 1-A1

Make & Model Family

The Leopard project started in November 1956 in order to develop a modern tank, the Standard-Panzer, to replace the Bundeswehr's American-built M-47 and M-48 Patton tanks, which, though just delivered to West Germany's recently reconstituted army, were rapidly becoming outdated. On 25 July 1957, the detailed specifications were released; the new design needed to weigh no more than 30 tons, have a power-to-weight ratio of 30 horsepower per ton, be able to withstand hits by 20 mm rapid-fire guns on every side as well as to operate in a battlefield contaminated with chemical weapons or radioactive fallout, the then-standard baseline for combat with the Warsaw Pact. In addition, the main armament had to consist of a 105 mm caliber weapon (the new British L-7A3 105 mm gun was selected), carrying at least as many rounds as current US tank designs. Mobility had priority, while firepower came second; armour was seen as less essential, as it was believed that no real protection against hollow charge weapons was possible anyway.

The Porsche Prototype II was eventually selected as the winner of the contest in 1963; this did not come as a surprise: it had already been decided in 1961 to build a pre-series of 50 vehicles based on this design; production of these was started that very year. This "0-series" was modified with a new cast turret and several hull changes to raise the rear deck to provide more room in the engine compartment, and move some of the radiators to the upper sides of the hull. Before mass production of the standard version started, it was also decided to add an optical range-finding system for better long-range gunnery, which required the turret to be somewhat taller, and added "bumps" on either side of the turret to mount the optics for triangulation. Germany dropped France from the joint program after France repeatedly missed deadlines for its contribution to the program. in February 1963 Defence Minister Kai-Uwe von Hassel announced he would soon ask the defense committee in Parliament to approve production of the tank. At this time the tank weighed 40 tons and cost $250,000 each. In July the Defence Ministry ordered 1,500 tanks with production to take place between 1965 and 1970. Germany also announced its agreement to develop a successor with the United States; called MBT-70, the program failed to materialize a tenable design.

More

The Leopard project started in November 1956 in order to develop a modern tank, the Standard-Panzer, to replace the Bundeswehr's American-built M-47 and M-48 Patton tanks, which, though just delivered to West Germany's recently reconstituted army, were rapidly becoming outdated. On 25 July 1957, the detailed specifications were released; the new design needed to weigh no more than 30 tons, have a power-to-weight ratio of 30 horsepower per ton, be able to withstand hits by 20 mm rapid-fire guns on every side as well as to operate in a battlefield contaminated with chemical weapons or radioactive fallout, the then-standard baseline for combat with the Warsaw Pact. In addition, the main armament had to consist of a 105 mm caliber weapon (the new British L-7A3 105 mm gun was selected), carrying at least as many rounds as current US tank designs. Mobility had priority, while firepower came second; armour was seen as less essential, as it was believed that no real protection against hollow charge weapons was possible anyway.

The Porsche Prototype II was eventually selected as the winner of the contest in 1963; this did not come as a surprise: it had already been decided in 1961 to build a pre-series of 50 vehicles based on this design; production of these was started that very year. This "0-series" was modified with a new cast turret and several hull changes to raise the rear deck to provide more room in the engine compartment, and move some of the radiators to the upper sides of the hull. Before mass production of the standard version started, it was also decided to add an optical range-finding system for better long-range gunnery, which required the turret to be somewhat taller, and added "bumps" on either side of the turret to mount the optics for triangulation. Germany dropped France from the joint program after France repeatedly missed deadlines for its contribution to the program. in February 1963 Defence Minister Kai-Uwe von Hassel announced he would soon ask the defense committee in Parliament to approve production of the tank. At this time the tank weighed 40 tons and cost $250,000 each. In July the Defence Ministry ordered 1,500 tanks with production to take place between 1965 and 1970. Germany also announced its agreement to develop a successor with the United States; called MBT-70, the program failed to materialize a tenable design.

After the first batch was delivered, the next three batches were the Leopard 1A1 model, which included a new gun stabilization system that allowed the tank to fire effectively on the move. The 1-A1 also added the now-famous "skirts" along the sides to protect the upper tracks, and a new thermal jacket on the gun barrel to control heating. A less important change was to use rectangular rubber blocks fastened to the treads with a single pin instead of the earlier two-pin "shaped" versions. The rubber blocks could be easily replaced with metal X-shaped crampons for movement on ice and snow in the winter.

Less