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Meng 1/35 scale Leopard 1A5

The Leopard 1 was Germany’s first indigenous tank design after World War II. A versatile platform, the Leopard underwent several upgrades after the first vehicles entered service in 1965, including the 1980 Leopard 1A5.

New turrets, often clad in Lexan armor, were fitted to existing 1A1A1 tanks and a new fire-control system added. The 1A5 served in the German army for many years and remains operational in several other countries.

Meng builds on its previous Leopard 1A3/A4 kit using new and updated parts to create this Leopard 1A5. The kit is cleanly molded with sharp features. Features include working tracks, photo-etched-metal and vinyl details, clear parts, and metallic film for mirrors.

I studied the nicely produced color instruction booklet before jumping into the suspension.
The road-wheel arms are molded with torsion bars that give the suspension a bit of movement.

All of the wheels and drive sprockets sandwich vinyl grommets, so they can be easily attached and removed for painting and remain movable on the model.
The workable tracks are impressive but take considerable effort to assemble. Each link consists of four parts and attaches to the adjoining link with a fifth! I needed 83 links per side — that means more than 700 parts in the tracks alone. Careful gluing will pay off you with neat workable tracks that are remarkably strong. A set of ice cleats is included.

The primary hull goes together without a hiccup.
The large number of tools and fittings added to the hull caught my attention! Be prepared to spend extra time here, because careful painting and gluing will be required.

The major components of the nicely molded turret build easily, but the hard work comes when you add the many mounting bosses for the external armor. The shields themselves are provided as flexible vinyl.

The gun mantlet is a bit unusual. The parts captured the exterior details perfectly, but, surprisingly, there’s no provision for the barrel to be movable. The assembled mantlet attaches to the turret in one of two fixed positions. Optional plastic parts for the full-size tank’s fabric mantlet cover set the different elevations.

I painted my Leopard with a combination of Ammo of Mig Jimenez and Tamiya acrylics. Decals provide markings for three German vehicles. I applied them without difficulty over a coat of clear gloss, and they had excellent adhesion and no silvering.

I completed my Leopard in 53 hours and it looks great. Osprey’s Leopard 1 Main Battle Tank 1966-1995 (ISBN 978-1-85532-520-3) was a good reference during the build.

With the large part count and complex assemblies — especially the tracks and turret armor — Meng’s Leopard 1A5 is aimed at more-experienced builders. With that caveat, I highly recommend it to modern armor modelers.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the November 2015 FineScale Modeler.
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