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|Germany||Medium Tank||Tier X|
Main battle tank of the Federal Republic of Germany. Development was started in 1956. The first prototypes were built in 1965 at the Krauss-Maffei factory. The Leopard 1 was in service in more than 10 countries.
The Leopard 1 is the final advancement of medium tank tactics; capable of even firing on the move with little reticle bloom with good chances of landing a hit, speed rivaling that of the Bat Chatillon 25 t, excellent View Range and deadly gun with good depression and a decent rate of fire, this tank is meant to never miss a shot, it's so versatile that along with sniping it can also take on passive scouting, flanking, support, and on occasion brawling.
Of course, like all tanks, it has a downside: the armor is almost as weak as the Bat Chatillon 25 t, so even HE splashes will cripple it severely. Staying mobile is a key to this tank, while only staying still to shoot and then moving right away. Also, the ammunition Rack is stored in the front next to the driver, so it will get hit often if not careful.
The Leopard 1 marks the end of one of the German medium tank lines.
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Pros and Cons
- Great speed and mobility; it's as fast as, sharper turning, but not as quick to accelerate as the Bat Chatillon 25 t
- Second best p/w ratio
- One of a few tanks with the most accurate guns in the game
- Decent camo for its size
- Good gun depression
- Very good view range. On par with the tier IX M46 Patton
- Very weak armor, only slightly stronger than Bat Chatillon 25 t. However, you can bounce a shot now and then due to auto-bounce
- Modules are easily damaged: most notably the turret and the ammo rack
- Diesel type engine provides lowered fire chance, but does not allow for the use of high octane fuel, something a tank like this would have benefited greatly from
The Leopard 1 can fill two main roles to great effectiveness. One's first thought when looking at the Leopard one is the role of a sniper, and it is an excellent sniper indeed. Boasting the most accurate gun in the game, it combines high accuracy, good alpha damage, and good DPM, all on a highly mobile, fairly well camouflaged tank. The Leo 1 can quickly position itself in advantageous sniping positions, positions which also often make great use of its very high 410m view range (only the M48A1 Patton has it beat in this category). All of this rolled into a single package makes it a threat from any distance, able to reliably hit weak points with its high penetration 105mm cannon, remain hidden while doing so, and re-position quickly to either get a new shot or retreat to a safe distance. In this role and for the purposes of spotting, it is highly recommended to run Coated Optics, most likely in place of Vents.
The other roll is excels at is that of a supporting flanker. It hasn't the armor to brawl or lead a charge on its own, but it has the acceleration, maneuverability, and top speed to quickly flank occupied tanks and shoot them in the rear with its good rate of fire. This of course puts you more at risk for taking damage, especially module damage, so you must be careful. In this role it is recommended to run Vents over optics, though you can still run Optics if you wish to help scout as well. Gun Rammer and Vertical Stabilizer are practically a must for both sets, and especially this one.
Another, lesser role it can fulfill to good effect is that of a scout. With 410m base view range, good camo, speed, and acceleration, it can do a fine job of passive or active scouting. However, it is large for a scout, and while the acceleration is good, it is not going to kick you up to 65kmh in a few seconds. Typically this means the Leopard will be far more comfortable passive scouting from bushes with its large view range, lighting up all but the most well camouflaged tanks at near the maximum view range of 445m (when properly equipped). This is only considered a lesser role for several reasons. Namely, the size is not conducive to active scouting as it would be fairly easy to hit, secondly the p/w ratio is not quite strong enough to keep this tank at a fast enough speed when going up slopes of a certain angle or more, or for accelerating to top speed from a standstill, and finally, it's simply a waste of a fantastic gun and damage potential.
The design started as a collaborative project between Germany and France in the 1950s, but the partnership ended and the final design was ordered by the Bundeswehr, production starting in 1965. In total 6,485 Leopard tanks have been built, of which 4,744 were battle tanks and 1741 were utility and anti-aircraft variants, not including eighty prototypes and pre-series vehicles. The Leopard quickly became a standard of European forces, and eventually served as the main battle tank in over a dozen countries worldwide. Since 1990, the Leopard 1 has gradually been relegated to secondary roles in most armies. In the German Army, the Leopard 1 MBTs have been phased out in 2003 while Leopard 1 derived vehicles are still widely used. The Leopard 2 MBTs have taken over the MBT role. Leopard hulls have been re-used in a wide variety of roles.
The Leopard project started in November 1956 in order to develop a modern tank, the Standard-Panzer, to replace the Bundeswehr's American-built M47 and M48 Patton tanks, which, though just delivered to West Germany's recently reconstituted army, were rapidly growing outdated. On 25 July 1957 the detailed specifications were released; the new design needed to weigh no more than thirty metric tons, have a power-to-weight ratio of thirty horsepower per ton, be able to withstand hits by 20 mm rapid-fire guns on every side as well as 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 L7A3 105 mm gun was selected), carrying at least as many rounds as current US tank designs. Mobility was the priority while firepower came second; armour was seen as less essential, as it was believed no real protection against hollow charge weapons was possible anyway.
France was very interested in the design as its own AMX 50 project had just failed. In June 1957, West Germany and the French Fourth Republic signed an agreement to develop a common tank, designated in German Europa-Panzer. Three German (Arbeitsgruppe A, B and C) and one French design team would be included in a competition, with each team producing two prototypes each. In September, 1958 Italy joined the development program. Several prototypes were entered for testing in 1960. Among the prototypes were Porsche's Model 734 from team A, sporting a cast turret and that of team B (Rheinmetall) whose cast turret was somewhat higher. Team C from Borgward, designing a very futuristic tank, failed to have a prototype ready in time..
Even before these first prototypes were finished, it had (in 1959) been decided that a second phase with improved designs would be started: Team A had to build 26 phase II Prototypes for testing, team B six. Only two tanks of the required six would actually be constructed by team B. 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 preseries of fifty 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. In 1963 France and Germany had decided to each build their own tank; Germany continued with the Leopard, while France built the similar AMX-30. Production was set up at Krauss-Maffei of Munich from early 1964 onward, with deliveries of the first batch between September, 1965 and July, 1966. The Leopard was soon being purchased from Germany by a number of NATO members and other allies including in chronological order Belgium (1968), the Netherlands (1969), Norway (1970), Italy (1971), Denmark (1976), Australia (1976), Canada (1978), Turkey (1980) and Greece (1981). Germany has a strict export policy for military equipment; Greece, Spain and Chile, while still dictatorships, purchased the French AMX-30.
After the first batch was delivered the next three batches were the Leopard 1A1 model, which included a new gun stabilization system from Cadillac-Gage, allowing the tank to fire effectively on the move. The 1A1 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. Between 1974 and 1977 all of the machines in the first four batches were brought to the same Leopard 1A1A1 standard, and given additional turret armor developed by Blohm & Voss. A further upgrade in the 1980s added leftover image-intensifier night sights which were being handed down from the Leopard 2 as they were themselves upgraded. The PZB 200 image intensification system was mounted in a large box on the upper right of the gun, creating the Leopard 1A1A2. A further upgrade with SEM80/90 all-digital radios created the Leopard 1A1A3.
The first 232 tanks of the fifth production batch was delivered as the Leopard 1A2 between 1972 and 1974. The A2 included a heavier and better armored turret, and therefore did not receive the B&V armor add-ons as did the earlier machines. They did receive the other upgrades however; the Leopard 1A2A1 received the PZB 200, the Leopard 1A2A2 received digital radios, and the Leopard 1A2A3 got both.
The next 110 vehicles in the fifth batch were fitted with a new welded turret, which was equipped with a new armour consisting of two spaced steel plates with a plastic filling between them, and a wedge-shaped gun mantlet, creating the Leopard 1A3. Although the level of armor area density was equivalent to the A2's new welded version, the internal volume was increased by 1.2 m³ and the effective protection level was increased by half. The improved TRP 2A independent sight was installed for the commander. Upgrades were identical to the 1A2 models, the Leopard 1A3A1 with the night sights, Leopard 1A3A2 with the new radios, and the Leopard 1A3A3 with both.
The Leopard 1A4 formed the sixth batch of 250 vehicles, delivery starting in 1974. The 1A4 was externally similar to the 1A3, but included a new computerized fire control system and the new EMES 12A1 sighting system to aim it. In addition the commander was provided with his own independent night sighting system, the PERI R12. The new equipment used up space and the ammunition load was reduced to 55 rounds, of which 42 were stored in the magazine to the left of the driver.
In 1980 a research program was undertaken to study further improvements to the Leopard 1, providing it with a completely modern fire control system and fully effective night/bad-weather vision system. This was going to require even more room than the larger turret from the 1A3/1A4 models, so the decision was made to base the upgrades on the earlier models which were no longer competitive. The resulting Leopard 1A5 was based on 1225 vehicles of the Leopard 1A1A1 model. The turrets were again modified for the 1A5, with a larger section at the back, both in order to store all of the new equipment, as well as to move more of the ammunition into the rear turret, as opposed to the left side of the driver where it had traditionally been stored. The storage locker extended the turret almost to the rear of the tank when the gun was facing forward. The new turret was also able to mount the newer 120 mm gun from the Leopard 2 if desired, although this option has not been used. After trials the Krupp-Atlas Elektronik EMES 18 fire control system was selected in December 1983, developed from the EMES 15 used on the Leopard 2. The EMES 18 included two new sights on to the top of the turret, and no longer required the "bumps" as did the earlier optical systems. A crucial part of the upgrade was the introduction of more effective ammunition, including new APFSDS rounds. The Leopard tank could also be fitted with bolt-on lexan armour panels, which have increased the effectiveness of the armour. These "modified" tanks have proved themselves in the field. The first modified vehicle was delivered in early 1987. Since then almost all users of the Leopard 1 have also applied similar changes to their own vehicles, and in most ways the 1A5 can be considered the "standard" Leopard 1 today.
Leopard 1A6A single 1A1A1 was also modified with additional armor on the turret and had the 120 mm gun as the Leopard 1A6. The project was ended in 1987, as the Leopard 2 was in widespread service at this point and the 1A5 offered a reasonable upgrade path for a fraction of the cost.