After the collapse of the Iron Curtain and the de facto end of the Cold War, the Danish Ministry of Defence decided to replace the fleet of aging Leopard 1A3 currently in service with Leopard 2A4 MBT's purchased second hand from Germany in 1997. It was immediately recognized that the Leopard 2A4 was an interim solution, and work began to define the modifications that would be required to meet the needs of the Danish operators.
Testing began with 11 of the newly delivered vehicles by the 1st squadron of the 3rd battalion of the Jutland Dragoon Regiment (Jydske Draonregiment) in 2000 and 2001. Results of this testing process and the many lessons learned from the continuous upgrade of the Leopard 1A3's were combined to form the required modifications for a Danish Leopard 2.
With the requirements not completely formulated, the Danish Ministry of Defence signed a contract with Krauss-Maffei Wegmann in 2000 to upgrade the Leopard 2A4's. The result of the upgrade program was the Leopard 2A5 DK, which was to represent the most technologically advanced Leopard 2 at that time.
This new book by Thomas Antonsen strives to tell the story of the Leopard 2A5 in Danish service, from early trials with the 2A4 right up to present day modifications such as the installation of slat armour and Barracuda camouflage mats on vehicles on operations in Afghanistan.
The book is 172 pages in length with full English text, hard cover and contains all colour photos printed on high quality glossy paper. Readers familiar with the Barbarossa Leopard 1 trilogy will recognize the page layout, which is both easy on the eyes and aesthetically pleasing.
The first thing I noticed while eagerly flipping through the book for the first time was that it was clearly written by a modeller for modellers. The book is first and foremost a modeller's photographic reference which documents in detail the modifications that make this vehicle uniquely Danish. Notable areas on the Leopard 2A5 DK have been presented with photographs shot from multiple angles (a scratch builders dream). This is something I've personally wanted to see in armour reference books for ages!
The book contains numerous photos of vehicles of the Jutland Dragoon Regiment (or Jydske Dragonregiment), as the author lives 35 km from the Holstebro barracks (lucky sod) where all of the Danish Army's Leopards are based. The book contains an excellent mix of in-action and detail photos, in addition to a number of excellent shots of vehicles on operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. A nice bonus is the inclusion of two KMW engineering drawings (top and left side views) of the 2A5 DK in 1:35 in addition to smaller illustrations of the official factory applied camouflage pattern. However, I found myself wishing for an engineering drawing of the rear and right side of the vehicle which would illustrate the under armour APU housing particular to the 2A5 DK (this is a tiny knit-pick as there are plenty of photos of said APU housing).
The text and captions are very well written and extremely informative and helpful. The author has written each caption with the goal of providing as much useful information as possible to the AMS afflicted modeller. Accurate and descriptive captions are something I've been wishing for in armour reference books for a long time, as they are unfortunately not the norm. Once I had finished reading the book from cover to cover, I felt that I had learned an awful lot about the Leopard 2A5 DK, and the Leopard 2 in general.
Contents in detail
Introduction and Acknowledgements
Chapter One - Replacing Leopard 1:
● a quick history of the retirement of the Danish Leopard 1's and the decision to procure Leopard 2's.
Chapter Two - how it all began:
● a description of the initial trails of the Leopard 2A4 in 2000-2001 by the Jutland Dragoon Regiment.
● includes many in action photos of the 2A4's under evaluation.
● also included is several photos of a German Leopard 2A5 that was in Denmark in the year 2000 to demonstrate to Danish crews the differences between the 2A4 and 2A5 (a teaser really).
Chapter Three - the Danish Way:
● documents the evolution of the Danish modifications.
● major modifications are illustrated with annotated photographs as well as several in-action type shots.
Chapter Four - Danish Modifications in Detail:
● this is the chapter that really makes the book notable as a near perfect modeller's reference.
● the Danish modifications are thoroughly and completely documented via numerous photos shot from multiple angles coupled with extremely descriptive captions (43 pages is devoted to this chapter alone).
● the major modifications covered would include:
▪ rear turret stowage bins.
▪ smoke discharger arrays (the new 6 2 type).
▪ antennae bases.
▪ commander's observation module (stabilized panoramic sight).
▪ M/96 carbine stowage box (identical to the boxes used on the Leopard 2A6M-CAN).
▪ M/96 carbine ready racks.
▪ set beam white light searchlight.
▪ supplemental hull frontal armour.
▪ under-armour APU compartment.
▪ oil container rack (mounted on the lower hull rear).
▪ road wheels and drive sprockets.
▪ interior - the commander's position.
▪ interior - the loader's position.
▪ interior - the gunner's position.
▪ interior - the driver's position.
Chapter Five - Taking Care of the Beast:
● this chapter title is somewhat misleading, as it really includes a lot of detail shots of various mechanical components of the 2A5 DK, although this is done from the perspective of crew or base mechanic related maintenance procedures.
● areas covered in detail would include:
▪ the engine compartment (lots of great shots to help with that Perfect Scale drop-in resin conversion).
▪ the engine and transmission - of particular note is the napalm protection system (which is not present on German engines).
▪ hull stowage compartments and access panels.
▪ track maintenance (including some really good shots of the new Diehl type 570 P0 track and drive sprockets).
▪ turret armour details.
▪ the wash stand - another opportunity to show off excellent all-around photos of the vehicles.
Chapter Six - Getting Around:
● transport of the 2A5 DK using heavy truck and trailer, rail, support ships and aircraft (the monstrous Russian An-124-100).
Chapter Seven - In the Field:
● this chapter contains photos that will prove invaluable to diorama builders.
● contents would include:
▪ vehicles participating in gunnery training.
▪ practice ammunition and associated transport containers.
▪ crew uniforms (including the new M/05 modular load bearing vest).
▪ re-fueling and recovery vehicles.
▪ FESAP (televised surveillance) vehicles and equipment used during gunnery training.
▪ urban warfare or MOUT training (lots of beauty shots here).
▪ NATO response force preparation, November 2006 (ie. a field training exercise).
Chapter Eight - Going South:
● documents the hot weather climate tests in Córdoba Spain in the spring of 2006.
● includes photos of the SAAB Barracuda mobile camouflage and heat transfer reduction system being evaluated at that time.
● contains many shots of a test vehicle sporting a non-standard grey and light sand colour scheme (a fantastic alternative cam scheme for a 2A5 DK build).
● also documented is the preparation of QRF (Quick Reaction Force) vehicles for foreign deployment (ie. Afghanistan).
● lastly, this chapter contains many excellent photos of specific modifications implemented on QRF vehicles, which would include:
▪ the 12.7 mm cupola optionally mounted at the loader's station and the Manroy soft mount.
▪ protective cover on the commander's panoramic sight.
▪ protective cover on the main gun sight housing.
▪ turret wire cutter and tool stowage containers.
▪ rear hull recovery A-frame brackets.
▪ extended mud-flaps, track skirt bolt rack.
▪ slat armour - this section includes all of the photos one would need to convert the Eduard slat set (for the 2A6M-CAN) for use on a Danish vehicle in Afghanistan.
▪ the Leopard 1 ARV as used by the QRF.
Chapter Nine - Deployment to Afghanistan:
● this chapter contains many superb photos of QRF vehicles deployed in Helmand Province Afghanistan.
Chapter Ten - Today and the Future:
● discusses the future of the 2A5 with the Danish Army and possible upgrades and modifications for in service vehicles.
Chapter Eleven - For the Modeller:
● describes in detail the model kits and after market products which may be used to build a Leopard 2A5 DK.
● this section includes the 1:35 drawings of the vehicle, though only a top view and a left side view are provided (I would have like to have seen a right side view as well).
● contains a short article explaining the historical significance of Niels Kjeldsen, whose name is given to the first squadron of the first battalion of the Jutland Dragoon Regiment (Niels Kjeldsen Eskadronen).
● a description of the events of April 29 2004, better known as Operation Hooligan Buster, where Danish Leopard 1s engaged Bosnian artillery and anti-tank positions.
● a suggested reading list, a short glossary and a quick introduction to the author complete this section.
As can be noted, the book provides a veritable feast of photos and information that should delight modellers wishing to tackle a 2A5 DK. There is however one tiny omission from this impressive body of work, and I hesitate to mention it as I feel that I'm really knit-picking here. The book fails to mention the fact that the clasps and brackets for the pioneer and vehicle maintenance tools mounted on the engine deck are different than those used on German Leopard 2's. There are however numerous photos of the Danish style tool clasps, so this oversight is quite minor and does not detract from the overall impressive quality of the book.
The Leopard 2A5 DK has previously existed somewhat in the shadows, with reference material being quite sparse and limited in breadth. This book has shed new light on a very interesting variant of what is clearly one of the most prolific MBTs in use by Western nations today. The author has created a body of work which is both an engaging read as well as an extremely valuable collection of reference material for Danish armour modellers and Leopard 2 enthusiasts alike.
In the introduction, the author states that one of his primary goals in writing the book was to create an ideal armour reference book. I think he has succeeded in this endeavour most admirably, and I sincerely thank him for writing such a splendid book.
Highs: A much needed reference on a very interesting Leopard 2 variant. High quality photos, many assemblies shot from multiple angles, accurate and extremely descriptive text and captions sets a very high standard for armour reference books. Reasonably priced.Lows: Super nit-picky omissions would be the lack of a right side and rear 1:35 plan views and failure to mention the Danish tool clasps. Verdict: Very highly recommended, in the must have category.