The use of the Leopard C2 in Afghanistan by the Canadian Forces since November 2006 has been critical in providing a significant amount of firepower to Combat Team Operations. The Leopard C2s with the add-on MEXAS packages have forged a new history for the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps. Taking a tank that has been in service since the 1970s into an unorthodox combat environment is a testament to the training of the crews, and expertise of the maintenance personnel, and the overall reliability of the tank. The Leopard C2 has evolved from a tank designed to fight on a European battlefield to an AFV that has adapted to the scorching heat of Afghanistan and the insurgent weapons and tactics utilized to defeat NATO forces.
Real Model has produced a Modeler Photo Assistant book specifically focusing on the Canadian Leopard C2 MEXAS in Afghanistan. Utilizing a collection of images taken by Rick Saucier and Anthony Sewards during their Afghanistan tours Miloslav Hraban has constructed a book that will have Leopard fans watering at the mouth in anticipation of building a Canadian Leopard C2 MEXAS.
The book is soft bound and chock full of high quality colour images. A total of 80 pages hold a whopping 263 captioned colour images showing a wide variety of aspects of the Leopard C2 in Afghanistan. The book is limited to images taken during Anthony’s tour in 2007 and Rick’s tour in 2008/2009 so readers should not expect to get a full pictorial history of the Leopard C2 in Afghanistan. There is no forward, introduction, or preamble with historical or background information on the deployment of the Canadian Leopard C2 to Afghanistan in the book. What the reader will get is a very detailed photographic approach to the Leopard C2 MEXAS in operations in Afghanistan.
The book is broken down into eleven distinct chapters that show the tanks on combat operations, in the Forward Operating Bases (FOB), and walkaround type images of specialized equipment. Effort is made in the book to point out the individual vehicle registration numbers, call signs, tank names, and Troop turret artwork to the reader. This will greatly assist a modeller wanting to depict a specific tank. Prospective purchasers should not shy away from the price of the book as it must be noted that each of the chapters included in the book should be looked at as a separate reference article as could be found in a multitude of modelling magazines. The cost effectiveness of having multiple high quality images all in one book as opposed to having to purchase multiple issues of magazines is a bargain in my opinion.
C-2 MEXAS Step by Step:
This chapter consists of a walkaround of a Leopard C2 MEXAS showing details of the MEXAS armour package and the very distinct tan coloured thermal coverings. The images will be extremely useful for modelers wanting to replicate the thermal coverings and see the placement of the MEXAS modules.
The chapter shows detail and overview images of the mine plough mounted on a Leopard C2. There are excellent views of weathering and battle damage.
The chapter on the mine rollers shows the rollers both fitted to the tanks and just the mounting bra fitted to the Leopards. There are also images of the dismounted mounting bras on pallets. This gives the modeller a good idea of the details of these massive pieces of equipment.
This chapter provides the overview and details of a dozer blade mounted on a Leopard C2. Unique features are clearly evident and will assist the modeller with using the Mouse Armour resin dozer blade on a Leopard C2 project.
Images depicting a powerpack pull are featured in this chapter and the extensive weathering and dust accumulation is very evident.
The unique images in this chapter show the step by step details of removing a Leopard C2 turret at an FOB. Beyond the turret pull, details of the turret basket and the hull interior will be of a great use for those always looking for more reference images.
This chapter allows an insider’s look at a damaged Leopard C2 and the dramatic effects of the IEDs encountered on a daily basis. The details provided showing the damage to the MEXAS modules and suspension components are very unique. It should be noted that the lower right image on page 47 does show some veiled adult content and must be taken with the appropriate grain of salt.
1st Troop, 2nd Troop, 3rd Troop, and Squadron Headquarters Troop (SHQ):
The last four chapters of the book are separated to show the tanks of each Troop of ‘A’ Squadron, Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) during their tour in 2007. At the beginning of each chapter a breakdown of call signs and individual Canadian Forces Registration (CFR) numbers is provided to distinguish each tank in the accompanying images. The images in each chapter show each Troop during combat operations and in the FOBs. Descriptions of the vehicle details and the variety of equipment carried are also provided. This provides the reader with the ability to model a specific tank if desired. Also included in the SHQ chapter are some excellent images of the Loader’s C6 machine gun both with the butt stock and with the butterfly spade grips.
While the individual chapters of the book focus on a variety of aspects of the Leopard C2 the modeller is getting the additional benefit of continually seeing the same tanks in the images from different views and angles. This shows the variety of weathering and battle damage that occurred over an extended period of time and how the crews adapted to their environment.
The images show the transition from how the vehicles overall appeared from the initial deployment in November 2006 with just the MEXAS packages to the addition of the extended front fenders and then and modifications including the mounting of the thermal covers and the cooling unit.
The book is without a doubt an asset to any modeller wanting to build a Canadian Leopard C2 MEXAS as deployed to Afghanistan. It contains pretty much everything a modeller needs to get all the details, painting, and weathering spot on. What is lacking is a bit of historical background on the deployment and the timeline for the variety of modifications. Modellers are left guessing as to when the thermal coverings and the cooling unit were added due to some of the page layouts that inter mix the images.
I think the only other thing that would have been prudent to have included would have been a chapter on the tank crews showing the uniforms and accessories. With Real Model’s excellent Canadian tank crew figures this would have been a worthy addition. The book is a very good economic value in my opinion. The images are not staged or orchestrated; they were taken by a couple of soldiers who were there.
As an avid modern Canadian AFV modeller I highly recommend this book. If modellers are looking for a very good detailed book on the Leopard C2 MEXAS in Afghanistan then look no further.
Highs: The book is an excellent pictorial of real life images including weathering, damage, details, and many excellent ideas.Lows: There is no historical information provided and modellers may not understand the timelines for the various modifications.Verdict: Overall a very good book full of great images taken by modellers for modellers. Anyone wanting to model a Canadian Leopard C2 MEXAS should invest in this book.