by: Jason Bobrowich [ ]
The Canadian Leopard 2A6M CANs have gained a great deal of attention since they have been deployed to Afghanistan. The plan to modify, evolve, and adapt the tanks into the harsh combat environment of Afghanistan was put into action even before the tanks even left Germany. One of the most unique modifications is the addition of the Barracuda Mobile Camouflage System (MCS). This addition has perplexed modelers wanting to build their Leopard in this configuration with how to accurately replicate the texture and patterns of the MCS while not destroying their build during the process.
The MCS is not simply camouflage netting draped over the hull and turret. It is a well engineered multi-layer system custom made for the tank. The system is broken down into pre-shaped panels and fastened to the tanks with Velcro. It is not nearly as easy to replicate the MCS as one could imagine but the fact that model producers are willing to take on this challenge is a very good thing for modelers who want more than just a basic Leopard 2A6M CAN.
Cromwell Models steps up to the plate and has released a resin conversion designed to modify the Hobby Boss Leopard 2A6M CAN kit into a Barracuda MCS covered behemoth. This now makes three Leopard 2A6M CAN Barracuda conversions with Cromwell Models, Perfect Scale Modellbau, and Black Dog all producing conversions for the Hobby Boss kit.
The conversion consists of 48 parts by my count. Included are the following parts:
• Upper hull
• Lower hull rear
• 120 mm barrel
• Turret stowage bins x 2
• Turret bin rear
• Turret bin top
• Open umbrella
• Folded umbrella
• Gun elevation cover
• Driver’s hatch
• Commander’s hatch top
• Loader’s hatch top
• Rifle box lid
• Turret front hanging Barracuda x 2
• C8 Carbines x 2
• 120 mm rounds x 9
• “T” antenna mounts x 2
• Loader’s C6 GPMG x 1
• Loader’s C6 GPMG mount
• Headlights x 2
• Commander’s hatch ring
• Various hull and turret steps and hand rails
• Driver’s rear view camera
Parts Quality & Packaging:
The quality of the parts is very high. You can tell a great deal of effort goes into casting the parts. The details are nice and crisp and the casting blocks are overall well placed and easily removed without losing details on the conversion.
Some of the parts are fragile and the Loader’s C6 GPMG had a broken barrel and some of the foot steps were broken. The packaging consists simply of the parts in a variety of clear zip lock bags. If I were to recommend anything to Cromwell Models it would be to ensure the conversion parts are well packaged to reduce the chance of breakage due to movement during shipping.
There are three pages of instructions provided for this conversion. Page 1 and 2 consist of drawings showing the attachment of the conversion parts. Page 3 shows which parts in the Hobby Boss kit are not used. There is a lot going on in the instructions and time should be taken to study them and understand how the conversion combines with the Hobby Boss kit. The good part is that the majority of the build is simply swapping parts for better parts in resin or Barracuda covered parts.
Using the Hobby Boss hull Cromwell Models has taken much the same approach as Perfect Scale Modellbau (PSM) did with their Barracuda conversion. In comparing the resin hull with multiple reference images it appears Cromwell did their homework with the master and produced the Barracuda panels correctly. The detail is very nice but the actual size of the pattern looks too big for the MCS used on the Canadian tanks. This is not a fatal flaw but when compared side by side with the PSM hull the size difference is noticeable. In my opinion the size of the MCS looks very much like the British version used on the Challenger 2 and Bulldogs.
Cromwell has attached the side skirts with the MCS molded in place leaving gaps for the Hobby Boss slat armour support arms.
The oversized anti-slip coating on the Hobby Boss hull has been reduced by Cromwell but they now appear a bit uneven and choppy.
There are some nice bolt details along the edge of the Barracuda running along the hull edges. This was a nice addition and a good sense of the detail included in the development of the kit.
Cromwell addressed the issue of the rear hull engine access hatches by including a replacement part with the correct rectangular covers. An easy fix for the kit.
Unfortunately Cromwell, nor any other conversion thus far, has failed to correct the circular engine air intake modifications done on later versions. The Hobby Boss kit does not have the later version engine air intakes. This is somewhat nitpicky but a point I am sure modelers looking for accuracy will surely notice.
The Barracuda, even with the size issue, is a pleasure to look at. It folds over the angles naturally and gives the tank a look far better than any Zimmerit covered Panzer in my opinion.
The Hobby Boss turret again becomes the base for this portion of the conversion. Most of the conversion turret simply replaces the kit parts. Again, the casting and details are excellent with very crisp and clear lines on the Barracuda panels.
The Carbine rifle box is supplied with a lid allowing it to be positioned closed or open. The turret umbrella mounting rail looks very accurate and the holes positioned correctly. Both closed and open umbrellas are provided to give the modeler a choice. The open umbrella contains the Barracuda on the inside and has some great details with overhang and exposed Barracuda. The closed umbrella looks correct with the correct sag and angles. When comparing it to the PSM umbrella the Cromwell folded umbrella comes out on top.
The kits main gun is replaced by a resin Barracuda covered version. Modellers will be able to add Troop barrel stripes as they wish as the barrel is void of Troop markings.
A great addition to the turret is the C6 GPMG and mount. The resin parts are very delicate but when assembled provide an excellent rendition of the machine gun, mount, and ammo box. This is the first model producer to tackle the C6 GPMG on a modern Canadian vehicle with the spade grips.
The antenna mounts are for sure an improvement over the kit parts. The turret hatches and Commander’s hatch ring are also replaced by Barracuda covered versions.
The turret rear bins are provided with replacement parts covered in Barracuda adding to the transformation of the kit.
To further add to the details two C8 Carbines have been included. These are not totally correct and include the original carrying handles instead of the EoTech sights more commonly seen on Canadian personal weapons.
The other very nice detail included is a total of nine 120 mm rounds. These include three each of DM33A2 APFSDS, DM12A2 HEAT MP-T, and the M1028 Canister Round.
Finally two Barracuda turret baskets are provided to replace the kit parts. The appropriate mesh will have to be added to the inside of each basket.
Missing from my conversion but listed in the instructions are the Barracuda covered PERI-17 A2 sight and the ring sight mount. The missing parts were promptly sent by Cromwell via the post.
This conversion stands on its own when compared to the PSM Barracuda conversion. Both conversions have excellent areas and both have areas to be improved upon by the modeler. Remember, this is a conversion and not a kit. It takes work to make sure things fit and go together correctly. The level of casting on this conversion is very high and the workmanship that has gone into creating a quality master is clear to see.
Even with the deviations from the look of the actual Barracuda this conversion will build into a convincing Canadian Leopard 2A6M CAN. Modellers wanting to change the shape or look of the conversion Barracuda should be able to with some forethought and a little elbow grease.
It is great to see another modern Canadian vehicle coming to life with this conversion.