by: Jason Bobrowich [ ]
The Leopard C2 with MEXAS armor fought long and hard in Afghanistan since November 2006. The tanks were pushed to their limits and beyond in order to provide protection for their crews and successfully accomplish missions in very harsh terrain and under extreme weather conditions.The mission for the Leopard C2 MEXAS is now over but a multitude of lessons learned by the soldiers taking these tanks into combat will not be forgotten.
One aspect of modelling is taking a part of history and transforming it into plastic. In this case Cromwell Models has taken the initiative and created a complete 1/72 kit of the very unique looking Leopard C2 MEXAS. This is not a conversion like the excellent 1/35 Maple Leaf Models Leopard C2 MEXAS offering but a complete resin kit will all the parts to build a Leopard C2 MEXAS.
Over the course of the deployment to Afghanistan the Leopards were transformed with further upgrades such as a “chiller unit” and thermal covers in an attempt to reduce the effects of the heat on the crews and the internal equipment. The Cromwell Models kit depicts a Leopard C2 MEXAS during the initial stages of deployment. The accuracy timeline for the kit would be between November 2006 and June 2007. After June 2007 the “chiller unit” and thermal covers were mounted.
The conversion consists of 34 parts by my count. Included are the following parts:
- Hull with MEXAS components
- Turret with MEXAS components
- Outer road wheels x 8
- 105 mm barrel
- Commander’s hatch
- Loader’s hatch
- Driver’s hatch
- Multi barrel grenade discharger banks x 2
- Grenade discharger brush guards x2
- Tow pintles x4
- Extra large tow shackles x 2
- C6 GPMG with spade grips with integrated mount
- 7.62 mm ammunition box
- Antenna mounts x 2
- Gun crutch
- Commander’s extended TRP-2
- Turret stowage rack railings x 4
Parts quality & packaging
The quality of the parts is very good. It is evident a great deal of effort goes into casting the parts. The details are nice and crisp. While the casting blocks are overall well placed and small care must be taken during parts removal due to the fragile nature of some of the parts. There is some minor flash that will need to be removed from the small parts but this is overall very minor considering the scale and the level of detail. There are seven casting lugs on the bottom of each set of tracks that will need to be removed in order for the tracks to sit flush on the ground. The resin on the base of the turret will also need to be sanded down in order for it to fit snugly in the hull.
Some of the parts are fragile and care must be taken when handling the parts. Some parts were broken off the casting lugs but intact upon initial inspection. The packaging consists simply of two clear zip lock bags. There is one small bag for the small parts and a larger bag for the hull and turret.
There are no decals included in the kit. The real tanks’ markings were limited to Maple Leaves on the old stereoscopic sight housings, a registration number, Troop barrel rings on the fume extractor, black chevrons on the hull sides, and stylized Troop “Battle Art” on the sides of the turret. The “Battle Art” started appearing in about December 2006 so if you were to add simply the black chevrons and the Troop Barrel rings you would be accurate for a tank deployed in November/December 2006.
There are no instructions included in the kit. While it should be fairly obvious were most of the parts fit some modellers may have difficulties with fitting some of the small parts. Hopefully the images included in the review will clarify most part placement issues.
There is no painting or marking guide included. This would have been a benefit for modellers wanting to accurately mark their build given the specific nature of the markings.
The hull is cast as one solid piece and includes the MEXAS modules and the suspension components. To assemble the remainder of the hull four road wheels outers need to be attached as well as the driver’s hatch, the four tow pintles, the two extra large tow shackles for the rear hull, and the gun crutch.
The MEXAS looks great and chocked full of bolt detail along the glacis plate. There were some minor air bubbles on the lower edges on the hull MEXAS and hull bottom but these are easily filled.
Comparing the hull to reference images it does appear two things were missed on the glacis plate. The first was the headlight extensions. This extended the headlight mount allowing them to fit properly. On the Cromwell kit the headlights are attached flush to the mount protruding through the MEXAS. The second are the extended tow pintles mounts on the glacis plate. These are absent on the Cromwell kit and must be scratch built by the modeller in order for the two front tow pintles to fit properly.
On the tracks I did note some inconsistent fitting in the casting at the rear where the angle is created from the last road wheel running up to the drive sprocket. This is not a casting issue but instead an issue created during the building of the master.
There are no track tools included for the back deck. While these are only minimally visible with the turret in place they will be noticeably absent if the turret is traversed.
There are no tow cables included and modellers will have to source this themselves. Remember to add the appropriate brackets to the hull side and exhaust louvers.
The rear mud flaps are cast in the down position and modellers may want to scratch build new ones in the folded position if they choose.
The armored cover for the mine plough and dozer blade electrical cables is present and looks nice in this small scale.
There is a bit of excessive flash and resin behind the cast on road wheels and the inner hull where the MEXAS meets the hull. Unless you are positioning your model upside down this will never be seen.
The eight road wheel outers won’t need much clean up at all but do have the distinct grooves running across them. There is debate about whether these grooves exist of actual road wheels or not. Regardless the grooves on these road wheels appear to be out of scale and it would be simpler just to fill them in before mounting the road wheels.
The four tow pintles and the two extra large tow shackles are excellent details to finish the hull. The extra large tow shackles were seen on all Leopard C2 MEXAS in Afghanistan initially in a natural silver and then some were painted over in green spray paint.
Like the hull the turret is cast with the majority of the parts in place. The MEXAS modules are attached to the turret sides and the mantlet as well as the distinctive turret bustle of the C2. The bolt detail on the mantlet MEXAS is superb.
Small grab handles and tie downs are cast on the turret bustle. Jerry can racks, side stowage racks, bore brush containers, and a cable real holder are all cast attached to the turret.
The gunner’s EMES 18 sight is cast with the shutter doors open and a sun shade attached to the top. The entire sight appears to be a touch high but short of cutting off the entire sight this cannot be rectified. There are no optics visible in the open sight aperture.
Clean up of the turret is very minor with only some minor cast marks on the bottom on the turret bustle and the reduction of the turret base required.
The barrel is cast in a single piece and was slightly warped in my sample. There are five casting lugs that run along the bottom of the barrel that need to be removed.
The grenade discharger banks do consist of a left and right side. The easiest was to remember is to look for the small extension on the outer edge of each bank. The extension goes toward the rear of the turret. The grenade discharges, the mounts, and the brush guards are very nicely cast. The brush guards appear very fragile so take your time removing them, cleaning them up, and attaching them.
The turret hatches are detailed inside and out. The hatch with the visible hinge cut into the hatch in the loader’s hatch (left side of the turret). The turret hatch rings on the cast turret look very thick compared to the scale and could use some thinning down. The Commander’s hatch should not pose much of an issue but the loader’s hatch will need the machine gun mount removed before thinning. There is no machine gun mount included for the Commander’s hatch ring. While the majority of tanks in Afghanistan retained the mount on the Commander’s hatch ring some did remove them completely so clothing did not snag if a quick egress was needed.
The C6 GPMG with the spade grips for the loader’s hatch is a nice addition. It is integrated with the mount and while nicely detailed appears a bit chunky. A separate 7.62 mm ammunition holder attaches to the left side of the mount.
The antenna mounts and TRP 2 extension simply attach to the respective location on the turret.
This 1/72 kit is a great addition to any modeller interested in small scale modern Canadian armor. I suspect the kit master is based on the Revell-Germany 1/72 Leopard 1A5 kit and therefore some of the details are limited to that kit. Cromwell Models has created a very detailed, but not perfect kit of the Canadian Leopard C2 MEXAS. The MEXAS modules are terrific and transform the tank from the cold war era to a tank that proved itself in modern day combat.
While the modelers building this kit will have to decide whether to add further details or make the most of the kit it will build into a very nice version of the Leopard C2 MEXAS any way you look at it.
Modelers must remember this kit without modifications is limited to the time frame between November 2006 and June 2007 as deployed with ‘B’ Squadron, Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians).