When I saw photographs of a Leopard 1 tank I knew I wanted it to be the first major build. The curves of the cast turret and the sleek angles of the hull…something about this tank is absolutely sexy!
Down to the research. There aren’t too many 1/35th scale models available for a Leopard 1 with the additional turret armor developed by Blohm & Voss. I had originally intended to build a model of a A1A1 or 1A2, but I couldn’t find a suitable model for me. After looking through various different models I decided on grabbing the MENG-Model TS-015 from my local hobby shop.
MENG’s version of the 1A5 is generally considered to be the best (in terms of accuracy) model of any Cast-turret Leopard 1 with additional turret armor.
And so, we begin our build!
I begin my models by building the largest parts first separately (unless specified otherwise by instructions). The photo-etch parts that come with the kit were very easy to mold into form and stayed put with a touch of super-glue. The parts on the sprues are all excellent in terms of molding (except for one part, which I’ll mention later), easy to take off and sand, and the plastic is of good quality . I used Tamiya’s Extra-Thin Cement to hold the plastic parts together.
The wheels on the kit use the standard for most models: poly caps. These allow each individual wheel to spin when placed on the model, yet are loose enough to be easily pulled off for easier access. The torsion bar suspension is fully-modeled on this tank- a nice touch. Could prove very useful when making dioramas since the wheels can accurately wrap around the terrain its pressed on.
One feature of the kit that I found pretty neat is the way the modeler will attach the additional armor onto the turret. The mounting points for the additional armor have to be individually placed onto the turret. Thank god I didn’t lose any of these pieces since some of these are exceptionally tiny!
The turret basket proved a little difficult (as most turret baskets somewhat are). However, a little patience was all it took to get it all in together. The additional turret armor was added without difficulty.
Here I attached the crew equipment for the hull onto the kit. In retrospect, I’d probably leave these off the model until I finished painting the NATO Tri-Color Camo…hindsight is 20/20.
One thing I have to add is DO NOT PUT THE MIRRORS ON YET. These parts are extremely fragile and will snap with just mild handling!
I personally didn’t like the radio aerials that come with the set so I made some new ones by melting some plastic sprue and stretching the ends out.
I’ll actually be keeping the EMES-18 gunner sight open in the final model, but for painting I kept it close to protect the transparent part inside.
Note that MENG doesn’t use poly caps for the mantlet. You are given two possible positions for the gun elevation- straight ahead horizontally or slightly elevated at about +4 degrees. I used the horizontal elevation.
Here she is in all of her beauty sans tracks. I also left out the vision ports since they’ll be easier to paint individually then added on afterwards, along with the photo etch on top of them. Some of you have already noticed the model error right from the photo above.
This part of the additional turret armor should not be angled this heavily. It came out on the sprue this way and I had no real way to fix it with what I had at home. I suppose I could pass it off as battle damage or some kind of dent the crew made, or cover it up with camo netting or a tarp?
Other than this issue, the entire kit came together like a charm. For me, the only seam I had to fill was between the skirt and hull, which I’ll show later.
The tracks are going to be the longest part of this build. MENG includes its own Leopard 1 A5 fully workable tracks. Each individual link must be made. Do not worry if a part becomes loose and snaps or you lose it in the carpet! They include plenty of extras just in case this happens. I recommend finding a tutorial on YouTube or someplace on building these since the supplied instructions isn’t really clear.
From here I took the entire model outside for a good base coating of Vallejo NATO Green Primer. I also tested the look of Vallejo Buff on the engine deck- it will be covered up later on but I wanted to check the color on NATO Green.
Afterwards, I gave the lower hull some mud and dust effect. I used a mix of Light Sienna and European Earth pigments and basically just pasted it on- the skirts and wheels almost completely cover up this area so I’m personally not to concerned about it.
Note the mirror already bending- by this point it had broken twice and was repaired using super glue.
Here are the tracks on the tank and weathered. I gave them a good spray of Tamiya XF-69 NATO Black, and after drying I applied some Vallejo European Dust wash, along with Light Sienna and a tiny touch of Burnt Sienna. This particular tank has rubber padding on the track so I kept the top part of the tracks as clean as I could with a paper towel.
I knew it was going to be a fun and easy build. The kit fit together wonderfully. MENG includes optional parts such as a Hoffman gun-fire simulator. One minor nitpick is that the front left and front right flaps of the tank have an obvious seam since the skirt includes a good portion of them. I feel like this could have been remedied by including the mud flap as its own piece separate from the skirt. Eh, mostly an easy fix though for the experienced modeler.
I do like the look of the Leopard 1 A5 from MENG. It has a very future-retro like feel. Despite all of its minor shortcomings, I’d easily recommend this kit for any skill level. It has only 9 photo etch parts so it could be fun to try an learn how they are used. Tiny parts will require the use of tweezers and plenty of patience. Furthermore, many different paint schemes exist since the 1A5 was a version exported across the world. It’d be fun to do a custom paint job of this particular tank one day.
All in all- a fantastic model. Thanks for reading and tuning in to WWM! Coming up soon I’ll be showcasing the painting, weathering, and finishing touches of the model.