Legend Productions - Leopard AS1 Conversion (for Meng Leopard 1A3/1A4)

LF1354
Scale: 1:35
Media: cast resin, photo-etch, brass wire, electrical wire, string
Reviewed By: Michael Shackleton

One of the most sought-after conversion sets that I am asked about is the Australian Leopard AS1. Leopard Club has once again worked together with Legend to produce this latest Leopard 1 conversion.

AS1 had a long career, entering service in 1976 with eventual replacement by M1A1 Abrams starting in 2006. Thirty years is a long stint. However, over the years, AS1 changed relatively little.

It was only in the second half of service that various mods started to be introduced. Amongst these were:

The tank represented by Legend is a later (generic) version. I say generic as it misses some of the later mods, which some have complained about, like the hydraulic dampers, the fridge, Raven antenna bases and the GPS. However, this does NOT detract from the conversion set. The dampers are barely visible with sideskirts fitted, the fridge was not always carried, and the GPS was only introduced five years before retirement. All of these items can be found from the Australian company, Mouse House Enterprises, own conversion set. Maybe they will issue a small upgrade set to supplement the Legend conversion, but I think not.

One other feature that was not introduced until 2004 was a training aid called GTSL (Gunnery Training Simulator for Leopard). This is distinguished by a host of octagonal mounting pads all around the hull and turret. However, apparently the sensors that mount on these panels were only ever used on exercise once. As these pads were widely installed in late service and are now frequently seen on retired AS1 monument tanks, they have been included by Legend.

What is in the kit?

There are twenty-eight blocks of the usual superb Legend casting, three photo-etch frets, 0.3 mm brass wire for making handles, thin electrical cable for the searchlight and a length of thread for the tow cables.

Resin parts include two spare wheels, three hull-side stowage boxes, an armoured cover for the engineer attachments, lower hull rails for the engineer attachments, older-type antenna bases (not Raven), mantlet plugs, water and fuel jerrycans (which apparently are the wrong pattern), US-style duffle bags (apparently never used), a coil of covered razor wire often seen hung from the rear, a bucket and various AS1-specific fittings like a pressure sensor, side wind sensor, aerial pot, rangefinder plug, TALAFIT plate plus a length of MG ammo and two blocks with resin bolts. Resin parts include:

 

Amongst the brass frets you will find a host of parts to build the late-style turret stowage basket, the GTSL plates (optional), rear mud flaps, reinforcement plates for AS1-style front trackguards, MG ammo box and travel locks, mantlet plug chains, padlocks, etc.

Instructions

The instructions are the usual 2-sided colour sheet that we have become accustomed to from Legend. Although the photos are quite small, they are perfectly clear and readable.

 

Three things NOT mentioned in the instructions are:

  1. The tropical filter grille in the rear deck and the circular close-in defence weapon plate on the turret roof (it is shown on the box-top) should both be used.

       

  2. The Australians used a similar system for holding their main gun thermal sleeves in place to the Canadians, namely hose clamps. This gun is not included in the Legend kit but can be found here LW019AC.

       

  3. The blanking plug for the left-side rangefinder should be filled with putty and rubbed completely smooth. This was not a welded-in plate. It was built like that.

The first side of the instructions is all quite clear with photos of the built-up model labelled with the relative part numbers. I don't see anything complicated here.

The AS1 front trackguards are very similar in appearance to the original German-made ones. However, the Aussies used various bolted together plates (P31 to 36 in the kit) on the inside and outside to strengthen them (see photos below). You will see that the rim on the lower edge of the trackguards should be removed. This is not made clear.


The original German trackguard


The Aussie-style reinforcements. Note that he lower lip has gone.

Now comes the fun part, the turret basket - in reality, this is made from steel tubing. To achieve this from flat brass, the frames need to be layered up. Again this isn't clear as Legend use asterisks and not multiplication signs. For example they say P43*3 instead of P43x3 which might be clearer. Therefore, the main frames are built from sandwiches of three pieces each. The mesh can then be added to each panel before the panels are brought together to form the basket structure. At first it looks scary, but there is a simple logic to it and it should build with some strength to it.

Thanks to Michael K. Cecil and Richard Cousse for the reference photos.

Earlier versions

Earlier AS1s can be built using a combination of the parts in the Legend kit, and by using any one, or a combination of Leopard Workshop AS1 turret basket sets LW042A, LW042B and LW042C.

Further upgrades for this kit are available from Leopard Workshop and the Leopard Club Shop:

Mouse House accessories

Perfect Scale Modellbau Engineer Attachments

All used on leopard AS1:

Reference

         

Now available from the Leopard Club shop.

To a UK or European address
€ 29.00 + € 5.50 post
To a Worldwide address:
€ 29.00 + € 8.00 post

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