Item No. 35B47
Media: aluminum, brass, photo-etched brash, cast resin
Reviewed by: Todd Michalak.
Based in Poland, RB Model is a manufacturer of machined barrels and parts for the modelling community for Armor and Aircraft to Ships, Rail and more. Since 1998, RB Model has created these precision parts and now offers more than 1200 products in all scales from 1/6 all the way down to 1/700.
Rheinmetall 120 mm L/44 tank gun
The 120 mm Rh-M-120 L/44 is a smooth-bore tank gun designed by Rheinmentall-De Tec AG, a German based auto parts supplier and European defence contractor. In 1974, Rheinmentall answered to the call for the creation of MBT (Main Battle Tank) gun that could support the needs of the German military and European nations to keep up with the improvements the Soviets were making in armour development. The 120 mm Rh-M-120 L/44 was that answer. The L/44 would be used in the Leopard 2 MBTs and later licensed to the US for use in the M1A1 and A2 Abrams tanks.
The L/44 is a smooth-bore tank gun that is 120mm caliber capable of effective firing to 4400 yd (4000 meters) with the DM12 MZ, DM33 KE and DM63 (Defense Munitions Tungsten Penetrating Round) and 8700 yards (8000 meters) as well as with the LAHAT (Laser Homing Attack or Laser Homing Anti-Tank Israeli Manufactured Rounds) with a muzzle velocity between 1580 and 1750 m/s. One of the more conspicuous features of the 120 mm L/44 is the bore evacuator bulging up in the middle of the barrel and the added thermal sleeve; both designed for the regulation of the barrel temperature and extend the life of the barrel.
While certainly not a new listing from RB Model, the 120 mm Rh-M-120 L/44 Barrel for the Leopard 2A1 to A4 model kits is definitely a noteworthy item to review. Recently I purchased one of RB's 120 mm Rh-M-120 L/44 barrels for an upcoming Leopard 2a4 build I had planned. The barrel was created for upgraded replacement of the two-piece plastic moulded offerings from Revell and Hobby Boss. Both of these barrels supplied with the kit are soft on details, not to scale not to mention the seam line running down the middle of the barrel is tedious at best to smooth out after constructing.
Revell's supplied gun
Detailing of the bore evacuator and dust sleeve
Muzzle with MRS
The RB 120 L/44 is a nine-piece brass, aluminium, resin and photo etch barrel replacement. The main tube of the barrel is fabricated in aluminium. This turned part has a notched muzzle for slip application of the supplied brass collars for the MRS (Muzzle Reference System and collimator. The bottom end of the barrel has been turned down to receive the thermal sleeve, bore evacuator and dust sleeve.
The Thermal sleeve is turned from brass tubing and as seen on the aluminium barrel section, the small depressions used as a foothold for the tool to removal the barrel section are present.
The dust cover and bore evacuator are both represented in crème coloured cast resin. Both pieces are cast very well and there is no flash or air bubbles present in the surface.
With regards to the dust cover, there is a casting block still attached to the piece which will need to be removed first. The only notable item regarding the bore evacuator is the smooth surface. In most cases, the original parts installed show the striations from the woven fibreglass resin used to make this piece in the "real world". This has been brought up many times on a number of forums on how the replacement barrels do not have this textured added. And while there is at least one other barrel on the market today that does make the attempt at casting this texture, as well as one manufacturer that makes a replacement fume extractor, it is a small detail that can easily be replicated by sanding and filing the surface.
There are two brass collars for this barrel included with this set. The larger of the two is the connection joint for just forward the bore evacuator.
The muzzle is comprised of four parts which make up the MRS and attached collimator. Two of the parts have been milled from brass and make up the bulk of the brake. The smaller ring is the connections joint for the break followed by the faceted brass collar which makes up the forward section of the MRS. There is a small photo etch sheet included with this set which contains the collimator. The housing for this part is photo etch and once bent into shape can be placed onto the brass collar. The collimator is turned from a single piece of brass and can be set into place with solder or superglue.
Construction of the barrel is straightforward, while there are no instructions included with the barrel, any good reference pictures will do nicely to show the placement of the parts. In addition, RB Model has a set of pictures showing the 120 mm Rh-M-120 L/44 constructed. Two areas to be careful with while constructing this barrel would be bending and attaching collimator to the collar on the muzzle. This is a very small part and can be lost very easy. The second area to take notice of is with the removal of the small casting block attached to the dust cover resin piece. Not only should care be taken when separating the block from the part and sanding, but with precautions to protect yourself from the resin dust associated with cutting and sanding of the resin. Resin dust can be particularly harmful to folks with respiratory problems. A dust mask and protective eye wear is recommended when working with any resin.
It is best to check the gun part included in your kit for placement. The replacement barrel will need to be attached to a small section of the original plastic part and double checking where you need to make the appropriate cut is suggested. With the Revell barrel, this was just behind the dust cover on the plastic barrel. Once removed I chose to pin the new barrel to the plastic mount via styrene tubing. One piece slides snuggly into the other making for a nice tight joint and will keep the replacement barrel from separating from the kit part during construction.
The 120 mm Rh-M-120 L/44 Barrel for Leopard 2 A1 to A4 from RB Model is a very high quality barrel replacement part. The resin castings included in this kit are made very well and are free from any surface defects as is the turned aluminium and brass parts included with the barrel. I have to say this is one of the best offerings on the market today for replacing the 120 mm L/44 barrel used on the early to mid-range Leopard 2 variants.
With the exception of the lack of the fibreglass wrapping details on the bore evacuator, which I discussed earlier in this review as not being very hard to replicate, this barrel is as close to perfect as it can get. In fact, there is an after-market fume extractor by EuroModel to replace this after-market fume extractor! With the exceptional quality of the barrel added to the valued pricing through RB Model, I highly recommend the 120 mm Rh-M-120 L/44 Barrel for Leopard 2 A1 to A4 to anyone looking to improve the looks their Leopard 2 build!