Leopard 1 main battle tank


---- Leopard 1-V MB (Dutch version)
---- Leopard C1/C2 MBT (Canadian version)
---- Leopard Jumbo PHF 20T firefighting vehicle
---- Leopard NFW armored vehicle launched bridge

EQUIPMENT CATEGORY: Ground Combat Vehicles -- Tanks

PICTURES OF: Leopard 1 main battle tank


In 1957, France, Germany and Italy agreed to study the construction of a standard tank. In the end, however, each built different tanks. The German Leopard 1 is the descendant of the vehicles built for trials against the French AMX-30 . The production version of the Leopard was designed by a team that included Porsche, Jung, Luther and Jordan and Krupp-MaK, but the tanks were built by Krauss-Maffei with turrets by Wegmann. Krupp-MaK built some main battle tanks (MBT ) as well as many of the combat-support vehicle variants.

The Leopard 1 (as does the AMX-30 ) favors firepower and mobility over protection. The British-designed 105-mm L7 rifled tank gun is both accurate and reliable. The suspension, power-to-weight ratio, and fuel capacity are intended to offer good mobility, especially over rough ground. Armor protection has been upgraded over the life of the program, but is still less than contemporary Russian tanks. Earlier Leopards had a cast turret; 1A3 and 1A4 models have a welded turret with spaced armor.

The tank features an all-welded steel hull. This is divided into two compartments: the crew compartment at the front and the engine compartment at the rear. The driver is seated at the front of the hull on the right and is equipped with a single-piece hatch cover that opens to the left. In front of the hatch are three day periscopes. The center periscope can be replaced by an image-intensification system or thermal device for night driving.

The all-cast steel armor turret is mounted in the center of the hull, with the commander and gunner on the right and the loader on the left. The commander and loader each has a single-piece hatch cover that opens to the rear. The commander has eight day periscopes for all-around observation, one of which can be replaced by an image-intensification periscope for night observation. The gunner has the sights and one day periscope, while the loader is provided with two day periscopes for observation of a designated battlefield sector. Mounted in the turret roof, in front of the commander's hatch, is a TRP-2A zoom periscope with a magnification of 4x up to 20x. This is swivel-mounted and can also be moved in elevation by hand within the gun elevation range. For night observation, an active infrared sight can be fitted.

The gunner is seated in front of and below the commander and has a TEM-2A rangefinder, which can be used in either coincidence or stereoscopic modes. It has a magnification of 16x and is mechanically linked to the 105-mm gun and provided with superelevation cams to compute the superelevation for two types of ammunition. The gunner also has a TZF-1A telescope mounted coaxially with the main gun, which has a magnification of 8x and a movable, scaled graticule to set the superelevation for different munitions.

An ammunition resupply hatch is fitted to the left side of the turret and a stowage basket at the turret rear.

The engine compartment at the rear is separated from the crew compartment by a fireproof bulkhead. The complete powerpack, consisting of the engine, transmission and cooling system, is provided with quick-disconnect couplings, allowing the entire powerpack to be replaced in the field in 20 minutes.

The steer/shift transmission is coupled directly to the engine and has four forward gears and two reverse as well as a pivot turn capability, a torque converter and lock-up clutch.

The running gear includes seven dual light metal rubber-tired road wheels with the drive sprocket at the rear, idler at the front and four track-return rollers on either side. The first, second, third, sixth and seventh road wheel stations are provided with hydraulic shock absorbers. Steel-reinforced rubber skirts for the top of the tracks can be folded vertically for maintenance. Track skirts increase ballistic protection and reduce the amount of dust that is kicked up.

The nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) warfare system is installed at the front of the hull and produces an overpressure in the crew compartment. In normal use, the system provides the crew with fresh air. In the NBC mode, it filters contaminated particles by separate purification processes.

Standard equipment includes an automatic fire-detection and extinguishing system, heater, hull escape hatch and infrared reflection-suppressing decontamination paint.

There are two fording shafts available: one for depths of 7 ft 5 in (2.25 m), the other for fording to a depth of 13 ft 1 in (4 m). Air for combustion is drawn down through the shaft and exhaust leaves through the usual exhaust pipes. A hydraulic system controls the engine combustion air intakes, dust ejection blower valves of the combustion air cleaners, exhaust flaps of the engine and heater, pressure ventilation in the engine compartment as well as the dust ejection valves and the air intake of the NBC system. Two bilge pumps remove any water that enters the vehicle.

The Leopard 1 is armed with a BAE Systems L7A3 105-mm rifled cannon, which consists of a single-piece barrel with a screwed-on breech ring and a bore evacuator. The semi-automatic breech mechanism automatically opens after each round is fired, ejecting the empty cartridge case into the spent cartridge container under the breech. Sixty rounds are carried: 42 in the hull and 18 in the turret.

A 7.62-mm Rheinmetall MG3 machine gun is mounted coaxially and a second 7.62-mm MG3 machine gun is mounted at the commander's or loader's station. Four electrically operated 76-mm smoke grenade launchers are mounted on either side of the turret.

The Leopard 2 succeeded the Leopard 1 in German service. Many Leopard 1s remain in service in other countries.



In service.

The first production model was delivered to the German army in September 1965. Initial operational capability (IOC) followed later that year. Production ended in 1984 with more than 4,000 built. An additional 720 were built under license in Italy by Oto Melara, Fiat and Lancia.

After the November 1990 signing of the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, the Netherlands announced that it would transfer 170 of its Leopard 1 tanks to the Portuguese army. Also as a result of the CFE treaty, approximately 400 German Leopard 1s were destined for Denmark, Greece and Turkey. In addition, 92 Leopards were upgraded to 1A5 standard and sold to Norway for US$76.5 million.

In 1997, Brazil purchased 128 Belgian Leopard 1s, the last of which were delivered in 1999.

In 1998, Chile procured 200 Leopard 1-V tanks from the Netherlands. The first batch of 14 tanks was delivered in January 1999. Before delivery, the vehicles were fitted with the PZB-200 image-intensification night-vision system.

In 1998, Greece signed a contract covering 170 surplus German Leopard 1A5s.

By early 1999, the German army had withdrawn its Leopard 1s from frontline service, though some were still used by reserve units.

In August 2005, Greece agreed to buy 183 surplus Leopard 2A4 and 150 Leopard 1A5 tanks from Germany in a US$186 million deal.

In December 2007, the Belgian Defense Ministry announced an agreement to supply 43 used Leopard 1 tanks to Lebanon in 2008. The deal was worth 3.3 million euros (US$4.2 million). In November 2010, it was reported that the tanks had not yet been delivered due to the lack of an export license from Germany. As of the latest update, it is not clear if the tanks have been delivered.

In January 2009, it was reported that Chile planned to sell 30 Leopard 1 tanks to Ecuador. The value of the deal was not made public, but it was believed to reflect a unit cost of US$500,000. As of the latest update, this deal has not been confirmed.

In August 2009, Brazil purchased 220 Leopard 1A5 tanks from Germany for border defense duties at a unit cost of US$500,000. The procurement was part of Brazil's National Defense Strategy, which was approved by President Luiz Inacio Da Silva in December 2008. Deliveries were scheduled to begin within three months, with the first batch slated to be deployed in Santa Maria in Brazil's southernmost Rio Grande do Sul state. Brazil's existing inventory of Leopard 1A1 tanks were to be reassigned once the 1A5s were delivered. Negotiations for the purchase began in 2006.

Krauss-Maffei Wegmann delivered the first of 220 Leopard 1A5 tanks on Oct. 28, 2009, to the Brazilian army at its facility in Kassel, Germany. The tanks were taken from reserve German army stocks, where they had been stored since being decommissioned in 2003. KMW was awarded a contract to overhaul the tanks and install specific Brazilian sub-systems. The tanks are fitted with a main gun thermal sleeve; gun stabilization; new tracks and skirts; and the EMES-18 fire-control system and thermal sights. Deliveries were completed in January 2012. The Leopard 1A5s have been assigned to the 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th tank regiments, as well as training centers.

On Nov. 12, 2009, Turkish officials said that Aselsan had completed upgrades of 171 Leopard 1A1 and 1A4 tanks. The modernization included the installation of the Turkish Volkan fire-control system, which increases first-hit probability, in day and night conditions.

In late 2011, Colombia sent technical teams to Chile to inspect Leopard 1s for the possible purchase of up to 60 of the tanks. Chile intends to retire its fleet of Leopard 1s following the procurement of Leopard 2 tanks.

On Nov. 2, 2011, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann announced it had signed a multi-million dollar industrial logistic support contract with Brazil to provide technical support for Brazilian Leopard 1A5 tanks over five years. Work is being conducted by the KMW subsidiary in Santa Maria, Brazil.

Canada is expected to retire its Leopard 1s (known as Leopard C2 tanks) by 2015.


 Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, Munich, Germany
 Krupp-MaK, Kiel, Germany


 Belgium                   [30] 1A5
 Brazil                    [348] (128 1A1BE, 220 1A5BR)
 Canada                    [61] C2
 Chile                     [122]
 Denmark                   [7] 1A5
 Ecuador                   [30] 1V
 Greece                    [526] 1A4/1A5
 Italy                     [120] 1A5
 Turkey                    [397] (170 1A4, 227 1A3)


   Total                   4 (commander, gunner, loader, driver)

   Leopard 1A1
      unloaded             85,319 lb (38,700 kg)
      combat               88,185 lb (40,000 kg)
      ground pressure      12.23 lb/sq in (0.86 kg/cm sq)
   Leopard 1A4
      unloaded             89,066 lb (40,400 kg)
      combat               93,476 lb (42,400 kg)
      ground pressure      12.51 lb/sq in (0.88 kg/cm sq)

      hull                 23 ft  3 in (7.09 m)
      gun forward          31 ft  4 in (9.54 m)
   Height                   8 ft  7 in (2.61 m)
      overall              11 ft  1 in (3.37 m)
      over tracks          10 ft  8 in (3.25 m)
      length on ground     13 ft 11 in (4.24 m)
      width                 1 ft 10 in (0.55 m)
   Ground clearance         1 ft  5 in (0.44 m)

   Engine                 MTU MB 838 Ca M500 2,282-cu in (37.4-liter)
                             liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, prechamber,
                             intercooled, turbocharged V-10 multi-fuel
   Power                  830 hp at 2,200 rpm
   Fuel capacity          252 gallons (955 liters)
   Transmission           ZF 4 HP 250 planetary shifter with hydraulic
                             torque converter; 4 forward/2 reverse
   Leopard 1A1
      power-to-weight ratio
                           20.75 hp/metric ton
   Leopard 1A4
      power-to-weight ratio
                           19.58 hp/metric ton

   Type                    torsion bar, 7 road wheels, rear drive (12-
                              tooth sprocket), front idler, 5 shock
                              absorbers (bump travel 9 in/227 mm,
                              rebound travel 5-6 in/128-156 mm), 4
                              return rollers

      Leopard 1A1          40 mph (65 kmh)
      Leopard 1A4          39 mph (62 kmh)
      road                 373 mi (600 km)
      cross-country        280 mi (450 km)
      vertical              3 ft  9 in (1.15 m)
      trench                9 ft 10 in (3.00 m)
      unprepared            3 ft 11 in (1.20 m)
      with preparation      7 ft  5 in (2.25 m)
      snorkel              13 ft  1 in (4.00 m)
   Gradient                60 percent
   Side slope              30 percent

   Main                    1 x 105-mm/51-caliber L7A3 rifled gun fitted
                              with fume extractor and thermal sleeve
      elevation            -9/+20 deg
      rate of elevation    5.3 deg/sec
      traverse             360 deg
      rate of traverse     23 deg/sec
      ammunition           60 rounds, 18 ready in turret (Leopard 1A1)
                           55 rounds, 13 ready in turret (Leopard 1A4)
                           59 rounds (Australian, Danish Leopards)
   Coaxial                 1 x 7.62-mm machine gun
      ammunition           1,250 rounds
   Anti-aircraft           1 x 7.62-mm air defense machine gun
      ammunition           4,250 rounds

   Rangefinder             TEM 2A optical (Leopard 1A1) turret fully
                              stabilized (A3, A4); retrofit of earlier
                              AEG-Telefunken FLER-H modular hybrid
                              computer (1A4 Krupp-Atlas)
   Fire control            FLP-10/EMES 18 integrated fire control
                              system with Zeiss thermal imaging system
                              retrofitted to approximately 1,300 German
                              Leopard 1A1/1A2s; several other countries
                              have SABCA fire-control system with
                              analog computer, laser rangefinder,
                              integral optical sight and seven sensors
                              monitoring atmospheric, gun and vehicle

      glacis               70 mm at 60-deg
      hull glacis top      25 mm at 83-deg
      hull nose            70 mm at 55-deg
      hull sides           25-35 mm
      hull rear            25 mm at 88 deg
      hull top             10 mm
      hull bottom          15 mm
      turret mantlet       60 mm
      turret sides         60 mm
      turret rear          60 mm
      turret front         52 mm
   NBC                     collective
   Fire                    automatic extinguishing system
   Smoke                   2 x 4-barrel 3-in (76-mm) smoke generators,
                             one each side of turret
   Infrared                paint reflects IR


Leopard 1A1

These are refitted Leopard 1s with a thermal sleeve on the gun, new tracks and track skirts. Gun stabilization in both axes is fitted to improve first shot hit probability, particularly while on the move. The stabilization system controls the gun in elevation and traverse, allowing the gunner to observe the terrain, acquire and engage the target while moving.

Leopard 1A1A1

This is an updated Leopard 1A1 with 1,675 lb (760 kg) of Blohm and Voss add-on armor and air intake filters. The armor consists of flexibly mounted, screwed-on steel armor plates with two-faced rubber lining. The armor also covers the turret bustle back. The gun shield is reinforced with steel plates. Armor plates are also welded on to the sloped front roof section.

Leopard 1A1A1s with the PZB-200 LLLTV system were designated Leopard 1A1A2.

Leopard 1A2

This is the Leopard 1A1 with passive night-vision equipment, improved NBC equipment and a stronger cast turret. A total of 232 were built from 1A1s as part of the fifth production batch.

Leopard 1A3

This variant incorporated a new welded turret with wedge-shaped mantlet and stowage basket. The result was a larger turret with squared-off profile. The German army acquired 110. Australian and Canadian 1A3s have the Belgian SABCA fire-control system, which is also fitted to Belgian Leopards; Greek and Turkish 1A3s have EMES 12A3 FCS and PZB 200 low-light-level television (LLLTV) systems. Greece bought 106 in 1981, and Turkey purchased 81. Denmark obtained 103 from German stocks in the mid-1970s.

Leopard 1A4

This was the final production model of the Leopard 1. It incorporates features of the Leopard 1A3 and has the AEG-Telefunken FLER-H fire-control system. It includes vertical, air data and powder temperature sensors. Four ammunition ballistic profiles can be chosen. There were 250 built for the German army. Some 150 German 1A4s were subsequently sold to Turkey in 1988; delivery was made after refitting to the Turkish 1A3 level. Deliveries to Turkey were completed in 1991.

Leopard 1A5

The Leopard 1A5 is a refitted 1A1/1A2 tank with Krupp-Atlas EMES-18 FCS and Zeiss thermal-imaging system. Six main ammunition and 7.62-mm MG ballistic profiles are available.Seven sensors are provided, as are integrated sights for gunner and commander. The first converted tanks were delivered to the German army in 1986; about 1,300 were delivered through 1992. A batch of 75 was subsequently diverted to the Greek army. Seventy-eight Norwegian tanks were upgraded in 1989-1990; the upgrade also applied to 26 of 92 ex-German Leopards transferred in 1992-1993. Denmark modernized its Leopards to the 1A5 configuration. Norway, which had received 92 Leopard 1s from Germany, upgraded 33 of them to the 1A5 configuration. Twenty-two Greek Leopard 1s were upgraded to the 1A5 standard under a 2001 contract, and another 82 were to be delivered to Greece under an offset agreement between Athens and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann.

Australian Leopards

In late 2003, the Australian Defense Organization reported that Canberra would replace its Leopard 1 main battle tanks as a result of the latest Defense Capability Review. According to Lt. Gen. Peter Leahy, the former chief of the Australian army: "The Leopard is an aging tank. We have growing concerns of its survivability on any type of battlefield on which we might be engaged in the future." The Leopards were ultimately replaced with U.S. M1A1 Abrams tanks.

Belgian Leopard update

Belgium placed its first order for Leopard 1 tanks in 1967, becoming the first NATO country to do so. The Belgian tanks had their MG3 machine guns replaced by FN 7.62-mm MAG weapons plus some minor stowage changes. From 1975, the tanks were fitted with stowage boxes similar to those on the Dutch Leopards, a thermal sleeve for the main armament and the HR Textron sterilization system. These same units were also fitted with the SABCA FCS , which was also adopted by Canada and Australia. In 1974, a Cadillac Gage stabilization system built under license by Feinmechanische Werke Mainz was fitted. SABCA Cobelda integrated fire-control systems with laser rangefinder and ballistic computer were installed in 120 tanks beginning in 1974; the remaining 214 tanks were retrofitted in 1980-1985.

A 1988 program involved SABCA and OIP-Optics incorporating GEC Avionics thermal imaging system in the gunner's primary sight (GPS ) for 334 Belgian Leopard 1s. The system had 5.2- and 11.7-power settings. Sight, turret and mirror drive were modified and a muzzle reference sensor was added. There were plans to up-armor the turret, increasing the weight by 1,675 lb (760 kg) and strengthen track skirts. First prototype of the upgraded Leopard was delivered to the Belgian army in October 1988. First delivery of 29 tanks occurred in 1993.

The Belgian Leopard 1A5 (BE) upgrade program that began in the early 1990s called for the modification of 132 tanks with deliveries completed by mid-1997.

There were 202 Leopards taken out of Belgian service and offered for sale on the export market. Brazil and Chile bought most of them. Improvements included the addition of new armored day/night sight mounted on the top right of the turret. The tanks also received the German army's electro-hydraulic package supplied by Feinmechanische Werke Mainz (FWM), which acted as one of the main contractors on the program. SABCA of Belgium was the systems integrator for the new fire-control system, the new thermal imaging sight (TIS) and muzzle reference system (MRS). This modification was accomplished at the Belgian army's Rocourt Arsenal.

Three Belgian tank battalions were equipped with the newly modified 1A5s. These included the French-speaking 1st Lancers at Marche-en-Famenne, the Dutch-speaking 2/4th Lancers at Leopoldsburg and the combined Armor Cavalry School/Guides Regiment Leopoldsburg. Each battalion was to be allocated 40 tanks; the remaining 12 will be used for training and reserve.

Belgium plans to replace its Leopard 1s with a smaller number of Piranha 8 x 8 vehicles armed with a 90-mm gun.

Chilean Leopard 1

Chile ordered 200 used Dutch Leopard 1-V tanks in 1998. The tanks were equipped with the PZB 200 image-intensification night-vision system prior to delivery.

Dutch Leopard 1-V (Verbeterd)

Netherlands ordered 468 Leopard 1s in the late 1960s, with deliveries ending in 1972. All were upgraded in the Netherlands; once modified they were designated as the Leopard 1-V (Veretered or Improved). The program was completed in December 1987. Principal system changes include:
  • Honeywell AG ASFL-2 automatic fire control system with laser rangefinder.
  • Zeiss EMES 12A3 AFSL-2 (Dutch configuration) gunner's optical rangefinder (especially to support British L52 APDS ammunition ).
  • Blohm and Voss add-on armor identical to that fitted on to the Leopard 1A1A1 of the German army also was added.
  • Dutch Leopards have many components of Dutch manufacture including radios, smoke grenade dischargers and stowage panniers.
All Dutch Leopard 1s have been phased out of service. About 170 of these vehicles were transferred to Greece, free of charge. An additional 92 were transferred to Norway.

Italian Upgrade

Italy ordered 600 Leopard 1 tanks in the early 1970s, of which 308 were manufactured in Germany and the remainder in Italy. Otobreda built 161 specialized versions of the Leopard 1 -- 68 ARVs, 29 AEVs and 64 ALVBs.

Italy upgraded its Leopard 1A2s with Barr & Stroud SIRIO thermal fire-control system, a gun-stabilization system and a GEO Drive 90 turret-drive system. The initial upgrade included 120 tanks. A total of 400 tanks were to be upgraded. Italy's Leopard 1 tanks, including 600 A2s and 120 A5s, were retired from service by the end of 2008. The specialized ARV, AEV and ALVB variants remained in service.

Dutch Leopard 1 engineering vehicle

The Netherlands continues to use a small number of engineering vehicles based on the Leopard 1 chassis with its artillery, cavalry and engineering units. The vehicle is equipped with a crane; vehicle-recovery system; bulldozer; electrical welding and cutting equipment; and fascines for bridging missions.

Gepard Flak Panzer

See separate database entry.

Biber Bridgelayer

This vehicle, based on the Leopard 1 chassis, carries a two-section bridge in which the bottom half brought forward and joined to the upper half. See separate database entry.

Bergepanzer 2 and Pionierpanzer 1

Similar combat support vehicles built by Krupp-MaK. See separate database entries.

Leopard 1 with 120-mm gun

For trials purposes, a Leopard 1 was fitted with the Rheinmetall L44 120-mm cannon (the same one as mounted in the Leopard 2 ). The upgrade never advanced beyond the prototype stage.

Future Beach Recovery Vehicle

Hugglunds Moelv, Norway, won a contract in 1999 from the U.K. Defense Procurement Agency for future beach recovery vehicles (FBRVs) using a modified Leopard 1 chassis to replace the Centurion beach armored recovery vehicle (BARV). Prototype completed in 2001. A total of four FBRVs were delivered.


This is a modified Leopard 1 chassis with a BLG-60 AVLB bridge and launching system, built by NFW, Germany.

Firefighting vehicle (Jumbo - Tank PHF 20T)

Built on a Leopard 1 chassis by GLS and Pietzch. Four sold to Argentina.

Chilean-developed Leopard 1 variants

The Chilean government-owned company FAMAE established a program in 2003 to provide specialized Leopard 1 variants to the Chilean army. These conversions include two breech opener/tube fascines layer engineering vehicles for use on marshy terrain. They can also be equipped with a bulldozer blade or Pearson Engineering mine-clearing device. Three other Leopard 1s have been converted into bridge transporter engineering vehicles.

Leopard C2

Under a project begun in 2000, the Canadian army Leopard C1 main battle tanks (MBT ) were upgraded to the C2 standard to extend their service lives. The C2 is fitted with a complete Leopard 1A5 turret, purchased from Germany. It is armed with a fully stabilized L7A3 105-mm rifled cannon, which is capable of accurate firing while in motion. Secondary armament includes two 7.62-mm machine guns, one mounted coaxially, the other on the top of the turret.


Due to the CFE treaty, a large number of Leopard 1 tanks have been transferred. The transfer of Leopards to Chile and Brazil from Belgium and Holland are examples of such shifts.


The first combat action for the Leopard 1 came under U.N. colors. A Danish tank troop repeatedly came under fire from Serbian guns from the time they landed in the Bosnian battleground in June 1993. After several months of delays, the Danish tanks moved to Tuzla to support the open city.

Serb gunners repeatedly sniped at the Danish contingent, destroying four armored personnel carriers in two months. On April 30, 1994, the Danish tank commander had had enough. When Serbian gunners assaulted a U.N. outpost, the Danish tankers hit back with the heaviest Danish action since 1943. Leopard gunners let off more than 70 105-mm rounds, destroying several guns and detonating an ammunition dump.

Canada deployed a company of Leopard C2 tanks to Afghanistan in late September 2006. The tanks were fitted with MEXAS add-on composite armor for improved protection against rocket-propelled grenades and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Problems with the heat and the age of the vehicles ultimately led to a decision to buy surplus Dutch Leopard 2 tanks as a replacement. Twenty Leopard 2A6M tanks were leased by Canada from Germany for service in Afghanistan until the Dutch tanks could complete a refurbishment program. These arrived in August 2007. As of May 2009, some Leopard C2s remained in theater since the 2A6Ms had not yet been adapted to accept dozer-blade, mine-plow or mine-roller attachments. The C2s were withdrawn once the Canadian 2A6Ms were adapted to carry the necessary attachments.

LATEST UPDATE: 1 August 2012

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