Kondor Gallery

© Kondor Gallery 2003
All rights reserved

Leopard Country


Another dusty day in the Campaign Season at Mount Bundy Training Area, Northern Territory.

Two Leopard ASl Main Battle Tanks of I Troop, C Squadron, l" Armoured Regiment roll across the Mary River Floodplain, late in the Northern Territory Dry Season. Part of a four tank troop, the vehicles raise plumes of fine dust as they move into a fire position amongst the termite mounds and eucalypt trees.

With vehicle mounted training in the Northern Territory restricted to the Dry Season, the training of 1st Armoured Regiment crews, troops and squadrons is restricted to a few short, intensive months spread between the training areas of Mount Bundy in the Northern Territory, Cultana in South Australia, Shoal water Bay and Townsville in Queensland. The scene depicted has been replayed many times since the 1st Armoured Regiment moved to the Northern Territory in 1995.

In 1971 the Australian Army decided that the Centurion tank, which had entered service in 1952 was to be replaced. Following visits to the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium and the Federal Republic of Germany, it was announced that two contenders - the American M60AI and the German Leopard 1 would be trialled in Australia.

In 1974, the Leopard I was announced as the winner of the trial and orders were placed for 90 tanks, five Armoured Vehicle Launched Bridges and six Armoured Recovery Vehicles. The number of vehicles allowed for a complete Armoured Regiment, vehicles for the School of Armour and the various logistic training units as well as a pool of spare vehicles that were able to rotate through a rebuild line. A further two Armoured Recovery Vehicles were ordered shortly after. In November 1976, the first two vehicles (Armoured Recovery Vehicles) arrived in the Port of Melbourne and other vehicles soon followed. After conducting conversion training at the School of Armour, the first squadron of 1st Armoured Regiment became operational in April of 1977. The Commanding Officer of the Regiment was Lieutenant Colonel Peter Jarratt.

The challenge facing tank designers is the difficulty in balancing the firepower, protection and mobility factors in design. If a designer increased firepower by including a bigger gun on the tank, the turret got bigger, the tank heavier and mobility suffered. Likewise an increase in protection with more armour meant that the tank got heavier and mobility again suffered. Increasing mobility by placing a bigger engine in the tank meant that the vehicle may physically get bigger, decreasing protection. Added to the physical dilemma facing the design teams were the psychological experiences that World War 2 brought to the different national military thinkers.

Post World War 2 British and American tanks emphasized protection and firepower at the expense of mobility - well armoured, well armed tanks that lacked battlefield agility. Soviet bloc tanks post World War 2 emphasised mobility and firepower at the expense of protection, continuing their World War 2 successes. German tank designers, having already traveled the path of heavily protected, heavily armed tanks instead, for the new Leopard, designed a tank to provide excellent mobility and firepower, arguing that protection is also provided by battlefield agility - the ability to dash to and from cover. The resulting 1957 Leopard design weighed less than a World War 2 Tiger I, Tiger 2 or Panther tank and has much greater mobility as a result.

Powered by an MTU MB 838 lO-cylinder multi-fuel engine, which develops 380 hp at 2,200 rpm the Leopard 1 achieves a power to weight ration of20 horse power per tonne, exceeding easily the existing British (Centurion at 12 horse power per tonne and the Chieftain at 13 horsepower per tonne) and American tanks (M60 at 15 horsepower per tonne) of the period and comparing very favourably to existing Soviet T-54/55 (16 horsepower per tonne) and T-62 tanks (15 horsepower per tonne) of the era.

The first Leopard Is entered service with the Federal German Army in 1965, and following a very successful export program, over 6,500 Leopard I \'s were delivered to a variety of NATO countryes. The Leopard I can claim to be the first Euro tank, with 6 out of 16 NATO nations adopting it as their tank.

The Australian Leopard AS I has improved turret protection in a spaced armour welded turret, and is armed with the British L7A3 105mm gun fitted with a thermal jacket and a fume extractor. Two MG3 7.62mm machine guns are fitted, one eo axially mounted with the main armament and the other as an Anti Aircraft gun able to be fitted to either the commander or operators cupola ring.

The heart of the turret is the SABCA COBELDA Tank Fire Control System. This system comprises an optical sight with an integral laser range-finder, seven sensors and an analogue computer. The computer determines the angles between the line of sight and the gun axis from the information it receives about the range of the target and other variables from a series of sensors. The sensors measure ambient temperature, air pressure, temperature in the ammunition stowage area, gun wear, crosswind, trunnion cant and rate of turret traverse. The crosswind sensor is mounted on the forward part ofthe turret roof, surrounded by a wire cage for protection. The system was upgraded in the late 1990\'s with the Electronic Digital Gunnery Aid. A white light or infrared searchlight is normally fitted on the left hand side of the gun mantlet above the barrel. A 76mm Multi Barrel Smoke Grenade Discharger with four cartridges is fitted to each side of the turret.

Print Specifications

Main Print:

"Leopard Country" Limited Edition
Limited to 0 Prints, Certificate of Authenticity provided
Full colour, 930mm (width) x 690mm (height)


"Leopard Country"
Limited Edition Print

signed by Artist and numbered

Limited to 350 Editions
Price: US$130.00 plus shipping


"Leopard Country"
Limited Edition Print

signed by Artist and numbered

Limited to 35 Proofs
Price: US$195.00 plus shipping


"Leopard Country"
Limited Edition Print

signed by Artist and numbered

Limited to 35 Remarques
Price: US$250.00 plus shipping





Wittmann's Tiger I in Villers-Bocage Wittman's Tiger at Kursk Arado Ar-234B Blitz Centurion - In Country Gustavs over Sola-Stavanger Leopard Country M1A1 AIM SA Abrams - A New Generation