TAMIYA’S ALL-NEW LEOPARD 2A7V

This new-tool 1/35 Leopard 2A7V from Tamiya is an absolute delight.

Above: The turret top is superb, the textured sections are well rendered, while locating points and openings for the optics highlight Tamiya’s slightly different approach with this kit.
Above: The turret top is superb, the textured sections are well rendered, while locating points and openings for the optics highlight Tamiya’s slightly different approach with this kit.

It’s always a surprise here at Key Model World to receive one of Tamiya’s ‘white-box’ pre-production samples, courtesy of importer The Hobby Company, in part as you never know what’s inside! On this instance, the contents were an advance copy of the newly tooled – and soon to be available – 1/35 Leopard 2A7V.

This new variant is in service with the German Bundeswehr. Although at first glance it seems to be an upgrade on the baseline 2A7, with at least 100 on order, these are both new builds and conversions from older versions, such as the 2A6. Improvements include additional rear-view optics to increase situational awareness, rearranged hull stowage, upgraded main 120mm smoothbore armament and associated fire-control system plus extra armour protection, notably on the glacis.

Above: The link-and-length-tracks feature clever design, with inner and outer halves for each section, while the links are workable.
Above: The link-and-length-tracks feature clever design, with inner and outer halves for each section, while the links are workable.

Despite the real tanks being a mix of new production and modified vehicles, Tamiya took the opportunity to give the parts on its earlier Leopard 2A5 and 2A6 kits a complete refresh, with this state-of-the-art offering (35387) presented on ten styrene runners. These are joined by a photo-etched metal fret for the engine grilles and hull/turret stowage boxes plus a self-adhesive mask set for the tank’s targeting optics and vision blocks.

Above: Neat two-piece jigs are provided for the turret baskets to aid shaping the photo-etched metal mesh.
Above: Neat two-piece jigs are provided for the turret baskets to aid shaping the photo-etched metal mesh.
Above: Rather than a one-piece lower hull, Tamiya supplies it as a five-part unit to maximise detail – the side panels are moulded beautifully, with robust locations for the running gear and suspension.
Above: Rather than a one-piece lower hull as in previous kits, Tamiya supplies this sub-assembly as a five-part unit to maximise detail – the side sections are moulded beautifully, with robust locations for the running gear and suspension.

As expected from Tamiya, the engineering is superb, with robust locating tabs for the lower hull components and side skirts, while the exterior detail is highly refined, notably for the hull-top anti-slip pads and larger sections for the upper turret. Similarly, the turret-mounted air conditioning unit and NBC protection system ‘boxes’ are straightforward to assemble, with both also receiving track grousers (mounted on the front of the tank in earlier variants). The stowage bins are arguably one of the kit’s standout elements, with each of the turret units having its own jig to shape the PE mesh correctly... if that wasn’t enough, there’s even a folded tarpaulin for the turret top.

Above: Exterior moulding is excellent, from the crisp hinges and clasps to the textured anti-slip ‘pads’.
Above: Exterior moulding on the upper hull is excellent, from the crisp hinges and clasps to the textured anti-slip ‘pads’.
Above: Another change – and one that’s most welcome – is the provision of the main gun barrel as a one-piece item, negating the need for seam neatening.
Above: Another change – and one that’s most welcome – is the provision of the main gun barrel as a one-piece item, negating the need for seam neatening.

Tracks are supplied in link-and-length format and while the parts breakdown – upper and lower halves for each length – might at first appear unusual, it enables Tamiya to incorporate finer detail without resorting to time-consuming multi-part individual link format. Of note, the links are three-piece units, which allows for some flexibility when attaching them around the drive and idler wheels.

Above: Tamiya is well known for neat touches in its kits, such as this folded (and secured) tarpaulin for the turret top.
Above: Tamiya is well known for neat touches in its kits, such as this folded (and secured) tarpaulin for the turret top.

Assembly is conventional, starting with a four-part lower hull that includes a cross-member/bulkhead to provide structural rigidity; this then acts as a mount for the suspension, running gear and tracks. Only then is the rear hull plate added. Note, this approach is different to Tamiya’s previous Leopard 2A5 and 2A6 kits, which used a single-piece lower hull and attached the rear hull panel almost immediately.

Above: Track grousers are provided in blocks for mounting on the rear of the turret air conditioning and NBC ‘boxes’ – on earlier versions of the tank these items were located at the front.
Above: Track grousers are provided in blocks for mounting on the rear of the turret air conditioning and NBC ‘boxes’ – on earlier versions of the tank these items were located at the front.

Focus then shifts to the upper hull, with all track guards/skirts and the track overhang ‘ceiling’ parts (these usually being moulded integrally with the lower hull) then added. While this is a more complicated sequence than previous Tamiya offerings, it allows for greater detail on the parts.

Above: A separate underside panel replicates the extra armour plating fitted to Leopard 2A7Vs.
Above: A separate underside panel replicates the extra armour plating fitted to Leopard 2A7Vs.
Above: The separate driver’s hatch has openings for clear glazing to represent the vision blocks – another neat – and welcome – touch from Tamiya.
Above: The separate driver’s hatch has openings for clear glazing to represent the vision blocks – another neat – and welcome, touch from Tamiya.

Once the hull halves are joined, the 2A7V’s additional armour is attached to the front, and it’s here that another difference with earlier Tamiya kits is noted – vision blocks receive separate clear glazing, an aspect that is repeated to greater extent with the turret. Speaking of which, the type’s angular turret is replicated accurately and although no interior detail is provided, there’s plenty to savour on the exterior.

Above: Similarly, the turret side baskets are mixed media: the main frames are supplied in styrene, while the mesh is PE. Note, the large flat ‘panels’ seen here are aids to shaping the PE, they are then removed prior to assembly.
Above: Similarly, the turret side baskets are mixed media: the main frames are supplied in styrene, while the mesh is PE. Note, the large flat ‘panels’ seen here are aids to shaping the PE, they are then removed prior to assembly.

An all-new single-piece main gun barrel is an undoubted highlight – no more joins to tidy here! A separate hollow muzzle makes for a more convincing appearance, while the fume extractor comes as vertically split halves. Again, while assembly is slightly more involved than previous Tamiya armour kits, the resulting sub-unit features improved detail and is well worth the effort.

Above: Roadwheels and drive sprockets are well moulded; bolt heads are crisply detailed, while the drive sprocket is spot-on for a 2A7V.
Above: Roadwheels and drive sprockets are well moulded; bolt heads are crisply detailed, while the drive sprocket is spot-on for a 2A7V.

Turret fittings are the next port of call, and it’s here that the clever two-piece jigs come into play, allowing the modeller to shape the PE stowage box grilles with relative ease. Two drew figures – a commander and loader – are included, and both a three-quarter length, with just the chest, shoulders and head visible once fitted into the turret hatches.

Above: The commander’s pintle-mounted MG 3 machine gun is a splendid miniature, with convincing openings in the cooling jacket, while all the co-axial barrel section lacks is the muzzle being opened.
Above: The commander’s pintle-mounted MG 3 machine gun is a splendid miniature, with convincing openings in the cooling jacket, while all the co-axial barrel section lacks is the muzzle being opened.
Above: Compared to earlier Tamiya tank kits, the clear runner is much busier due to the presence of vision block and targeting/surveillance optics glazing.
Above: Compared to earlier Tamiya tank kits, the clear runner is much busier due to the presence of vision block and targeting/surveillance optics glazing.

Markings are supplied for three Bundeswehr machines: two are assigned to the 393rd Panzer Battalion, 37th Panzer Grenadier Brigade, Frankenhauen, Thuringia, while the third is from the 104th Panzer Battalion. All are clad in standard NATO three-tone camouflage.

Tamiya’s new 1/35 Leopard 2A7V will retail for £59.99 and more details are available via The Hobby Company.