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Category: Armour

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In one of those strange quirks of fate the main enemy in two World Wars, the very people that the tank was invented to overcome, are now the suppliers of the Australian Army's main battle tank. This is a Leopard wearing it's German colours and markings. This is a later, heavier and better gunned version that the one we use. Below is the Australian version.

Fast, agile and very reliable, the Leopard tank has been operated by the 1st Armoured Regiment in all the extremes of Australia's climate and terrain. The Leopard AS1 Gun Tank is the main vehicle of the medium tank family and was acquired by the Australian Army in 1976.

The Leopard is of German origin, but began life as a collaborative idea between the Germans, French and Italians in 1955. The three countries had decided to jointly develop a new tank that fitted their collective requirements better than the available overseas designs. The joint tank project was dubbed the Europanzer and the design was to be based on two main criteria - mobility and firepower.

Between 1955 and 1962 both the French and the Italians were to withdraw from the project leaving the Germans to continue development alone. Initially this resulted in the Porsche Standardpanzer which by 1962 was equipped with the British 105mm L7A3 tank gun, considered to be the most formidable tank gun then in existence.

What started out as the Europanzer joint project had, by late 1962, evolved into the German Standardpanzer and on 1 October that year, the new tank was officially christened the Leopard. The name continued the German tradition of calling their armoured fighting vehicles after wild animals.

In particular, the name Leopard followed on from the legendary tanks of WW2 named after big cats - the Tiger and Panther. The German Ministry of Defence awarded Krauss-Maffei of Munich the production management contract for the Leopard tank in 1963, with many other German companies manufacturing components. The turret was manufactured by Wegmann, who amalgamated with Krauss-Maffei to form KMW as the company is known today

By the time of Australia's decision to purchase Leopard, an improved fire-control system was optimised by SABCA of Belgium and fitted to the Australian Leopard. The Leopard 1 Gun Tank is one of the region's most advanced fighting vehicles and it is the main fighting vehicle of the Royal Australian Armoured Corps.




4: Crew Commander, Gunner, Operator, Driver


9.54m (with gun in combat position)




2.62m (4.8m with radio aerials)


MTU supercharged V-10, (37.4 litres)

Fuel Capacity

985 litres

Hull Armour


Turret Armour


Main Armament

L7A3 105mm rifled gun

The tank provides heavy and direct firepower against enemy targets. Its main armament is a 105mm gun which can fire high explosive, armour-piercing, anti-personnel and smoke ammunition.

The main gun can engage a pin point target at distances up to 2500m and area targets up to 8000m.

As with other members of the Leopard family, the gun tank is powered by a V-10 four stroke, supercharged diesel engine developing 610kW.

It has a maximum speed of about 62km/h and can "snorkel" through water.

There are four specialist variants of the Leopard including:

  • Armoured Vehicle Launcher Bridge (AVLB)
  • Armoured Recovery Vehicle - Medium (ARVM)
  • Medium Battle Tank Dozer (MBTD)
  • Medium Battle Tank Mine Clearer (MBTMC)
  • Medium Battle Tank Mine Plough (MBTMP)



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Digger History:  an unofficial history of the Australian & New Zealand Armed Forces