Below the Turret Ring: Leopard 2 Projects

The blog Below the Turret Ring has written a new post taking a look at some of the latest upgrade projects for the Leopard 2 MBT.

Below the Turret Ring: Leopard 2 projects

In April 2015 the German Army announced it’s plans to increase the operational Leopard 2 fleet by 103 tanks. Since then not a lot has happened, as revealed in official documents and in newspaper articles from the Februrary of 2017. At least some of the tanks are currently owned by the German defence industry, so the government has to buy them back – but no contract has been signed within nearly two years of planning. The Leopard 2A4 main battle tank (MBT) is an improved version from the mid/late 1980s of the original Leopard 2 tank. By modern standards it has outdated armor, a short gun with inferior armor penetration and range, while lacking of modern electronics, optronics and relying on the more dangerous hydraulic systems instead of using electric drives.

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Leopard 2 tanks in long-term storage

Original reports from last year expected 84 of the new tanks to be upgraded to the Leopard 2A7 or the improved Leopard 2A7V configuration. The costs for buying and upgrading the tanks are expected to be about 760 million Euros, the contract might be signed before summer of 2017; if not the whole program might be delayed by another year due to the German elections in September 2017. The reason for the current delays is a disagreement between the two companies Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and Rheinmetall. Current workshare plans see about a third of the work (and the money) going to Rheinmetall, but the company demands more. Rheinmetall acquired the military division of Maschiennebau Kiel (MaK) in 1990, which was responsible for manufacturing 45% of all German Leopard 2 tanks. Rheinmetall is also a major subcontractor for the main armament, delivering the L/55 smoothbore gun for the tank.

Click here to go to the full blog post

Book Alert: Early US Armor: Tanks 1916–40 (New Vanguard)

It’s a double dose of Steven Zaloga today for those that collect Osprey Books titles.  In addition to his new Duel book on the BT-7 and Pz 38, today also saw the release of his new title in the New Vanguard Series: Early US Armor: Tanks 1916–40 (New Vanguard).  This book follows the same format as other New Vanguard titles, being a softcover of 48 pages.  Illustrations for this book are by Felipe Rodríguez Náñez (aka Felipe Rodna).

Publisher’s Description:

Between the two world wars, the United States contributed significantly to the evolution of the tank, a weapon invented by the British and the French seeking to break through the lines of German trenches. From the employment of the French Renault FT and British Mark V during their involvement in World War I, the United States branched out with its own indigenous designs, including the M1 Cavalry Car and the M2 Light and Medium tanks, the precursors to the Stuart and Grant tanks of World War II. Tank designers in this period faced unique challenges, and the story of early American armor is littered with failures among the successes.

Featuring previously unpublished photos and fully illustrated throughout, Early American Armor (1): Tanks 1916–40 is essential reading for anyone interested in American armor, or in the development of tank design.

Early US Armor: Tanks 1916–40 is available from Amazon here.

Book Alert: Panzer 38(t) vs BT-7: Barbarossa 1941 (Duel)

Osprey books has released a new entry in the Duel Series of softcover books. Panzer 38(t) vs BT-7: Barbarossa 1941 (Duel) by Steven Zaloga takes a look at these two iconic tanks of the early WWII period.  Those familiar with the Duel Series will know what to expect.  This book is 80 pages with plenty of color images and black and white photos.

Publisher’s Description:

The tank battles in the Soviet Union during the summer of 1941 were the largest in World War II, exceeding even the more famous Prokhorovka encounter during the Kursk campaign. Indeed, they were the largest tank battles ever fought.

This book examines two evenly matched competitors in this conflict, the German Panzer 38(t) and the Soviet BT-7. Both were of similar size, armed with guns of comparable firepower, and had foreign roots–the Panzer 38(t) was a Czechoslovak design and the BT-7 was an evolution of the American Christie tank. With full-color artwork and archive and present-day photography, this absorbing study assesses the strengths and limitations of these two types against the wider background of armored doctrine in the opening phases of Operation Barbarossa.

Panzer 38(t) vs BT-7: Barbarossa 1941 is available from Amazon here.

A Military, Political and Global History of Armoured Warfare: An Interview with Alaric Searle

Alaric SearleWe recently had the chance to pose a few questions to Dr. Alaric Searle, Professor of Modern European History at the University of Salford Manchester and author of the new book Armoured Warfare: A Military, Political and Global History.  His book is an impressive work, encapsulating over 100 years of AFV history into a single volume of just over 250 pages.  While there are many books that trace the technical development of armored vehicles, this book places the history of the tank within a broader historical perspective, examining its impact in not only the military realm, but also the political and economic.

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How did you become interested in the topic of armored warfare?

While I was an undergraduate studying History at Edinburgh University, I took a course on the Great War in my final year. This led to my discovery of the writings of J.F.C. Fuller, so I then decided to write a final year dissertation on the British Tank Corps in the First World War.

You state in the preface of Armoured Warfare: A Military, Political and Global History that this book was the result of your experience teaching the subject at University. What are some of the biggest challenges in terms of the preconceived ideas or lack of knowledge that students bring to the class room regarding armored warfare?

Possibly the biggest challenge is encouraging the students to move away from old and very dated works, very specifically memoirs such as Heinz Guderian’s Panzer Leader. As I have been researching German military history for around twenty years, I am fully aware of the latest German research. The students cannot usually access this research, so it often takes some persuading to change some of their idealized views of German commanders. The other challenge is to communicate to the students that there were conflicts beyond Europe and that that experience is as interesting and significant as some of the more well-known wars and campaigns. This said, we do have some very good students at Salford, so I am often surprised at how much the students already know.

The book takes a rather broad “global” approach to the subject. Was it a challenge to condense the topic down into a book that was of reasonable length?

There is a simple answer to that question – yes! While it is always possible to condense chapters and text, what I did find was that some explanations became unclear, so I had to return to the manuscript later and clear up some of the lack of precision by adding in more explanation. What was most irritating with the word length was that one or two conflicts simply could not be included. The two most obvious ones are the Soviet-Finnish Winter War of 1939-40 and the Indo-Pakistan wars. If there is a second edition of the book, then I will definitely include those conflicts.

Were there topics addressed in the book you would like to return to in a later work in more detail?

Oh, yes. I am currently working on an article comparing war elephants and tanks. I delivered an early version of this idea to a seminar at Oxford University last year. The reaction was very positive, so this has encouraged me to expand my talk into a longer article. Some of the ideas I developed in the final chapter on the visual history of the tank I would likewise want to turn into some articles. And, I am working on a full-length monograph re-examining the military theories of Major-General J.F.C. Fuller. So, there is going to be more work on this subject appearing over the next two or three years from my pen.

Typically with books about armor, the cover photo features a Tiger tank or something along those lines. Your book has a rather interesting photo of what looks like a location in Vietnam with some M113 troop carriers and a helicopter taken from the roof of an M48.  Is there a reason for why that particular photo is on the cover? [Read more…]

Tank Chats #33 Panzer III

The Tank Museum presents another installment of “tank chats.”  This episode features museum curator David Willey describing the late model Panzer III tank that resides at the Tank Museum.  For more information on this vehicle, we recommend the recently released Haynes Manual on the Panzer III by Dick Taylor.

Photo of the Day: “Five of Hearts”

Today’s POTD is of the Renault FT tank on display at the Ft. George Meade Museum in Maryland. This particular tank, nick-named the Five of Hearts, served with the 2nd Platoon, Co. C, 344th Tank Battalion during the Meuse-Argonne fighting on 4 October 1918. This photo comes from the Facebook page of Steven Zaloga who notes that the camouflage scheme is more typical of the post-war US experimental schemes than the wartime French colors.

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AFV News from around the Web

Some articles and videos concerning AFVs from the past week.  Click on the headline to go to the full piece.

  

U.S. Department of Defense – Army Unit Bolsters Abrams Tanks With ‘Reactive’ Armor

170228-A-ZZ999-777GRAFENWOEHR TRAINING AREA, Germany, March 7, 2017 — Tank and maintenance crews from the 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment assigned here are giving their M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks a buffed-up look that improves the tanks’ overall defensive capabilities.  The crews, with the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, which is serving as the initial ABCT rotational force in support of Atlantic Resolve, began installing the Abrams Reactive Armor Tile system Feb. 28 to tank hulls and turrets.
  

Financial Review – (Australian) Army’s plans for more and better tanks

1488852550924As the Defence Department gears into “new and enhanced capability”, spending around $195 billion over the next 10 years, most people are aware of the large-scale builds: the Air Warfare Destroyers, the 12 future submarines, the future frigates and Australia’s step into the aviation future with 72 F-35 stealth fighters.  Less well known is the resurgence of a defence technology which has not made many headlines for the past 45 years: the main battle tank.
  
 

IHS Jane’s 360 – More details of Russia’s Bumerang emerge

1634514_-_mainRussia has released additional details of its latest Bumerang (Boomerang) family of wheeled 8×8 armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) that are the long-term replacement for the currently deployed BTR-80 8×8 amphibious armoured personnel carrier (APC).  The Bumerang chassis has the designation VPK-7829, with the infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) variant designated the K-17 and the APC model is designated the K-16 (while under development the vehicle was referred to as the Gilza, which is Russian for ‘cartridge’).
  
 

Haaretz – Israel’s First Would-be Female Tank Troops Start Their Arduous Training

1008288172Israel’s first women seeking to become tank-crew members started the process this week as Israel strives to join countries like Norway, Canada and Australia on the short list of states with women in tanks.  At the end of their basic training in mixed-gender battalions, 15 of the women will be selected for a pilot program to see if they are fit to serve in tanks. Selection will be based in large part on motivation and physical fitness.  In light of certain rabbis’ and reserve officers’ wariness about women serving in the military and/or the Armored Corps, the army’s pushing of the process seems to be sending a message in support of women in combat.
  
 

IHS Jane’s 360 – Lazar III enters service

p1682693_-_mainYugoimport’s Lazar 3 8×8 MultiRole Armoured Combat Vehicle has entered service with Serbia in the armoured personnel carrier (APC) configuration.  The vehicle has a welded steel chassis to which its monocoque steel hull – which features spall liners – is bolted. In its baseline form the vehicle has all round ballistic protection to Standardization Agreement (STANAG) 4569 Level 3, and over the frontal arc this is increased to Level 3+. Mine protection is to STANAG 4569 Level 3a and 3b, and the floor has two levels of protection.