TBuilding the Tamiya Leopard 2 A6 1/35

The Tamiya Leopard 2 kits are generally well engineered.  They are thoughtful enough to include a jig to help you align all the suspension arms for the main road wheels.  However, as I discovered in my first attempt at assembling this kit, the jig is only useful for keeping the suspension arms in a straight line.  It does not insure that the tank is horizontal with the “road” surface.  Also, in both of the kits that I have, the bottom portion of the hull is slightly warped.  The warp is not visible, but it does mean that the hull does not lay flat when resting on a flat surface.

In a complete about face from my usual method of construction, I decided to assemble this kit by following the instructions.  Either I am not skilled enough or I am to compulsive, but my initial attempt left me with an unsatisfactory result.  The tank did not sit parallel to the table top in either aspect; when viewed from the front or from the side.  The sting of having to do this over was made much worse by the cost of another kit.  I am hoping that my suggested revision of the assembly process will allow others to have a more successful and economical result.

As I mentioned above, my two goals are that the tank is parallel to the surface that it rests on and that all the road wheels are in contact with that surface.  The first step is to cement both drive axles (A17) to place.  Next, cement the rear hull piece (B37), Fig. 1.  I have placed a couple of small pieces of plywood on top so that the hull rests flat on the table top.  The upper portion of the hull (B1) goes on next, Fig. 2.  When cementing both the rear and top hull portions, trial fit and then tape to place before cementing.  Tack them together by flowing a bit of liquid cement into the joint taking care to not let the cement run under the tape.  Then remove the tape and reinforce the joints with additional cement.

Building the Tamiya Leopard 2 A6 1/35
Building the Tamiya Leopard 2 A6 1/35

At this stage, the hull is very rigid so nothing is going anywhere.  Because of the nature of the pieces and the assembly process, a small warp may still be present.  The warp is not visible, so it really is of no concern because this process circumvents the minor warp.  I tack cemented three spacers to the bottom of the hull, Fig. 3.  I used my initial attempt at assembly as a guide to the height of the spacers which I determined to be about .145”.  In order to achieve this dimension, I used a .125” and a .020” piece of styrene glued together.  Because of the tripod effect, positioning the three spacers on the bottom of the hull as I have sidesteps the issue of a small warp and insures that the tank will be perfectly parallel to the “road” surface when viewed from the front.

As manufactured, the control arms fit into their locating holes with different degrees of precision.  Some of them are very tight while others have a bit of slop.  With my method, I would prefer that the arm be able to rotate up and down a bit.  The easiest way to free them up is remove a little material off the flat surface of the locating pin, Fig. 4.  This allows the arm to rotate a small amount and still maintain its proper location centered to the hole in the hull.

Building the Tamiya Leopard 2 A6 1/35
Building the Tamiya Leopard 2 A6 1/35

The second and last suspension arms on each side are them cemented in place, Fig. 5.  The arms are cemented in place so that they all are in contact with the surface of the table top.  After these are solid, I used the kit supplied jig to align the remaining arms, Fig. 6.  This method gave me the results that I was looking for as the tank is solid on the ground and quite parallel with the “road” surface.

Building the Tamiya Leopard 2 A6 1/35
Building the Tamiya Leopard 2 A6 1/35

In order to use photoetch grills over the fans, I first cemented the kit supplied pieces in place, then removed the center portion and reduced the height slightly to compensate for the new grills, Fig. 7.  To make it easy to paint, I wanted the skirts in place, but I needed a way to mount the drive sprocket and front idler wheel later.  I only cemented a short center section of the skirt as well as a piece of styrene tubing to maintain the skirt alignment, Fig. 8.

Tamiya Leopard 2 A6 1/35 Stock Grills
Building the Tamiya Leopard 2 A6 1/35

The skirt can then be flexed outward to allow the mounting of the drive sprocket and the front idler wheel, Fig. 9.  The Tamiya photo etch basket sides are pretty much an essential to finish off the turret, Fig. 10.

Building the Tamiya Leopard 2 A6 1/35
Tamiya Leopard 2 A6 Photo Etch Baskets and Grills

The following video uses the painting of the Leopard to tie up my series of airbrush videos.

Tamiya Leopard in Base Color Nato Green
Tamiya Leopard in Camouflauge
Tamiya Leopard 2 Assembled