This photo etch set was released by Eduard for modellers interested in building a Canadian Leopard 2A6M currently serving in Afghanistan. A Squadron of Canadian Leopard 2A6M's were deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 and were fitted with a variety of modifications including slat armour for the hull and turret. This set only includes the slat armour and associated mounts, not the other additions to the Canadian tanks. The set is designed for use on the Tamiya Leopard 2A6 kit 35271.
Included in the set are two large photo etch frets and six pages of instructions. The instructions are clear and concise and provide the modeller with a sequence of assembly for the slat armour sections and the variety of mounts. Modellers may need to find some information of the exact placements of the mounts, so attention to detail is very important in regards to studying the layout of the kit, the instructions, and refer to reference images.
Eduard is now well versed in the production of slat armour with the photo etch slat armour sets for the Trumpeter and AFV Club Strykers. Eduard takes a slightly different approach in the production and assembly of the slat armour sections in this set. The slat armour sections, twenty four sections in total, are designed so that after they are cut from the fret the slat sections are to be pivoted on the frame 90 degrees into the correct position. A word of warning is that the slat sections are only held on the frame with a very small bit of brass on each end so care is needed to ensure you bend them in the correct direction the first time or they may snap off from the twisting stress. After the horizontal slat sections are twisted into the correct position vertical support are added and the section assemblies are completed.
Hull mounts for the variety of support arms are supplied in the set. The hull mounts on the real tanks are welded on and this is an aspect that modellers may choose to improve upon from the supplied photo etch parts. Added to the hull mounts are the support arms on which the slat sections will attach. Again, attention to detail and reference material is a must to accurately place the support arms. The support arms are nicely made and credit goes to Eduard for producing the different styles of supports arms as well as they did with the limited reference material that was actually available when the set was developed. The support arms assemblies include the support arm, bolt detail, and the retaining wires for the quick disconnect pins. That being said the support arms are not 100% accurate and are missing some of the bolt details and the lugs to which the retaining wires attach.
In comparing the photo etch parts with reference images of the real Canadian Leopard 2A6M's in Afghanistan, Eduard has done a very good job of replicating all aspects of the slat armour sections and the support arm assemblies. All of the required components are included in the set and I could not find any issues with the accuracy other the missing details I previously mentioned.
This is a very timely and unique photo etch set to assist a modern AFV modeller towards building an up to date Canadian Leopard 2A6M in Afghanistan. Eduard used what reference material that was available at the time to produce a very good set. Given that this set is designed for the Tamiya Leopard 2A6 kit I do not know if it will fit 100% properly on the Italeri, Revell-Germany, or Hobby Boss Leopard 2A5 or 2A6 kits if modellers were looking for options to the Tamiya kit.
It would be great if Eduard followed up this set with an additional Leopard 2A6M set with the other modifications seen on the Canadian Leopard 2A6M such as the glacis plate armour, antenna mounts, rifle stowage box, and additional add-on components on the turret. Echelon Fine Details is expected to release a decal set for the Canadian Leopard 2A6M in the near future.
I very much look forward to using this set during my Canadian Leopard 2A6M project.
Highs: Excellent set to initiate a Canadian Leopard 2A6M project. The hinged slat sections will speed up assembly time.Lows: Some bolt detail lacking on the slat armour section support arms. Reference material is a must for accurate placement of the mounts.Verdict: A well designed and overall very accurate photo etch set that will for sure transform a Leopard 2A6 into an even more deadly looking fighting machine.