By Michael K. Cecil
Published by Trackpad Publishing in association with the Leopard Club
A4 Hardback & Paperback Formats
MSRP £42.50 (paperback) / £47.50 (hardback) ($67.25 / $75.15 US)
Trackpad Publishing, a UK based publisher specializing in “producing limited run books of military vehicles – any type, any period”, has just released their latest publication; Leopard AS1: Leopard in Australian Service. This is a 288 page manuscript focusing on the Leopard AS1 tank and its role within the Australian military. Start to finish and page after page, this book covers a mountain of information regarding the AS1 spread out over a combined fifteen chapters and seven appendices.
Table of Contents
- 1 – Choosing a New Tank – Before Leopard
- 2 – Leopard AS1 – Build Standard
- 3 – A New Era Begins – The First Year
- 4 – AS1 Into Service – A pictorial View
- 5 – AS1 Attachments – Dozer and Mine Clearing
- 6 – Special Purpose Vehicles – Recovery and Bridging
- 7 – The As1 Era – The Next Twenty-Five Years
- 8 – Camouflage – Colorful Variations
- 9 – Leopard Markings – Identification
- 10 – Ammunition – Delivery To The Target
- 11 – Crew Dress – Changing Fashions
- 12 – Maintenance – Repair and Refit
- 13 – Modifications – Continual Refinements
- 14 – Training Equipment – Teaching The Crews
- 15 – Transportation – Getting Around
- Appendix 1 – Technical Data
- Appendix 2 – Approved Modifications
- Appendix 3 – MBT CES Stowage
- Appendix 4 – MBT Life Cycles
- Appendix 5 – Refit Schedule
- Appendix 6 – Unit Issues
- Appendix 7 – Army Registration Numbers and Fates
- Abbreviation and Acronyms
Michael K. Cecil, the author, originally was consuming his time researching the Centurion tank when a twist of fate pointed in the direction of the Leopard Main Battle Tank (MBT). With that twist in fate and by immersing himself into the world of the Leopard AS1 MBT, Mr. Cecil culminates all of his hard work in researching the Leopard AS1 and finally presenting it all in this book.
Each chapter of this book takes us, the reader, deeper into the life of the Leopard AS1 tank and its role it played for the Australian Army. From the outset of the first chapter, which gives a highly detailed accounting to the process and choices that were made to bring the AS1 into service, you begin to see the amount of information this book contains. As you would figure, adding any new piece of hardware to any military ranks is not like buying a car form your local dealer; planning is done, standards need to be met, testing is conducted and recommendation are made…and then you still need the approvals. Mr. Cecil explains what was involved in bringing the Leopard MBT into service with Australia’s army in great detail and is well support with a pictorial display of the progression.
The author moves on through the chapters discussing in length and detail the build standards required by the Australian Army for these new tanks. Supported with color photographs, we see all of the modifications from the traditional Leopard 1A1 leading up to the 1A3 which is essentially the bulk of requirements for the AS1. Each photograph is supported nicely with detailed text allowing us to understand what we are looking at in the pictures. Within the second chapter of the book there is a welcomed two-page, 1.35 scale set of plans for the AS1. Moving on we are shown a glimpse into the first year of service for the AS1 rather extensively in the third chapter. As one would figure there will always be glitches and speed-bumps to overcome in the commissioning of anything, and the Leopard AS1 had its share.
We gain a clearer “picture” of the AS1 tank spanned out the entire book. Chapter 6 is a beautifully color pictorial of the tank as seen in service. Chapter 4 is packed with photographs, each well supported with descriptive text highlighting key points of various features of the AS1. Chapter 5 goes into great detail regarding the attachments for this MBT. We learn about the bridging and mine clearing equipment along with the mounting hardware associated with these pieces. There is plenty of technical data with supporting diagrams included throughout this chapter giving us a better understanding of equipment and how they work. Following within Chapter 6, the book gives us a complete walk around array of photographs and technical data on the ARVM and AVLB Leopard AS1’s. These are engineering vehicles based on the Leopard 1 chassis and the backbone to the military engineers. When things need to be moved, lifted, pushed, dug or bridged these goliaths are called upon. The author gives an incredible view of these vehicles in action and explain how it all works.
Moving through every aspect of the vehicle, we are treated to the operational side of things; Chapter 7 is a twenty-four page layout of the 25 years of service of the AS1. The author some some of the training, operation and deployments of the Australian Leopard throughout its career leading up to its final days in service. This is a very descriptive section showing us the various roles performed by these tanks, the questions asked about the need for a force of tanks for Australia and operational deployments aboard.
Chapters 8 and 9 are a comprehensive views into the camouflage and markings of the Leopard AS1. What colors were used, why they were used and how they were applied; from the solid Gelbolive coloring that these beasts were painted upon delivery from Germany, to the AUSCAM three-tone camouflage and Barracuda thermal pads, every angle of the measure of coloring these tanks is in here. Chapter 9 is a highly detailed look at the tactical and identification marking of these tanks with a operating history lesson on where and when these markings were used.
Chapter 10 allows us a full display of the ammunition used by this Leopard with color photos showing in high detail, loading and unloading and storage of the various munitions. This chapter also defines the types of ammunition; what they are and what they were used for. In Chapter 11 we get a detailed look at the human entity with regards to the AS1. This chapter goes into great detail about the clothes and gear worn by RAAC crewman in their day to day operations. In somewhat keeping in-line with the human element, Chapter 12 deals with maintenance of the Leopard AS1. This chapter allows an incredible view into the inner working of the tank and what is involved in keeping these beasts on the move. Full color photos of all aspects of the interior including the engine bay and all of the equipment added to the AS1 is located in here.
A large section included in this book is Chapter 13, the modifications made to these tanks. As a vehicles time in service grows, so does the amount of modifications needed to stay current with the mechanical and technological advancements that happen along the way. The author covers these modifications quite well in this chapter and presents them pictorially with supporting text nicely. Along with modifications, training is a must when it comes to the MBT. Chapter 14 lets us into the world of the training needed to run the AS1. From training tanks to simulators, just about every part of the tank has been reproduced so that personnel can better train for better use of the real equipment. The final Chapter in this book is Transportation. If you are going to own a big tank, you sometimes need to move the big tank around quickly and not under its own power. This is where the No. 1 Mk.1 tank transporter trailer comes into play. We are shown the interaction these 60 ton trailers make with the Leopards as they are loaded and unloaded when on the move. Covered in this chapter as well is the use of raiwaysl, HAMs, LCMs and ANL ‘Traders’ as means of transporting the massive armor.
The book concludes with seven Appendices. This is a collection of technical data regarding Technical Data, Approved Modifications, MBT CES Stowage, Unit Issues, MBT Life Cycles, Refit Schedule and Army Registration Numbers and Fates.
With the debut of Leopard AS1: Leopard in Australian Service from Trackpad Publishing, it appears to me, without a doubt, that this book is the quintessentially the Australian Leopard AS1’s bible. If you are looking for information, be it technical or operational, about the Leopard AS1…this book might be all you will ever need. Michael K. Cecil superbly compiles an extraordinary amount of fascinating information about the Leopard tank as it was used by the Australian Army and stuffed it all into this one book! AN extremely comprehensive publication looking at every facet of this tank from its conception and birth, induction, overall technical and operation life, the soldiers who man the tank, training, markings and much, much more. It is difficult to describe in words the amazing amount of technical information is contained in this book without sharing all of the information included within or drawing out this review to an unreadable length as this book itself is an astounding 288 pages and over 800 photographs and diagrams. This is a must have for the Leopard fans out there and more specifically anyone interested in the Leopard AS1.
Modelers Social Club and the MSC Review Connect would like to thank Trackpad Publishing and Michael Shackleton for providing a copy of Leopard AS1: Leopard in Australian Service for review.
Please stop by Trackpad Publishing website to checkout this book and the other fines selections they have to offer.