The Leopard C2 is an improved version of
the Leopard 1A3 based C1. The most visible upgrade is the replacement of the
Leopard 1A3 turret with a Leopard 1A5 one.
The 105mm L7A3 gun can engage targets night and day, in bad weather conditions and while on the move, thanks to a fully stabilized fire control system, an integrated thermal viewer system and a laser rangefinder. This tank is also fitted with auxiliary fire control systems for the gunner and the tank commander. It mounts two C6 7.62mm MG. One is co-axial to the main gun and the other can be mounted on a mount either at the TC station or the loader's one.
It has a crew of 4: a tank commander, a driver, a gunner and a loader/radio operator.
The Leopard C2 has been designed to be up-armored with a Mexas add-on armor package. This one comprises a front block for the glacis, side skirts for the hull, several modules for the turret sides and the gun mantlet. During the deployment of the C2 MBTs in Afghanistan from October 2006 to July 2011, all the tanks were fitted with the Mexas package. Within a troop, there usually were a standard tank for the troop commander, a tank with mine rollers, a tank with mine plow and a tank with a dozer blade.
Of the 114 tanks that were procured, 66 are still in service as of 2011.
To model a C2 Mexas, you need the Revell Leopard 1A5 kit and two conversion sets by Maple Leaf Models, one to convert the kit ibto a C2 tank and the other for the Mexas package.
The Revell kit is old but still is a good base to work with. The detail is mean but in the end the resin parts either replace the Revell parts or hide them. The assembly is easy and the fit is good. The instructions booklet has 20 pages and shows some inaccuracies mentioned further below.
MLM C2 conversion comprises 58 parts in
a sand resin easy to work and a bit of aluminum mesh.
The up-armor conversion comes with 32 resin parts and a decals sheet by Echelon.
The MLM new small idler wheels have also been used.
The carving is generally good but the casting is not always good. So you need to take some time to thoroughly clean the resin blobs from the parts. Moreover, the large hull side armor modules were wrinkled which required a time consuming sanding step.
Each conversion comes with 5 color printed sheets presenting numerous pictures of the tanks in Afghanistan and of the in-progress model. Generally the pictures are sufficient but in some cases you need to look at the walkarounds that are available on the Internet. In the instructions for the Mexas package, there is no indication of what C2 conversion parts are useless. So you can put away the parts #10, 17, 21, 26, 26b, 26c and 28.
The build begins with the chassis and the running gear that need to be painted prior to assembling the side armor blocks. The Revell steps are clear enough. You just need to replace the idlers by MLM ones. The latter being thicker, you need to sand the axis #16 to get them aligned with the roadwheels. The tracks are installed and then in turn the upper hull is glued.
The rear deck is slightly modified according to MLM instructions to set the travel lock. On the Revell instructions, the tool bin latches are shown upside down. Some weld seams are added where the deck joins with the engine deck. The mud-flaps will be installed only after the side skirts are in place.
On the upper hull, you need to remove
the front "wings". Lengths of plastic are glued to support the side armor
blocks. The setting of the resin parts is done without a problem. The exhaust
grilles are those without the vertical bars. The towing cable brackets are glued
with the help of the documentation as the Canadians moved them. The cables are
replaced by twisted wire ones, the eyes being the kit ones.
When the hull is complete, the installation of the armor modules can start. By following the instructions and if the cleaning of the parts has been done well, it is quite easy. However you need to shorten by 1mm the outer edges of the bolted plates above the tracks. The cut-out around the towing eyes is slightly enlarged at the front to install the extensions. These must nearly be horizontal. Be aware that MLM omitted to mention them in the instructions as well as the headlights extended brackets.
It is the hardest part of the model. The simplest way is to glue the both turret halves, the gun mantlet and the parts #201, 123 and 124. The other details will be added when the Mexas modules are in place.
To begin with, you need to set the bustle bins. It is quite heavy large part which links with the turret by only four tabs. When the bins are in place, you need to install the Mexas modules starting with the rearmost one according to the instructions. Some gaps may be present between blocks. They will be filled later on. It is important that the modules are pretty well aligned which may require some more sanding.
When both sides are done, the mantlet protection can be glued.
The hard part being done, you have to
add all the resin details and to improve some plastic parts. The vision blocks
protections are systematically thinned. The top of the MG rings is sanded smooth.
Revell molded reliefs that don't exist. The skating MG supports are detailed.
The C6 MG cradle is redone. The resin MG had a mold line impossible to remove
and thus had to be replaced by the one from the Trumpeter M240/M242 set.
The smoke-dischargers are glued to the resin bracket. The protections are shaped with the resin jig provided by MLM. However, the both sides are not identical, so you need to sand the excess of resin. It is advised to look at pictures to glue the smoke-dischargers at the right angle.
On the rear bin, the resin solid molded handles are replaced by metal wire ones. The camouflage nets supports are installed. It is better to drill out the location holes for the grab handles.
The antenna mounts are drilled out. Revell antenna bases are sanded down. A hole is drilled with a 2mm drill to set the GPS antenna.
On the gun, the muzzle reference system is glued and plastic strips depict its latches.
The markings are those of the tank of the A squadron, 2nd troop commander during the 2nd rotation of the Lord Strathcona's Horse from February to September 2007. The whole tank is painted Tamiya NATO green. After a coat of clear varnish, the Echelon decals are applied. When they are sealed by a second coat of clear varnish and another of mat varnish, the weathering process starts. This was done using MIG pigments.
To our knowledge, there is no details walkarounds of the C2 Mexas on the Internet. The members of the Modern Canadian Vehicles Discussion Group, and more specifically Anthony Sewards, have been greatly helpful. May they be thanked.