The Leopard 2 Tank Was Like the M1’s German Sister

If Germany and the US learned anything from World War II, it’s that working together makes a lot more sense than trying to kill each other. The partnership between the two nations over the last 70 years has produced both amazing consumer products and impressive war machines. Case in point: the Fatherland’s current main battle tank, the Leopard II. As a sister of the US military’s M1 Abrams, this intimidating vehicle has racked up an impressive series of kills on the battlefield. After peace came in 1945, both American and German military experts turned their attentions to countering the fast-rising Soviet threat. By the mid-60s, their shared concerns had led both countries into a joint project to develop a revolutionary new tank dubbed the MBT-70. The new weapon proved far costlier to develop than either nation originally anticipated, leading to its premature demise in 1969. A year later, German designers drew up plans for an armored vehicle tough and advanced enough to take on anything that might come rumbling over the Russian border. By the end of 1971 builders have completed 17 prototypes. RELATED: See Photos of the 1945 Military Jeep Post-war treaties with the US require Germany to work closely with America to develop new weapon systems. In 1974, the twin powers agreed that the Germans should proceed with a full-scale tank building project. From that point, engineers on both sides of the Atlantic worked together. Their efforts eventually led to both the M1 Abrams for the US military and a German counterpart that was dubbed the Leopard II. It was intended to replace the existing Leopard tank, which served Der Deutschland beginning in 1965 and continues to see action to this day. Designers realized that the tank would need upgraded protection and firepower to survive modern combat. To meet this challenge, builders fitted the Leopard II with the same 120 mm smooth bore cannon used on the M1. Besides its primary weapon, the Leopard II is outfitted with a pair of 2 x 7.62 mm machine guns. Most models also feature 76 mm mortars on either side of the turret that fire smoke-producing rounds. The tank is equipped to function against nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) threats with a pressurized internal climate system. Modern electronics ensure firing accuracy even when the vehicle is riding over rough terrain or engaging moving targets. Today’s third generation Leopard II vehicles are protected by composite armor made from hardened steel, tungsten, and plastic/ceramic components. RELATED: The Story of the M1 Abrams Tank Perhaps the biggest difference between the American M1 and its German counterpart is its engine. The Leopard II is powered by a liquid-cooled V12 diesel with twin turbochargers. It turns out 1479 horses at 2600 RPMs and gives the tank an operational range of 340 miles (550 km). It’s capable of sustained 45 mph speeds, in line with the Abrams’ abilities. The German engine offers a lower heat signature and faster start-up times than the M1’s turbine powerplant, but it is also noisier. The Leopard II is a hot-selling part of German export. Some of the nations that have purchased tanks for their own militaries include Switzerland, Denmark, Greece, Turkey, Finland, and Poland. To date the Germans have built 3480 Leopard IIs. My father was a World War II vet. He spent most of his hitch as a member of the occupation force that guided Germany’s transition to democracy. He often mentioned how impressed he was with the German people’s craftsmanship and technological prowess. So long as those qualities never again threaten the United States, then I share his admiration for their engineering achievements. With the Russian Bear kicking up its heels once more, one wonders if the sons of the Homeland and the Fatherland may soon find themselves fighting side-by-side. Hopefully, that day will never come. Should it arrive, however, it will surely be one of the great ironies of military history. RELATED: GuardBot Robot Ball Could be the Military's Next Drone ____________________________________ Click Here to Read the Original Article on BoldRide