Leopard 2A4: Main Battle Tank
- 1 Statistics
- 2 General
- 3 Thermal Signature
- 4 Crew Positions
- 4.1 Tank Commander's Position F7
- 4.2 Gunner's Position F6
- 4.2.1 Gunner's Primary Sight (GPS)
- 4.2.2 Gunner's Auxiliary Sight (GAS)
- 4.3 Driver's Position F9
- 5 Links
Main gun: 120mm Rheinmetall L44
Ammunition Stowage: 15 ready/27 stowed
Default Ammunition "A": 11/19 DM33 APFSDS, 4/8 DM12 HEAT
Coaxial machine gun: 7.62mm MG3
Ammunition Stowage: 1000 ready/3750 stowed
Default Ammunition: 1000/3750 7.62mm NATO
Grenade Dischargers: Grenades
Ammunition Stowage: 2 ready/6 stowed
Default Ammunition: 2/6 Smoke
Frontal Turret Armour: 590-760mm KE, 810-1370mm HEAT
Frontal Hull Armour: 600mm KE, 710mm HEAT
(from SB documentation)
Combat Weight: 55.5 tonnes
Length: 7.72m (Hull)
Engine Power: 1500hp
Top Speed: 72kph
Entering service in 1979, the Leopard 2 was one of the first western composite armored tanks to see service, being the contemporary of the M1, and both were developed after the failure of the joint MBT70 program. The modeled Leopard 2A4 is a 1985 upgrade over previous versions, and has improved armor, digitized fire control system, and fire suppression and other passive protection systems, which have since become standard. The armor is strongly concentrated on the front turret, and to a lesser extent the front hull, but the sides and rear are only slightly heavier than the previous generation tanks, especially against KE attack.
The 120mm smoothbore gun is accurate and powerful, and with modern ammunition can be deadly at long ranges against main battle tanks. The fire control system is an integrated system incorporating a fixed 8x magnification daysight, a dual magnification TIS system, and a daylight only commander's Peri. The gunner's auxiliary sight provides adjustable superelevation, requiring only lead to be applied to moving target but allowing very accurate fire against stationary targets.
The Leopard 2 stores most of it's ammunition in the hull, and is very vulnerable during the transfer of rounds from the secondary storage into the ready racks, as the turret must be rotated to the right rear and the vehicle cannot observe or fight. This is quicker than the M1 system of semi-ready rack and ready rack side by side in the turret bustle, but leaves the vehicle exposed and vulnerable if it is observed during the process.
With the default DM33 ammunition the Leopard 2 is dangerous, but can struggle to achieve consistent performance against later Russo/Soviet designs such as the T-80U and T-90 series. More recent ammunition types go a long way to reducing the area of these vehicles that cannot be penetrated reliably.
Beginning with revision 4.156 the Leopard 2A4 may be equipped with the Diehl Active Vehicle Protection System (AVePS) to enhance protection against RPG and ATGM threats.
Tank Commander's Position F7
In Steel Beasts the tank commander's (TC) position on the Leopard 2A4 is fully crew-able and modeled. The TC's position is accessed by pressing F7.
From this position the user can raise and lower their perspective (and exposure level) by holding the Q key (to go up) and the Z key (to go down). The TC can also button or unbutton (close and open the TC's hatch) by pressing the B key (toggle). While unbuttoned, the TC may also wish to use binoculars to get a closer view on a distant area by pressing the N key (toggle).
The TC also has smoke grenades at his disposal. The TC can fire smoke salvos by pressing TAB, once all loaded grenades are expended the grenade launches will need to be reloaded.
- The usefulness of the smoke grenade launches should not be underestimated, and it is one of the most useful tools at the disposal of the TC. Smoke grenade launchers are a vital tool for the security of the vehicle and should be used for a variety or reasons. These include, but are not limited to: attempting to break contact with the enemy, protection against non thermal sight equipped threats, and protecting the vehicle from enemy attempts to range you with an laser range finder. At the same time, care should be taken on when smoke is deployed since you are basically announcing your location to anyone else who might be unaware of it.
This is located below the forward vision block, to the left. It allows the TC to monitor the ballistic computer's current (from left to right, top to bottom)
- dynamic lead and
- vehicle speed
values. By pressing (and holding) the "Anzeige" button in the lower left corner, the TC can monitor that values at the time the last shot was fired.
Commander's Periscope (PERI)
The commander's periscope is mounted in a fully traversable sight hood.
The TC can access the PERI sight by pressing F3.
Once the user is at the PERI gun sight, the user can traverse the sight using either the mouse, or joystick (both of which represent the cupola's powered traverse mode). When the fire control system and turret drives are functional the commander can align the gun and the PERI by using the Joystick HAT-UP or UP ARROW and HAT-DOWN or DOWN ARROW. "Up" corresponds to the commander overriding the gunner's controls, bringing the turret to the current PERI alignment and "Down" slaves the PERI to the gun, allowing the commander to observe the gunner's target. P cancels the gun-Peri alignment and allows gunner and commander to scan different sectors again.
The reticle on the PERI is a fixed size, and is only usable for range estimation at high mag (x8), a wider overview is available at low mag (x2). This is particularly useful on the Leopard 2A4 as the Gunner's primary sight only has a high mag day channel. The numbers around the reticule represent the current facing of the turret. The gun and PERI are roughly aligned if "12" appears at the top.
The Leopard 2 commander can fire the main gun if in Override mode, but never has access to dynamic lead, and using the Num Pad * must place the FCS into "KW" mode to enable lasing from the TC's position.
The absence of dynamic lead requires the commander to estimate and manually apply lead on moving targets.
Gunner's Primary Sight Extension (GPSE)
The PERI has a second mode - an optical extension of the Gunner's Primary Sight (GPS). The TC can confirm gunner is looking at and can override the gunner onto another target or even choose to engage the target himself. Press F2 to access this mode.
Once in the GPSE view, the view will essentially be identical to the GPS view (which is explained in the gunner's section). The important thing to remember is that the TC can override the gunner by pressing the UP-Arrow key - however the GPS will turn to the current PERI direction, so it is important to first slave the PERI to the GPS Down-Arrow. While looking through the GPSE in the override mode, the TC can move the turret and engage targets if necessary. By pressing either the Down-Arrow or the P key, you are giving control back to the gunner. As in the other PERI mode, the commander does not have dynamic lead, and must place the PERI into "KW" mode before he can use the laser rangefinder.
TC's vision block view
On some occasions the TC may need to quickly look around the vehicle without having to spin the turret and without having to expose himself to hostile fire. Although the PERI allows this, the Leopard 2A4 retains conventional vision blocks as well. The vision block view allows the TC to remain safely inside the vehicle and quickly scan around for close threats. It is most useful when enemy infantry are in the immediate area. Access the TC's vision block view by pressing F4.
Once in the vision block view, the mouse or joystick can be used to quickly and seamlessly pan the TC's view from vision block to vision block, allowing him to scan around the vehicle. While the vision block view completely protects the TC from hostile fire, it does have an extremely limited field of view and offers no magnification.
Key listing for Leo2A4 TC's position
TAB: Pop smoke. Launches smoke grenades to deploy a smoke screen in the direction that the turret is facing. Useful for breaking up enemy LRF or completely obscuring your vehicle against a non thermal sight equipped threat.
P: Cancel Override. Returns control of turret to gunner and PERI to commander.
Q: Raise position in hatch. Moves the TC's view and exposure level up in the hatch.
Z: Lower position in hatch. Moves the TC's view and exposure level down in the hatch.
B: Button hatches. Moves the TC's view down and closes the hatch. This is useful for protection from artillery and small-arms. A second press unbutton's the hatch, to a covered-protected position, with a third press opening the hatches completely.
N: Multipurpose zoom (toggle). When the TC is unbuttoned, this will bring toggle the binocular view. When the TC is inside the turret this key will make the TC lean forward, essentially zooming in on that spot in the turret. In PERI mode this switches between high and low magnification.
LEFT ARROW / RIGHT ARROW: When in the TC's eye view F1, pressing these keys will cause the TC to face to the left or right of the main gun (turret).
UP ARROW: Multipurpose. When in the TC's eye view F1, pressing this key will cause the TC to face in the direction of the gun (turret). When in the TC's PERI or PERI-GPSE sight, initiate Override. Slews turret to PERI and passes control to commander.
DOWN ARROW: Multipurpose. When in the TC's eye view F1, pressing this key will cause the TC to face to the rear of the turret. When in the TC's PERI or PERI-GPSE sight. Align PERI to gun. Slews PERI to align with the Gun, and passes locks the PERI to the Gunner's view.
NUMPAD *: When the commander is overriding sets fire control system to "KW" mode, allowing the use of the Laser in
Driver related commands:
SHIFT + BACKSPACE: Shut down / startup engine (toggle). Orders the driver to shut off or start up the engine. If the TC is a platoon leader then it orders the platoon to execute a "short count" and simultaneously shut down or start up their engines.
W: Driver, move out. Instructs the driver to move forward (press again for increased speed.
S: Driver, stop. Instructs the driver to stop.
X: Driver, backup. Instructs the driver to reverse.
A: Driver, go left. Instructs the driver to go left (hold the key).
D: Driver, go right. Instructs the driver to go right (hold the key).
Gunner related commands:
BACKSPACE: Battle sight range (BSGT). This key represent the "BSGT" button on the commander's control panel which, when pressed, puts 1200m into the ballistic computer and dumps all lead calculations. This button should be used when the TC wants to gives a battle sight engagement, basically a tank becomes visible at 1200m or less. With battle sight in place, the gunner need not lase the target, he only needs to point and fire.
SPACE BAR: Multipurpose. Orders the gunner to fire at a target he is looking at when not overriding the gunner. If the TC is overriding the turret, the this will fire the main gun.
H: Hold fire. Orders the gunner to hold fire. If the TC is a platoon leader then it will also order the platoon to hold fire.
F: Fire at will. Orders the gunner to fire at will. If the TC is a platoon leader then it will also order the platoon to fire at will.
E: Engage. Orders the gunner to engage, and instructs the driver to take up a battle position. If the TC is a platoon leader then it orders the platoon to engage and take up a battle position in the direction of the user's view.
,: Manual mode. Orders to gunner to put the turret in manual mode.
.: Emergency mode. Orders the gunner to put the fire control system in emergency mode.
/: Normal mode. Orders the gunner to put the fire control system in normal mode (default). This is the only mode in which the Leopard 2A4 commander can override.
M: Coax / Main gun (toggle). Orders the gunner to toggle between the main gun and coax to engage targets.
SHIFT + LEFT ARROW: Gunner, scan left. Orders the gunner to put move the turret approximately 45 degrees to the left and scan for targets.
SHIFT + RIGHT ARROW: Gunner, scan right. Orders the gunner to put move the turret approximately 45 degrees to the right and scan for targets.
SHIFT + UP ARROW: Gunner, scan front. Orders the gunner to put the gun over the front and scan for targets.
Loader related commands:
INSERT: Fire, fire sabot. Orders the loader to start loading sabot after the next round is fired. Holding SHIFT and pressing this key will instruct the loader to reload this round type from the semi ready rack.
DELETE: Fire, fire HEAT. Orders the loader to start loading HEAT after the next round is fired. Holding SHIFT and pressing this key will instruct the loader to reload this round type from the semi ready rack.
HOME: Fire, fire (ammo type 3). Orders the loader to start loading ammo type 3 (if there is any) after the next round is fired. Holding SHIFT and pressing this key will instruct the loader to reload this round type from the semi ready rack.
END: Fire, fire (ammo type 4). Orders the loader to start loading ammo type 4 (if there is any) after the next round is fired. Holding SHIFT and pressing this key will instruct the loader to reload this round type from the semi ready rack.
SHIFT + PAGE DOWN: Reload all. Orders the tank crew to reload all weapons systems.
Note: You should be turret down before reloading the ready rack as the turret must be turned to the 5 o'clock position to access the stored rounds.
Gunner's Position F6
In Steel Beasts the gunner's position on the Leopard 2A4 is fully crew-able. The gunner's position is accessed by pressing F6.
Gunner's Primary Sight (GPS)
This gunner's primary sight (GPS) is the primary sight the gunner utilizes to engage and destroy targets. The GPS view is accessed by pressing F2.
Thermal Imaging Sight (TIS)
The most useful aspect of the GPS view is the thermal imaging system (TIS). Activate the TIS by pressing + on the num pad.
In 3x magnification, the reticle will display a set of brackets around the center of the sight. These brackets show the area that the 12x magnification will zoom into. The TIS 3x sight is used to quickly scan the terrain, looking for any hot spots that stand out in the view. Once a heat signature is spotted, press N to zoom in, switching the sight to 12x magnification.
In this view you can track, lase and engage a target. The TIS 12x view is excellent for engaging targets that may be behind woods or vegetation, behind thin clouds of dust, and behind conventional smoke screens. The TIS is also at an extreme advantage over non TIS equipped foes in low visibility conditions such as night, poor weather, or fog. The disadvantage of the TIS view is that target identification can be difficult, especially at long range (depending on the quality of the sight). As a trigger puller, you need to be extremely certain that what you are observing indeed is an enemy vehicle before committing an act of fratricide. The best way to be certain of this (in good visibility) is to switch to daylight view once a target is acquired. That said, gunners with experience will memorize thermal signatures of all vehicles to the point that they can identify targets in the TIS as effectively as they can in daylight view.
The daylight view of the GPS sight is mostly used when the TIS is damaged or, in good visibility conditions, to better identify targets. If you are currently in the thermal view, you can switch to daylight view by pressing the + key (on the num pad).
There is only a single fixed zoom level in the daylight sight.
In both the TIS and daylight view, you will see a set of nearly identical symbols in the bottom of the sight and a reticle in the center of the sight: these are referred to as the gun sight symbology.
The GPS aiming reticle is located in the center of the primary sight day view and is used for aiming at the target. The center of the reticle is a circle (or a cross with an empty center in the thermal view) indicating the dispersion of the laser range finder's beam. If possible, that center circle should be covered completely by the target silhouette to avoid multiple range returns.
The set of numbers in the lower part of the sight is the range, in 10 meters, that is currently entered in the fire control system (FCS). This range is either entered manually by the user (through the use of the computer control panel (CCP)), entered by the "E1000" button, or entered automatically when the laser range finder (LRF) is used, the latter being the most common and is referred to as "lasing".
The range reading is preceded by an F or a zero, indicating the arming status of the gun, and followed by a letter indicating the ammunition that the loader has put into the gun (see below). The F will appear when a number of conditions are met (most notably the loader's arming button must be pressed to "Fire") and signifies that the gun is ready to fire.
If, when the gunner lased the target, the laser passed through an obstruction (or went beyond the target and caught a piece of it) you may receive returns from multiple distances. The range figure is blinked as a warning that you may have an inaccurate range to the target. The Leopard 2 always can use either first or last return on the LRF: to minimize possibilities of erroneous multiple returns you should lase center of mass of close targets, on more distant targets you should lase high in first return mode if the target is un-obscured by foliage or smoke, or low on the target with the laser in last return mode. The mode is selected based on the button used to activate the laser - CTRL or Joystick button 2 is last return and Joystick button 4 is first return. Wheeled vehicles can be a problem at longer ranges as there is more gap for the beam to spill underneath the target. The sight should be returned to center of mass before applying dynamic lead and firing if offset lasing is performed.
When the gun is ready to fire , the first character in the range group is an "F", and when the gun is not ready an "O" is displayed. The final character displays the round type loaded, with "A" corresponding to ammo_type 1 (sabot), "b" for ammo_type 2 (HEAT or HE), "C" for empty or for ammo_type 3 and 4 (DM33, DM33 PELE or Canister). "d" is reserved for the coaxial mg.
Engaging targets with the GPS can be a complicated affair. Obviously the first thing you need to do to engage a target is to acquire it. The best way to do this is by using the TIS 3x sight.
Once a target is acquired, the gunner should switch to 12x magnification by pressing N or change to x12 day sight view Numpad + and place the center of the reticle on the target and lase by pressing CTRL or Joystick Button 2. First return lasing in the Leopard 2 is accomplished rocking the Lase switch in the opposite direction, and this is simulated using Joystick Button 4 by default - this differs from the M1A1 which uses the same push button and a mode switch on the control panel. Lasing the target only obtains range in the Leopard 2, lead (pronounced "leed") is only calculated when requested by the gunner (which needs only to be done if the target is moving, irrespective of the Leopard's own movement status.
The FCS on the Leopard 2 can calculate and induce lead when required. Lead is the term used to refer to putting a gun sight in front of a target which is moving perpendicular to your vantage point. When you lead a target, you essentially need to fire in front of target at the point in which the round and target will meet. When the gunner presses the dynamic lead button P (or middle mouse button or joystick button 3), the Leopard 2 FCS will begin calculating lead. The lead is only calculated while the dynamic lead button is kept depressed. The reticle does not move in the sight, and lead is only applied to the gun tube. When a moving target is lased, the turret will jump ahead of the target in order to apply the appropriate lead. The ballistic computer calculates lead depending on the range entered into the computer from the lase and the horizontal rate of traverse of the turret.
- The Leopard 2 uses a dual axis head mirror on the GPS. This allows a steady reticle position as the gunner tracks the target, unlike on the M1 and M1A1. The gun is offset from the sight-line as required by the FCS to allow for range and tracking rates.
A "good track" is when you can assume a steady track on the target with the reticle remaining on target as you follow it for a second or so. A "bad track" is when your tracking rate is either too fast or too slow in relation to the targets actual movement; track the target too fast and the reticle slowly moves in front of the target, track the target too slow and the reticle will fall behind. If you fire with a "bad track" then you are most likely going to shoot in front of or behind the target.
One of the most popular aiming errors in the Leopard 2 is to correct the aim of a bad track immediately before pulling the trigger. This will be interpreted by the fire control system as a radical change of course of the target, so the stabilization system will make the gun point in the opposite direction, resulting in a miss. Reduce a tracking that is too fast only gently, and you will hit.
It is possible to engage close or slow moving targets with an estimated lead by using the reticle graduations, and this is often faster without sacrificing much accuracy, especially for sabot rounds. It is a necessity to practice this for degraded gunnery modes anyway, see below.
The Leopard 2 will adjust the range to a target and countersteer the turret based on the current range and the speed and angle of movement of the firing vehicle. Dynamic lead is only required to compensate for target movement. The validity of the range calculated and the accuracy of the counterrotation of the turret depends on the correct initial range being returned to the FCS, and only allows short changes in range (eg between the turret down and hull down positions).
If the TC orders a change of the main gun ammo type (ie. from sabot to HEAT), the loader identifies the new ammo type when the round is loaded by pushing the appropriate button on his control panel which tells the ballistic computer which trajectory data to calculate. This is referred to as "indexing" the round type.
Although indexing the round is not the gunner's task in the Leopard 2, it is still necessary to pay attention to the commander's ammunition orders, and the loader's responses, as certain ammunition types are not effective against targets behind cover, and slower rounds require additional manual lead in a battle sight engagement.
Manually Inputting Range
There may be instances when the gunner must manually index a range into the Computer Control Panel (CCP), located to the right of the Gunner's Control Panel. This may be necessary if a target cannot be lased through a smoke screen and another tank in the platoon has a good range on it, or the gunner wants to make an estimate, or for a variety of other reasons including failure of the laser. To manually input a range into the CCP, the ballistic computer must be set to manual range mode under "ENTFURNUNG", and the rotary dial used to increase and decrease range.
- Notice that range is input in the Leopard 2 in "dekameters", that is, the last digit of the range is always assumed to be a zero.
Lastly, the primary sight's symbology will always read F999 if manual range is entered into the ballistic computer, with the actual range in dekameters displayed on the computer control panel.
The gunner can also enter the battle sight range into the ballistic computer, using the Gunner's Control Panel (GCP) between the Computer Control Panel and the GPS. Select the "E 1000" button, which illuminates indicating the range has been passed to the ballistic computer. The GPS now indicates a range of "E150". In SB, battle sight can be activated using the Backspace key or by clicking on the "E 1000" button on the GCP.
Once a target is lased and, if the target is moving, a steady track with dynamic lead is held, the gun is ready to be fired. To fire the main gun press SPACEBAR or Joystick Button 1. The round will now be launched down range and the enemy will hopefully be rewarded with a quick and painless death.
Gunner's Auxiliary Sight (GAS)
The gunner's auxiliary sight (GAS) is the gunner's secondary means to engage targets when the GPS is disabled or when the fire control system has a fault. The GAS is also the sight that the gunner should reference when determining whether the gun tube is clear of a forward obstruction (like a berm or ridge line). Press F3 to access the GAS.
The GAS sight has a fixed 8x magnification and is always aligned with the gun. The upshot of this is that in normal mode the sight will elevate with the gun during reloading, meaning the gunner cannot sense the fall of his shot. In order to rectify this, the GAS should be used in emergency (.) or manual (/) modes.
The GAS sight is fairly simple to understand. Depending on the tank model and ammunition carried, between two and five range scales will flank the center reticle on the left and right. For the Leopard 2A4 there are two range scales for KE and HEAT rounds to the left. The numbers on these scales represent the range to the target in hundreds of meters. Range to the target can be provided by other vehicles in the platoon, by comparison of the target size to the reticle intervals or by estimation. Range estimation is more important for HEAT ammunition than for KE rounds, as the increased time of flight requires more super elevation for an equivalent error in range. The reticle has marks to assist the gunner with lead estimation.
The reticle is of the 'disturbed' type, being moved in elevation with the range 'carets' on the range scales. Align the caret with the desired range on the appropriate scale using the Shift-Arrow UP and Shift-Arrow DOWN, then lay the reticle cross onto the target. If the target requires lead then offset the sight so that the reticle is centered on a point ahead of the target, and fire.
Engaging targets with the GAS is not an exact science, but can be quite accurate with a sufficient amount of exercise and precise range estimation. A good gunner will learn the dimensions of targets - width, length, height (both of hull, turret, and combined) and use the reticle markings in the sight to measure the size in mil. Some crews prepare a table with typical target silhouettes, their sizes in mils, and the resulting ranges, so you need not do basic math but simply look up the most appropriate case in the table.
- Example: A T-72 is 3.5m wide. At 1000m the width would appear to be exactly 3.5 mil. If the target is 2 mil wide, follow the range estimation formula: Real dimension divided by size in mil multiplied by 1000. In this case 3.5:2 = 1.75, or 1750m
Without precise range estimation you will probably waste several rounds before you get it right, which may be even worse if you cannot properly observe your fall of shot. To hit a moving target, use the following rules of thumb:
- Sabot ammo, slow movement: Aim for the forward edge of the target silhouette
- Sabot ammo, fast movement: Use the rear end of the first line in the reticle to line up with the center of the target silhouette
- HEAT ammo, slow movement: Use the rear end of the first line in the reticle to line up with the center of the target silhouette
- HEAT ammo, fast movement: Use the dot between the two horizontal lines in the reticle to line up with the center of the target silhouette
The basic process behind using the GAS to engage a target is to select the proper range scale, estimate the range to the target, and apply it to the GAS sight, engage the target, make adjustments and reengage if necessary.
Selecting the Proper Reticle
Use the left (open) scale for HEAT, and the inner (tight) scale for KE.
Once the range is estimated to the target, adjust the GAS range so that the appropriate range numbers to the are even with the caret, based on ammunition type. Next, if the target is stationary, align the target with the GAS reticle cross. If the target is moving, use the dashed lines to the left and right of center to estimate lead depending on the target's speed.
For example, the target's range was estimated at 1500m HEAT is loaded and the target is stationary. The sight's range is increased so that the caret is even with the "15" on the HEAT scale, and the target is centered in the sight.
Once this is done, you are now ready to engage the target.
In the event that you miss the target, you should simply adjust the sight in relation to where the round hit and walk it into the target. You should not waste valuable time estimating the range to the target again unless the target is rapidly moving towards or away from you.
Additional targets can be engaged by allowing extra super elevation according to the range scale if their range differs from the first target, although ideally you would adjust the GAS range and lay the reticle on the target.
Driver's Position F9
In Steel Beasts the driver's position on the Leopard 2A4 is crew-able. The driver's position is accessed by pressing F9.
Driver's vision blocks
When buttoned up, the driver views the world through 3 vision blocks set in the roof of his compartment. He also has a monitor to his left displaying an image from a camera mounted on the rear hull to allow rapid an accurate reversing without constant instruction from the TC.