The powerful Rheinmetall L-44 120mm gun in action during an exercise

This is the inside of the turret of a Leopard 2A4 tank during a shooting session

The German Leopard 2, with its different variants, is by far the most widespread model of tank among NATO member countries.

The amazing recovery of 20 Spanish Leopard 2A4 that are stored in Zaragoza
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Among the member countries of the Atlantic Alliance, Germany, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Slovakia, Spain, Greece, Hungary, Norway, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Turkey use this type of tank. Bulgaria , Croatia and Romania also plan to acquire it. Two NATO aspiring countries, Finland and Sweden, also use it, as well as neutral countries such as Austria and Switzerland. The oldest working model of the Leopard 2 is the Leopard 2A4, introduced in 1985 and is operated by Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Chile, Slovakia, Spain, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Norway, Poland, Singapore, Switzerland and Turkey. Several countries, including Spain, have announced their intention to deliver some of their Leopard 2A4s to Ukraine.

A Leopard 2A4 of the Cavalry Regiment "Montesa" No.3 of the Spanish Army, based in Ceuta (Photo: Ejército de Tierra).

One of the first to send this tank model to Ukraine has been Canada, which announced yesterday the shipment of the first of these tanks to help the Ukrainian Army defend itself against the Russian invaders. We can see here a video from Military Archive showing the inside of the Turret of a Canadian Army Leopard 2A4 during a firing session with its Rheinmetall L-44 120mm main gun during an exercise:

In the video we see the loader on the left and the gunner on the right. Also, behind the gunner sits the tank commander, which greatly reduces the space available. Above the commander's and loader's seats are two hatches. Next to the loader's hatch is a 7.62mm MG-3 machine gun. The driver is the only crew member who sits on the tank's chassis, specifically on its right front. As you can see, the loader is the one with the most space, since it is also the one that moves the most, having to take the ammunition from its two tanks and load it into the cannon.

On the left front of the chassis there is a 120mm ammunition store, with a capacity of 27 rounds. They are housed to the left of the driver's seat. There is another magazine to the left rear of the turret, with a capacity of 15 rounds. The latter is closed with an armored hatch to protect the crew in case that ammunition magazine receives a hit enemy.

Here you can see the turret ammunition store, in this case from a Spanish Leopard 2E (equivalent to a Leopard 2A6) that I was able to photograph in 2014 from the inside. The ammunition is housed on the left side of the tank because that is where they are accessible to the loader, since the loader's position and the side occupied by the gunner and the commander are separated by a partition, as you can see in the video.

In addition to the main gun and the machine gun located above the magazine hatch, the Leopard 2 has a coaxial 7.62mm MG-3 machine gun located next to the 120mm gun. Like the main gun, the coaxial machine gun is operated by the gunner. To aim the weapons, the tank has an EMES 15 fire control system, with a main sight equipped with a laser rangefinder to measure distances (with a range of up to 10 km) and a thermal imaging camera so you can track targets in low-light conditions. Both are connected to the fire control computer.

The EMES 15 scope of a Leopard 2A5. It is located on the right side of the turret (Photo: Sonaz).

Like the American M1 Abrams, the Leopard 2 can fire on the move, as its barrel and aiming systems have stabilizers, in order to always point in the same direction whatever the terrain features , being able to destroy enemies at a distance of up to 5 km. Likewise, the commander has a periscope equipped with a thermal visor that provides him with a 360º vision. This system allows the commander to search for new targets while the gunner aims and fires at an enemy.


Main photo: Bundeswehr.

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