In July 2014 I was able to visit Försvarsfordons museum Arsenalen in Strägnäs, Sweden. Number one reason for me to visit this museum was that I had heard that a Leopard 2 prototype is on display there. After I roamed the museum and admired its collection I still hadn’t found any sign of this Leopard 2 prototype however. The happier I was when I went outside and found the prototype at the far end next to the museum hall.
According to the director of the museum this prototype was given to Sweden in 1996 as part of the Swedish purchase of the Leopard 2 tank. He went on saying that the inside of the tank is in poor condition and suffers from rust. Employees speculated that the tank might as well have spent some time on the bottom of a river.
During the development of the Leopard 2, 16 hulls and 17 turrets were produced in 1972 to test varying arrangements of equipment. Early prototypes like the one shown below, had a contour reminiscent of the Leopard 1. The design of the turret was dictated by the use of a stereoscopic range finder. Both ends of the range finder are hidden behind the armoured blocks at the turret sides. These blocks would be slid aside in order to operate the range finder.
Museum records state that their vehicle has hull number 7 and the turret carries number 6. While the hull number seems plausible, turret no. 6 is absolutely not.
The turret mounted on this prototype is an exotic specimen. Only two turrets of this type were ever created; one carrying a 105 mm gun and the other a 120 mm gun. The turret is special since it has a base plate for mounting an overhead weapon system. The base is slightly wider than the turret itself creating a distinctive bulge on the turret’s side. The turret mounted on the tank in Sweden is the 105mm version designated turret number 5. The second turret with this special mount, number 11, is known to be in the depot of the Deutches Panzermuseum Munster.
It was quite easy to get on top of the vehicle so I took some extra detail photos of the arrangement on the turret. Among others we see: an anemometer for the fire control system, folded down IR light and the commander’s periscope.
I’ll be posting more pictures from this museum’s collection later.