In a recent post I showed you a Leopard 2 prototype and explained how the turret of this tank was a very special one since it could mount an overhead weapon system. In the summer of 2012 I visited the Wehrtechnische Studiensammlung in Koblenz, Germany on display there is the very weapon system that was designed to be mounted on this turret. During the Leopard 2 program, a total of two turrets T 05 and T 11 were constructed which were able to mount the Sekundärlafette (secondary weapon station). These turrets feature a circular cut out on the left side of the turret and are easily distinguished by the bulge that accompanies said cut out.
The weapon station carries a 20 mm Maschinen Kanone Rh-202 which was first conceived during the Kpz-70/MBT-70 project. The system was deemed to fill the gap between the 120 mm main armament and the coaxial 7.62 mm MG. The canon was aimed electrically by the commander.
In the end, the station was not considered for series production, but the canon was adopted for other German AFVs such as the Marder and Luchs. With the changing role of tanks in modern combat operations, overhead weapon stations have gained favour again. Although not widely adopted, KMW has shown many upgrade routes for the Leopard 2 featuring the company’s own FLW remote weapon station such as the Leopard 2 PSO and 2A7+ UrbOps.
Of the two constructed turrets that could mount this secondary canon, the actual weapon station was only ever mounted in turret T 11. The other turret, T 05, never received the station.
Turret 11 is known to be stored in the depot of the Deutches Panzermuseum Munster. The picture below shows the T 11 mounted on an unknown chassis. In the foreground another prototype, PT 14/T 13, is visible which was tested at the Truppenübungsplatz (training area) Munster. The bulky fume extractor on the barrel is typical for the 120 mm gun. Notice that the headlight array of PT 14 has been upgraded to later in-fender style. Although barely visible, the other PT chassis seems to feature the earlier headlight configuration.