Tamiya 56020 Leo 2A6 Review: By Eric Scott (Reference build photos below) Leo Performance Review
The purchase: I received the Leo2A6 from Backyard Armor, arriving in 8 days as compared to their normal 2 weeks. The battle unit was shipped in the box with the kit (ordered separately).
Kit Introduction: This is the first kit that had cooperation of the manufacturer ( Krauss-Maffei Wegmann ) in its design, which clearly shows. In traditional Tamiya style, the box presentation is neat and organized. There are many more parts than the other Tamiya RC tank kits and the box is slightly bigger as well. The Pershing kit will be a good pre-requisite to building the Leo 2A6 since there are similar build techniques in both kits. Take your time constructing the kit and refer to the parts sheet to verify the correct parts represented in the build instructions. Care should also be observed as some parts look the same but have a different code on the sprues, indicating minor differences in the parts that may not be obvious by visual inspection. Tamiya does a good job with the instructions (some 40 pages) and build progression is ordered for best integration of assemblies. Avoid skipping steps as frequently one assembly is based on another assembly being installed first.
Engineering and Quality: The up-front engineering that went into this kit is impressive. For example, take the improvements of the Pershing compared to the other tank kits and add a magnitude of ten to that, this would be the Leo. The quality is quite good with well-machined parts and pieces that fit exactly. Most parts serve multiple roles in the assembly process in that with this kit it is the integration of several pieces that perform a function. For example suspension bearings are not only used for racing the shafts but are integral in correct spacing, load distribution, holding the shaft true, securing the torsion bar and preventing excessive slop without any additional hardware. The hardware is good quality and well cut, even the setscrews are higher quality than in previous kits. The gears are individually cast metal and high impact plastic with no flashing. For the plastic parts sprues, care has been taken to locate injection points where they will not be seen when assembled wherever possible. The kit utilizes a very simple and accurate constant tension torsion bar suspension. The kit has working shock (springs) absorbers for added realism.
Gearboxes and Motors: The first thing that impressed me was the gearboxes and motors. You assemble all of them yourself except the gun elevation box (instructions included), which is an education in itself, learning how the steering drive differentials operate. The drive gears mesh well; you can almost feel them grab each other as they engage. The steering differential gears are cast metal. All the other gears for the main drive/steering are raced with ball bearings on metal axels and supported in the gearbox with ball bearings. The gearboxes are all sealed assemblies, so protection from debris, dirt or wires becoming caught in the mechanisms is afforded. This design also allows for copious amounts of contained ceramic grease to be used, avoiding the grease splattering inside the tank hull of previous designs. The drive and steering motor wires utilize spade connectors and the motors are set in a cylindrical sleeve of the (POM type plastic) gearbox and held by a setscrew. The setscrew allows easy motor removal for servicing without removing the main drive/steering gearbox assembly.
Construction Materials: The second item of interest is the kit uses five types of plastic; ABS, POM, PA-GF, PA-MD and PC-GF. The regular model plastic is used for the modeling and detail only. All the running gear, suspension, hull lower and upper and moving parts are high impact plastic custom formulated for its purpose, for example ABS plastic (about the strength of PVC pipe) is used for the lower, upper hull, suspension arms and roadwheels. You are not likely to have a breakdown due to parts breaking. All the wheel axels are machined metal. The drive sprocket is a one piece (two bonded pieces) design with a more reliable through-axel holding pin unlike the threaded axel end the other kits utilize. The main gun and MG tube is aluminum.
Upper and Lower Hull: The upper and lower hull are constructed of ABS type plastic and is resiliant and tough. By integrating the main gearbox, speakerbox and upper hull the hull structure becomes quite rigid, similar to the box type structure the Tiger I hull makes when assembled except stronger plastic and more reinforcement of the plastic. The upper hull has extra members installed on the underplate for increased rigidity assuring the turret has a stable flat plane to mount. The upper and lower hull come together nicely without gaps and seats contiuously around the perimeter to avoidmud and debris from the tracks from entering the tank. An extra gasket could be used for extra protection against water.
Gun Elevation: The elevation motor is a servomotor used for accurate control to replicate the computer controlled automatic reloading and rear deck-clearing functions. The servomotor actuator provides precise control and powerful torque for the heavy gun assembly. There is no slop and thus no tension spring is needed. A definite improvement over the other kits elevation motor designs.
Gun Recoil: The gun recoil mechanism uses a spring loaded snap back feature for more realism. A definite improvement over the other kits recoil motor designs. The reload and fire cycle is adjustable to light-medium-heavy tank or 3, 5 or 9 seconds.
Battle Unit: The Battle Unit LED emiter is mounted in the main periscope right inline with the main gun so no ugly clip-ons or reamed holes. The LED is serviceable by removal of two tiny screws and removing the periscope housing.
Turret Rotation: The turret ring gear assembly is a marked improvement with a solid structure mounting and rotates on ten ball-bearing sandwiched racers. The speaker box is actually integrated with the turret ring gear mounting, adding strength to the rotation mechanisms with a six-point continuous ring mounting. Furthermore, the speaker is completely shielded from the outside since there are no perforations in the upper hull at the speaker, such that debris and dirt will not enter the speaker cone. There are less wires feeding through since most of the electronics are in the turret having less wire mess and concern for wire twisting. The speaker box also serves as a raceway for the wires providing a wire-managed transition from turret electronics to components in the hull.
Tracks and Drive Sprocket: The tracks actually have rubber pads on each of the pre-assembled track links and the track links are held together by double pins with three metal caps, one on each end and one in the center of the link between the track pads. The drive sprocket applies force against the metal portions of the track and the rubber pads make contact with the ground, thus direct wear on plastic is minimized. The drive sprocket comes as a two piece bonded assembly. The sprocket horn guide added to the metal assembly also functions as a debris rejecter reducing the possibility of small rocks jamming the tracks. The drive sprocket does not use a center bolt to mount to the axel like previous kits but a more reliable design bolting from two sides into a lock block on the drive axel, which is thread-locked.
Electronics: The electronics control modules are two units, the DMD/MF (ESC and computer functions) unit and the HV (High Voltage) unit. The maximum current draw from the specifications may reach 3 amps with multiple functions operating simultaneously. The ESC's are larger and have more capacity. There are two lighting modes, battle mode and training mode just like the real tank. Programming is performed in similar fashion as the other Tamiya tank kits. The instructions do not recommend PCM type radio control as it may not function properly.
Other Features: Some parts are made of soft pliable plastic similar to O-ring type rubber. The towropes are made of this material allowing varying installation configurations on the vehicle. The small antenna on the turret is of this material as well to prevent breakage when running through brush, whipping back to position. Photo etching for the stowage racks and engine exhaust grills are provided, no photo-etch upgrade set needed here. A length of metal chain is provided for the smoke discharges although you have to supply the suggested staples to construct the chain pins. There is an access door integrated on the turret for the DMD such that access is gained without removing the top of the turret. And since it is secured by magnetic strip, the door is removable, nice touch. The battery is accessed from removal of the turret roof by disengaging a twist lock on either side of the turret. There is no need to remove the turret from its ring or the upper hull to access regular maintenance items.
Problems / Potential Issues:
1) The main gearbox top was slightly bowed where the case seams meet but screwing down the assembly resolved this.
2) The main gearbox housing screws, called for in the instructions, were too short; even one screw stripped the mounting hole with light pressure. Substituting SAE screws ¼ inch longer (and slightly larger diameter) assured a better mounting.
3) There was not enough ceramic grease provided in the kit (only two 2oz. tubes are supplied). In my case, four 2oz. tubes were necessary for the main gearbox assembly alone. Additional tubes would be needed for the roadwheel bushings, turret bearings and other gearboxes.
4) The attachment of the dual roadwheels together was inadequate. The screws attaching the two roadwheels together do not bite enough in the mounting holes and the holes are too shallow allowing easy stripping of the mounting hole. A bit of CA glue was added for extra strength between the wheels.
5) The travel lock is a one-piece molding. Even the Pershing kit had a workable travel lock, so no excuse.
6) As is typical of Tamiya instructions, the use of thread-lock is conservative. To avoid parts coming off (particularly the running gear) thread-lock red will need to be used on most bolt threaded metal parts.
7) The idler wheel is ABS type plastic with no rubber tires. Would have liked to see rubber tires for the idler since paint will wear off or a cast metal idler wheel. Either way rubber tires need to be added. 1-3/8 inch bicycle inner tube makes excellent tires for the idler. The idler wheel has a similar method of interval adjustment as the Pershing except the upper hull must be removed in order to make the adjustment. The idler assembly appears stout enough, but the hull may need reinforcing to avoid exessive torsions from the mount point.
8) The return roller mounts are glued on the lower hull. While not load bearing, these should have been designed to be mechanically bolted to the hull in similar fashion as the Pershing kit return rollers. Return rollers use no washers or bushings and have no rubber tires. A bit of CA glue was used for a stronger bond to the hull.
9) The tow shackle and pintle hook are glued and not mechanically reinforced as the Pershing hooks. If used to tow other accessories like artillery or trailers, reinforcement would be necessary.
10) The rotating training beacon is fixed in position by a screw. This is not accurate to the real device where it is magnetically attached to the turret allowing movement to any location. Modifying the assembly with a small ‘refrigerator’ magnet affixed to the bottom of the beacon and a magnetic sheet affixed to the underside of the turret roof will allow multiple positioning or removing altogether to stow in the stowage bin during battle engagements.
11) Wiring the receiver antenna in the turret will be a challenge in order to utilize the maximum length of antenna. As usual, Tamiya makes no suggestion how to integrate this since it is not part of the kit. Maximizing the antenna length is important, so try to run as much of the wire once around the perimeter of the turret taking care to avoid moving parts, before terminating at the wire antenna through the turret roof.
12) There is an error in the instruction manual of the speakerbox assembly. The speaker box bottom should be mounted to the lower hull before the speaker box top is assembled to the bottom since the screw mounts are inside the speaker box that mount to the lower hull. The screws mounting the speakerbox bottom to the lower hull need to be the next size diameter SAE since the screws provided do not have enough bite in the lower hull mounting studs and may strip.
13) The optical fibers for the headlights and tail lights are not easy to work with and some bending is required by the instructions to fit pieces properly. Fiber cable should not be bent, a gentle curve is prefered as bends will degrade the amount of light transmission through the fiber.
14) The commander's and loader's hatches are not workable. They are fixed in the open or closed position. The driver's hatch is workable.
Southeast Armored Division
Leopard 2A6 (below) T-55a