Tamiya 56020 Leo 2A6 Performance Review: By Eric Scott

Commentary:The build is impressive but the running is even more fulfilling. There is plenty of power to dig itself out of trenches, over debris and through grass. The motions are fluid and very responsive to controls. The real feeling of power behind the stick is addictive. Its robustness is actually like their 1/25-scale cousins, except larger and more powerful. Sticks and rocks that normally stop other Tamiya tanks cold are just tumbleweeds for the Leo to run over or push around.

One case that demonstrates ruggedness: Toward the end of my evaluation, the track picked up a piece of debris that lodged between the track and the sprocket pulling the track so taught that the suspension looked like it had collapsed. Upon inspection of the track, I thought pulling the track through would dislodge the obstruction and allow it to fall out. Well the track would not move! I fisted the track and attempted to strong-arm the track around the sprocket, it was frozen. In a moment of desperation, I envisioned the chore of dismantling the tank to get at the binded area in the sprocket but I calmed myself before doing anything rash. I had no field tools on hand so I pondered a moment.

I reached in my pocket and produced the car keys! This tool is actually a universal screwdriver, chisel and crowbar all in one. I have actually used less of a tool before so this was a Swiss Army knife for the moment! I began gouging and digging at the obstruction removing pieces of what seemed to be a piece of stick. After gouging and dislodging all I could, the track was fisted again and I attempted to rotate the object out of the sprocket. Still there was no movement. I really became concerned that this would turn into a 5-hour overhaul just to remove a stubborn piece of nature!

With a bit of regenerated desperation and negligent mind, I used my Swiss Knife (car keys) like a crowbar to lever the track around the sprocket. The track might break or the idler wheel pop off with the pressure, but I was bordering on the insane with this task. The track finally gave a little and moved, I was able to fist the track again and the piece became dislodged. The tracks did not break or stretch, only a slight yaw occurred in one end of the links (where the crowbar was applied). The idler held true and did not bend or misalign by the extreme track tensions this hostile procedure induced. What was the obstruction? It was a sticky piece of sap coated pine knot wood! Lodged and glued!

Just to be sure, I immediately ran the Leo another five minutes or so to check. Nothing else locked up, the idler remained solid and the tracks stayed on and did not break. I was astonished that I could have been so barbaric in the repair and not damaged or broken anything. This model is tough like a kevlar jacket.

Assessment areas:

Turret Rotation: Turret rotation control is precise and stops on a dime. The mechanism is powerful and reliable. The safety gear clutch mechanism is strong preventing premature slippage. Not greasing the clutch gear, as shown in the instructions will provide more resistance. The turret is strong enough to rotate the barrel through light brush that normally would stop other Tamiya tank turrets.

Sound: The full volume adjustment is not loud enough and the main gun firing sound is quite diminished compared to the engine noise. A wave-guide designed to direct the sound outside the tank instead of firing up into the closed upper hull would improve volume performance. Furthermore, an artificial reverb effect was added to the main gun report, while reverb enhances the sound effect, it is not accurate. Adding perforation in the upper hull above the speaker allows more volume output. Compliment with grill cloth to keep debris out.

Lights And Light Modes: Many combinations of battle and training configurations are available all adjustable from the radio or at the DMD via buttons.

Battle System TBU: The Leopard uses the same optional battle system as the other Tamiya tanks. No compensation was made to simulate the 60+ year’s improvement in battle tank technology as compared to the WWII tanks. For example, the heavy tank setting still takes 9 hits to disable and 9-second delays between shots. The battle system lends no advantage to a modern tank over a war era tank.

Weight: About the same as the stock Tiger II, less if the Tiger II has metal tracks.

Traction: Traction is good on all surfaces including wet surfaces.

Suspension: The suspension of the Leopard is softer than other Tamiya tank models and distributes the vehicle weight more uniformly. The soft suspension allows the Leo to stay in contact with the ground surface affording more control during high-speed maneuvers. True torsion bar suspension provides constant tension throughout the whole range of motion. The softer suspension provides a more even ride on rough terrain adding more realism with less jerking and hopping. For extreme suspension deflection the front and rear working spring-loaded shock absorbers have a small contribution and function as stays to prevent bottoming out.

Power/Standard Mode: There are two switchable modes on the DMD, standard (ST) and power (PW) which vary the properties of the steering motor. Basically the standard setting is best for control and the power setting is best for power.

The standard mode is best for smooth even road surfaces like concrete or wooden floors at high speeds. The steering motor is governed to provide slow minor differential changes such that turns at high speeds are fluid and not abrupt, preventing a roll. This setting also prevents hazards due to over-sticking the steering.

The power mode is best for all other terrain that is rough, irregular or on an incline. The steering motor supplies additional power and speed to negotiate turns and pivots in grass, dirt, rocks and carpet.

Radio Settings and Operation: Response to radio control is smooth, precise and responsive. Every minute stick movement summons an appropriate response from the vehicle that is very predictable. There is no need to over-stick to get quick response.

Turning: The vehicle maintains constant speed in a turn as the steering motor accelerates one track while decelerating the other track simultaneously in equal proportions retaining constant velocity through the turn. Turning becomes very powerful with the drive and steering motor in tandem.

Pivoting: Pivoting is accomplished by stick movement from left to right with no forward or reverse stick needed. The pivot speed is variable through this range, slow and controlled with the standard mode and powerful with the power mode. It may be faster to rotate the turret than pivot the vehicle to engage another vehicle. The steering motor is geared to transfer "from the wheels that slip to the wheels that grip". Pivot maneuvers may become sluggish in difficult terrain like tall grass or deep sand potentially just spinning the tracks.

Stopping: Returning the stick to the neutral position gives a slight deceleration curve before the vehicle comes to a complete stop. Giving a little reverse stick from forward or reverse movement will stop the vehicle on a dime. The soft suspension actually dips its nose and returns slightly on a dead stop.

Acceleration: A slight acceleration curve is observed as the vehicle is brought to full speed.

Carpet: All ranges of motion are easily accomplished with the power mode.

Grass: Climbs through grass easily in forward and reverse having less tendency to spool up grass or straw in the sprocket than the Pershing tank. Turns are easily accomplished with the drive and steering motors in tandem. Pivot turns are easily accomplished with the power mode.

Dirt and Sand: Runs well and at high speed, the tracks pick up a lot of dirt but the Leo grinds it up and spits it out though it sounds like gravel banging around in the wheel wells of an automobile. Pivot turns are easily accomplished with the power mode.

Road: All ranges of motion are easily accomplished. Pivot turns are easily accomplished with the power mode or the standard mode.

Rock: Has very good traction on smooth rock even fair traction when wet, more so than the other Tamiya tanks which just slip-n-slide on wet rock. All ranges of motion are easily accomplished. Pivot turns can be easily accomplished with the power mode or the standard mode.

Maximum Grade: Climbing ability is excellent, the more rough the terrain, the steeper the climb. Medium packed dirt climbs at 30 degrees and 40-degree inclines are possible with some slippage and greater than 40-degree inclines are possible in grass. The motors never stalled on any surface incline, the tracks just slipped and kept on running if the incline was to steep. One test at almost 60 degrees flipped the tank over before the spinning tracks or the Leo stopped! All grade testing (where steering was needed) was performed with the power mode.

Maximum Scale Speed: The Leo performs close to the governed maximum speed of the real full size Leo (about 45mph). The forward average scale speed in either the standard or power mode was 42.7mph on level road. The average reverse scale speed in either the standard or power mode was 39.4mph. Speed was slightly greater in forward motion.

Battery Life: From a new fully charged 3200mah NMH battery, about 40 minutes of continuous running can be expected.


Southeast Armored Division

Leo Performance Review

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