Echelon Fine Details' set of markings is for the Canadian Leopard C2A1 MEXAS currently deployed to Afghanistan is very welcome to modern Canadian armour modellers. The Canadian Leopards deployed to Afghanistan in October 2006 and have been involved in multiple combat operations since that time. The decal set contains markings for multiple Canadian Leopard C2A1 MEXAS tanks. The set can be purchased on its own from Echelon and it will be included in the upcoming Canadian Leopard C2 MEXAS conversion by Maple Leaf Models.
The decals are printed in the high quality that has come to be expected of Echelon. I provided much of the information regarding the markings, tank names, and vehicle registration numbers for the decal set so I can vouch for the accuracy.
Here is a breakdown of the markings included in the set.
- Two large black recognition chevrons are included and these are applied inverted (point up) on the MEXAS side skirts on the Leopard.
- A smaller white chevron is supplied and this is applied to the top of the gunner's sight housing (point towards the commander's hatch). The small white chevron is used by the commander to ensure his arc of fire is clear of friendly forces. This marking is generally used in live fire training the same as the British use the white painted '45s' at BATUS. Some of the Leopards deployed to Afghanistan still retained these markings.
- Two black Maple Leafs are for the turret and are applied to the removed range finder housings. These are still visible even with the turret MEXAS attached as the tanks were not re-painted before being deployed.
- Two armoured tactical symbols are included. These are not applied to all tanks and the only visible one would be on the rear hull in the center of the driver's tool box.
- Four white decal strips are also included. These are applied to the fume extractor of the barrel. The number of barrel rings will dictate the tank Troop the tank belongs to. 1st Troop will have one ring, 2nd Troop will have two ring, 3rd Troop will have three rings. There was no 4th Troop deployed and the Squadron Headquarters Troop tanks do not have any barrel rings.
- Four very detailed black scorpions are also included in the set. There are two different scorpions with slight variations in the artwork. The scorpion artwork is applied on the forward section of the turret MEXAS of the three Squadron Headquarters Troop Leopards.
- Four different Leopard tank names are also supplied. The tank names are specific to an individual tank. The tank name is applied to the right side of the barrel between the first and second barrel jacket clamps. Not all the tanks in the Squadron have names applied but these names included were seen on deployed tanks. Modellers should note that the tank names included are specific for 'B' Squadron, Lord Strathcona's Horse(Royal Canadians). 'A' Squadron took over 'B' Squadron's tanks in March 2007 and likely has changed the tank names.
- To coincide with the tank names on the barrel five three digit numbered decals are provided. The three digit numbers are the last three numbers of the vehicle registration number and they are also specific to a particular tank and tank name. The three digit number s are applied to the left side of the barrel opposite the tank name. Again, modellers will have to do their research to use accurate markings. Two sets of single digits from 0 to 9 are also included to allow the modeller freedom to apply alternate registration numbers. Modellers looking for accuracy will have to do their research work as there are specific tanks deployed that have dozer blades, mine ploughs, and mine rollers. There are also two spare Leopard C2s in Afghanistan retained in case of vehicle casualties.
- Finally five Canadian Forces Registration numbers are included. These coincide with the three digit registration numbers and should be used together. The five digit registration numbers are generally applied on the rear hull under the driver's tool box. There is also a partial registration number, 78-85, supplied and single digits from 0-9. This again will allow modellers to depict the tank of their choice.
- There are no call sign markings supplied as there are none applied to the Leopards in Afghanistan.
Applause goes out to Echelon for producing this set for the Canadian Leopards in Afghanistan. The set will be an outstanding addition for the Maple Leaf Models Leopard C2 MEXAS conversion set. The set will allow the modeller to depict several different vehicles currently deployed. The price is very good considering the uniqueness of the decals and the very limited decals of modern Canadian armour subjects. The decal set while primarily designed for the Leopards in Afghanistan has many uses for Canadian Leopard that were used in Canada and Germany...research will be the key to accurately depict Canadian Leopard markings.
As a self plug I have submitted reference articles to a very reputable miltary modelling magazines and have included mutliple images of the Leopard C2s deployed in Afghanistan, a complete list of tank call signs, registration numbers, and tank names to assist modellers.
Thanks go out to Lawrence Goh at Echelon Fine Details for providing the review set.