Model Point produce a wide range of machined aluminum gun barrels for 1/35 scale armor models and among those products is several variations of RH120 gun barrels. Rheinmetall 120 mm smoothbore gun is used in several modern main battle tanks, among them all types of German Leopard 2 tanks and their derivatives, like Swedish Stridsvagn 122, and also American M1A1 and M1A2 Abrams tanks. Most of those tanks use L44 type barrels (length = 44 calibers), but Leopard 2A6 and 2A6EX tanks have longer L55 barrels installed. These provide higher initial projectile speed and thus higher accuracy at longer range and more armor penetration power. Model Point offer both L44 barrels and L55 barrels in several sets designed to fit to various models: Italeri Leopard 2 (L44) and Leopard 2A5 (L44 and L55), Tamiya Leopard 2A5 (L44 and L55) and M1A1 Abrams (L44).
I received L55 barrel for Tamiya Leopard 2A5 kit for review. I believe that this barrel was released before Tamiya announced their Leopard 2A6 kit and at that time it gave modelers an option to update Tamiya short barreled kit to 2A6 variant. Now that we have longer barrel included in Tamiya Leopard 2A6 model, this barrel can be considered a replacement of this kit's barrel. But is it really better than the kit part? Let's see...
In the set we get three machined aluminum parts, one brass part and a resin piece. Aluminum parts are main barrel, mounting cylinder and fume extractor holding ring. Gun muzzle is provided as machined brass part and fume extractor is cast in resin.
No instructions are provided, so modelers must find the right way to install the gun themselves. It is actually quite easy, but part of kit barrel has to be cut or sawed off. To find the right place to make the cut one needs to match the aluminum part to the plastic part and cut off the rear section of kit part in place where metal barrel ends. Once you properly separate rear part of the kit barrel, enclose the short aluminum cylinder inside it - the rest of the metal barrel just slides on one end of this cylinder.
To install fume extractor the resin part has to be separated carefully from the casting block, but it is simple if you use fresh No.11 blade. Then the extractor slides onto a barrel and aluminum ring should be glued to one end of it.
Brass muzzle has a short shaft on one end, which slips into a hole at the end of the aluminum barrel. There is a small flat surface on the muzzle to which the muzzle reference sensor, removed from kit part B-55, should be attached.
The length of the Model Point barrel is almost identical to the kit barrel, so I assume it is accurate. Also lengths of all barrel sections are very close. The shape of resin fume extractor is very good, but Tamiya part is also accurate. The surface of resin part is smooth - it is a pity that Model Point didn't give it the proper fiber texture, clearly visible on the real thing.
There are some nice details machined on the metal barrel and muzzle surfaces, like engraved lines and rings of tiny holes. The only problem is that these details are not accurate... In the mid way between the muzzle and fume extractor on the real barrel is a collar, which connects two parts of thermal sleeve. Instead of making new long sleeve for their new gun, Rheinmetall used shorter sleeves designed for L44 barrels and simply added extensions to them. In Tamiya kit the details of connecting collar are very accurate - unfortunately in Model Point barrel they are not (see picture).
Also the muzzle is not quite accurate. On the real gun muzzle the outer surface of the muzzle is not circular in cross-section on the whole length of the muzzle, but rather it is polygonal (octagonal?). This shape is properly reproduced in Tamiya part, although in my model there is a slight misalignment along the mold seam running around the muzzle. Model Point part, except for the area flattened to accept reference sensor, is cylindrical. I do not see any easy way to add proper shape to this part. Also details of the end of the thermal sleeve, again well done in Tamiya part, are not properly represented in metal parts.
In my opinion Model Point barrel cannot be considered a valuable replacement for the parts included in Tamiya Leopard 2A6 model. Of course proper assembly of plastic parts means dealing with the long seam along the barrel and it may be difficult for some. Aluminum parts solve this problem. But for me it is not enough to justify the lack of details and inaccuracies of metal parts. I think Model Point product can still be interesting for modelers, who already bought original Leopard 2A5 release of Tamiya kit, but now want to build it as 2A6 variant and are not willing to spend money on the newer Tamiya model. The Model Point barrel at $21.95 is not exactly cheap, but it is still less than a half of Tamiya Leopard 2A6 kit price. Of course it is up to individual modeler's decision whether to accept inaccuracies of Model Point product.
Many thanks to Dmitriy Li of Model Point US for the review sample!
response to the comment posted by Dmitriy Li below
Dmitriy Li: As one can clearly see on the following pictures the outer surface of the muzzle is definetlly circular in cross-section, not octagonal as stated by Pawel.
the "octagonal" shape is typical for a L44 gun and is properly reproduced on Model Point barrel #3559-4
It is interesting to note that both photos linked by Dmitriy show THE LEFT side of the muzzle only. One interesting feature of the L55 gun muzzle is that it is circular in cross section ONLY on the left side. The top, bottom and right side of the muzzle is multi-faceted (flat rectanguar segments) and this is correctly reproduced on Tamiya kit barrel. This feature is not present on MP barrel and barrel of Italeri Leopard 2A6 model, as Italeri added L44 gun type muzzle to their part. I don't know what is the source of the drawing posted by Dmitriy, but my guess is that it came from some manufacturer brochure or a technical manual and is not representative for production L55 gun as used in Leopard 2A6 tank. It is possible that such smooth muzzle was used in prototypes, test guns etc., but is not used (or is EXTREMELY rare, to the point of not being represented on any photos) on tanks as used by Bundeswehr. So Dmitriy, "definitely" is a dangerous word.
See photos below (click to zoom):
Dmitriy Li: The picture from the Rheinmetall''s web site clearly shows that the collar mentioned above does not exists on the L55 gun and that accuasations that Model Point part is incorrect in this area are groundless.
First of all the picture does not show anything clearly, as it is a bit blurry and high resolution does not help much. Second problem is that it is a manufacturer's photo. Note that the tank on the photo has no divisional markings - it most likely is a test vehicle or a prototype, not a production tank as delivered to Bundeswehr. I really cannot tell for sure that the raised connecing collar is not there on the shown tank because of the quality of the photo, although it indeed seems like the barrel is smooth. But I can tell that the collar is clearly visible on ANY good quality photo showing barrel of production Leopard 2A6 I have ever seen. Again this feature is properly reproduced on Tamiya barrel, and even on Italeri Leopard 2A6 barrel. See photos below (click to zoom):
Dmitriy Li: I won''t allege that Tamiya''s part is inaccurate as I concede the possibility that two different versions of the thermal shroud exists
I would very much like to see a clear photograph of such barrel on a production standard tank.
Dmitriy Li: It''s really not THAT visible. For example I can''t see any texture on following pictures, can you?
Indeed, on these two photos the texture is not visible. But it does not change the fact that it is there. This resembles me the old discussion about airplane models. On most airplane photos no panel lines or rivets are visible at all. Does it mean that all models should be manufactured perfectly smooth, with no panel lines or rivets on them?... Same situation here - the texture is there and it would be nice to have it on model part. Note however that it is the smallest flaw of the MP barrel. It had no influence on my rating of the product. I only mentioned it because I feel that the texture would be easy to add to resin part and I felt slightly disappointed that no attempt was made to add it.
See some photos below (click to zoom):
Dmitriy Li: Everyone can have an opinion, I just wish people check their references first before giving bad press to somebody''s products. And quite frankly, Pawel, I think the review should be corrected, both here on armorama and on your own web site as it''s just factually inaccurate.
The review will not be corrected. I think I've very clearly proven that it is not my review that's "factually inaccurate", but Dmitriy's comments. I have checked all my references, while Dmitriy either failed to do so, or has less then perfect references available. I suggest checking such easily available references as Tankograd's "Militaer Fahrzeug, Ausgabe 4/2002" or Concord's "ASSAULT: Journal of Armored & Heliborne Warfare, Vol.8" - both include excellent photos of Bundeswehr Leopard 2A6 tanks. There is also a lot of good quality photographs available on the Internet. Excellent set of Bundeswehr vehicles photos can be purchased from Thomas Hartwig and Carsten Gurk (WWW.PANZER-MODELL.DE
Each manufacturer has the right to defend the quality of their products, but it would be nice to actually try and prepare a set of convincing and true arguments first. Such poorly prepared responses as the one from Dmitriy Li can only put Model Point in the worse light that my review did...
Once again I thank Dmitriy for the review sample, but I had never promised a favorable review. I always only promise thorough and honest ones.
Many thanks to Jan-Willem de Boer, Thomas Hartwig and Carsten Gurk for permission to use their photographs.
Pawel "Vodnik" Krupowicz