The VK 1602 Leopard is a German tier 4 light tank. It is one of the best scout tanks in-game. Its top speed of 68 km/h is easily achieved with the upgraded 585hp engine; making it an impossible target to hit for players (still) using autoaim, and a harder target for more experienced players as well. With its 800m upgraded radio range, it ensures the targets will be relayed for the artillery and his teammates. While its top speed is 4 km/h slower than the A-20, it turns faster at high speeds, so it makes up for the slight lack of speed with more maneuverability at high speeds. At slow speeds, though, it may feel a bit sluggish and slow to turn, especially compared to its predecessor. It has a 50mm gun, which can easily destroy any artillery within a minute.
The VK 1602 Leopard leads to the VK 2801.
Since 1941, plans were made for the development of a new reconnaissance tank based on the PzKpfw II Ausf J (VK 1601). In March of 1942, MIAG and Daimler-Benz received orders to build a fast (medium/heavy) reconnaissance tank, designed to operate under heavy combat conditions - Gefechtsaufklarung. MIAG was to construct the chassis, while Daimler-Benz was to construct the turret. Both were to be designed and ready for production by October of 1942. The main purpose of this vehicle was to be at HQ tank-platoons in Panzer units.
Two versions were proposed; the "Leopard (leicht)" lightly armored fast version (18ton) and the "Leopard (schwer)" heavily armored unit (26ton). The light version was quickly dropped in the Summer of 1942, in favor of the heavier one. Design of the VK 1602, named Leopard, was based on the development of previous projects such as the PzKpfw II Ausf J (VK 1601) and PzKpfw II Ausf M (VK 1301). Its hull was similar to that of the PzKpfw II Ausf J (VK 1601), but was largely influenced by the PzKpfw V Panther, which was still being developed at the time. Its suspension was made up of interleaved road wheels similar to the PzKpfw II Ausf L - Luchs. It was planned that the Leopard would eventually replace the lighter (leichter) PanzerSpahwagen II Ausf L Luchs - Sd.Kfz.123 (VK 1303). A mock-up was ready in May/June of 1942, and the first prototype was to be finished by the September 1st of 1942. Full scale production was to start in April of 1943.
Leopard’s armament consisted of 50mm KwK 39/1 L/60s and a 7.92mm MG34/42 in a newly designed small turret. It was also planned to use the 75mm KwK 41 gun. VK 1602s were heavily armored and had well sloped frontal armor (influenced by the Panther). The Leopard was to be powered by Maybach's HL157P engine with a total power 550hp: allowing the VK 1602 to travel at a maximum speed of 50-60km/h. In order to improve its cross-country ability, 350mm wide tracks were used. It was to be operated by a crew of four men. "Panzerprogramm 41" made provisions to build 339 Leopards (105 by December 1943 and a further 150 by mid 1944). The start of production was previously planned for April of 1943, but the entire production was cancelled in January of 1943, when the first prototype was still incomplete. The reason for cancellation was its heavy weight and lack of heavy armament, which made the vehicle vulnerable to enemy tanks. Additionally, development of the Leopard, being so similar to the Panther, became a hard sell after it was pointed out that reconnaissance Panthers could be developed and produced at a lower cost.
This concept was continued in the Daimler-Benz’s design of improved VK 2801, but this was never completed and the entire program was cancelled on May 8th of 1944. The vehicle was to be powered by Maybach's HL230 (700hp), but Daimler-Benz engines were considered as well.
Finally, the task of combat reconnaissance was taken by the PzKpfw V Panther and PzKpfw IV. Eventually, Leopard’s turret, with its armament, was later utilized on the heavy armored car Sd.Kfz.234/2 Puma. Rheinmetall also planned to utilize the Leopard’s chassis as base for a 105mm leFH howitzer carrier, designated Waffentrager Leopard, and Sturmgeschuetz auf Leopard (L/70) assault gun/tank destroyer armed with the Panther’s main gun (the 75mm KwK L/70, but only wooden mock-ups were made. There was a similar project to use the Leopard as a base for the Flakpanzer armed with either the 20mm Flakvierling or 37mm Flak 36 gun, but it was never realized.
Specs for the preliminary design:
Crew: 4 men
Engine: Maybach HL157P
Fuel Capacity: 560 litres
Lenght: 4.74 or 6.45m
Width: 3.10m or 3.27m
Height: 2.60m or 2.80m
Armament: 50mm KwK39/1 L/60
Ammo: 50mm - 50 rounds
7.92mm - 2400 rounds
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