Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Leopard Tracks

While the West seems to have had a very foggy idea of what Soviet tanks were like during the Cold War, Soviet tank designers enjoyed a more accurate picture of their competitors. For example, here is a very thorough analysis of the tracks of Leopard 1 and 2 tanks.

Fig. 1: Leopard-1 tank track
1 - track link, 2 - track pin, 3 - track tooth, 4 - spring ring. 5 - pad, 6 - rubber shock absorber, 7 - supporting plate, 8 - directing plate, 9 - rubber pad, 10 - bracket. A-A and B-B cutaways are turned.

According to the article, the original Leopard 1 tracks were similar to American M48 and M60 Patton tanks, but the rubber grousers wore quickly and did not offer sufficient traction in the winter. The improved track links in fig. 1 came into use in the 1960s and had removable rubber pads to preserve the surfaces of roads. The mounting holes for the rubber pad can also be used to install ice cleats.

Fig. 2: Removable steel cleats.

The lifespan of a Leopard 1 track is 6,000-12,000 km, depending on road conditions, but the lifespan of the rubber pads is only 800-3,000 km. The design of the track links was deemed to be simpler than on the T-80 and easier to service, but more liable to damage the road wheels if the tank drives on uneven roads and the track links are not perfectly level. The dimensions of the track links were found similar to the T-80's track links, but the tracks of the T-80 were 75 kg lighter.


Fig. 3: Leopard-2 tank tracks (seen from the inside).

The article also has information on the track links of the Leopard 2. These track links are larger than on the Leopard 1. It is also simpler and lacks rubber padding on the inside. It is estimated that producing these track links is 20-30% easier than T-80 track links.

There is a table comparing the parameters of track links of the three tanks.

Parameter
Leopard 1
Leopard 2
T-80
Brand
D640A
D570F

Width, mm
550
635
580
Length, mm



Track link
160
183
164
Connecting bracket
63
63
67
Assembly
97
120
97
# of links
84
82
80
Socket type
Parallel
Track pin diameter
30
31.75
30
Connecting bracket eyelet diameter
38
41
38
Working length of the socket
400
480
392
Tooth height
88
91
113
Rubber pads
Yes
Yes
No
Mass of the tracks with no pads, kg
3642
4652
3567
Mass of one set of pads
582
748


Via andrei-bt

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