Mantlet Plugs, sometimes referred to as “Gummy Plugs” by Leopard 1 crews, serve a distinct purpose on the tank. The rubber mantlet plugs fit very snugly into the openings on the right and left side of the main gun. On the Leopard 1 the right opening is the aperture for gunner’s secondary main gun sight. The left side opening is for the coaxial mounted machine gun.
On the Leopard 1 the rubber mantlet plugs are placed in the openings in order to prevent dirt, dust, and water from entering the tank. The mantlet plugs are ribbed so they stay in place in the smooth openings. When the tank is parked the mantlet plugs are usually in place. When the tank is prepared by the crew for training, deployments, or live firing the mantlet plugs are pulled out in advance. The mantlet plugs on the actual mantlet have small lengths of retaining chain so they can dangle freely when removed.
There is a time when the mantlet plugs are put in place when the tank is in operational use. That is when the tank is prepared for fording or underwater driving. The mantlet plugs in this case are from a secondary set that is secured to the upper left front hull by longer lengths of chain. When the tanks are prepared for water operations the mantlet plugs on the upper left front hull are put in place in the mantlet openings when the turret is turned to the 11 o’clock position. The turret must be in this position during water operations to provide the driver an escape route through the gunner’s positions and out of the turret should the tank flood. If all goes well, once the tank leaves the water the turret can simply be traversed to the right and the mantlet plugs will pop out and fall to the glacis place allowing the tank to use the secondary sight and the coaxial machine gun as required.
So, lots of background information for you about some simple rubber plugs. The fact is that Leopard Workshop
is the first aftermarket company to address this detail on Leopard kits. On Tamiya, Italeri, and Revell of Germany the mantlet plugs are all moulded in place. Meng provided two mantlet plugs in their Leopard 1A3/A4 kit but they are not accurate.
Previously, if the modeller wanted to depict the hanging mantlet plugs or the hull mantlet plugs they had to carve off and drill out the moulded on parts and scratchbuild the mantlet plugs. I have created mantlet plugs many times with heated sprue and they never quite look like the real deal. Leopard Workshop
has created an easy solution with great details for your Leopard 1 projects.
In this set you get ten resin mantlet plugs. The detail is very nice and you can clearly see the rounded top and the ribbed sections. Due to the casting block the middle will have to be drilled out after removal. Four mantlet plugs are required for each Leopard so you will have a couple of extras. The PE fret is tiny but it does include parts to add mantlet plugs to two Leopard builds.
- 4 x long strands of PE chain for the hull
- 4 x PE cotter pins for to retain the hull chains
- 4 x short PE chains with rings for the mantlet plugs
- 4 x short strips of PE to be used as straps/collars around the mantlet plugs between the rounded top and the ribs.
Diagrams and images are provided to show the assembled and mounted mantlet plugs. On the hull the cotter pins should slip though small welded on mounts. You will have to check your Leopard to ensure these are present and potentially drill them out to accept the cotter pins. It may be simpler to simply sand them off and replace them with very small pieces of styrene.
The PE chain has details only on one side so pre-plan and take care when attaching the parts so they keep the 3D effect.
Assembly of the parts should be straight forward. Be careful with the short PE strips as they need to be bent around the narrow circumference of the mantlet plug. The instruction images of the assembled parts do not show the short PE strips in place but the images of the actual mantlet plugs show them clearly.
What do you do with the spare mantlet plugs? Well, Canadian Cougar AVGPs used one to plug the coaxial machine gun port during the years when the C5 GPMG was used.
This is a great little set to add additional details to a Leopard build. If you use this set take the time to look at the parts, instructions, and reference images so you understand how to use the parts and where they attach to the hull and turret.