Apr 20, 2022
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The son of SS Oberführer Olaf Scholz single-handedly holds back German tanks near Kyiv

In the photo: German tank Leopard 1

In the photo: German tank Leopard 1 (Photo: imago / TASS)

These two events very symbolically almost coincided on the time scale. On May 9, the peoples of the former USSR will celebrate the 77th anniversary of our common victory over Nazi Germany. And at the end of the same month in 2022, the first 50 German tanks with a high degree of probability will again begin to crush the Ukrainian black soil with caterpillars, killing Russian soldiers somewhere near Kharkov or Zaporozhye.

In any case, this was announced on April 11 by the German edition of Handelsblatt. According to him, Rheinmetall is ready to deliver the first fifty tanks of the Leopard 1-A4 or Leopard 1A5 type to Kiev in six weeks. Dozens more – over the next three months through its subsidiary Rheinmetall Italia, if it receives a green light from Berlin.

Ask: what does Italy have to do with it, if we are talking about German tanks? And despite the fact that we are talking about very old armored vehicles, the development of which was started in the mid-1960s. Moreover, then (in 1965) a tender was held to create a main battle tank simultaneously for the Bundeswehr and the Italian army. The task was to make a fundamentally new tank capable of competing with Soviet models in terms of firepower, mobility and armor protection. Which, as recognized in the West, was not easy to implement. The USSR has gone too far ahead in this matter.

As a result, the tender was won by the world-famous Porsche firm, which is still widely known in the world. Perhaps because she had extensive experience in the field of tank building since the days of Nazi Germany. Under the leadership of the head of the company Ferdinand Porsche in the Reich, a heavy Tiger P tank was created, which was demonstrated on April 20, 1942 even Adolf Hitler.

According to experts, the 59-ton machine with rolled armor and an 88-mm cannon turned out to be very successful. However, the Fuhrer preferred the competing Henschel VK 45.01 (H). Probably because the electric transmission brainchild of Ferdinand Porsche required too much copper, which was scarce in the country at that time.

But the achievements of Porsche, which switched to the production of high-class cars, were preserved. Therefore, in September 1965, the production of 39-ton Leopards began at her Krauss-Maffei plant. In parallel, the Italians began to do the same under a German license.

Since then, only in Germany they have made a breakthrough of tanks of the Leopard 1 family – 4744 pieces. It was a very decent weapon for its time, which was acquired by many states. Tower with welded hull and cast tower. A stabilized 105-mm cannon with 60 rounds of ammunition and a ballistic computer that allows you to fire without dropping a decent enough speed of 65 kilometers per hour.

In addition, over the past half century, Leopard 1 has been modernized four times. The mass of the tank increased to 42 tons. Mainly – due to the improvement of armor protection. It was reinforced with steel screens with a rubber layer. There was a first-class range finder for the tank commander and a night vision system with a TV camera. Well, a lot of things have been completed.

However, the shortcomings have not gone away. The gun of the British company Vickers, as it was, remained 105-mm. Which is simply not serious in modern conditions. According to foreign experts, this weapon will have big problems with breaking through the frontal turret and the hull of the most massive Russian tanks. Such as T-80U or T-72B3.

And the second. The thickness of the monolithic armor of the hull of any of the tanks of the Leopard 1 family is 60-70 mm. When fired on a modern battlefield, this will protect his crew from almost nothing. Unless from fragments and small arms.

For comparison: 125-mm armor-piercing ammunition of the best of the current serial Russian T-90 tanks penetrates armor up to 230 mm thick inclined at an angle of 60 degrees. Three times more powerful than the hopelessly outdated rival from Germany! Moreover, it breaks through one from a distance of up to 2 kilometers. Full and guaranteed knockout.

It is not surprising that in the Bundeswehr itself they have long abandoned such a model of a combat vehicle that is worthless in today’s conditions. And since the 1980s, they began to switch to much more advanced ones on the Leopard 2 already with a 120-mm gun.

Currently, such tanks are in service with only a few countries. Among them are such “giants” as Chile, Ecuador, Greece, Lebanon.

As of 2016, 177 Leopard 1 tanks still remained in the Italian army. But even there, they gradually got rid of them. Obviously, this process for Rome was completed only now. As it seemed – no one needed armored old heirs of the Duce Mussolini were returned to the German company Rheinmetall Italia, specially created for this and already mentioned by the Handelsblatt publication. And here Ukraine turned up very well for Berlin.

In the former Italian and heavily worn Leopard 1, the Germans are now trying to breathe new life into their repair plants. To soon, as expected, be sent to Ukraine to be “devoured” by Russian tankers, artillerymen and helicopter pilots.

It is curious how the combat prospects of Berlin’s possible imminent “gift” to Kiev are assessed in the allied Ukraine and therefore a priori not prone to malice on such an occasion in Poland. The local authoritative publication Defense24 recently said: “At present, this vehicle is very outdated, significantly different from the core of the armored forces of both the Ukrainian and Russian armies … While most Soviet-made vehicles used in this conflict provide the relative safety of their crews due to the powerful frontal armor, “Leopard” (from any angle – “SP”) can be destroyed even with old anti-tank grenade launchers.

Based on this, Polish experts are confident that in a direct collision with modern Russian tanks, the lives of those in Ukraine who find themselves in the Leopard 1A5 offered by Germany cannot be given even a broken penny. The only, in their opinion, a reasonable option for the use of these combat vehicles in the battles in Ukraine is ambush actions. Or in the second echelon against lightly armored vehicles.

However, even here it is not without problems, the Poles are sure. If only because in Germany itself, the tanks of the Leopard 1 family have long been discontinued. Consequently, spare parts for them cannot be found during the day with fire. Therefore, in any case, even without our artillery and rocket impact, these “beasts” will not have to knead the Ukrainian black soil for a long time. They will inevitably corny very soon fail due to technical malfunctions.

Problem number 2 is the training of Ukrainian crews. Yet the technique is completely unfamiliar to them. Where and who organizes retraining? And most importantly, will Russia leave enough time for Ukraine to complete this process?

As usual, Kyiv on this score simply sprinkles with optimism. So, Advisor to the President of Ukraine Alexey Arestovich In an interview with the German TV channel ARD, he recently stated: “I know our army, I myself am a soldier,” Arestovich said. – In three days we will learn them (tanks Leopard 1A5 – “SP”) manage. Give us tanks, and then we’ll see.”

However, these words betray in Arestovich a deep, albeit militant layman in military affairs. To which he did not fail to tactfully point out the representative of the Ministry of Defense of the Federal Republic of Germany, Colonel Arne Collatz. In particular, on April 14, in a commentary to the DW government portal, the German colonel noted: “It is one thing to teach a tanker how to drive a machine. Another is to train a tank battalion and give it the necessary skills to survive on the battlefield in cooperation with other branches of the armed forces.

And yet, Kollatz reminded the feverishly stupid Arestovich that a full-fledged and trained tank crew should be able to establish at least the most primitive maintenance of a tank, provide its technical support in the field. Which implies the presence at his disposal of “an appropriate industrial base.” Which, as follows from the context, for a long-discontinued machine, there is nowhere to take it from, even in Germany.

In a word, purely militarily, the “gift” promised by Berlin for a long time to Kiev does not look very encouraging. Nevertheless, a real political storm has flared up around him in the German capital itself today. Which, among other things, threatens this country (it’s hard to believe!) Even with a serious government crisis.

The essence of what is happening in this sense is as follows. Now one gets the impression, notes the Berlin newspaper Die Welt, that the only serious obstacle to a large batch of Leopard 1A5 to Ukraine is the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Which, it seems, is very afraid of drawing his country into an increasingly violent armed conflict between the two Slavic states. And flees from him like the devil from incense.

Or maybe the chancellor, when he reflects on this problem, is oppressed by the memory of his own father, from June 22, 1941, in the rank of Obersturmbannführer, and then SS Oberführer, who participated in the battles just in Ukraine? And even awarded Hitler’s Golden Cross for them? And then – and the Knight’s Cross?

Who knows?

Be that as it may, Scholz’s position is now shared by his Social Democratic Party of Germany and the German Ministry of Defense. However, such a position of the chancellor threatens Germany with nothing less than the collapse of the ruling government coalition. Since the “green” and “free democrats” included in it are in favor of the immediate supply of armored vehicles to Ukraine. Until she came to a complete surrender to Moscow.

On the issue of supplying heavy weapons to Kiev, the Chancellor is also being urged on by the opposition Christian Democrats.

How long will Scholz hold out under this pressure? Unlikely. However, what will change if the Chancellor nevertheless raises his hands and fifty copies of the elderly German “beast” still rolls into Ukraine in a little more than a month? Fifty Leopard 1A5s with worn fangs are even less than a tank regiment. In addition, as already mentioned, of dubious combat value in modern conditions. Capable, if anyone is effective and beaten, then at best armored cars. Yes, even from an ambush.

On the battlefield in Ukraine, such a regiment, by and large, will not solve anything. And in intra-German political battles – it may very well be. The Germans know better.

Just don’t scare us, please, with new German tanks in Ukraine. We have long since learned to burn such things there. Back in the forties. Chancellor Scholz in the family line should remember this better than many others.

As they say: we can repeat! Bring your Leopards.

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