The Leopard 1 in Danish Service
Written by Kim Hartwig Sørensen
This is a major 340-page work looking back over the whole career of the Leopard 1 from beginning to very near the end (some versions are still in service). It has been written by a former Danish Leopard 1 tank commander and an active officer of the Jutland Dragoon’s Regiment.
In 1953, the Centurion Mk.V tank became the standard main battle tank of the Danish tank squadrons. At that time, it was a modern tank, but in the middle of the 1960s the development of tanks had moved on, both in NATO and within the Warsaw Pact.
In the spring of 1974, the decision to procure 120 Leopard 1A3s for the tank squadrons of the Jutland Division was made. The Cold War was on and the new tank would serve alongside the venerable Centurion for a while. At operational level in the 1970s and 1980s, the main wartime strength of the Danish Army was organised into five brigades, each with 40 main battle tanks. The Leopard tank was, at that time, solely used by the three mechanised brigades of the Jutland Division. The two brigades in Zealand were still using Centurion.
However, the decision to completely replace Centurion had to be made so further Leopards were acquired from ex-Bundeswehr stocks. All of the Danish Leopards were brought up to modern standards with the introduction of the Leopard 1A5DK.
Following the cessation of the Cold War, Denmark would take an active role in peacekeeping missions with the United Nations, followed by IFOR, SFOR and KFOR, going on to serve in Afghanistan with their replacement Leopard 2s but still supported by Leopard 1 variants.
This book covers all aspects of the Danish Leopard 1 family with a thorough look at the initial trials, the tank’s introduction into service, technical problems, training exercises, maintenance and modifications. Each of the different variants and their capabilities are examined, as well as camouflage and markings, crew dress, training equipment and the Leopard’s tactical and strategic mobility.
What do you say?
This book is an important one for the Leopard 1 enthusiast because Denmark was pretty active in the 1990s and 2000s when the Balkans flared up. The first thing to mention is that the author is no stranger to his subject, to say the least. A former Leopard 1 commander in the late 1980s, Sørensen has served in Cyprus, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Leopard 1 in Danish Service is a richly illustrated book, and most pictures (more than 1400) very directly relate to the actual text, as opposed to being more generic accompanying photographs. The book is a truly impressive trove of incredible inspiration, for you get visual and operational references about virtually every single Leopard 1-based vehicle in Danish service.
Trackpad Publishing must be commended for publishing books of this quality, given the size of this publishing house, which is single-handedly operated by Michael Shackleton as far as I’m aware. The design and overall quality of their book is very high, having absolutely nothing to envy to larger publishing houses. Trackpad doesn’t compromise on quality, accuracy and thoroughness of information. So yeah, understandably, their books are expensive.
I cannot recommend this book enough to the Leopard 1 enthusiast. Admittedly dealing with a niche subject, it is a massive and very thorough study that should definitely find its way onto any Leopard 1, NATO or Cold War military history bookshelves. It is richly illustrated with an absurd amount of detailed information coming from an author who had ample first-hand experience with the platform.