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Oto-Melara + Fiat OF 40 / Lion

OF 40The proposed "Lion" was a project from Oto-Melara (which had licensed built the Leopard 1 for the Italian Army) was a tropicalised, specialist desert version of the Leopard. The Lion had a superficially different hull and turret - much squarer than the cast turret Leopard 1. However, no customers were found for the Lion, and instead the OF40 was designed as a private venture specifically for the export market from 1977, with Oto-Melara responsible for the overall design and production and Fiat for the powerpack [hence OF, 0 = Oto-Melara, F = Fiat]. It too was essentially an upgraded, tropicalised Leopard 1, also with a much squarer hull and turret. The precise differences between the Lion project and the OF-40 production model are unclear, and some sources do not distinguish between the two.

A few were purchased by the UAE (36 MBTs + 2 ARVs). The first prototype was completed in 1980 and in 1981 the United Arab Emirates took delivery of the first of 18 Mk Is. This was followed by a second order for 18 Mk 2s and three armoured recovery vehicles, all of which have been delivered. The original Mk Is have now been brought up to Mk 2 standard.

The Italian Army, already having the original Leopard 1, decided the new OF-40 was not worth the cost, relative to updating Leopard 1 tanks to the A4 and A5 standard. By the end of the Cold War, Italy had more than 1700 tanks in its ground forces, themajority of which are West German Leopard- l's (920) and American M60Al's (300). These come for the mostpart from licensed production by the Italian corporationOTO Melara. About 500 antiquated American M47 tanks remained in the inventory.

Founded in 1905 for the production of weapon and weapon systems for the Italian Army and Navy, OTO Melara has continued since then to be one of the most important suppliers of weapons to Italian Armed Forces. Its activities have extended throughout the world with the supply of armaments and weapon systems to an ever increasing number of countries. In addition to Italian Armed Forces, more than 50 countries have acquired OTO Melara's products, and the Italian Company's bestseller, the 76/62 COMPACT Naval Gun, is in service in nearly 40 Navies in the world. OTO Melara was a leading Company of Finanziaria Ernesto Breda, one of the four Holding Groups of EFIM, a Public LawAgency operating within the State Shareholding System.

Since 1956 OTO Melara had produced the 105/14 Pack Howitzer,under Italian Army licence, that has been delivered in more than 2,500 units to about 40 countries. In the 1960s, the production of well known M113 family vehicle began, together with the M60 MBT, and in the 1970s the LEOPARD tank entered into production.

After those production, OTO Melara started with a new product line in the field of tanks, being designed and developed by the Italian Company's R&D technicians: the OF 40 Main Battle Tank and the Palmaria Self Propelled Howitzer. In 1980 OTO Melara developed an experimental model of the OF-40, designated for export. The OF 40 Tank, 36 of which were sold to the United Arab Emirates, has a great importance, representing the first MBT completely designed and realized in Italy after World War II. The OF 40 can be regarded as high performance main battle tank with advanced armament, armor and driving characteristics.

This tank made widespread use of Leopard-1 components and assemblies in its construction, including engine and transmission and the 105-mm cannon. The body and turret are welded. The sides were covered with anti-shaped-charge plating. The OF-40 Mk2 was a stage of further development, which differred from its predecessor chiefly by virtue of a more sophisticated fire control system, to include agunner's sight with built-in laser rangefinder and stabi-lized commander's sight (developed by the French). The main gun is stabilized in two planes. Mounted on the gun camouflage is a television camera system for use when conducting observation from terrain concealment.

Similar to the Leopard 1, the design was modified for desert climates, with air conditioning, improved engine cooling, etc. The main difference relates to the structure of the hull, which on the Leopard is tilted about 30 degrees while the OF-40 has vertical walls, which gives greater internal volume at the price of greater vulnerability. Even the rear is vertical rather than angled forward. The front has a greater inclination than in the case of Leopard, and is connected with mudguards.

Layout is similar to Leopard 1s with which it shares some components, driver front right, ammunition and NBC pack left, turret centre and engine and transmission rear. Commander and gunner sit right of turret, loader left. The comparison with the Leopard 1 type A3/A4 highlights some significant differences. The hull has been redesigned to be a bit lower, wide and short, boxed and simplified The difference in terms of length (6.89/9.22 for the OF-40 against 7.09/9.54 for the Leopard 1), width (3.51 against 3.41), height (2.68 against 2.76), weight (45 against 42 .5T) is slight but not insignificant.

Main armament comprises a 105mm rifled gun that fires standard NATO ammunition and power-elevates from -9 to +20, with turret traverse 360. A 7.62mm MG is mounted coaxial left of the main armament, and a 7.62mm or 12.7mm MG is mounted on turret roof for anti-aircraft defence. Firecontrol system includes laser rangefinder and stabilised day/night roof sight for commander. OF-40 Mk 2 has the Galileo OG14L2A fire-control system which includes stabilisation system for 105mm gun and a LLTV camera mounted on the turret mantlet and aligned to the 105mm gun.

OF-40 chassis can be used for other weapons systems, such as the twin 35mm anti-aircraft turret, and with a different engine it is used for the Palmaria 155mm self-propelled howitzer and the OTO 76/62 76mm anti-aircraft tank, which is still at prototype stage. Ground forces use armored recovery vehicles [ARV's] for evacuating disabled tanks, IFV's, APC's, and self-propelled artillery from the battlefield as well as for repairing and maintaining equipment and performing cargo-handling and simple excavation work. As a rule, they are created on the basis of tanks and are equipped with a hoisting crane or crane jib, pulling winches (main and auxiliary), towing gear, and disassembly-installation and entrenching tools.

The Italian ARV based on the OF-40 had an armored superstructure which accommodated three crewmembers. The basic equipment included a hoisting crane, pulling winch and dozer blade. The drives were hydraulic. Behind the superstructure was a place for carrying a spare power plant. The vehicle was armed with a 7.62-mm machinegun. Smoke grenade launchers were mounted on the right side of the superstructure.

The Italian corporations OTO Melara and Fiat then formed a consortium for the purpose of developing and producing the Cl main battle tank. Two experimental models had been built by 1988. The Cl had a classical configuration. Its armor protection was significantly better than that of the OF-40. Its 120-mm smooth-bore gun was guidance-stabilized in two planes. Combat load is 40 rounds. A modern fire controlsystem has been installed. The diesel engine (1200 horse-power) was built in a single block with the automatic transmission.

Crew 4
Length 6.89 (9.222 with cannon) m
Width 3.51 m
Height 2.68 m
Weight 43,000-45,500 kg
Motordiesel MTU MB 838 Ca M500 V-10
Power 840 hp
Weight/power ratio 20
Speed 65 km/hr
Suspension torsion bar
Autonomy 600 km
Max slope 60%
Shooting equipment computer, laser rangefinder, additional optional devices
Primary armament 105 mm gun
Secondary armament 2 mtg. by 7, 62 mm MG3 (5700 rounds)
1 x 12.7 mm MG
8 grenade launchersi
Armor steel welded, probably thickness similar to the Leopard 1

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Page last modified: 11-12-2012 14:15:33 ZULU