Leader of the Pack – Assessing the Leopard 1 Formations

The recent one-two punch of “Nordic Forces” and “NATO Forces” has given new and existing WW3:Team Yankee players a host of new options to field the humble Leopard 1 along with the existing West German options. But which of the seven best demands your time. Lee runs the numbers and takes a look.

The Leopard main battle tanks started life as a collaborative project between France, Germany and Italy to design a replacement for their existing, mainly US, 1st generation main battle tanks then in service.  Whilst Italy would leave and France would be kicked off, the project still ultimately became NATO’s MBT, serving with a large percentage of the member states.  Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Greece*, Italy*, the Netherlands, Norway and Turkey* would all join West Germany in operating the type during the cold war.  The tank would also achieve export sales outside of the alliance with Australia replacing its worn out Centurions in the mid-late 70s.

By this point in the world of WW3 Team Yankee we have seven Leopard operators represented in the book.  Of course, not all Leopards are created equal, so how do these all stack up?

To consider this question I split the study into five sections:

Troop Quality –Professionals should always beat Conscripts.  To reflect this I gave each user one point for every soft stat (Courage, Morale, Remount, Counter-Attack, Skill, Assault) that was under the baseline of 4.  I would deduct one for every stat over 4, though there wasn’t any examples of that.

Tank Quality – The Leopards in Team Yankee are all mostly reflect of a Leopard 1A4 standard, sporting all the gadgets such as stabilisers and laser range finders.  However a few pack anti-infantry HESH and cannister rounds or even improved optics.  For each “feature” over the baseline West German version, the country gets a point. 

Platoon Quality – the “NATO standard” formation seems to default on 1 HQ tank and three platoons of three tanks.  A little brittle when your armour is only rated to defeat 30mm autocannons!  Each country gets an additional point for each additional tank in the HQ or core platoon.

Formation Quality – Tanks will get you so far but ultimately this is a combined arms game.  Additionally, the more units we can get in a formation then the more resilient our force is.

Each country gets 1pt each for having at least one: Infantry platoon, Anti-Air platoon, Anti-Tank Guided Weapon platoon, Recce platoon, Artillery unit, 3rd Gen tank platoon.  The formation also gets a point for each additional Leopard platoon it can field and if it can field three main battle tank platoons without competing with another option.

Force deficiencies – If the formation can’t take one of the units from the “formation quality” box, can the force diagram or formation support cover for you without needing a supporting formation.  The country loses a point for each gap.

So, how do things stack up?  Let’s take a look:

Troop Quality

One thing I hadn’t considered was that everyone gets at least one point as all leopard 1 have a 3+ “Remount”.  Everyone starts with points on the board!

The clear winner here is Australia.  With four (“Courage”, “Skill”, “Remount” and “Assault”) of the six soft stats sporting a 3+ it reaps a lot of points early on. 

Germany comes in next with three points, lacking only “Courage”.  Canada and Norway’s professional armies net two points each thanks to their “Skill 3+”.

Tank Quality

Only three countries get bonus points here.  Both Australia and Canada don’t stray far from their British routes and keep some HESH and Cannister for dealing with infantry, gaining “Brutal”.  Denmark also has the only Leopards with “Thermal” gear. 

Platoon Quality

Canada comes out top here. Whilst they are not unique in having the option for big platoons of up to four tanks, all but Belgium and Denmark can also do that, they are the only country that can field up to three tanks in the HQ platoon. That’s a big unit of Leopards that won’t break and can join another platoon for a potential seven tank assault; though that may be a bit fool hardy in a game where almost everyone is packing an anti-tank rocket that won’t be stopped by the bazooka skirts.

Australia, Germany and Norway are all snapping at the heels. They have the option of four-strong tank platoons and, whilst not having as many as three tanks in the HQ, can field two-strong HQ platoons. Still a useful amount.

Formation and Force Quality

I’ll consider these two criteria together, as they are related.

The Dutch score the highest here with 7pts.  Their well equipped formation means the only thing they lack in their formation is artillery and 3rd Gen tanks, but both are in the force though so they don’t lose any points. Their formation also allows up to four platoons of Leopard 1s, three of which are purely for tank platoons. The PRAT can also field the TOW2, unlocking the extra credit for having a >AT23 unit in formation.

Belgium, Canada and West Germany are next with 6pts. Both Belgium and Canada can field up to four tank platoons, at least three of which are purely tank boxes (all four of Canada’s are). All three have infantry and recce in formation (Canada has a lot of recce, but you don’t get extra credit for multiples) and then an additional platoon; Canada brings an anti-tank platoon (with access to >AT23), Belgium brings anti-aircraft with a Gepard platoon and West Germany has both, with the Jaguar and Gepard. In the case of Belgium, they have infantry platoon that can pack a Milan 2 so they get the point for having a >AT23 unit somewhat on a technicality. All three can make up for their formation deficiencies with Force or Formation support; their allies lending a hand, especially for the Germans.

Norway come next with 5pts. Its formation can only field three tank boxes but none of them are compromised further by being shoehorned with another platoon type as a choice. The inclusion of the NM145 anti-tank unit not only ticks the anti-tank box but also grants them the bonus point for high end anti-tank thanks to TOW2, as does the Eryx option (not that I’d take it) on the infantry platoon. Mortars provide an in-formation artillery capability. There isn’t a recce or anti-air option in formation but the force has both available. Its a good, well rounded formation.

Australia come next with 5pts for fromation but losing a point for force deficiencies, being a little hard done by the formula. They are the only nation with a 3rd generation tank, the M1A1, in formation, providing a large boost to protection, firepower and a handy one drop reserve. They also have four tank platoons and can field three as tank platoons without compromising on other capabilities.
The formation also bring infantry and recce capabilities but lacks artillery, AA and anti tank guided missiles.
It’s the latter that causes the issue; unlike AA and artillery, the force structure has no anti-tank missile unit to make up for the deficit. Some may accuse me of being harsh here; the force structure does have Lynx helicopters with TOW and its easy to fit a second formation with Milan 2 teams (as I’ll cover in a future article), but these have their own issues; helicopters can be countered by long range SAM and some tournaments place restrictions on formation count. Ultimately this inability to cover the deficiency costs Australia a point penalty and knocks the formation score down a peg compared to Norway.

Denmark bring up the rear as it has much the same composition as the Norwegians but can’t bring a high end anti-tank missile to the fight.


Jotting the scores up, Canada and Australia both got the most overall point, with Canada winning out overall on the basis of topping two categories to Australia’s one. The West Germans and best Germans, topping out the Euro-Leopards and just falling behind the two Commonwealth entries.

As always, these points are very subjective and the devil, as ever, rests in the detail. The proof will be very much in the playing.

3 thoughts on “Leader of the Pack – Assessing the Leopard 1 Formations

  1. I’m surprised that you didn’t take cost into account, e.g., Canada and Australia, which came out on top, pay a premium for their Leos, as do the Danes who finished in last place!

    1. Yep the Danes used to pay a premium , for the AAMG they didn’t have listed . 🙂

  2. In the Panzertruppen there was a PanzeraufklärungsKompanie which allowed for a HQ and 4 Zugs of 3 Leo 1 , this got dropped when the new West German book came out .

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