The Oto Melara Leone (Lion in English) was a joint co-operation between Italy’s Oto Melara and the German company known as Krauss-Maffei. There were several other German and Italian companies also involved who all agreed on trying to create an export tank mainly for middle eastern countries to acquire while the main production lines of Italian and German Leopard tank were underway. The project mainly started due to issues regarding law in Germany, about the exportation of specific vehicles, so in efforts to continue the loophole, 50% of the tank would be made in Germany while the final 50% would be finished and assembled in Italy, inside of the OTO Melara factory in la Spezia. The official project started in 1975 and would be revealed in 1976 to the public, the main role was to allow third world countries and other middle eastern countries the ability to effectively buy a cost efficient Leopard tank. Due to this many technical components of the tank had to be fitted to make sure it would work well in its intended environment, so it would be outfitted with greater ventilation, cooling and filtration systems so it could operate in much harsher and warmer climates. This was done due to the main possibile export market being the middle east, so everything had to be made in such a way to allow the users of the product to not be dissatisfied with their new vehicle. The shares of the vehicle would be a 50-50 split between Italy and Germany, as at the end of they day both countries were equally involved in this project. The hull, engine, transmission, and running gear were made in Germany and the turret, armament, and electrical equipment would be made in Italy. Also as previously mentioned the tank would be finally be assembled in Italy. The sole and only known prototype of the vehicle would be completed in 1977, with the sole interest of the vehicle being Pakistan, although as everyone knows nothing came out of that. There would be a crew of 4 in total. A lot of logistics would be similar to the the Leopard 1, in terms of armament it had access to an Italian made OTO Melara 105mm stabilized rifled cannon, which would more than likely be able to fire Heat, APDS and Hesh rounds, just like the later product of the Lion, the OF-40. The coaxial and roof mounted machine guns would be represented in the form of MG-3’s, but if a buyer had a specific need for a different type of weapon to be put there instead, it could be changed. The armor and survivalbility are very similar to the Leopard 1, infact the whole vehicle used to be called ‘’ Leopardino ‘’ or in Italian ‘’ Small leopard ‘’ due to how similar they were all thing considered. Ammo is stored infront of the vehicle, again similarly to the Leopard series of tanks. It also had access to x8 smoke grenades in case there was a need to disengage for potential targets, 4 would be mounted on each side of the vehicles turret. Lastly but not least it also had access to night vision devices, for any and all nocturnal usage of the vehicle. At the end of the day with 1 prototype being complete, and basically no interest around the world, Germany most likely pulled out and Italy wasn’t able to export the vehicle due to some contract licensing issues. This would be however be used as the base of what would be known as the OF-40, a fully Italian project that aimed to do the same things the Lion couldn’t do.
I’ve been saying for years that this should be a squad Vehicle