The following information is from Army-Technology
The 65t Merkava 4 main battle tank entered full production in 2001 and began operational training with the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) in July 2003. The first battalion of Merkava Mk 4 tanks entered service with the Israel Defence Forces in 2004.
The Ministry of Defence plans to manufacture between 50 and 70 Merkava 4 tanks a year and up to 400 tanks may be manufactured in total, although budgetary constraints put these numbers in doubt. The Merkava 4 has been extensively improved including new armour protection and gun and electronics systems.
Merkava 4 is slightly larger than the Merkava 3 Baz, which has been in service with the IDF since 1990. The Merkava 3 is offered for export by SIBAT based in Tel Aviv. The Merkava 4 is not offered for export but the systems and components are exported. In July 2018, the IDF unveiled the Merkava Mk. 4 Barak, the latest version of the Merkava 4 tank. The new tank is a smart tank equipped with advanced features such as artificial intelligence, upgraded sensors, and virtual reality (VR) capabilities. A new helmet, known as Iron View, allows soldiers to see outside the combat tank, while a smart mission computer onboard the tank will manage its activities.
Merkava 4 main battle tank capabilities
The tank is capable of carrying eight infantry soldiers, consisting of a command group or three litter patients (stretcher casualties) in addition to the tank crew of commander, loader, gunner and driver. The tank is capable of firing on the move at moving targets and has demonstrated high hit probability in firing against attack helicopters using conventional anti-tank munitions.
Major contractors include: the El Op Electro-Optic Industries subsidiary of Elbit Systems which is responsible for the fire control system; the Israel Defence Force which carries out main construction and system integration and testing; Israel Military Industries for the supply of the main gun, ballistic protection and munitions; Imco Industries for the electrical systems; Urdan Industries for the hull, main turret and castings; and IAI Ramta for protection components.
The main part of the tank production, the construction of the hull and integration of all the systems is carried out in the Israel Defence Force workshop.
Merkava 4 battle tank weaponry
Merkava 4 has a new all-electric turret developed by Elbit and subsidiary El-Op. Only one hatch is installed in the turret, the commander’s hatch. The improved 120mm smooth-bore gun has been developed by Israel Military Industries.
The new gun is an advanced generation of the gun developed for the Merkava 3. A Vidco thermal shroud on the gun reduces bending of the barrel resulting from environmental and firing conditions. The gun can fire higher power munitions including new 120mm high-penetration projectiles and guided shells.
The loader can select semi-automatically the ammunition type. The tank carries 48 rounds of ammunition each stored in a protective container. An electrically operated revolving magazine contains ten ready-to-fire rounds.
The range of ammunition includes APFSDS-T M711 (CL 3254), the HEAT-MP-T M325 (CL 3105) and the TPCSDS-T M324 (CL 3139) supplied by the Ammunition Group of Israel Military Industries. The gun is also capable of firing French, German or US 120mm rounds.
The tank is fitted with 7.62mm machine guns and an internally operated 60mm mortar system developed by Soltam Ltd. The mortar can fire explosive and illumination rounds to a range of 2,700m. The protection suite includes an advanced electromagnetic threat identification and warning system.
El Op fire control
The new fire control system, developed by El Op, includes very advanced features including the capability to acquire and lock onto moving targets, even airborne helicopters, while the tank itself is on the move.
The computer-controlled fire control system includes line-of-sight stabilisation in two axes, a second-generation television sight and automatic thermal target tracker, a laser range finder, an improved thermal night vision system and a dynamic cant angle indicator.
The commander’s station is fitted with a stabilised panoramic day and night sight. The integrated operating system includes advanced data communications and battle management. Tadiran developed the Merkava’s communications system, the inter communication system and the VRC 120 vehicular transceiver radio with embedded auxiliary receivers
The tank is fitted with the Amcoram LWS-2 laser warning system, with threat warning display installed at the commander’s station. This links to the Israel Military Industries POMALS (pedestal-operated multi-ammunition launching system) decoy launcher. One launcher is fitted on either side of the tank, which can launch smoke grenades and decoys.
A Merkava 4 has also been fitted with the Rafael Trophy Active Protection System. Trophy provides 360° coverage against anti-tank rockets, anti-tank missiles and tank HEAT (high-explosive anti-tank) rounds. Once Trophy has detected a threat, it is tracked and classified and the optimal intercept point is computed, prior to launching a countermeasure.
Sensors include radar with four antennas placed around the vehicle. The system development was completed in April 2007 and the IDF has approved production for fitting on new Merkava tanks.
The Trophy system entered low-rate initial production (LRIP) in June 2008 and is planned to achieve initial operating capability in late 2009.
The system was successfully tested on the tank by the Israel Defence Force in December 2010. The Trophy system deployed on a Merkava 4 MBT defended an anti-tank missile fired by a gunman near the Gaza Strip security fence in March 2011.
GD 883 V-12 diesel engine
Merkava 4 is powered by a V-12 diesel engine rated at 1,500hp. The engine compartment and one fuel tank are at the front of the tank and two fuel tanks are at the back. The new engine represents a 25% increase in power compared to the 1,200hp powerpack installed on the Merkava 3.
“The Merkava 4 is powered by a V-12 diesel engine rated at 1,500hp.”
The German company MTU manufactures the engine components and the GD 883 engine is manufactured under licensed production by General Dynamics Land Systems in the USA. The engine is transferred to Israel for installation and integration with the automatic transmission and with the engine computer control system. The tank has automatic five-gear transmission rather than four gears as in the Merkava 3. The transmission system is manufactured by Renk. The single position rotary shock absorbers are installed externally.
Merkava 4 Israel Defence Forces Main Battle Tank Hull
The redesign of the hull around the installation of the new powerpack has provided improved frontal armour protection and improvement to the driver’s field of view. For improved reverse driving the driver uses a camera.
A new feature of the tank is that the fitted modular special armour covers the turret. The tank is protected against a range of threats, including air-launched precision-guided missiles and advanced and top-attack anti-tank weapons. Automatic fire detection and suppression has been installed. The underside of the hull has been fitted with additional armour protection against mines.
The driver and crew compartments are equipped with heating and cooling air conditioning and a Shalon Chemical Industries combined individual and overpressure protection systems against contamination by NBC warfare.
This offering from Hobby Boss
is packaged in their usual style of a robust cardboard tray and separate cardboard lid; an approach that means their products usually gets to you in good condition. Opening the box reveals further protection via a segregated section at one end of the box that adds an extra layer of protection to certain parts and increases stability to the package over all. The sprues in the box are for the most pat individually bagged except where duplication is concerned. The kit also includes photo etched and chain elements as part of the model. A look over the parts of the model feels me with a positive opinion when it comes to opening the box.
I remember when Hobby Boss
first released a Merkava IV and the complaints they came in for due to having off set wheel stations as if it was using torsion bar suspension system; this was obviously wrong in this case and I am very pleased to see it has been corrected in this release. The extra mine protection is provided in the model with the armour plate on the belly and front lower belly angled plate. The suspension for the model is now accurately detailed as far as I can see and while not workable I am sure a little work would enable display on an uneven surface.
The wheels have poly caps present and so can be removed for painting if desired. One aspect that I know will not be popular with all is the vinyl rubber tyres which may react adversely with some of the weathering products used in the hobby. I have mixed opinions of using vinyl rubber in the model as it takes away a lot of the painting hate where wheels are concerned and as long as the modeller seals them well no issues should be encountered. The rear idler wheels has been beautifully slide moulded and so you get good face detail with the holes around the contact service very well replicated in miniature.
The tracks are provided via individual track links with two connection points on each link to clean up. The curved appearance I always associate with the Merkava tracks is gone resulting in me digging through reference sources to check if the new straight look is right and yes it is. I know that individual track links do not meet with everyone’s approval, but once you get accustomed to assembly of them they do result in a superior finish and look on the model.
The upper hull of the model has a very nice anti slip texture to it which looks to provide a more scale finished effect to the model. The Merkava is one of those weird tanks where the power plant is in the front and as far as I can tell is considered as additional armour. The exhaust on the right side is replicated using photo etched vanes which results in a good scale effect. Looking at the details added to the upper hull I believe what needs to be covered has been. The Merkava family stores its ammunition in the area normally occupied by the engine and an access door site in the centre rear of the tank; so if the tank carries less ammunition it can be used to transport its own infantry support. This rear door can be assembled open, but would require some creative juices to hide the fact nothing was inside. The stowage area at the rear of the tank has been well represented in the model and provided with what looks like netting in place. The plates that cover these areas is well represented in photo etch by Hobby Boss
, and if the modeller wants to push themselves could be cut into the five separate panels and wired together creating natural movement. The armour protecting the sides of the vehicles has also been well replicated including the twin spring affair on the reverse side, but I have observed what I think is a problem or could be better replicated by the modeller. Along the bottom of these armoured panels is a wave effect which is a rubber skirt on the real vehicle, as such I think the modeller could do some scratch work here and a more realistic look to the finished model be achieved.
The turret of the model is nicely done as it again features the very fine anti slip texture. The shape and form of the turret looks to be a good match for reference. The hatch can be assembled open or closed depending on your desires, but again something will need to be used to fill that hole. I like that Hobby Boss
has provided clear parts where needed and is just one of the touches that I highly approve of. The chain link and ball defensive skirt around the back of the turret has been catered for with chain and small metal balls that have a design which should make their use easier than might have been. I also like that Hobby Boss
has taken the time to indicate just how many links need to be used at each point.
The trophy system around the tank has been well replicated in this offering and from the checks I have done would seem to be correctly placed and angled. The defensive weapons on the turret look to be well replicated and will meet the expectations of most, I particularly like that 50 cal on the main gun has been slide moulded so that the muzzle is open; those modellers looking for greater detail are catered to by a number of aftermarket manufacturers. The main gun is an area I am not happy with as I do not like guns moulded in two halves, especially when the main gun is a complex shape making clean up an issue. The turret stowage basket has been tackled with a plastic frame and the addition of a photo etch surround. The only thing that I question is the floor of the basket as it has been molded solid and should be a solid plate with a lot of holes on it sitting on a metal frame.
Two finishing options are provided for this model by Hobby Boss
, but no detail on what these two finishes offer as regards data which is a shame.
Looking at this model I am very pleased with what Hobby Boss
has provided from the box and that can be further enhanced if the modeller wishes. For me I am more than happy with what is provided by Hobby Boss
from the box with the one exception of the barrel moulded in halves which I am not looking forward to. The aspects I particularly like are the individual track links, the great anti slip texture on the needed mouldings and the ball and chain armour that looks easy to use. I also like that Hobby Boss
has not gone mad with the photo etched elements as I have found that as I get older I find using it harder to manage.