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Merkava Mk.4M w/Trophy Active Protection System (TS-036) 1:35


Mike
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Merkava Mk.4M w/Trophy Active Protection System (TS-036)

1:35 Meng Model via Creative Models

 

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The Merkava name has a long history with the Israeli military, and the Merkava IV is the latest in a line of main battle tanks that have been in service since the 1970s.  The design has evolved over the years into the Mk.4, which bears a family resemblance to the earlier vehicles.  The Mark.IV is a product of the new millennium, and builds upon the shoulders of the Mark.III, incorporating all the latest protective and offensive systems that are necessary to improve survivability in an increasingly missile dominated battlefield.  It is also fitted with a larger 120mm gun, and has modular armour packages that can be compared to the TUSK armour of the US Abrams MBT.  Fire control is highly automated, and when it was decided to extend the life of the IV, introduction of helmet mounted targeting and advanced protection systems were developed to give the tankers a 360o view of the battlefield, which gives a huge advantage in situational awareness over tanks that still rely on vision ports and periscopes.

 

The Trophy protection system was developed by Raphael Advanced Defence Systems Ltd., and is designed as an all-round autonomous missile destroyer, picking up threats with four sensor panels, instantaneously calculating the trajectory and arrival time of incoming missiles, and intercepting them with a blast of pellets that shred the missile with their kinetic energy, whilst posing minimal danger to surrounding troops or non-combatants.  It also "grasses up" the position of the firer of the weapon to the crew, and in addition can give nearby units the location so that reaction times are reduced, and they don't have to wait for another round if the crew missed the location first time around.  They are developing an extension to the system to handle Discarding Sabot Kinetic Penetrators, which will open up new possibilities for survival of tanks and other vehicles in the battlefield.  In Israeli its name translates to Windbreaker, and since introduction in 2011 not a single IVm has been lost to RPG or anti-tank missiles.

 

 

The Kit

This is Meng's first tooling of the Merkava IV, having engaged in a number of earlier versions some while back, so you could say they're back on the wagon after a fallow period where they concentrated on other things.  As usual with Israeli subjects, Desert Eagle Publications have been involved in the development of the kit and markings, which is indicated on the box lid, and on the inside cooperation with the curator of the Latrun Armoured Corps Museum is also acknowledged.  The kit arrives in the standard satin Meng box, and under the lid there are sprues right up to the lip, and it has clearly been bestowed with lavish detail throughout, and a comprehensive list of contents, as follows:

 

8 x sprues in sand coloured styrene

Turret top, bottom, upper hull, M2 machine gun receiver and idler wheels off-sprues

2 x black sprues of track links

1 x clear sprue

1 x Photo-Etch (PE) sheet with nickel-plating

1 x length of chain

1 x length of brass wire

1 x sprue of polycaps

1 x decal sheet

 

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The instructions complete the package along with a separate colour painting and markings guide on glossy paper.    Main Battle Tanks have a tendency to get larger over time, especially with spaced armour or ERA blocks, and this is evident from the size of the hull and turret parts.  There is also a degree of slide moulding to produce outstanding details, such as the styrene springs that are found along the edge of one sprue.  The anti-slip texture on the exterior faces is also well done and in-scale, with this level of attention to detail pervading almost the whole kit.

 

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Construction begins with the road wheels, which have separate tyres and outer rims, with a polycap sandwiched between each pair.  The idler and drive sprockets also have polycaps at their heart, while the larger twin return rollers are permanent fixtures once glued in.  The lower hull and sides are put together and the rear crew access door is framed using extra parts, while the suspension is built from a large number of parts, including those incredible styrene springs, which are one per swingarm, with the torsion arms threaded through holes in the hull.  The rear door is a block of a thing, and is affixed to the frame, with two tubular framed stowage baskets flanking it and the rear brackets for the belly armour below them.  The armour is a single shaped part that has strong shackles front and back that hold it in place under the tank.

 

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Tracks!  Everyone has their preference, and these are individual links that comprise two parts each, which glue together around the previous part to retain workability once set.  They are moulded in black to ease painting, and have three attachment points to the sprues each, which are on the curved edges that won't be seen, so clean-up of these will be relatively easy.  There are two sprues, and each one seems to suffer from flash in two main places, which will mean additional clean-up of the delicate parts that won't be easy, and can't be left because it will interfere with fit.  There are rectangular ejector pin marks on each half of the links, and these seem to have a small amount of flash around each one, which will need scraping off before they will fit together.  Add to this their penchant to bow slightly, and you have a difficult set of parts to glue together, especially when you consider that the aim is to finish up with workable links.  I have built up two pairs of links from the flashed and non-flashed areas, and although there are only half a dozen flashed links per sprue, the ejector-pin flash and general fiddliness gave me headaches, and resulted in me having to clamp them closed while the glue set up.  I suspect that this will cause a great deal of extra work for the builder, and once you consider that there are to be two lengths of 95 links each, it will put some off for sure.  Friulmodel do a replacement set in white metal, but as that's an additional cost, I'd have a go at a few links and see whether it's a job you'll relish or not.

 

With the tracks out of the way, it's the turn of the upper hull, which is a large slab to which the exhaust port and rear bulkheads are added, along with a bunch of vision blocks, hatches, travel lock and mesh panels on the engine deck and over the exhaust.  Pioneer tools are added, and the large attachment brackets for the side skirts are fitted along the sides of the hull, then installed once the two halves of the hull have been joined along with mudflaps and rear extension.  The two tow cables/chains run down the top of the left skirt, and these are made up from 165mm of chain with styrene eyes, and 150mm of braided cable, again with styrene eyes.

 

The turret is a focal point of any AFV model (apart from those without turrets of course!), and the large faceted clam-shaped turret of the IVm is quite impressive.  There is no interior, so the main gun is built from two halves with a ring that slips over the business end and slides down to the fume extractor hump.  A wedge of mantlet is constructed around it, and this is later fixed into the slot in the front of the turret, which is surprisingly closed up before installation.  The turret top and bottom are completed by the rear bulkhead, which is covered with track links and other equipment, then the mantlet is glued in the front, some additional armoured hardware is fitted to the roof, and two of the Trophy sensor panels are installed in the cheeks either side of the gun.  The turret may be shallow, but it is covered with small parts; spare ammo canisters; commander's range finder; the commander's vision blocks, which are fitted into a semi-circular insert that drops into the deck; commander and loader's hatch; panoramic sight turret, and a large tubular-framed turret basket with the ball & chain shot-trap curtain that has become synonymous with Israeli tanks.  The basket has spare jerry cans and sensor masts added, and just forward of this, two more Hard-Kill APS panels are fitted into the armour, with drop-down protective shields that save them from damage when not in use.  The commander has a MAG machine gun on a ring in front of his hatch, while the M2 .50cal derivative machine gun is mounted centrally over the main gun, and is controlled remotely.  The turret fits to the hull with a bayonet lock, and the piece of wire that's supplied can be used in sections to attach PE tactical marking panels that are appropriate to the decal option you have chosen.

 

 

Markings

Sinai Grey is the colour, although I had a bit of trouble tracking down MC-207 in the Meng Colours branded AK range.  There are loads of Sinai Greys out there though, and it might be so new that it isn't listed yet.  All vehicles are painted the same colour, with only their unit and tactical markings to differentiate.  From the box you can build one of the following:

 

  • Tank 11 Gimel, 1st "Shelaqh" (Sword) Battalion, 401st Armoured Brigade IDF, Golan Heights, Oct 2014
  • Tank Dalet, 2nd Company, 1st "Shelaqh" Battalion, 401st Armoured Brigade IDF, during training on the Golan Heights, Jun 2015
  • Tank Gimel, 3rd "Magen" (Shield) Company, 3rd "Eshet" (Steel) Battalion, 401st Armoured Brigade IDF, during training on the Golan Heights, Mar 2016

 

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Decals are printed in China with good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas.  The majority of decals are white, while some have black shadows painted on, and one has grey lowlights on the winged shield.

 

 

Conclusion

With the exception of the tracks, which I can't warm to however hard I try, this looks to be a good model of an interesting subject.  The detail is excellent, and it represents a thoroughly modern IDF AFV, with plenty of scope for weathering and dust effects.

 

Recommended.

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Review sample courtesy of

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  • 2 months later...

The Metal protective cover, for the Trophy weapon dispenser is a Later addition.

 

The earl covers were just canvas, and they all will have the Metal protective cove now.

 

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Net Photo (BM)                                                      Net Photo

Edited by magman2
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