|Review by Simon Barnes||Kit #72003|
The IDFs latest MBT, fully digilatised for better combat and situational awareness, Mounting an improved version of the locally produced 120mm gun which can fire a whole new range of ammunition which includes the new LAHAT missile which can be used against both tanks and Helicopters, similar to the Russian Svir.
Cromwell have released this kit as third in the line, as far as I know it is the only Merkava 4 kit in any scale, which makes us a very lucky group.
The kit is broken down the same as the previous releases, with the hull and running gear being cast as one piece, with the exception this time, that the tow hooks need to be glued into place, also the rear portion of the side skirts need to be added, on the real vehicle these are of the bar type, Cromwell have cast these very well as seperate parts which need to be put into place. The hull has the correct production chevrons for the exhaust and not the straight slanted ones as seen on pre-production vehicles. The tracks come with the now usual resin blocks that need to be removed to the underside of the track. All details are moulded in place and very finely done, including the tow ropes down the side, there is a nice anti slip texture to the top surface of the hull. all details are correct as far as I can make out from the various pictures I have of the beast.
the main turret is also moulded as a single item with the commanders hatch and MG to be added along with the main gun, due to the break down the main gun gan be positioned in elevation. For those of you wondering there is no loaders hatch on the Merkava 4, during developement attention was paid to the turret roof protection, with it being one of the most vunerable points of any tank, the Israelis found that whilst uparmouring the turret roof, the addition of a loaders hatch would greatly weaken the turret structure and so it was omited, in the event of being hit the crew bail out of the doors in the rear of the hull anyway. My only criticism would be the .50 cal MG for mounting above the main gun, I have very few references of how this fits, in fact I have one very small picture of an in service vehicle with it fitted, however this is not my complaint, it is the barrel of the 50 cal that I find to be the weak point, with the 50 cals on the other models being better.
All In all a very nice model, I would still recommend this to all modelers of any ability, although it has a few more parts they are still very few and pose no difficulty in placement. Ith kit comes without instructions or decals, it is advised that references are used when assembling, there are plenty of pictures on the internet for this purpose, the decals will have to be sourced elsewhere or hand painted for those more adventurous.
Many thanks to Gordon Brown of Cromwell Models for the Review example.
Modern Israeli Tanks and Infantry Carriers 1985-2004 by Marsh Gelbart Osprey publishing New Vanguard 93
Various photos from the internet