Takom- Merkava Mk.2D
The Merkava, named after the ancient Hebrew war chariot, came about as the result of the need for Israel to have their own main battle tank. Subsequent to World War II, the state of Israel was created in 1948 amid the first Arab-Israeli conflicts that would define the region for decades to come. Over the course of these conflicts, the IDF would field American M4 Shermans and M48s and M60 Pattons, British Centurions, French AMX-13s and Soviet T-54 and T-62s, modifying them and creating such names as "Isherman", "Sho't", "Magach", "Sabra", and "Tiran". The experience gained from operating and modifying these borrowed tanks laid the foundation for the designing and developing of the Merkava after the 1973 Yom Kippur war. They were motivated to prioritize this production with the cancellation of delivery of Chieftain tanks from Great Britain in 1969. Production started in 1977 and design features included a troop compartment in the rear reminiscent of APCs, a 908hp Teledyne Continental AVDS 1790-6A diesel engine, and a flat, arrow-shaped turret housing a fully-stabilized version on the rifled 105mm M68 tank gun. Capacity for 62 rounds (including APFSDS, HEAT, HE-FRAG, and smoke rounds) was supplemented with secondary armament of two US 7.62mm machine guns and a third Browning .50 caliber gun. The tank could carry up to 10 fully equipped troops as well as its crew of 4- the driver, gunner, loader, and commander.
The Mk. 1 saw combat in Lebanon in 1982 and endured various upgrades leading to the more advanced Mk. IID featured in this kit release. Improvements included enhanced fire control and thermal sensors, a new transmission, increased fuel capacity, extra armor, and a relocated mortar within the hull. It also featured classified new modular composite armor and newly designed side skirts for additional protections against threats faced along the Golan Heights. While production of the Mk.II stopped in 1989, they have been upgraded numerous times and repurposed as heavy APCs used to perform medical, logistical, and rescue missions. By late 2016, the last brigade to use Mk. IIs began transitioning to Merkava IIIs and IVs for battlefield missions, leaving their old mounts to reserve forces for border patrol and APC conversions.
What's Inside the Box
This is a really large box-- reminiscent of the Takom Panther boxes featuring the full interior parts. While there is no interior here, you still get a LOT of plastic. It contains thirteen grey sprues, two clear sprues, an upper and lower hull, turret, PE fret, copper cables, and a track alignment jig. It updates parts for the 2018 release of the Mk. IIB in this new release.
The first thing you see upon opening the box is the enormous upper and lower hulls. Details looks very nice with fine weld seams and some screen detail. Surface is smooth with no anti-slip texture noticeable.
The narrow, slender turret stands out next before we get to the main sprues-- once again detail is nice but with no anti-slip present...
Sprue A in the instructions looks to be an oddly-shaped sprue with a large center empty space separating the two strips of parts- but in my kit, the strips were separated. You get two of these and they include parts for the suspension, rear idler and sprocket wheels, spare track links, and return rollers along with many smaller fiddly pieces.
Sprue B and C are connected and contain the final drive housing, numerous panels, toolboxes, and rear housings, machine guns, fuel cans, and numerous small bits-- this is easily the largest sprue in the box.
Sprue J features more fuel cans, road wheels, rear bin panels with the canvas panel detail folds molded in, and more...
Sprue K is a small sprue with track links, tow cable ends, and small delicate parts...
Sprue L has some very delicate frames that will take careful removing, the third machine gun, the two halves of the gun barrel, shovel, and some of the ball and chain curtain pieces- I really like how Takom molded these...no complicated PE and small ball halves like the Academy kit.
Sprue P features much of the composite armor parts and the detail is excellent...one section has slide molded detail as well.
Sprue Q contains the rest of the ball and chain curtains, as well as parts for the turret basket and composite armor...this also has slide-molded detail...
Sprue R mainly has the road wheel parts, another set of sprockets, and more small parts-- there are two of these sprues...
Sprue S contains the link and length tracks and there is an included jig to assemble these. There are knockout marks on the undersides of the links and spaced out under the length pieces.
Sprue W contains the turret bottom, underside armor plate, and further composite armor bits.
Sprue H2 and V contain all the clear lenses and periscopes and the like...
The manual is your standard Takom offering-- with construction done in 29 steps over 19 pages. At the end are options for four schemes:
- 2nd Platoon "Malkot Hermon" Company, 75th "Romach Battailon", 7th "Sa'ar Me'Golan '" Brigade
- 1st Platoon, "Zohar" Company, 77th "Oz" Battalion, 7th "Sa'ar Me'Golan '" Brigade
- "Kfir" Company, 75th "Romach Battailon", 7th "Sa'ar Me'Golan '" Brigade
- "Ga'ash Golan" Company, 82nd Battalion, 7th "Sa'ar Me'Golan '" Brigade
Manual and Track Jigs
Lastly are the other extras included in the zip baggie- including decal sheet, PE fret with screens and chain, a copper cable and chain, and a small strip of lead sheet labeled as "metal part". While there is no indication in the booklet as to what it is to be used for, in other IDF tanks I have built, it is used for the turret basket ID panels I believe. There aren't a lot of other builds of this kit to refer to, but I will keep looking as I approach the paint stage on this one.
Takom has released quite a nice looking kit of this important variant of the Merkava- bridging the transition from Mk II to III and leaving all sorts of options for markings and the like. Detail on the parts at first glance look to be quite excellent (except for the missing anti-slip texture) and I am looking forward to getting the Tamiya Extra Thin out and getting started. The four included schemes don't vary too much- just in the various company and platoon markings for the most part. No dates are indicated, so depending on what you want to model- you may need to do some searching.
My thanks to https://tanks-encyclopedia.com and the folks at AMPS ISRAEL for reference help.
Highly Recommended for Beginner to Advanced builders pending full build.
Thanks goes out to Takom for this review kit.
Reviewed by Michael Reeves
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