Merkava Mk. IV – Assembling

This Merkava IV scale model is easy to assemble except for the “balls and chains” protection and some minor issues.

A few time ago I bought this model by Academy, depicting a tank that has always fascinated me, both for some of its features and for its "sci-fi" look.

The kit comes out with 5 sprues for the pieces, plus separately the two halves of the hull, all in sand-coloured polystyrene. There are also a set of brass photo-etchings, some soft polyvinyl caps, a nylon string and a decal sheet. The model seems to be motorizable, as can be guessed by some holes in the hull and by the presence of the polyvinyl caps (inserted into the wheels, they allow them to rotate easily).

The assembly is quite easy, the plastic is well workable and there are relatively few joints to fill. Although it's not mandatory, one might want to fill the motorization holes at the bottom of the hull:

The photo-etched parts, used instead plastic ones or decals, allow to improve the detail level of some components:

whereas they are necessary for the "balls & chains" screen in the turret rear. In this case, the kit provides several semi-spheres that need to be cut and glued, with cyanoacrylate, to the photo-etched parts.

Most of the surfaces are textured with a pattern simulating the anti-slip coating. Although dimensionally correct, it might become less visible after the painting steps.

The tracks are of the "run & length" type, that is with single links for the curved parts and continuous sections for the straight ones. Its assembling hasn't been difficult, and can be seen in a video tutorial I posted earlier.

Actually I found some flaws:

  • each track link has two ejection marks;
  • the PE "chains" are too long, thus once the turret is mounted they scrape on the hull (I had to glue them slightly higher);
  • I found the notch for the cannon mount unexplainably rotated by 90° to the right...
  • the cannon itself has a caliber of 105 mm (like that of Merkava 1), instead of 120 mm. This can be seen in the photo below, where the gun muzzle (of the finished model) is compared with that of the Ariete, that actually is of the same caliber.
The gun muzzles of Merkava 4 (left) and Ariete.

Here are the turret and the hull already mounted:

As a further detailing, I added two control cables, made with copper wire, for the .50 cal support machine gun, plus a protection I saw in some photos on the Web, made with a piece of PE frame:

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