by: Federico Collada [ ]
Since its origin in the eighties the Merkava has caught the attention of every army in the World. The IDF developed their own tank after having too bad experiences with the politically changing treatments with its allies that had supported them inconstantly during the previous decades. Although the creation of the Merkava supposed a huge economical investment, it was worth the effort as since then Israel has equipped its land forces with a mighty tank that has been claimed many times as the best of its generation.
The Merkava has been upgraded along the years with the latest technology, armour, etc available to reign in the battlefield.
With every Takom kit I build increases my opinion that they are the new Tamiya, they provide the modelling community with easy building high quality kits constantly targeted to the beginner and average modeller just the same as the Japanese company did many decades ago. I canít help thinking of this as the kit Iím building today has been a Tamiya classic for many decades and no other option has been available since 1988 and although Hobbyboss and Meng have released the later version in recent years the original Mk.I model was somehow forgotten. Now we have a completely new tooled kit that is up to what any modeller can expect form a modern model kit.
When we open the box we find the usual Takom parts panels made in good quality grey plastic, some transparent ones, a couple of photoetched parts, the necessary decals and a little tin foil. The instructions are not the small kind provided with some of their kits lately but the former big one where both the building process drawings and the painting instructions can be clearly seen. The whole tank is made of not too many parts as many details have been simplified or reproduced in larger parts to avoid a complicated building, this can be a drawback for the most experienced modellers, but will surely please the ones who dislike to deal with thousands of tiny parts to finish their models.
The building starts by adding the suspension elements to the hull, these parts are well detailed but not workable, the tracks provided are links & length so any positioning but the indicated one is not possible, there is a jig to place all the parts correctly, even the tracks, but as they fir perfectly well to the hull this is not necessary.
The idler wheel is provided with another jig to signal where the holes of the outer rim surface must be drilled. The running wheels are provided in two types, while the inner ones are made in a single piece, the outer ones are provided with separate rubber and metal rims for a more exact representation, all this is very easy as all the parts involved are big enough for handling.
After adding some details to the upper hull part you must choose if you want to represent the rear access door open or closed.
As I mentioned before, some details have been simplified for an easier building, the towing hooks are moulded together with their attaching plates, the spare links with their fixation points, the side skirts in a single piece, the jerrycan with its basket, etc.
Passing to the turret the process is more or less the same than with the hull, adding the details is a straightforward job and only some care must be taken if you want to represent an early Mk.I model as some elements like the front MG, the chain and balls curtain, etc were added after the first action experiences.
The main gun is provided in two halves but as the joint lines coincide with the thermal protection halves too not much putty and sanding will be required. Unfortunately although the gun shield is designed to pivot between the turret halves, the canvas cover is moulded in the same pieces and the fit with the turret to the minimum so in the end no movement is possible.
There are options for the antenna bases so you can decide if you want to use them or not.
Decals are provided for two unidentified vehicles and the painting guide suggests the colours of the Mig brand.
This is another pleasing building kit from Takom, made it affordable both in price and skill for the average modeller. The most demanding ones will surely wait for some upgrades to substitute the most simplified parts but all and all itís a highly welcome kit that modellers have waited too long to have.