by: Russ Amott [ ]
Legend Productions was one of the first manufacturers to jump on the Israeli Merkava tank, offering full resin kits and a wide variety of upgrades for the recent styrene offerings. One of the simple accessory sets is an upgrade to the remote .50 cal MG mounted at the front of the turret, above the main gun. This gun is used against "soft" targets with light armor that require something more than the 7.62mm machine gun can offer, but don't need a hit from the 120mm main gun.
The kit comes in a small, end opening box with a photograph of the completed gun set. Inside the box is a small plastic pouch with the resin parts for two machine guns broken down on three trees per gun-one for the receiver and barrel, one for the charging handle, grips and baseplate and the last for the remote firing box, ammo box and cradle and shell bag. There is also an etch fret with detail parts and some .5mm brass wire to make the frame for the shell bag if you choose not to mount the latter. There is a small instruction sheet which has several photographs of the kit in various stages of assembly from different angles, so you can see how parts go together.
The casting of the resin parts is excellent, with no blemishes or bubbles that I could see. The barrel looked just slightly bent or warped, but I have a hard time determining this under magnification. Each of the resin parts must be separated from the resin pour block, which does require care as the parts can split or break easily. Once each part was removed and cleaned up I sorted them out for assembly.
The build started with installation of the trigger on the rear of the gun. I drilled out the mounting location slightly to get a more secure attachment and placed the grip bracket. The frame for the remote firing mechanism is made of two etch parts plus two resin handles. The etch parts consist of the exterior piece, which is flat on top and bottom, but the rear has a 90 degree piece and a 45 degree bend. The center piece then fits from the inside. I attempted to get it to fit to the inside, but it should butt against the outside edges of the first piece, at least based on closer examination of the instructions. I thought I would be daring and try soldering brass to get the part to hold together while I fussed with it. This also required the use of brass wire for the grips as the resin and CA glue would not hold. I got a fair result, which I was able to mount to the gun.
Next, I drilled out the pintle mount and used a wire to hold things together. I placed the gun mount, spent shell bag, charging handle and what I think it the remote firing lever, and the handle on the barrel, and that was it. Assembly was really quite simple with enough care and attention given to the parts.
For comparison, I also assembled the .50 cal from the Meng Merkava IIID early kit I have in the stash. The obvious difference between the two is the much higher level of detail on the Legend Productions kit. I have tried to determine the difference between the remote firing devices on both guns, but my searches have not been very successful other than that the Legend Productions set appears to represent a later version. I have seen photos with the type represented in the Legend Productions kit mounted on Merkava III tanks.
This set is fairly easy to build, and presented no major issues. The parts are well designed and have a high degree of detail but they were not well protected in the box which could cause some problems with breakage in rough shipping. The instructions are a little blurry and it was somewhat difficult to determine exact placement for some parts. There are two complete guns included, so you can detail two tanks. Retail shows a price of $12.00 US, but online prices varied considerably.