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In-Box Review
135
Merkava Mk 3 with Mine Roller
Merkava Mk 3 BAZ with Nochri Dalet Mine Roller System
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by: Darren Baker [ CMOT ]

Introduction

The following introduction is as supplied inside the instruction booklet from Meng;

The Merkava Mk 3 BAZ is the second derivative of the Mk 3 family which is the third generation in the development of the Israeli well known main battle tank MBT, the Merkava. Being compared with the two previous generations, Merkava Mk 3 was a great achievement in both engineering and performance. A new 120mm smoothbore gun as well as a new all- electric turret control system were installed in a wider and more protected turret. The hull was also a new design with a new 1200hp engine coupled to a new transmission and heavy duty final drive located in the front of the tank. Unlike the duel suspension system of the Merkava Mk 1 and Mk 2 the Merkava 3 suspension was based on individual trailing arms suspended by rotary shock absorbers and individual spring sets. The early Merkava Mk 3 suffered from the lack of a state of the art fire control system (FCS) that was installed in later Mk 3 variants and retrofitted to the Mk 3 tanks in service.

The first derivative of the Merkava Mk 3 was a Merkava Mk 3 Rama”qh (Electrical mirror head), named after its FCS configuration. This tank had a low gunners sight, and a commanders sight similar to the Mk 2. A brand new fire control system call BAZ (Barak Zoher in Hebrew, meaning glaring lighting)was installed in the second derivative of the Merkava Mk 3 and identified by the large size gunners sight and the commanders panoramic sight on the turret roof. The Merkava Mk 3 BAZ was also fitted with a heavily armoured engine deck as well as appliqué armour on the turret roof. The loaders hatch was changed to a round version instead of the formerly oval one.

All Merkava tanks can be equipped with the Nochri Dalet mine roller systems, Merkava Mk 1 and Mk 2 used the old one and the Mk 3 uses the reinforced one. The main structure and concept are the same, as is the operating procedure. The only difference is that the old one’s main arm structure made of welded round bars is changed to a heavy duty structure made of a rectangular cross section in the new one so as to strengthen the main arm.

The new Nochri Dalet mine roller is attached to the tank using a detachable adaptor and is much easier than the operation oe welding the old mine roller directly onto a tank. Every Nochri system has an identification number like every tank or vehicle in the IDF. That identification consists of a Tsadi letter and six digit number. All Merkava 3 variants can tow or push a variety of assault engineering devices like bridges, battering rams and more.

The Merkava Mk 3 BAZ is in large service in the ODF both regular or reserved ones, and it took action in the 2nd Lebanon war in the spring of 2006, “Cast Lead” operation in the Gaza strip in the winter of 2009 and many other security activities along the country’s border.

Contents

Inside a fairly deep box you will find;
  • An instruction booklet
  • 2 vinyl rubber track runs
  • 16 grey sprues
  • 2 drive wheels
  • Upper hull
  • Lower hull
  • Turret top and bottom
  • 1 clear sprue
  • 1 decal sheet
  • Poly caps
  • Length of twine
  • Length of wire
  • Length of chain

Review

Meng is still a young company but they are doing a fantastic job of attracting attention, the releases from Meng have attracted a lot of attention from modellers across the globe due to some unique offerings covering Israeli Armour and ww1 also covering the operiod between the wars. One area where Meng has turned their attention to is the Israeli Defence Forces with four vehicle releases and a single figure release thus far. This model of the Merkava Mk 3 BAZ with Nochri Dalet Mine Roller System has been available from Meng for nearly a year now, and I have to say when it comes to an impressive amount of plastic, this kit is an eye catcher. The Israeli offerings from Meng have been produced with the collaboration of Desert Eagle Publishing and so I believe should be fairly accurate.

The plastic parts that go to make up this model are very cleanly moulded and well spaced out on the sprues. I good look through the contents did not results in any issues for concern as the mouldings are of a very high standard. I did not see or locate any of the deformities that usually effect injection moulded plastic models, and when I build the model I do not expect to come across any issues related to moulding quality.

Wheels, Suspension and Tracks
The suspension on this model is very well detailed and a surprisingly large number of parts going into this area of the model. The wheels are connected to the model via the use of poly caps which I was not expecting, however as these do not cause accuracy issues in this case I believe they do make for a good way of attaching the wheels to the model, and they allow for ease of removal at any time for reasons such as painting and weathering. There is one let down on this model which is the tracks; the tracks being the rubber band type would not normally be an issue on a model such as this, however since being packaged they have been distorted and there is an area of damage in one area caused I believe during removal from its carrier. I would have liked to have seen the individual track links supplied with the earlier Merkava kit from Meng the Merkava Mk.3D Early, and while I am aware that modellers as a rule full into two camps I feel Meng could have included both options. The suspension units on this model are not movable and so the model is designed to sit on a level surface; however with some surgery the suspension units it should be possible for them to be displayed as articulated in order to display the model on an uneven surface.

Lower Hull
Having looked at the wheels, suspension and tracks it makes sense to take a look at the lower hull. Most of the detail on the lower hull is added during construction, but what detail there is moulded on is very good. The area that did catch my eye is perhaps one of the smallest details in the form of a chassis numbers, I accept these may have been better as photo etched parts but they are still very nice touches. The rear access door to the tank is supplied as a separate sub-assembly and I believe could easily be left open if a company releases an interior at some point. This is I believe an option that could further enhance this model and add the appeal to those who like to have an interior. The rear hull baskets are an impressive addition to this model due to the option of a naked frame work or a loaded frame with canvas covers option; the canvas covered option is very impressive and in my opinion acts as great eye candy.

Upper Hull
The upper hull is very well detailed and as far as the plastic mouldings go is easily the equal of any manufacturer products I have seen to date, and also has far fewer parts than I expected to find; this aspect of this area of the model will make assembly fairly easy and quick. In some respects the limited number of parts does help in one major aspect that Meng overlooked; Meng has not replicated the anti-slip/skid texture that should be present, and this will not be the easiest detail to replicate due to the other fine detail present, but will be easier than it could have been due to the limited parts count. I have not been able to find the pattern that should be present on the hull and for that matter the turret which makes life hard, but I am sure something will be found covering this aspect sooner or later. I am a little surprised that no company that I am aware of to date has supplied a product specifically for adding modellers in replicating this aspect of modern armour.

Main Gun
The main gun is made up of thirteen plastic parts and is very detailed; the downside of all these parts is that there will be a lot joints that may or may not need to have filler applied, if filler is required clean-up will be difficult and require a lot of care to prevent damage to the moulded detail and avoid flat spots. The main gun when assembled will be moveable via the use of poly caps; I personally would set a position and set it place.

Turret
At the risk of repeating myself I have to say that Meng has done a fantastic job on the turret; perhaps the most impressive area on the model being the floor of the turret basket, I am very impressed with this moulding and is I believe an exceptional example of how far injection moulding has come. The rear turret basket as with the rear hull baskets offers the option of a canvas covered or open basket. While looking at the rear baskets the ball and chain protection has been tackled well by Meng and will not be improved upon much via aftermarket products in my opinion. The very high level of detail that Meng has imparted to this area of the model would have been further improved if they had added the anti-slip texture to the model as I believe the turret will be a difficult area to impart this detail to without obscuring the detail present. Because Meng has supplied the rear turret basket in two options it does mean you have a set of ball and chain armour available for another model. The machine guns supplied in the kit look very fair, but as is usual replacement turned metal barrels where available will enhance this aspect.

Skirt
The armoured skirt protecting the lower hull and suspension has been supplied by Meng with 2 options. You have been given the option of using separate panels or a single run panel and the thickness of the panels is pleasing. The support frame or hanging brackets for the armour plates is well detailed for a plastic offering, and I believe will look the part if the model is depicted with a missing or removed panel.

Nochri Dalet Mine Roller System
The mine roller looks to be accurate when compared to images online, which is not exactly surprising due to the participation of Desert Eagle Publishing in the design of this model. All aspects of the mine roller system look good with one exception in my opinion, and that is the string that is supplied to represent the metal cable portion of the mine roller. I will replace the string/twine with picture hanging cable, this material looks to be a fair representation and is easily manipulated as needed.

Conclusion

This model from Meng has a lot going for it with the excellent detail that has been replicated; however there are a few things that disappoint me as well. On the low side is the lack of anti slip texture, the tracks only being supplied in vinyl rubber and the cabling being supplied in string. The plus side for me is the very high level of detail, the instructions being well laid out and easy to understand, the lack of moulding imperfections, the turret ball and chain detail and the hull and turret baskets.

I am sure there will be many that would have liked to have seen a huge amount of photo etched parts and turned metal barrel amongst other inclusions; that said while I can see some areas that may have benefitted from being supplied in photo etch for the most part this will not be an issue, the barrel is an area I am not willing to jump one way or the other on until I assemble it. I will be replacing the string with picture hanging cable, which I believe will look far superior, and I am seeking out suitable replacement tracks as I feel a model of this quality deserves better than the vinyl rubber offerings supplied. My opinion at this time is that this will build into a great looking model from the box and an exceptional model with some added scratch work and aftermarket products. When looking to purchase this model make sure you shop around, as I have seen prices ranging from $40 to $90.

Related articles

Below is a link to a build of the Merkava 3 BAZ mine roller by Pawel RZYMSKI AKA spitfire303, and this is a build that perhaps did not get the participation it deserved.
Merkava 3 BAZ Live links

Here is a link to a review of the Merkava Mk.3D Early by Damon AKA didgeboy
Merkava Mk.3D Early Live links
SUMMARY
Highs: The high point for me has to be the loaded baskets for the rear of the turret and hull, which should be stunning once painted, detailed an weathered.
Lows: The worst aspect of this model for me has to be the vinyl tracks, which is this sample are distorted and damaged.
Verdict: A model with a lot of potential for a stunning finished product.
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: TS-005
  Suggested Retail: $50.oo
  PUBLISHED: Feb 25, 2014
  NATIONALITY: Israel
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 87.04%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 89.82%

Our Thanks to Meng Model!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Darren Baker (CMOT)
FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH WEST, UNITED KINGDOM

I have been building model kits since the early 70’s starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70’s, I have had lots of opportunitie...

Copyright ©2019 text by Darren Baker [ CMOT ]. All rights reserved.



Comments

I have this kit and it's real nice, the only disapointment I can see is the tracks. They can be replaced. On another track, Legend has a turret basket set for the Meng Merkava kits. I have 2 of them and they are real nice. Donald
FEB 24, 2014 - 09:28 PM
Thanks Donald I will take a look.
FEB 24, 2014 - 09:48 PM
really enjoyed reading!
FEB 25, 2014 - 03:33 AM
This is one of the three new kits I bought this year and I have to say it's a very nice kit. I'm getting pretty anxious to get in to it, but still can't decide on how to do the anti-slip....
FEB 25, 2014 - 05:01 AM
   

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