Among main battle tanks, the Merkava’s design is unique. Favoring crew protection, its design has the engine mounted in the front of the vehicle for added protection. A succession of variants has improved on the original.
Trumpeter’s Merkava Mk.III adds to the list of Merkava kits available to modelers of 1/72 scale armor. The kit is neatly molded in gray plastic with no flash or ejector-pin marks to mar the exterior finish. No crew figures or photoetched metal are included.
The kit is simple and straightforward. The upper hull is molded in one piece and includes the side armor plates covering the suspension. Vehicle tools are molded to the upper hull, but do not look very convincing this way.
I started construction with the lower hull, adding the suspension arms and springs. The molding of the one-piece plastic tracks includes the fronts of all the wheels; you need to add the separate rear wheels and drive sprockets to make the assembly complete.
The turret builds up from two major parts and is completed with the installation of the main gun, exterior machine guns, turret accessories, and turret basket. I was disappointed that the distinctive Israeli ball-and-chain protection for the turret rear was not provided.
There were no problems bringing the subassemblies together to complete the model.
I finished with a combination of Testors Model Master and Tamiya acrylic paints. Decals are given for two vehicles, but only one is illustrated in the instructions. The decals went down on a gloss undercoat with no trouble. Note that the turret ID decals in real life are usually cloth sheets; I applied these directly to the turret basket, but you might want create something more realistic.
I built my Merkava in a quick seven hours, and the completed model looks convincing. It’s a great kit for beginners, but it also can appeal to experienced builders.
Note: A version of this review appeared in the March 2013 FineScale Modeler.