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Meng Merkava Mk.IVM

FineScale Modeler reviews the 1/35 scale armor kit with superb slide-molded machine guns
Israel’s current main battle tank, the Merkava, (chariot in Hebrew) entered service in 1979. Since then, the design has undergone several updates leading to the Mk.IV with enhanced protection and modular armor for quick repairs. 

The latest tanks, Mk.IVMs, are fitted with the Trophy active protection system that can intercept incoming rockets and missiles.

Meng’s Mark IVM packs in the details, including crisp, slide-molded machine-gun barrels and perfectly formed V-shaped belly armor. Despite the relatively high parts count, the kit builds rather quickly.

The seams on the hull virtually disappear with many components joining along welds seams. The Merkava’s suspension is a neat combination of torsion bars and external springs. The kit’s parts, including slide-molded springs, provide for a convincing working suspension. Unfortunately, most of this terrific detail won’t be visible after the skirts are fitted.

The individual-link tracks presented the kit’s biggest challenge. Designed to be working with the suspension, each link comprises two parts. The links in my sample were marred by flash and ejection marks that needed to be removed for the tracks to assemble properly.

The upper hull built up quickly without any real hiccups as most of the parts seemingly fell into place. The molded antiskid texture on upper surfaces looks scale correct.
The majority of the turret builds from upper and lower halves that perfectly nails late-variant Merkava shapes. At first glance, the main gun split in halves seems like a throwback, but the fit is spot-on and the thermal jacket hides the seam. The cannon’s elevation is fixed because the mantlet is fixed in the turret. On the other hand, all of the hatches are movable and have detail on inside surfaces. The turret bustle rack is scale thin; sharply molded ball-and-chain sections attach underneath.

I painted my Merkava with a custom mix of Tamiya acrylics.

Helped by good fits, I finished Meng’s Merkava in less than 30 hours.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the November 2018 issue.


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