The "Merkava" tank series is the self-produced main battle tank of the Israeli army. There are 3 versions in service: II, III and IV. The Merkava Mark IV (which is the subject of this review) is one of the state-of-the-art modern battle tanks in current service, and is equipped with 120mm smooth bore gun that can fire AP, HEAT and APFSDS rounds. It is also equipped with a co-axial MG, commander’s MG and the 0.5 cal. MG fixed on the gun itself.
To accompany their PE detail set (a review of which can be found here
), Voyager has also released a PE set to recreate the side skirts of the Merkava IV for those who are unsatisfied with Academy’s one piece skirts. This PE set represents the tank’s “normal” side skirts, meaning they are not the LIC ("low intensity combat") type. This is important to those who do wish to do an LIC version, as these are not the heavy duty skirts made for that that model. For those, you will have to search elsewhere (I believe Legend makes such a set).
The set comes on 4 PE sheets, and includes (almost) everything you need to create fully and very detailed side skirts for the Merkava IV. The PE sheets break down as follows:
- Sheets "D" and "F" cover the side skirts themselves
- Sheet "I" covers the attachments of the side skirts to the tank
- Sheet "G" (with some parts from "F") covers the side skirts’ holders
- 2 metal pipes to recreate the bolts’ housing
Along these parts you can find:
- 2 space indicators, one for each side
- Scale bolts to recreate the real ones
- A length of chain
And of course, instructions.
The one thing you notice at first glance from this set is that it does not come boxed like the usual detail set. This means some parts may be bent due to their nature and size (most are sheets of brass as you can see). Indeed, some arrived bent. So exercise caution when opening the parcel in which it comes, and in the building process. If some parts are bent, try and straighten them very carefully whilst they are still on the cardboard they arrive on.
The instructions are pretty straight-forward, and easy to understand. But the build process itself is a bit trickier than what you may be used too. There are some interim build steps. This is indeed a PE "kit," as most of the parts are not just bent and attached to model. For example, each side skirt’s holder consists of 6 parts, and that’s not including building the tank-to-skirt attachments. The skirts themselves also require assembly, and consist of another 8 parts. So be ready to spend some time at the bench building this set.
In my opinion, some skill in soldering PE is needed, though you may do just fine with CA glue. Parts are very crisp and contain all the details you need (or want) to build the standard Merkava IV skirts (again, to avoid confusion – this is NOT a set for LIC side skirts). Instructions are clear and simple, as can be expected from Voyager. Unlike their detailing PE set for the Merkava, this one is not needed as much for the model, and I expect folks can do just fine without it. But given the high level of detail and the overall quality of this set, I find that if you go for a non-LIC version, you should consider getting this upgrade, too. The build may no be the easiest thing to do, but it will add to your model.
Also note: though soldering skills will make the overall process easier– you don’t need to fiddle with glue, and you can maneuver a bit better with it– you can do the job with CA glue. The thing you probably do need is some form of PE bender like “The Bug” or the likes.
I recommend this kit to everyone who wants to detail-up his Merkava IV. The build may be a bit intimidating at the start, but once you get the hang of it, and treat it just like you would treat a model kit, all the sub-assemblies become easier. Once you get the hang of one-two such sub-assemblies, you will find the process going faster. Actually, I have experimented with PE soldering on some left-over PE bits to get used to this skill in preparation for this very set. After some ruined parts, you get the hang of it, and it becomes easier than you might think. So don’t be afraid to try– but as I’ve said, you could do with glue.
To compliment this review I have started a detailed up build blog which can be found here.