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Merkava Mk IV LIC

June 8, 2014 in Armor

As this was the last model in my stash, I thought I’d complete the build and dust-off the ‘Armor’ category for a change of pace.

This is Academy’s 1/35 kit (13227) of the Israeli Main Battle Tank, the Merkava Mk. IV, in its LIC (Low Intensity Combat) configuration – that is to say, urban warfare.

The kit includes a PE fret and a few other items, but I opted for Voyager Models’ PE set 35413, one of half a dozen different sets produced by VM for the Merkava. The VM set has four separate, intricate PE frets, metal cable, and metal wire in different gauges for aerials.

I didn’t use all the PE. As with all similar sets, there are pieces so small that even when installed the added-value of detail is negligible. However, many pieces for the machine guns, gun mounts, grilles, handles, and other principle ‘action’ points have been used to good effect.

The Academy instructions are adequate, if a little vague in places. A good reference is useful, both for clarifying points in the instructions and for additional detailing, such as the remote firing cables for the machine guns, and other similar. For my reference, I used “Merkava Siman 4 in IDF Service” (Mass/Levy), Desert Eagle Publishing No.3 – an excellent book.

The kit comes with two figures, but I chose to use figures from Meng Models’ IDF Tank Crew (HS-002), as the poses lent themselves to the title of this vignette, “Between Patrols: South Lebanon 2006”.

The basic paint colours used are Humbrol 84 (Mid-Stone) with panel lines and recesses low-lighted with Humbrol 155 (Olive Drab). With the tank in place on its base, ‘dust’ colours were added along the road wheels, skirtings, and treads, using Model Master Tan, Sand, and Armor Sand.

MIG pigment dusts were used to enhance tonal variations to upper areas of the machine. Sands and grit in various gauges, from Natural Scenics Ltd. and Hornby, were glued to the base as ground cover, and airbrushed with the MM colours as noted above.

The two open box frames to the rear of the tank usually have canvas ‘bag’ inserts for stowing crew gear, but I opted just to add three loose canvas covers at points on the main basket, on which tactical sign decals could be displayed.

I’m certainly no armour specialist, but I can recommend this kit as an attractive model of the type, with or without additional etch or figures.

7 additional images. Click to enlarge

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13 responses to Merkava Mk IV LIC

  1. Simply one of the coolest pieces of armour on the earth! A friend of mine have a shortlist of four tanks worth building, I think it goes something like this: Tiger, Panther, Sherman and King Tiger. My 4-tank shortlist is Merkava I, II, III and IV 🙂 !

    Best regards


  2. Nice Rob, a lovely build and set in a realistic pose as well.
    Well done sir.

  3. Did the chain-ball armor come with the kit Rob? I really like the subject and the composition. Nice work there.

  4. Jack ask my question. Where ever the ball & chain armor came from it looks very realistic.
    Very nicely done Rob.

  5. Kit features detailed exterior non-skid surface texture (where appropriate) molded-on modular composite armor , belly armor, complex suspension, multi-part road wheels with vinyl tires, link-and-length track, separate crew hatches and on-vehicle equipment, side skirts, turret bustle, nylon cord tow cable and photo-etch parts (including mesh screens, brush guards, serial number plate and 2D chain). PE chain is used with injection-molded hemispheres to replicate ball-and-chain armor. Also includes Israeli tanker and infantryman.

    • There are two options here re the ball-and-chain skirt – in Hebrew, “Se’arot Shulamit” (Hair of Shulamit).

      As you’ve correctly quoted, the kit provides (flat profile) PE chain. You have to carefully shave away (plastic) hemispheres from one of the sprues and glue them either side of the PE disc which is located at the end of each chain-link effect . They look OK, but the chain itself remains a flat profile.

      As the area is notable and so recognisable on these tanks, I used the more realistic Voyager PE set for this, but it’s a challenge:

      – the balls are supplied as individual brass spheres;
      – you have to glue a tiny hook-shaped PE piece into a tiny recess in each brass ball;
      – the hook element has to be opened out slightly to feed onto the chain link;
      – the chain links vary from between three to five links per section, depending on the location;
      – the hook has to be closed up again to prevent the ball/hook from disengaging from the chain;
      – each chain/ball/hook set has to be fixed to a PE section, which carry something like six to eight sets per section;
      – each complete set, like a complex set of dangly earrings, is then fixed to its appropriate location along the rear of the turret.

      I think Voyager may have made an error here. When each set of chain link is cut to the required number of links, the link next along is lost, as that’s where you have to cut it to separate it from the main length of chain. In so doing, having made about 50 sets, you will have lost a dozen or so individual chain links. This is the number ‘short’ I found the process, and so for the last few sets I in fact did use the kit-supplied links, but as they are in the back section I alternated with the Voyager lengths to ‘lose’ them amongst the others and they didn’t stand out as different to the casual observer.

      It was one of the least enjoyable modelling experiences I’ve ever undertaken, but it does look the part.

  6. Rob,
    Beautifully done. This is a great looking tank. I really like the way you built this. Like you say you are no amour specialist and neither am I. So I waited to comment on this post with a question in my mind, “what are the chains for?”. I knew if I waited long enough I would find out without appearing to be a dummy. Now I know what the chains are. But I have one other question, is this really the last model in your stash? I have never known anyone that has completely built his entire stash.

    • Hi Frank.

      Yes chains are anti RPG, and yes it is absolutely the last model in my stash; the cupboard is bare.

      I resolved three years ago to build what I had to hand, as the stash was fairly low volume at the time, and then only buy with the view that the purchase would have to be completed in next six months. If I couldn’t meet the timeline, I didn’t buy it. The result is – no stash!

      Now, starting to look round for a new project, with a clean slate.

  7. great build …bristling with detail

  8. Nice clean build, this is the first completed Merkava model I’ve ever seen, a beauty!

  9. Very nice Rob, a lot of attention to detail going on there. The ball and chain construction sounds like a ball ache! It was hard enough for me doing a couple of seat belts.
    I am starting to accumulate a stash now after six months out the hobby. I’m trying not to hoard but I keep seeing bargains on Ebay!

  10. Very convincing finish and details on this one, Rob, it’s good to see some modern armament on the site.

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