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Academy 1/35 Merkava Mk.IID Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review June 2014 Manufacturer Academy
Subject Merkava Mk.IID Scale 1/35
Kit Number 13286 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros First mainstream kit of this variant Cons No interior
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $59.00

First Look


Note: We first looked at this kit back in April, but we've just been notified that this kit is now on its way to store shelves, so just to remind you...

From its establishment in 1948, the armed forces of Israel have fought to retain its freedom and existence, sometimes against staggering odds. In the numerous conflicts that have fought since 1948, the Israelis were forced to obtain aircraft and armaments from a variety of second-hand sources. As Israel grew and began to prosper, it began to acquire new weapons for defense and was able to muster a modern force structure while keeping older weapons ready in reserve. When the weapons embargoes were put into place during the 1973 war, Israel started in earnest to develop its own defense industries to reduce its dependence on international sources. Today, Israel's technologies are second to none and now instead of importing all of its armaments, it exports these capabilities around the world.

Taking the lessons learned from the 1973 war and the technologies that evolved out of that conflict, Israel developed its first indigenous tank - Merkava (Chariot). The Merkava employed a number of innovative approaches to keep Israel's most valuable assets - its soldiers - safe. First, the engine compartment was moved to the front of the hull, so even a penetrating frontal shot would only disable the engine and still protect the driver further aft. Second, the turret was built low-profile so the tanks would not be spotted as early on the desert battlefield as the much taller M48 and M60 tanks. Third, the turret and frontal armor slope was less steep than other tank designs which provided more effective protection for the crew. In the rear of the Merkava where the engine would have been, a set of clamshell doors provide rear access for a squad of soldiers who can ride in the rear of the tank if needed.

In its first combat action in Lebanon in 1982, the running observation of the Merkava Mk.I was that it was a very effective tank, though it had serious braking problems - it wouldn't stop until it reached the outskirts of Beruit. Even so, the Merkava was designed for open battlefield combat and its actions inside Beruit revealed some needed improvements to support urban warfare. The Mk.II retained the original 105mm main gun, but added additional armor protection. The Mk.IID was the first of the series to feature modular armor so that damaged plates could be unbolted and replaced in the field.

Academy has released the first mainstream kit of the Merkava Mk.IID. This model looks as nice as the previous Merkava Marks released in this series. The kit is molded in tan styrene and presented on eight parts trees, plus separately provided upper and lower hull halves. A fret of photo-etched details and two runs of rubber (vinyl) tracks round out this kit. The detailing on this kit is right up to Academy's current (excellent) standards, and they've captured the structures of the modular armor around the front and sides of the vehicle.

Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Positionable driver's hatch
  • Two types of side skirts
  • Choice of flush commander's hatch or 360 degree view cupola
  • Positionable loader's hatch
  • Boat hull ventral armor plate covers motorization holes in lower hull
  • Detailed remote and crewed weapons
  • Positionable rear clamshell doors (no interior provided so best to leave these closed)
  • Choice of two types of road wheels

Markings are provided for two examples. The instructions provide painting instructions with equivalents from Humbrol, Gunze, Life Color, Testors Model Master, Revell, and Vallejo paints.

This release fills another gap in the Merkava series and will provide an easy build.

My sincere thanks to MRC for the review sample.