Many years ago now Tamiya and Academy released a number of Israeli Merkava tanks. Move forward to the last 4 years and we have seen a number of new releases covering Israeli armour generally and of course the Merkava specifically in all of its guises. In this review we take a look at the new Merkava Mk IID from Academy
This offering from Academy
is supplied in a cardboard tray with a card top, in side you will find the kit contents packed in cellophane bags. This packaging has kept all of the parts in good order. The contents break down as follows;
- 8 tan sprues
- Lower hull
- Upper hull
- 18 poly caps
- Vinyl tracks
- A photo etched fret
- A decal sheet
- A length of string
- Instruction sheets
- A caution advice sheet
- A small guidance sheet for new modellers
A look through the kit contents left me feeling very positive about this model from Academy
. There are no obvious moulding faults or deformities that I located in this first pass; however there are a couple of things I found that will upset some modellers. The tracks for the model are vinyl offerings, which at this time is very much a love/hate option. The lower hull of the model was at one time a motorised offering and so it is my belief from a previous and much older offering that said, it does not make it inaccurate and in this particular model does not matter. I am going to look at the model in the order it is assembled.
The upper hull of this model is for the most part a single moulding, with a lot of the detail integrated on that moulding. The upper hull does not have any anti-slip detail moulded on it, which is a disappointment as Academy
did a fair job of replicating this aspect on their Merkava Mk IV Lic. The exhaust vents are supplied as a separate moulding and has a photo etched grill cover. The track guards are supplied with the option of either armoured side skirts or the wave pattern side skirts; the finishing options supplied by Academy
utilise both options here. One major disappointment is that the sponsons are not there and so any open areas could be lit up from below.
The turret supplied with the model again has no anti-slip detail replicated. The detail has again been moulded for the most part as a part of the turret moulding; however detail still looks to be fairly good. Something that is new to me is on the inside of the top half of the turret; there a lots of small plastic pins in circular patterns and I am at a loss to explain why they are there, unless it is a new mould ejection method. The barrel of the model is a multi-part offering and should look very good once assembled; the barrel is also designed to allow elevation and depression depending on your preference. The hawsers supplied with the model in the form of string and moulded eyes will be ok for most I suspect, but I hate using string for this purpose and will always seek out metal cables for the purpose, preferably lead cable.
The bustle rack on the turret is fair for injection moulded plastic, but would be much better represented in photo etch. There are two types of commanderís hatch supplied with the model depending on what you prefer and both of the commanderís hatches and loaders hatch can de depicted open or closed. The ball and chain armour supplied with the kit is a bit disappointing as the ball appears to me to be undersized to the point of non-existent. The smoke grenade launchers on the model appear to be reasonable as do the aerials and mounts. The 50cal ranging MG it quite impressive for plastic, with the only weakness I can pick out being that the barrel will need to be drilled to improve realism. The commanders and loaders MGís are also nicely replicated, but again will benefit from the barrels being drilled.
Lower Hull and Suspension
I believe this is the first tank model I have looked at where the lower hull and suspension are tackled last. The lower hull as mentioned earlier has motorization holes in it, but these are completely covered up by the one piece under hull armour supplied. The rear panel has the access doors as separate parts and these are workable, meaning they can be displayed open or closed. This aspect of the model is only of use to those who intend to place an interior or partial interior in the model. The rear hull storage racks are fair detail wise but the gratings would have benefitted from being individual panels that can be wired together, that said and to be fair the detail is still reasonable.
The suspension arms are I believe from one of Academy
ís older models due to the simplistic nature of the parts, the return rollers being the only separate parts and the rear of the springs being hollow. This should not matter much as the track guards will hide most if not all of this detail. When it comes to the wheels Academy
has offered two road wheel patterns in the kit. All of the wheels supplied utilise trapped poly caps in order to secure them to the model; I will be honest I like this method when it does not affect accuracy as it makes for easy painting and weathering of that area of the model. One big disappointment for a new model in 2014 is that the rear portions of the road wheels have no detail at all, and while this is not easily viewed I do feel that that detail should be there.
The tracks supplied are vinyl rubber band offerings, which will please some and annoy others. The detail on the tracks is however very good in my opinion, which I feel, if they are not tight when applied to the model, they should look perfectly acceptable. The tracks are joined via pins that protrude through holes and are then mushroomed via the use of a heated nail or flat bladed screw driver.
Instructions and Decals
The instructions are supplied in the form of two folded sheets of paper that use black and white line drawings to guide you through the construction progress. None of the steps are overly complicated and should be easily followed by a modeller of any skill level. The two finishing options supplied by Academy
utilise most of the options available within the kit; however Academy
has not provided any details on what exactly these models represent time and location wise.
This kit is another nice addition to the Merkava range of tanks and brings the Mk IID within affordable range of most modellers. The model should be buildable by most modellers, with the addition of photo etched parts being the only elements that may test new modellers. Most modellers I suspect will want to add the anti slip texturing, which may be beyond some. Personally I am really pleased to see this model released and for those that add extra detail, I am sure that sets will be released from the usual sources at a good rate.
Merkava IID upgrade