Italeri 1/72 Merkava 1
KIT #: 7005
PRICE: $16.98
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2002 boxing


The Merkava  ("chariot") is a main battle tank used by the Israel Defense Forces. The tank began development in 1973 and entered official service in 1978. Four main variants of the tank have been deployed. It was first used extensively in the 1982 Lebanon War. The name "Merkava" was derived from the IDF's initial development program name.

Design criteria include rapid repair of battle damage, survivability, cost-effectiveness and off-road performance. Following the model of contemporary self-propelled howitzers, the turret assembly is located closer to the rear than in most main battle tanks. With the engine in front, this layout is intended to grant additional protection against a frontal attack, so as to absorb some of the force of incoming shells, especially for the personnel in the main hull, such as the driver. It also creates more space in the rear of the tank that allows increased storage capacity and a rear entrance to the main crew compartment allowing easy access under enemy fire. This allows the tank to be used as a platform for medical disembarkation, a forward command and control station, and an infantry fighting vehicle. The rear entrance's clamshell-style doors provide overhead protection when off- and on-loading cargo and personnel.

It was reportedly decided shortly before the beginning of the 2006 Lebanon War that the Merkava line would be discontinued within four years. However, on November 7, 2006, Haaretz reported that an Israeli General staff assessment had ruled of the Merkava Mark IV that "if properly deployed, the tank can provide its crew with better protection than in the past", and deferred the decision on discontinuing the line. On August 16, 2013, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon announced the decision to resume production of the Merkava main battle tank for the IDF Armored Corps.


The kit has three tan sprues, one of which is for the link and length tracks. I'm not sure if this is a reboxed ESCI kit or not, but Italeri has a long history of doing so. As with most tank kits, you will spend quality time building up the suspension and painting road wheels. This is made somewhat easier by the suspension attachment points being on a separate hull side piece so that the completed suspension/track assembly can be added to hull.

Once these are attached, the rear section of the hull along with the various hooks can be glued on and set aside to dry. The turret will take up quite a bit of time as pretty much all the defensive weapons and pioneer tools are attached here. There is one separate hatch on the turret, but unless you have a figure for it, it would be best cemented closed. The upper hull has minimal parts that consist of equipment lockers and engine exhaust, with the side skirts being the last items to be glued in place.

Instructions are well done with model master paint references. There are three markings options with all of them being in an overall sand shade. I understand that later Merkavas were painted in an almost RLM 02 shade, but am not sure if this variant got that scheme. The small decal sheet is nicely printed and should provide no surprises.


It looks to be easy enough to build and if you are a 1/72 military modeler, it would be a good choice.


February 2018

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