My models

Merkava IV – Part 1 : Construction

Having been inspired by the upcoming releases I decided to start working on the Merkava IV from Hobby Boss while finishing the Ka-Mi (I am in the weathering stage which is sometimes rather lengthy).

I am quite a fan of IDF vehicles (for those who haven’t noticed from my collection of finished models) and Merkava IV was sitting on my shelf since it’s been released.

This kit “enjoyed” its share of negative publicity which affected its sales. The problem with the suspension arms positioning being the most prominent one, there are solutions how this can be fixed, these however require major surgery of the kit parts (lower hull and lower hull armour plate). Somehow I was not keen on getting into this and wanted to build the kit not straight out of the box, but without a lot of converting and scratchbuilding. I decided to get Eduard’s photoetch set for this kit, but as usual will be selective in terms of which parts of it will be used.

One particular quirk with this vehicle is that I won’t be able to follow my routine build process – build-paint-weather. I like to build kits in subassemblies, paint them afterwards, assemble and weather afterwards. I don’t like going back-and-forth between building and painting, but can’t avoid it with this Merkava. The running gear and tracks  cannot be added to the hull of the vehicle after painting, not only because of the side skirts, but also front fenders. So there are two solutions:

  • Build the model with the running gear and tracks and paint and weather them all in place or
  • Paint the wheels, tracks separately from the body of the vehicle. Paint the lower hull (area under the sponsons and behind the side skirts). Attach the wheels and tracks. Mask the painted parts and paint and weather the remaining portion of the tank.

Though it sounds quite complicated, I will likely use the second approach as I feel that the first one makes painting and weathering wheels and tracks too difficult.

On aspect of the build that I am still thinking about are the tracks. The kit tracks seems rather fine, but they all attached to the sprues and it’s going to be looooong time to get them all cut, cleaned, etc. This is perhaps the most tedious part of the building phase in my opinion, especially with modern vehicles with zillion of track on each side. I am thinking about getting the Friul tracks, I love using these. They require minimum cleanup, have natural sag and do not require any fitting and shaping (such as with the Dragon’s magic tracks, though I like these too very much). And there is no risk that after you glued them into shape you will find out that they do not fit the position of the wheels or the track shrank a bit as the glue dried, so that now they are short. The main disadvantage with friul tracks is their price, which pretty much doubles the cost of the project.

Construction of the kit is going rather well so far. Fit of the parts is reasonably good, but there is a lot of cleaning at almost each part, as there are visible moulding lines on them.

Some of the more prominent joints would also benefit from slightly better fit – such as the upper and lower part of the turret. Nothing serious, but it slows down the process.

I haven’t added that much photoetch parts yet, so will have yet to see how these will fit.

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