IDF Merkava Mk IIID

Published on
April 15, 2013
Review Author(s)
Product / Stock #
Company: Hobby Boss
Provided by: Squadron - Website: Visit Site
Box Art


Merkava, or “Chariot,” has been at the foundation of the Israeli Defense Force main battle tank corps since its introduction into active service in 1979. Now in its fourth generation, the platform has seen extensive use since its baptism of fire in the 1982 Lebanon War. The subject of this kit is the latest and final third-generation variant, the Mark IIID, featuring removable modular composite armor and upgraded and strengthened tracks.

The Kit

Hobby Boss’ rendering of this 3-G Chariot is well-presented in tan styrene, with crisply molded detail, individual track links, and photo etch mesh, brackets, exhaust louvers, and straps. Also included are chain and metal beads for replicating the “ball and chain” armor (nothing says “I love you” like an RPG hit to the turret ring), and braided wire tow cable. Periscope and view port lenses are provided on a single clear sprue. No interior detail is provided. Decals and a painting guide for 2 Israeli units are included.

The Build

Following the assembly sequence should give the modeler fairly trouble-free results. On the review build, to facilitate painting and finishing, the sponsons were completely assembled to the hull top prior to the addition of the sprockets and road wheels, which later proved to be ill-advised, as the individual link tracks would not clear the drive sprockets due to interference with the front sponson sections.

Aside from that little miscue, engineering and fit was good and assembly progressed very quickly – and then there were the tracks. Most of the assembly labor and time went into the assembly of over 200 track links, each comprised of 3 pieces, followed closely in duration by the application of the dozens of tiny and not-so-tiny but well-engineered PE parts. The only disappointment here was either an error in the directions or insufficient amount of chain for the “ball and chain” armor. I had to secure the remaining links from a piece of costume jewelry purchased at a local department store.

A little filling and sanding was needed around the upper and lower turret halves, as well as on the turret’s aft stowage rack railing top surface. The turret’s bayonet mount to the hull was extremely tight and required careful application of force to properly engage and secure the turret.

Clear parts fit well, and required little-to-no trimming or special attention.

Paint and Finish

The color paint and marking sheet was very helpful in applying the finish, and references Mr. Hobby, Vallejo, Model Master, Tamiya, and Humbrol colors. Although the finishing guide suggests a mixture of Mr. Hobby Colors to achieve the Sinai Gray base color, it does not reference Model Master’s enamel or acrylic Israeli Armor Sand Gray, which is what was chosen for the review build.

After a black preshade, the Model Master Acryl base of Israeli Armor Sand Gray was applied and twice modulated with lighter variations on the upper surfaces, then sealed with an acrylic gloss.

Decals were applied using the MicroScale system and responded well, then were sealed with the clear acrylic. The only gripe here was that the ID numbers for the side placards were oversized and did not fit within the confines of the placard surfaces.

A heavy raw umber oil wash was applied to accentuate the texture of the reactive armor, then misted-over with a filter of a lighter variant of the Sand Gray. Pastels were dry-bushed to add fading, dust, and dirt effects, then sealed with a matte acrylic. Finally, light mists of acylic mud, earth, and dust shades were applied.

Summary and Recommendation

Hobby Boss’ Merkava Mk IIID is a solid kit with great exterior detail, decent fit, and ample multi-media goodies to build an excellent model right out of the box.

All things considered, I highly recommend this kit for intermediate and advanced modelers with some PE and fine detail experience. Many pieces, intricate PE, and tedious tracks assembly put this one out of the reach of basic modelers.

Thanks to MMD/Squadron for the review sample and IPMS/USA for the opportunity to have a crack at it and share the build with you.


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