Monday, 1 February 2016

Merkava 1

First AFV for this 'new' project completed. An Israeli Merkava Mk1.

Built this from the old Italeri 1/72 scale kit. Not a bad kit but needs modernising. The wheels come in one piece and the track though well moulded on the outside has no inner guide teeth. So I replaced the wheels and tracks with resin aftermarket products from Model Miniature. These worked out nicely. But there was one problem.

The wheels from Model Miniature sat too far back on the connection tab. A quick look at the supplied wheels and the problem was solved. The Italeri wheels have an attached lug which 'pushes' them forward. So about thirty minutes, after a bit of cussin' and swearing, I had removed the excess from the dozen Italeri wheels with a very fine razor saw. Then used the off cut like a washer to bring the resin wheel forward.

Italeri wheel before and after cutting
MM wheel plus plastic 'washer'
The wheels now lined up with the resin track guide teeth. First time I had used resin tracks. Was not too horrible an experience. Glued three lengths together. Placed said lengths on bottom of wheels so they were roughly equal overhang front and back. Then used hairdryer to heat resin and bend round idler and drive wheel. The tracks did not meet in the middle but since I was using track guards this would be hidden on the finished model and not a problem.

Added a few extra features to the kit. The aerials are from RB Model. The tow cable is one I bought for Russian tanks from Eureka xxl. You can pick these items from UK distributors should you wish too.

The photo etch grill in the turret bustle is from Scalelink. I used 1mm diamond grid pattern. I used lead foil from them to represent the canvas with the platoon number displayed. I also cut small pieces of styrene channel to put around the turret bustle to use as brackets to hold the tow cable.

The extra track links on the turret are pieces of the original track but added guide teeth to both and the bolts to hold them in place.

First time I've really added some scratch built parts to a kit and despite being fiddly at times was actually quite fun. The green you can see is filler.

IDF tank colours seem to have as much discussion as German WW2 tank colours. In the end I used Vallejo Model Air Sinai Grey '82. The name helped! The weathered away.

So I have a tank of the 1st Battalion (single white ring around gun barrel), 2nd Company (forward pointing arrow head on side skirt) of the 1st Platoon (Numeral one on canvas placard).

Really enjoyed building this. Next up for the IDF some more infantry and another tank.

More to follow soon.....