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Merkava



Overview


Merkava Mark II

Right side view of Israeli Merkava Mark II fitted with Soviet type mine rollers.
Source: Michael Aronov - © copyright lies with original owner

Origin
Israel
Type
Main battle tank
Entered service
1978 for Mark I
1983 for Mark II
Status
In service
Development
1974 - 1977
Developer
Israel - MANTAK
Production
1978 - 1983 (Merkava I)
1982 - 1989 (Merkava II)
Producer
Israel - MANTAK / IDF Ordnance
Number produced
250 Merkava I
580 Merkava II
Designations
Chariot of fire (nickname)
Notable users
Israel

Description


Introduction

The Merkava is a late Cold War era main battle tank of Israeli origin. It was developed in order to be independent from export sales of other nations. The design is unique since it has been designed to meet the specific requirements posed by the Israeli military. Among the unique features are the forward mounted engine, high quality suspension, 60mm mortar and rear crew hatch.

Layout

The Merkava has a unique layout with the engine and drivetrain in the front right and driver front left. The long and low profile turret is located towards the rear. The turret houses remaining three crew members and the 105mm cannon. A rear hatch is provided and instead of ammunition infantry can be carried.

Firepower

The main armament is a 105mm M68 cannon with digital fire control systems and stabilization in both axis. Up to 62 rounds can be carried and manually loaded. All NATO standard ammunition can be fired including the LAHAT anti-tank missile in later upgrades. A 7.62mm MAG coaxial machine gun is fitted, as well as a 60mm mortar. On the roof one or two 7.62mm MAG machine guns are pintle mounted. Some vehicles feature a 12.7mm M2HB heavy machine gun mounted onto the main gun as an addition coaxial machine gun.

Protection

The unique layout of the Merkava increases protection over the frontal arc. When introduced the Merkava was one of the best armored tanks in the world. The Merkava Mark I only used rolled armor The Mark II adds spaced armor, applique turret armor, improved skirts and rear turret slat armor with chains. The frontal armor will withstand older anti-tank missiles and 100mm rounds. Over time smoke grenade dischargers were added and some Mark I's received upgraded armor as used in Mk II.

Mobility

The tracked chassis with helical spring suspension provides good all terrain mobility. The 900 hp diesel engine combined with the high weight result in a low power to weight ratio. The maximum speed is 50 km/h on roads and fuel consumption is high.

Users

The Merkava is only used by the Israeli army. There have been no export sales. Over time Merkava Mark I's have been upgraded close to Mark 2 standard. The original Merkava series remains in reserve use since the improved Merkava 3 and 4 are in service. In recent years the Mark I and II returned to active service in the role of heavy APC instead of main battle tank.

Merkava I


Merkava Mark I

Forward view of Merkara Mark I on display in a museum. Note the lack of machine guns normally fitted on the turret roof.
Source: Bukvoed - © GNU Attribution - Share Alike license

Merkava Mark 1

The Mark I is the very first production model of the Merkava. It has a semi-automatic transmission and the 60mm mortar is mounted externally. Over time smoke grenade dischargers and applique armor similar to the Mark 2C have been added.

Facts Merkava I
General
Origin
Israel
Type
Main battle tank
Crew
4 (commander, driver, gunner, loader), plus optional passengers
Dimensions
Weight
60 t combat load
Length
7.45 m (hull)
8.30 m (gun forward)
Width
3.70 m (without skirts)
Height
2.65 m (turret roof)
Main armament
Type
105mm M68 rifled cannon
Mount
Turret
Ammunition
62 rounds
Elevation
-5 to +20°, powered
Traverse
360°, powered
Stabilizer
Yes, both axis
Coaxial armament
Type
7.62mm MAG machine gun
Mount
Coaxial with main armament
Ammunition
10.000 rounds in total
Traverse
Traverse and elevation as main armament
Mortar
Type
60mm Soltam muzzle loaded light mortar
Mount
Externally on turret roof
Secondary armament
Type
1 or 2x 7.62mm MAG machine gun
Mount
Pintle mount on turret roof
Ammunition
10.000 rounds in total
Traverse
Manual elevation and traverse
Chassis
Chassis type
Tracked chassis, 6 roadwheels
Drive sprocket front, idler rear
Suspension
Coil spring
Automotive
Engine
Teledyne Continental AVDS-1790-6A air-cooled V12 diesel
Power output
908 hp
Transmission
Allison CD850-6BX hydromechanical semi-automatic
2 forward gears, 1 reverse
Fuel
900 L
Mobility
Speed
46 km/h on road
Range
400 km on road
Power to weight ratio
15.1 hp/t
Obstacle crossing
Ground clearance
0.53 m
Wall
1 m
Trench
3 m
Gradient
60 %
Slope
40 %
Fording
1.4 m
Protection
Armor type
Steel, cast and welded
NBC system
Yes
Smoke system
2x6 smoke grenade launchers
Fire suppression
Automatic fire extinguishing system

Merkava II


Merkava Mark II

Forward view of Israeli Merkava Mark II fitted with Soviet type mine rollers.
Source: Michael Aronov - © copyright lies with original owner

Merkava Mark 2

The Merkava 2, or Mark 2, is an improved version of the Merkava 1. It adds spaced armor to the turret, an automatic transmission, an improved fire conctrol system and internal mounting for the 60mm mortar.

Mark 2A: Original production version of the Merkava 2.
Mark 2B: Mark 2A with improved fire control system and thermal sight.
Mark 2C: Mark 2B with applique armor on turret top against top attack weapons.
Mark 2D: Mark 2C with much improved downward sloping applique armor on turret sides.

Facts Merkava II
General
Origin
Israel
Type
Main battle tank
Crew
4 (commander, driver, gunner, loader), plus optional passengers
Dimensions
Weight
63 t combat load
Length
7.45 m (hull)
8.30 m (gun forward)
Width
3.70 m (without skirts)
Height
2.65 m (turret roof)
Main armament
Type
105mm M68 rifled cannon
Mount
Turret
Ammunition
62 rounds
Elevation
-5 to +20°, powered
Traverse
360°, powered
Stabilizer
Yes, both axis
Coaxial armament
Type
7.62mm MAG machine gun
Mount
Coaxial with main armament
Ammunition
10.000 rounds in total
Traverse
Traverse and elevation as main armament
Mortar
Type
60mm Soltam breech loaded light mortar
Mount
Interally firing through roof
Secondary armament
Type
1 or 2x 7.62mm MAG machine gun
Mount
Pintle mount on turret roof
Ammunition
10.000 rounds in total
Traverse
Manual elevation and traverse
Optional heavy machine gun
Type
12.7mm M2HB heavy machine gun
Mount
External coaxial mount over main gun
Ammunition
500 to 2.500 rounds, 100 ready to fire
Traverse
Traverse and elevation as main armament
Chassis
Chassis type
Tracked chassis, 6 roadwheels
Drive sprocket front, idler rear
Suspension
Coil spring
Automotive
Engine
Teledyne Continental AVDS-1790-6A or -7A air-cooled V12 diesel
Power output
908 hp in AVDS-1790-6A
950 hp in AVDS-1790-7A
Transmission
Renk RK 304
4 forward gears, 1 reverse
Fuel
900 L
Mobility
Speed
53 km/h on road
Range
400 - 500 km on road
Power to weight ratio
15 hp/t
Obstacle crossing
Ground clearance
0.53 m
Wall
1 m
Trench
3 m
Gradient
60 %
Slope
40 %
Fording
1.4 m
Protection
Armor type
Steel, cast and welded
Additional modular composite armor after refit
NBC system
Yes
Smoke system
2x6 smoke grenade launchers
Fire suppression
Automatic fire extinguishing system

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