The Merkava is a main battle tank. It is developed and produced in Israel for the Israel Defense Forces. The tank was first introduced in 1978 and it was first used in combat during the 1982 Lebanon War. Four main versions have been developed. These are called Merkava Mark I – Mark IV.
When designing the Merkava tank, everything was subordinated to the survival aspect of the crew, the engine is placed in front of the tank and thus serve as an additional component of ballistic protection, while the crew can escape from the damaged Merkava door at the rear of the tank. The thick armor and high mobility is one of the best protected tanks in the world. The design team that developed the first version of this tank, led by commander of the Israeli armored corps, Israel Tal.
General characteristics[change | change source]
Merkava Mark I[change | change source]
The Mark I weighed 63 tons. It had 900 horsepower and maximum speed was 46 km/h. It was armed with 105 millimeter M64 main gun, M68 was later installed. Coaxially with the main gun was mounted 7.62 mm machine gun and on the turret were mounted two more 7.62 mm machine guns, and a 60 mm mortar mounted externally.
Merkava Mark II[change | change source]
The Mark II was almost same as the Mark I. The main differences were internal mortar, better mobility and better resistance.
Merkava Mark III[change | change source]
The Mark III weighed 65 tons. It had 1200 horsepowers and maximum speed was 60 km/h. It was armed with 120 millimeter MG251 main gun. Other equipment was almost same as the Mark II. The Mark III was longer and had better armor than the Mark II, and were added some new systems such as fire-control system.
Merkava Mark IV[change | change source]
The Mark IV weigh 65 tons. It has 1500 horsepowers and maximum speed is over 60 km/h. The Mark IV is armed with 120 millimeter MG253 main gun using an electrical semi-automatic revolving magazine for 10 rounds. Coaxially with the main gun is mounted machine gun and on the turret is moutnted one more machine gun operated from inside the tank, and internally mounted 60 mm mortar. Mark IV has the new fire-control system enables shoot down helicopters, upgraded tracks, digital battlefield management system, and other.