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Merkava

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300px-Merkava4_MichaelMass01.jpg
Merkava Main-Battle Tank
Country Of origin Israel
Designation Main-Battle Tank
Configuration Tracked
Manufacturer: Israeli Ordnance Corp
Crew: 4
Length 8.63 m
Width 3.70 m
Height 2.75 m
Weight 66.100 t
Speed 46 km/h (road)
27 km/h (off-road)
Range 400 km
Primary armament 1x 105-mm gun
Secondary armament 1×7.62 mm co-ax MG
2×7.62mm MG
1×60mm mortar
Armour 38 mm
Power plant 900 HP Diesel
NBC Yes
Night Yes

The first MBT entirely built in Israel. Merkava means chariot in Hebrew. It was intended to replace the venerable Centurion (much upgraded since acquired in the 1950s) but the Merkava been on the drawing board since the 1960s. The first true Merkavas were in prototype form by 1974, where they included much of what the IDF learned during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The Mk 1 finally entered service in 1978. The current version of the Merkava (the Mk 4) has been in production since 1999.

The engine of the Merkava is located in the front of the vehicle so placing a higher premium on the survivability of the crew than continued mobility. All versions have access doors at the rear. These rear doors facilitate evacuation under fire as well as reportedly being used to place snipers and two-man reconnaissance teams into dead ground at night as the armour roars through an area.

The rear of the turret has an overhang which is susceptible to attached explosives. This area is protected by dangly chains giving the rear of the tanks a punk rocker look.

Some Merkavas have been fitted with full medical/ambulance capabilities, but retaining their armament. These "tankbulances" are fully armed and are not protected by the Geneva Convention regarding ambulances although how cool would it be to tool about in an 'protected' ambulance armed with a 105mm gun! Model mock-up below.

merkava-medevac.jpg