MERKAVA TANK OF THE ISRAELI ARMYCREATE МЕRKAVА TANK MK.1. In his first war, which began in December 1947, Israel, even before the proclamation as States do not come with any armor. Only by the end of hostilities in March 1949, two soldiers from the British 3rd hussars, was then under Haifa, drove to tel Aviv two tanks “Cromwell”. The reason they did that is still unknown, although the Israelis themselves call these people simply “sympathizers”.

Then, from spare parts found on the remaining from the British warehouses, collected three of the tank “Sherman”, that was released in 1939 in the Summer of 1948, managed to buy in France 10 easy ganks “Guccis”, several half-track and wheeled armored vehicles. They were all United in the 8th armored brigade under the command of a veteran of the Second world war, Yitzhak Sadeh. It consisted of two battalions: the 82nd armored and 89th mechanized with jeeps, by the way, under the leadership of Moshe Dayan, the future defense Minister of Israel. The 82nd battalion consisted of two companies. One was called “English”: there were immigrants from Western European countries and tankers that have deserted the British troops. Another company — “Russian” consisted of former red Army soldiers. This was the beginning of the creation of the armored forces of the Israeli army.
For my next war — the Sinai campaign in the autumn of 1956, the Israeli army had nearly 200 American “Shermans”, purchased mainly in France, and 100 French light tanks AMX-13. They were United in a regular 7th armored brigade (tank brigade), an armed “Shermans” and the backup TBR: 27, consisting of three divisions, “Sherman” and a battalion of AMX-13, the 37th — one of the battalion “Sherman” and a battalion of AMX-13. His success in this war, the Israelis, according to them, are obliged first of all those units, “acting in the classical spirit tank attack”.
During the Sinai campaign, the army was enriched by the trophies of British, American and Soviet armoured vehicles, including 27 vehicles, T-34 and 46 — “Shermans” of different modifications.
For another war — the six day June 1967 — Israel has acquired the British 250 tanks “centurion” MK.III and Mk.V, the Americans have 200 Patton M48. 200 units, “Sherman” retool French 105-mm guns. Self-propelled 105-mm howitzer M7 Priest (“priest”) armed with two new artillery battalion.

Tank “Merkava” MK.1.

Now the main army tank brigade staffing had two battalion — 50 tanks each, one battalion of infantry in half-track carriers, artillery and a reconnaissance company. The MAF was part of the division ratio in which teams could change. For example, in the division of the Northern command under the command of General Peled in force during the war on the West Bank of the Jordan river, was the MAF Colonel RAM, which was the battalion “centurions” and the battalion with AMX-13, and TBR Colonel Bar-Kochva — with three battalions, “Sherman”, a mechanized infantry battalion and an infantry brigade. Division of General Joffe southern command in the Sinai direction consisted of armored brigades Chadni Colonel and Colonel of the Village with two battalions of the “centurions”. Just then the Israel defense Forces were nine armored brigades.
Analyzing the actions of the troops in the six day war and tank units, in particular, the Israeli military leadership has decided to spend serious changes. Tanks AMX-13 was removed from the parts as unfit for combat operations. “Patton” M48 “centurions” rearmed English 105-mm guns L7, which helped to unify the ammunition. In addition, tanks installed diesel engines “continental” — standardized, and fuel.
In 1970 began to come to the United States purchased tanks M60A1 Patton IV, as well as self-propelled guns М107 and the M109, M113 armored personnel carriers. Put into operation and captured in the war T-54 and T-55, BTR-40, BTR-52, BTR-152, PT-76. In short, the Israelites came fit all the armored vehicles that once went to the rearmament of the Egyptian army.
In the following wars — the so-called “War of attrition” (March 1969 — 7 Aug 1970), and then the October war or “the War for the day of Redemption” (6 to 25 October, 1973) — already had 6 tank divisions consisting of 16 armored brigades.
The fighting has a very large number of participating vehicles. On the battlefields unfolded in a classical large-scale tank battles. So, the Syrians October 6, 1973 began the offensive on the Golan heights, having in the vanguard the 1st, the 3rd Panzer division, several separate tank brigades — a total of more than 1,250 machines. In the Sinai the battles on 14 October from the Egyptian army were 5 columns of up to 1,000 tanks. In this sector 252-Panzer Israelis participating in a counterattack on 7 October, lost 200 tanks of 300 had at its part — towards her from the depths of the moved 800 tanks to the Egyptians.
Egypt, Syria and Iraq lost more than 1,300 vehicles, losses of the Israeli army was also considerable — about 850 units.
During these wars, the Israeli military command had considerable experience in the use of armored vehicles in the fighting. According to this view, before the army of Israel, “Sherman”, “centurion”, AMX-13 by the end of the 1960s, are obsolete and could no longer meet the requirements imposed on them as a main form of offensive weapon
At the same time, the views of the tank builders leading countries of the world on the tactics of armored vehicles on the battlefield parted. The British considered the privilege of the tanks armor protection and firepower, embodying this principle in your “chieftain”. French and German designers preferred the mobility of the AMX-30 and Leopard, respectively. The Israelis, using their experience of tanks in combat, considered the overriding need for the vehicle under enemy fire, that is armor — thick armor. In those years, service in Israel is mainly supplied by France. So there was a real opportunity to purchase new French AMX-30, and the manufacture of the body was supposed to host in the country, and the tower to bring from France.
However, the Israeli military was not satisfied, on the basis of their concept, it is the “small” thickness of armor hull and turret — only 80 mm when the earlier English “Centurion,” she was 120 mm and 152 mm, respectively. Therefore, in 1966, abandoning the French tanks, the Israelis decided to buy in England tanks “chieftain” with the ability to implement them in the next private production. In 1967, two samples arrived in Israel for extensive testing.
“Chieftain” was adopted by the British army in 1963, He had a 120 mm frontal armor, thick side — 51 mm, turret 150 mm, were armed with 120-mm rifled gun. Although it was the 700-horsepower diesel engine, the speed he developed not very high — only 40 km/h. However, this was fine with Israelis — with this armor and firepower And the test results also confirmed the reliability of the tank. In addition, the combat experience of tank units in the six day war showed the advantage of the armored “centurions” on mobile, but vulnerable AMX.
In 1969, when the terms of delivery “chiftenov” was signed, the British government suddenly decided to suspend the supply of any weapons to Israel. Had the command of the army to agree to purchase us a new M60 and an earlier M48.
In the early 1970s the leadership of the country decided to begin developing its own main battle tank. 6 may of that year commander of the armored forces General I. the tal was presented to the programme for implementation of the project “Merkava”, approved August 20, 1970



1 — rifled barrel 105-mm gun M68;

2 — insulation jacket of the gun barrel;

3 — slip the armor module of the tower;

4 — 7.62-mm machine gun FN MAG;

5 — feed cart;

6 — aft compartment of the batteries;

7 — a steering wheel;

8 — support roller;

9 — side screen;

10 — driving wheel;

11 — towing hook;

12 — Luke MTO;

13 — surveillance device commander;

14 — hatch commander’s;

15 — cover loader;

16 — cover of the driver’s hatch;

17 — surveillance device of the driver;

18 — right side headlight, lighting and infrared;

19 — left headlight, lighting and infrared, only a niche;

20 — the front mudguard;

21, the lower face sheet;

22 — track.

The main performance requirement for the future tank, was the implementation of the maximum protection of the crew Provided even the possibility of death of the tank, but the crew had in this case to stay alive. Gained in the middle East conflict, the experience of using tanks showed that the greatest number of hits falls on the front of its turret. Therefore, avoid hitting the tank had its frontal projection to minimize, and the tower itself is “clean” maybe deeper into the housing; the engine and transmission — to place in front of the machine, which provided additional protection, and armor plates of composite steel “in Chobham” — set more obliquely.
Taking into consideration that Israeli tanks almost always been in the minority on the battlefield, the military also claimed the “first to open fire on defeat”, and thus have a high killing power of weapons. So I decided to put a well-proven English 105-mm gun M68. One of their requirement to pay special attention to the crew, reasonably believing that the “tank — house tank”. General tal even suggested to place in the car two of the crew, they say, some howling, others are resting.
Development tank “Merkava” was conducted at a rapid pace. If the tests of two prototypes began in December 1974, the preparation for factory production was in 1976. the Military command was so sure in creating a “decent” tank, which took the decision on series production, even without waiting for the results of tests of prototypes in the Spring of 1977, it was announced 40 units of the first pre-production batch.
The cost of creation of the tank “Merkava” was 65 million dollars.
The official adoption of the tanks “Merkava” MK.1 took place on 29 October 1979 the First of them arrived in the 7th armored brigade of the Israel defense forces (IDF). In mid 1982, the new machine has received 21 armoured brigade and educational team of the school of tank commanders and officers-tankmen and crew of school of tankers.
Production began at a tank factory in the Israeli military-industrial Corporation Israel Military Industries (IMI) in tel-Hashomer. In the manufacture of machinery was attended by about 200 organizations. 30% of components delivered from abroad (including engines and transmissions — USA) and 70% private.
In 1980, the rate of production of tanks was 7 — 10 units per month. To war 1982, the army was already 200 “Mercan”.
Tanks “Merkava” MK.1 was produced from 1979 to 1983, there were produced 250 of these vehicles (according to other sources — 330).
Following the “Merkava” the first model produced modifications MK.2 Sep 1983, and then MK.Z, MK.4. According to media reports, from 2006 on arms of the IDF were 1300 such machines of different modifications (according to other sources — 1400).
The implementation of tank doctrine, the Israeli army received a heavy car with a powerful armor protection, especially in the front part, and a spacious crew compartment in the stern. Due to the fact that the engine-transmission compartment (MTO) is located in the front tower balance tank much moved back and the barrel of the weapon only slightly protrudes over the front edge of the machine, facilitating movement over rough terrain.
Case “Merkava” — welded, with large angles of inclination of the armor plates and the use of spaced multi-layer reservation. The space between the two sheets — upper and lower — employed diesel fuel. This is another “stage” of protection for the crew. Front upper sheet over MTO several elevated, protecting the joint between the hull and turret from a dangerous hit, usually wedging in this case, the tower. It has a hatch with flaps for access to the engine. Body armor composite — type English “in Chobham” is a set of several layers of steel and ceramics.
Turret — front wedge-shaped form, cast. Consists of two spaced from each other at 76 mm of steel armor layers (thickness also 76 mm) weldment-tabs — additional protective elements. Its volume the tower is less than that of the main tanks of other countries. It is more “recessed” into the body, due to which space crew is located below the tank so I have more space and more freedom of action. Frontal projection of the tower is only 1 m2. The roof of the tower is smooth with no protruding parts, except for the turret machine guns and caps viewing devices. The niche in the rear of the turret is provided with a basket made out of metal pipes serving to accommodate the personal and staff of property.
Merkava tank on patrol in the Golan heights. July, 1981

Merkava tank on patrol in the Golan heights. July 1981

Engine-transmission compartment in the front part located closer to the right side of the tank. Before the engine has an armored bulkhead installed across the casing between it and the frontal plates are the fuel tanks. The same fences and separates the fighting compartment. This is another additional protection of the crew when shells hit in the front hemisphere of the body.
The tank features a 12-cylinder V-shaped diesel engine air-cooled AVDS-1790-6A turbo manufactured by General Dynamics Land Systems (USA) is the same that was put on the American M60, but boosted up to 900 HP Transmission hydromechanical with a hydrostatic steering, with American company Allison CD-850 – 6BX, but upgraded by Israeli designers. Air intakes the engine cooling system placed in the niches in front only on the sides and closed rectangular lattices. The outlet of this system, and exhaust — engine displayed next on the starboard side above the second supporting roller. Experts note that their relative position as the disadvantage: quite a mixed flow of hot gases substantially reduces the camouflage from detection instruments operating in the infrared range.
Suspension “Merkava” has independent spring suspension of the type Christie. On each side there are six rubber-coated rollers with a diameter of 790 mm and four supporting roller. Rollers have a large dynamic course that provides smooth movement on rough terrain. Drive wheels located in front. On hardpoints — two front and two rear has hydraulic dampers. Each node is mounted to the housing by bolt connections, which provides in case of failure of the quick change.
All-metal caterpillars have the tension mechanism located in the stern, and combined with the guide wheel. Caterpillar — with open joints, length — 4520 mm, width of tracks — 640 mm, the number of them in the caterpillar— 110.
Chassis tank was developed with the participation of British experts on the basis used on the tank “centurion”.
On the sides of the tank attached three-piece protective armored screens that provide protection against flanking artillery fire; to access the suspension can cause them to shift to the side. These were later replaced with more convenient five piece.
Experts note one more feature of design “Mercan”: the developers abandoned the torsion bar suspension gave the opportunity to carry the bottom of the car completely smooth, making it V-shaped, like posted booking, greatly increased the protection from blasting min.
The crew — 3 people. The place of the driver is located in the compartment to the left of the MTO; he conducts battlefield surveillance using three periscope device; the average of the devices may be replaced by besped-cvetochniy night vision (NVD). The gunner — right from the gun. At his disposal — periscope surveillance device (PPN) and an optical sight with integrated laser rangefinder, the data range from which are entered directly into the ballistic computer, as well as information about the target velocity, the angle of inclination of the trunnion axis of the gun, atmospheric conditions; the latter (temperature, pressure, wind speed) are issued by the sensors of atmospheric parameters, arranged on a telescopic mast at the rear of the tower. The gunner manually enters the data only on the type of projectile and barrel wear.
Thus, the fire control system (FCS) consists of a digital ballistic computer, laser range finder and gun stabilizer. The sensors of the weather conditions, the lateral component of the wind significantly affect the “drift” of the projectile, the roll housing, ensure the accuracy.
Specifically for the driver in the upper broneliste housing in front of the tower has an access hatch with slide-aside lid.
Behind and above the gunner is the commander of the tank. Around the perimeter of the hatch it has 5 PPN. In addition, it offers a panoramic optical sight with variable focus (from 4x to 20x), the United bends with rangefinder, gunner’s sight, and can give a mean of targeting and even direct the gun at the target and open fire.
The tank commander and loader in their places in the tower hatches. The view from the left side.

The tank commander and loader in their places in the tower hatches. The view from the left side.

To the left of the cannon — place loader. On his opening back hatch there is only one swivel of the Supervisory device. The duties of the loader include replacement (if necessary) of the driver or gunner.
Outside of head-sights are protected from bullets and fragments of armor plates.
In the rear of the hull is aft compartment that can accommodate the ammunition, ten Marines with weapons or even be set four stretchers with the wounded. In the feed for entry and exit, there is a Central aft hatch of a width of 600 mm, with two flip-up and down doors. On his left is a door (dimensions 800×800 mm) compartment batteries. On the right is a compartment of the system of protection against weapons of mass destruction (WMD) with filter-ventilation system.
In the MTO and the Department of management delivered a fast-acting automatic fire fighting system Spectroniх.

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