The Merkava IV

Discussion in 'General Military Arms & History Forum' started by Pistolenschutze, Nov 4, 2007.

  1. So often here when we talk about tanks here it's either about the American M1A2 or about World War II tanks, allied v. German (the German tanks were better, Polish!!! :D). There is, however, another excellent MBT out there that few in the world, it seems, even know exists, probably because it has not been exported. It's the Israeli built Merkava IV ("Chariot" in the Hebrew language). Like the M1A2, it too has a highly classified composite matrix armor, a 120mm main gun, and weighs in at around 65 tons. Unlike the M1 though, it is diesel powered. There seems to considerable controversy going on in Israel right now as to whether production of the tank should be continued or curtailed, mostly due to its cost. Whatever the case, it is one nice looking piece of equipment, fast and deadly.

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    Comments and opinions?
  2. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    I like the fact the engine is in the front, not a new concept of course, (the Whippet?) but one of the first in a WHILE...

    Not only does it give more frontal protection for the crew, that BIG cargo space can do more than carry more ammo...like maybe it's own infantry fire team?

    (Not only to keep the Terrorits or Syrians with RPGs at arms length, but to help with maintenance, or at LEAST guard duty so the crew can SLEEP!;))

    Size wise it's a little bigger/heavierthan the Abrams, which is getting almost too big again, since even the Abrams is running into the same problems the Tigers did...too heavy for a lot of BRIDGES... although a little lower maybe which would be a good thing.

    That diesel doesn't come close to the 1500+ hp of the Turbine in the M1A1, and while it probably doesn't use anywhere near the fuel of the Abrams in a given day, which is a BIG drawback to the Abrams, you still have the issue of either leaving it idle all night in the cold, leaving a nice heat signature, OR showing everyone within 10 miles your location with that BIG blue cloud in the morning when you fire up and for the time it takes to warm it up before moving....Diesels MAY not be the best powerplant for armor anymore, and just maybe haven't been for a while....

    That said, there is NOBODY in the Modern world since WWII with more experience in actually FIGHTING their armor against other tanks in actual battle than the Israelis (But at least since 1991, the US is at LEAST in second place so isn't THAT far behind...) so I wouldn't doubt their newest Merkava is at LEAST on par with the Abrams, Chieftains, and Challengers as one of the best tanks in the world...

    Now I KNOW you are going to chastise me for not mentioning the Leopard I or II, PS, but I limited the list of the 'Best" to tanks that have actually been in action...

    I would even have to put the M60 in front of them too, since even they finally saw action in US service Kuwait, besides action with the Israelis....and did well...


    The Leopards therefore have to be rated right with the T-90, the Leclerc, the Ariete... great modern designs on PAPER, but never actually in a fight...yet...
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2007
  3. Yup, the diesel v. turbine question is always a trade off, Polish. The M1A2 definitely has the advantage in horsepower, but the disadvantage lies with the fuel it consumes, which, of course, implies the need for soft-target fuel trucks to supply it. I really like the design of that turret on the Merhava though. It would sure be an advantage in defilade positions I should think.
  4. 300 H&H

    300 H&H Active Member

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    Pistol & polish you guys have not been keeping abreast of diesel engine technology have you? Just like when in the 80"s car engines got fuel injection and computor control, Diesel engines went through the same metomorphisis. Computor controlled injection timing, with eletronically fired injectors operating at 25,000psi. instead of the mechanical pumps measely 5000 psi.. four valve cylinder heads 2 intakes & 2 exhaust, Two piece pistons with an aluminum skirt pinned by the wrist pin to forged steel piston crowns ( to withstand higher temps) that carry the rings near the top of the piston, and operate at 2500psi., instead of the old 1800psi. cylinder preasures. Turbo chargers force feeding them @ 25-30lbs of boost instead of ten to fifteen. The tier two compliant engines are real gems of the new tech in diesel design. 1000 hp? you bet at leaste for a time, untill the exhaust temps get too high. Water injection can cure that. So I do believe it might be time to revist the diesel in this application. And polish my Cat tractor with rubber tracks and 350hp barly makes any smoke on start up.. and I have a Mack truck that you turn the key at 0 deg. and the thing just starts... so I know it can be done... Best reguards, Kirk
  5. sabashimon

    sabashimon New Member

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    Hey guys, below is a link with pics and some info (Tho not too much:cool:)
    I had the honor of serving in the first two versions (Aleph and Bet), and while there have been dramatic improvements, I can say without reservation that this tank saved my life. She always did what we asked of her, and more importantly, WHEN we asked of her.
    I will also tell you that there are more than a few foot soldiers who will praise this tank to their dying breath.
    No tank is perfect, and it is ALWAYS a matter of one-upping what the enemy comes up with. New anti-tank munitions means that we must constantly improve survivability. I'm sure Abrams crewmen will say the same for their ride, but two years in Lebanon, first as a gunner, than tank commander (unfortunate field promotion) gives me a perspective backed up with experience. I wish I, and some of my friends no longer here had been in a Merkava in '73.
    As for pure firepower.......I'll stick with the merkava

    One more point, if I may.
    While no one can dispute the importance of quality weapons, be that tanks, assault rifles, or jet fighters, I believe of even more import is the quality of training, and motivation.
    We in Israel have a pretty strong motivation. It's called existence. The Arabs can keep losing wars, and keep coming back for more. We've never had that luxury. That existential motivation tends to put an edge to one's fighting.
    And as for training, I'm convinced that superior training will, to a great extent, even the odds against superior weaponry.
    Before all the high-tech stuff, and with our enemies being supplied the best the russians could offer, it was our training and motivation that saved the day


    By the way, any of you familiar with the Israeli system known as "Trophy"?
    Again, I can only wish we'd had them back when. There's a big stink going on because the US wouldn't purchase this incredible (not infallible) tank (read: crew) saving system, in favor of an American company with a less proven product.
    It's just now being deployed in Israel.
    Check out the video on the link below


    http://www.israeli-weapons.com/weapons/vehicles/tanks/merkava/MerkavaMk4.html

    http://www.defensereview.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=861
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2007
  6. sabashimon

    sabashimon New Member

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    By the way, and just as a prideful aside, I was honored to be a member of the 7th brigade, 75th battallion. This was the first Brigade built solely of Merkavas deployed in Israel, and my battallion was the first into Lebanon at the onset of "Operation Peace for the Galilee" (Lebanon war '82), and the last out.
    In terms of Israeli military history, the 7th Armored Brigade has a rich legacy



    By the way (again) ....you may have trouble accessing that Trophy video.
    Here it is:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AsJLHX7gxxg
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2007
  7. Well, Polish, at least you didn't try to argue the M4 "Tiger-target" Sherman was better than any of them, its tinfoil armor and low velocity potato gun notwithstanding. :D;):p
  8. Shimon, since you have first-hand experience I'd like to ask you a question. Feel free to decline to answer if you wish and no offense will be taken; I have no desire to tread on sensitive issues. My question is, what the hell really happened with the Israeli military during that last push against Hasbalah into Lebanon across "the Blue Line" last July? Was it the improved anti-tank weapons that Hasbalah possessed, or have the reports of Israeli losses been grossly exaggerated by the media? The reports we got here seemed very confused. Personally, I wouldn't have been upset if Israel had dropped a nuke on their heads, Hasbalah damn sure had it coming for their rocket attacks. I'm just curious about what the real scoop was in that attack.
  9. sabashimon

    sabashimon New Member

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    Pistol, it was a sorry, sorry episode in Israel's History.
    I was here in Seattle when it broke, and after a couple of days watching it on Fox and CNN, couldn't take anymore and went back home to find a unit, any unit that I could hitch a ride with. Being over the age of reserve duty now, I no longer had my own unit,but still having some quality connections, I found receptive ears.
    I was able to join a recon outfit that was happy to have me, and I will only tell you that when it was all over, we all wanted to find PM Olmert and put a bullet in his weasel head.
    The troops were ready and willing, but the politicians wouldn't, or couldn't make up their minds. As a result, there was a constant feeling of nobody knowing what our objectives were. Had we been allowed to do what we were trained for, we would have made short work of it, but as it was, many good men lost their lives because Olmert and that ridiculous Defense Minister Peretz were in way over their heads, more worried about their poll numbers than about winning this war. When an Israeli head of state is so worried that casualties will affect his political standing, it makes for an ineffectual leader.....the worst kind in a time of war. In a country as small as Israel, every casualty hits home in the national consciousness, but the IDF knows what their purpose is, and Israeli soldiers are willing and able to do what it takes until victory is assured. In our precarious situation, we simply must wait until the last shot is fired before mourning our dead, and Olmert doesn't have the fortitude or the military experience to understand this vital distinction
    I could go on and on, but maybe you get the picture.
    Maybe we'll have to try a Middle East thread one day
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2007
  10. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    Be very careful, PS, in your bashing of the M4...The USA wasn't the ONLY country it gave yeoman service for, and until the 1970s too, which of course can't be said of ANY WWII German designs....:cool:

    Of course there was the Panzer IV the Syrians used as a Pillbox, until it was knocked out by an IDF Sherman, which was actually fitting on both counts, in 1973....

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  11. sabashimon

    sabashimon New Member

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    Let me add Pistol, that Hizbollah is not a rag-tag outfit. They are well disciplined and Iranian trained. Their anti-tank weapons were a definite problem, and there is much debate in Israel as to why the Trophy system , which was available, wasn't deployed. Again it comes back to a leftist's (who used to be on the right) lack of spine.
    Having said that, we were never allowed the manpower or the directive to do what needed to be done. It would have been ugly, but it would have been over in a week. As it was, it was ugly anyway, without attaining our objectives
    It's a long complex story, and I don't think I'm doing it justice here, but that's it in a very small nutshell
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2007
  12. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    Hizbollah is just an Iranian Reserve Light Infantry Division anyway, right?

    Or is it the other way around, the Iranians are reserve for Hizbollah....:cool:
  13. I suspected it was the politicians and it appears I was right. When the news broke here I was expecting to see Israeli tanks rumbling through Beirut in a few days, and Hasbalah headed for the hills. It's always the same; the politicians commit the troops, then don't have the cajones to let them do their jobs. I remember thinking the same thing about our own politicians when I served in Vietnam. War is always bad enough, but war that is not fought to bring victory is even worse, and a hideous waste of good men. Where are Golda and Moshe when you need them?

    As for the Middle East thread, you're one of us here on TFF, Shimon, why don't you start one? I suspect it would get a very good discussion going, about 99% of it pro-Israeli. :D
  14. sabashimon

    sabashimon New Member

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    I'll give it some thought Pistol, and thanks
    BTW, I've added a few comments to that last post, as you've succeeded in getting me worked up again :mad:
    But not too worry, it's never very far under the surface anyway
  15. Getting you riled up was certainly not the intention, Shimon. Trust me on that. Lord knows I have enough of those kind of memories of my own. It's just that having someone with your background here is an extremely exciting opportunity for those of us who take an interest in military history and world politics. Sooner or later I must get you into a conversation concerning Jewish history, a field in which I have an abiding interest. It is said that all Israelis are archaeologists and historians at heart. :D I did my MA work in philosophy in comparative religions (I have an additional MA in history), which of course, led me to the history of the Hebrew people to an even greater degree than I had ever studied it before. To say that I became fascinated by it would be a tremendous understatement. I look forward with great anticipation to future discussions with you. :D
  16. 17thfabn

    17thfabn New Member

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    Re: The Merkava IV's 60 mm mortar.

    Sabishmon, what is the main use of the 60mm mortar on Merkava? Is it used more for firing HE (high explosive) or flare and smoke rounds?
  17. Polish, the Israelis would have mounted main guns on go-carts if that's all they could get to fight with at the time. ;) Yes, they used the M4 because they could get them from the U.S., one of the few world nations that was willing to supported them with any kind of military equipment. And yes, the M4 did reasonably good duty under the circumstances. That doesn't mean they wouldn't have rather had a more substantial and effective tank. During the 1948 War of Independence the Israelis were using weapons, mostly smuggled in during the period of British mandate, gathered from wherever they could get them . . . including German Mauser rifles from WWII, I might add. :D
  18. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    Not quite, PS...YES, they used the POS Mauser at first, but pitched it ASAP...:cool: while they kept the Super Shermans in service until 1973, and in reserve for a while after...

    Plus they BOUGHT them from France...

    The Sherman was a major factor in their early victories of the 7th Brigade...

    Here's what you get when you put a great gun on a great reliable platform...and you HAVE to remember, it was taking on the then top of the line Soviet T-55s...

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    Last edited: Nov 5, 2007
  19. Well, Polish, at least they got rid of that absurd 76mm potato gun on the super Sherman and mounted a real main gun on the beast. :D
  20. sabashimon

    sabashimon New Member

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    17thfabn, the internally operated mortars are used primarily for explosive and illumination rounds. Smoke for screen and evasion was provided by a seperate and independant system. (see photo in following post)
    Polish, you are correct regarding the Sherman's successes against the T-55. I attribute this to something I mentioned earlier: superior training, imaginative battle tactics, and motivation.
    The same could be said with regards to our French Mirages' dominating success against top of the line Syrian Migs.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2007
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