"Knowledge is power."
Altank's Reviews: Chapter IV, The Merkava Mark IV.
Patch 1.22 version; last update: 06/08/15.
The development of the Merkava main battle tank, name derived from the IDF's initial development program name, began in 1973, entering official service in 1979.
It is designed for rapid repair of battle damage, survivability, cost-effectiveness and off-road performance. Following the model of contemporary self-propelled howitzers, the turret assembly is located closer to the rear than in most main battle tank, the engine being in the front; layout intended to grant additional protection against a frontal attack, especially for the personnel in the main hull, like the driver. This layout also creates more space in the rear of the tank that allows increased storage capacity, as well as a rear entrance to the main crew compartment allowing easy access under enemy fire. This allows the tank to be used as a platform for medical disembarkation, a forward command and control station, and an armoured personnel carrier. The rear entrance's clamshell-style doors provide overhead protection when off- and on-loading cargo and personnel.
Four main versions of the tank have been deployed.
- The Merkava Mark I:
The Mark I, operational since 1979, is the original design created as a result of Israel Tal's decision, and was fabricated and designed for mass production. The tank weighed 63 tonnes, had a 900 horsepower diesel engine, granting a power-to-weight ratio of 14 hp/ton, and was armed with the 105mm M68 main gun, licensed copy of the British Royal Ordnance L7, two 7.62mm machine guns, for anti-infantry defense, and a 60 mm mortar mounted externally, with its operator not completely protected by the tank's hull.
- The Merkava Mark II:
The Mark II was first introduced into general service in 1983, incorporating numerous small upgrades as a result of the previous year's incursion into Lebanon, which optimized the new tank for urban warfare and low intensity conflicts, keeping, nevertheless, the weight and engine of the Mark I.
Therefore the Merkava Mark II featured the same 105mm main gun and 7.62mm machine guns as the Mark I, while the 60mm mortar was redesigned during construction to be located within the hull and configured for remote firing to remove the need to expose the operator to enemy small-arms fire.
Anti-rocket netting was also fitted for increased survivability against infantry equipped with anti-tank rockets.
- The Merkava Mark III:
The Mark III was introduced in 1989, featuring upgrades to the drivetrain, powertrain, armament, and electronic systems. The most prominent addition was the incorporation of the locally developed IMI 120mm gun, which, along with a larger 1200 horsepower diesel engine, increased the total weight of the tank to 65 tonnes. Nevertheless the larger engine increased the maximum cruising speed to 60 km/h.
The turret was also re-engineered for movement independent of the tank chassis, allowing it to track a target regardless of the tank's movement.
Protection of this main battle tank was improved by adding passive modular armor. Damaged modules can be easily replaced in field conditions. Such armor can also be constantly upgraded when more advanced modules are available. This MBT was also capable of being fitted with explosive reactive armor blocks.
- The Merkava Mark IV:
The Mark IV is the most recent upgrade of the Merkava main battle tank and has been in development since 1999. However, new Merkava Mark IIIs continued to be produced until 2003: the first Merkava IVs were in production in limited numbers by the end of 2004.
The model has a new fire-control system, the El-Op Knight Mark 4.
The tank also features removable modular armor, from the Merkava Mark IIID, used on all sides, including the top and a V-shaped belly armor pack for the underside; this modular system is designed to allow for damaged tanks to be rapidly repaired and returned to the field.
Some features, such as hull shaping, exterior non-reflective paints, and shielding for engine heat plumes mixing with air particles to confuse enemy thermal imagers, were carried over from the IAI Lavi program of the Israeli Air Force to make the tank harder to spot by heat sensors and radar.
The Mark IV includes the larger 120mm main gun of the previous versions, but can fire a wider variety of ammunition, including HEAT and sabot rounds like the APFSDS kinetic energy penetrator, using an electrical semi-automatic revolving magazine for 10 rounds. It also includes a much larger 12.7mm machine gun for anti-vehicle operations.
2. -In-game overview:
The Merkava Mark IV, also known ingame as "Derpkava", is a high tier Israeli MBT; it's a well known tank and, therefore, it won't be hard finding one on the battlefield.
Being one of the highest-tier tank in the game it also features a fairly high price, though much lower than other high-tier units, of 17000 silver coins (this purchase option is unlocked once reaching rank 42, Colonel Grade 2) or of 1000 gold coins (this purchase option is unlocked once reaching rank 38, Major Grade 2).
The Merkava has the highest level among the tanks in the Israeli line, featured in the Asian tech tree, following in its line the Magach, starting at level 56 and reaching level 66. It's also worth mention ing that the highest-tier unit of the Asian tech tree is the S.Korean SPG K9 Thunder at level 70.
3. -Development and upgrades:
Merkava Mark IV's starting stats:
Reloading Speed: 5.8
Turret Rotation speed: 22.0
Damage per minute: 5586.2
Fully upgraded Merkava Mark IV's stats:
Reloading speed: 4.3
Turret rotation speed: 34.0
Damage per minute: 8162.8
- Hull upgrades: two-tier hull upgrade available.
The Merkava Mark IV features a two-tier hull upgrade; both of them are required in order to acquire most of the other upgrades and don't change the tank's appearance; as of patch 1.22.
3.2 -Health pool:
- Health pool upgrades: no upgrades available.
The Merkava Mark IV doesn't feature any health upgrade, however, the very high base health makes up for it, remaining, in the end, an above average statistic.
3.3 -Armour and active protection system:
- Passive armor upgrades: three-tier upgrade available.
- Reactive armor upgrades: three-tier upgrade available.
- Spaced armor upgrades: two-tier upgrade available.
- Active protection system upgrades: three-tier upgrade available.
The Merkava Mark IV is one of the most protected tanks in the world: the redesign of the hull around the installation of the new powerpack has provided improved frontal armour protection and improvement to the driver's field of view. Also a new feature of the tank is that the fitted modular special armour covers the turret, while the underside of the hull has been fitted with additional armour protection against mines.
The tank is fitted with the Amcoram LWS-2 laser warning system, with threat warning display installed at the commander's station. This links to the Israel Military Industries POMALS (pedestal-operated multi-ammunition launching system) decoy launcher. One launcher is fitted on either side of the tank, which can launch smoke grenades and decoys.
The Merkava Mark IV features a high degree of protection against any threat: a three-tier upgrade of passive armour, a three-tier upgrade of reactive armour and finally a two-tier upgrade of spaced armour; meaning that bringing down this behemoth won't be easy, unless you know how to properly engage one: fully upgraded HEAT rounds will struggle at penetrating, and even if they succeed in doing so, their damage will be greatly reduced by the massive amount of passive and reactive armour the Merkava Mark IV is provided with. Always try and look for solid shots on the sides and, above all, the rear.
The tank also features a three-tier upgrade of active protection system.
3.4 -Main gun and ammo:
- Main armament upgrades: three-tier upgrade available.
The Merkava Mark IV features an improved 120mm smoothbore gun, developed by Israel Military Industries (IMI), further development of the Merkava Mark III's gun. This gun is designed to sustain higher pressure, generating higher muzzle velocity. This tank can fire various 120mm rounds, including LAHAT ATGMs, besides from being able of firing all standard NATO munitions. Ten rounds are stored in electrically operated revolving magazine and are ready to fire at any time. Every single round is stored in a protective container, to protect the crew in case the ammunition explosion. The loader can select semi-automatically the ammunition type.
The Merkava Mark IV features a three-tier upgrade of the gun, which grants a bonus to the damage and a bonus to the accuracy as well, while, however, giving also a malus to both speed and trasmission, for each tier of the upgrade.
This tank's damage is very high, one of the highest among all the units in the game.
The different types of ammo available for the tank's gun are:
- Armor Piercing (AP): one-tier ammo upgrade available;
- Armor Piercing Discarding Sabot (APDS): one-tier ammo upgrade available;
- High Explosive Anti Tank (HEAT): one-tier ammo upgrade available;
- High Explosive (HE): one-tier ammo upgrade available;
- Anti Tank Guided Missile (ATGM): one-tier ammo upgrade available.
- Engine upgrades: four-tier upgrade available.
The Merkava Mark IV is powered by a V-12 diesel engine rated at 1500hp. The engine compartment and one fuel tank are at the front of the tank and two fuel tanks are at the back. The new engine represents a 25% increase in power compared to the 1200hp powerpack installed on the Merkava Mark III.
The German company MTU manufactures the engine components and the GD 883 engine is manufactured under licensed production by General Dynamics Land Systems in the USA. The engine is transferred to Israel for installation and integration with the automatic transmission and with the engine computer control system. The tank has automatic five-gear transmission rather than four gears as in the Merkava Mark III. The transmission system is manufactured by Renk. The single position rotary shock absorbers are installed externally.
As you would expect from a steel behemoth such as the Merkava Mark IV, the tank isn't one of the fastest in the game, however it has a rather good speed and it's fairly agile, despite its size, thanks to a four-tier upgrade of the engine.
Unlike most of the other tanks, the engine, fairly oversized, is located in the front, to protect the crew compartment, and has its advantages and its disadvantages.
3.6 -Reloading system:
- Reloading system upgrades: three-tier upgrade available.
The loader can select semi-automatically the ammunition type. The tank carries 48 rounds of ammunition each stored in a protective container. An electrically operated revolving magazine contains 10 ready-to-fire rounds.
Despite this, the reloading speed is very slow, almost painful, and a three-tier upgrade of the reloading system doesn't improve it by that much.
3.7 -Turret rotation system:
- Turret rotation system upgrades: two-tier upgrade available.
The Merkava Mark IV features a two-tier upgrade of the turret rotation system, achieving an average turret rotation speed.
3.8 -Additional upgrades:
- Radio upgrades: one-tier upgrade available
- Radar upgrades: two-tier upgrade available
- Smoke grenade dischargers upgrades: four-tier upgrade available.
- Infrared optics upgrades: one-tier upgrade available.
- Thermal optics upgrades: one-tier upgrade available.
- Fording kit upgrades: one-tier upgrade available.
- Floating kit upgrades: no upgrades available.
4. -How to get the best out of it (Role) and How to deal with one (Countermeasures):
Now that we have analyzed the characteristics of the Merkava Mark IV it's time to sum up:
-Above average health poll.
-Exceptional armour, the front armor is very strong and the sides are also quite tough.
-Reactive armour and spaced armour upgrades.
-Exceptional alpha damage, one of the highest among higher tier tanks, along with the ability to shoot ATGMs.
-Surprisingly fast and agile for its size.
-Despite the turret being closer to the rear than in other tanks, the Merkava Mark IV features a good gun depression.
-Being the engine compartment at the front, enemy tanks looking for and shooting at the weaker sides and, above all, the rear, will never cause engine fires and engine breakdowns.
-Painful reloading speed, aim carefully, always look for weakspots and never waste your shots; however, remember that your duty is absorbing most of the potential enemy damage for your allies, not dealing damage.
-Reverse speed isn't great, though not as terrible as the one of tanks such as the Black Eagle's.
-Very prone to be outflanked, due to the slow reload, of which the enemy can take advange of, the average reverse speed and turret rotation speed.
-Very prone to the "killstealing" phenomenon, due to the slow reloading speed.
-Being the engine compartment at the front, skilled players, at mid/long range engagements can put accurate fire into it, thus blocking your advance or, even worse, setting you on fire.
-Not really suited for deathmatches, as you'll need the support of your team, much more than you would in other tanks, in order to get the best out of the Merkava Mark IV.
The Merkava Mark IV is one of the biggest, baddest tanks on the battlefield.
The characteristics of this tank mean you must rely on the support of your team in order to get the best out of this Israeli behemoth: this tank is therefore particularly suited for "Team Deathmatch" and "Capture the flag" battle modes, where it can prove to be a very versatile tank, being capable of performing very well in both offensive and defensive roles. When attacking, you must lead the change; your role, by taking advantage of your strong armour and massive health pool, is taking direct enemy fire and absorbing the most of the potential enemy damage for your allies, who, at the same time, protect you from being outflanked and keep pressure on the the enemy, thus making negligible your major downside: the painful reloading speed.
When defending, just take your time, aim your shots carefully and be sure they won't miss: after all, in this case, it's the enemy that has to come to you; the tank will handle all the rest, but, as always, be sure to have at least an ally defending alongside you.
To get the best out of this tank, you only need a good support: a Merkava Mark IV with an ally supporting it effectively, it's the worst and most powerful enemy on the battlefield.
However, in the case the enemy closes the distance while you are defending and you don't have any kind of support, or you are forced to fight on your own, remember that your foe will try and outflank you, in order to avoid the massive damage of your gun, by taking advantage of your average turret rotation speed, and have solid shots on your sides and, above all, your rear.
More often than not, you can't prevent the enemy from outflanking you, as your reverse speed isn't good enough and your agility doesn't make up for it. However you can prevent them from avoiding you retuning fire, which will most likely strike their side, often resulting in a death sentence, unless your enemy has still their maximum amount of hitpoints (it's called "Derpkava" for a reason, after all): when the enemy gets on your side, keep turning the turret towards them, this will force them to keep circling you to avoid your shots; then, keep going forward, always turning your turret against the enemy and shooting when you're able to. This strategy will allow you to retun fire by getting in the circular trajectory of the enemy, who won't, therefore, be able to complete it and keep avoiding your shots. You will, consequently, protect your rear with your gun, keeping also a major pressure on the enemy, and your health pool should be able to absorb the damage until your foe is destroyed.
Also, remember to slightly turn your tank while advancing, thus angling your rear armour and mitigating the damage dealt by enemy HEAT rounds, as your rear is very weak against this type of ammo.
4.2 -How to deal with one:
The Merkava Mark IV is tough, however it will go down with relative ease if you know what you have to do.
While engaging this tank at mid/long ranges, remember to aim at and shoot always right underneath the turret, where the engine is located, thus killing its engine and, hopefully, set it on fire. The engine is oversized and it's the best place to shoot at: the tracks and the lower front plate are not weak, at all, and the turret is even tougher.
In this kind of engagements you can and should take advantage of the Merkava's slow reloading speed, get cover, if you're able to, when it's shooting back, then get out and fire. With most of the tanks the Merkava faces, you should be able to return almost two shots for every one it fires. Time when it's gonna shoot back and always keep moving, going backwards and forwards, to try and avoid the incoming fire.
At close range, always outflank it: as said above, unless you don't have momentum, it won't be able to prevent you from outflanking it; just be sure to be able to kill it fast, as, if the enemy takes advantage of the strategy explained above, you won't be able to prevent it from returning fire. And Merkava Mark IV's hits leave the mark. However you can always try to be unpredictable, suddenly moving backwards and forwards when you get behind it. Otherwise, once behind, just disengage if you're able to, relocate and get back for another run.
If the enemy stays still, then it's piece of cake: just keep circling.
Remember the tank's rear is very weak, so, when outflanking it, hold your fire once you have shots on its sides, unless you are driving a tank with above average reloading speed, so that you'll be sure your main gun is loaded once you get behind it.
If you're facing a supported Merkava Mark IV, relocate and don't engage, unless shooting from a strategic position at long range.
Here I end my review of the Merkava Mark IV, the Israeli behemoth that we all know and love as "Derpkava".
I apologize in advance if something written is wrong and I hope you enjoyed it. If you liked it, another one will shortly follow! Tell me what you think about it in the comments and any advice you may suggest is welcome.
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Take care on the battlefield, fellows!
Copying/Using any part of this review anywhere else is strictly forbidden, unless my proper authorisation is given.
"Merkava Mk4 Detailed". Defense Update, Eurosatory.
6. Special thanks to:
The Reviews Team.
And last but not least all of you that read this review!