You know how it goes. Sometimes, for some inexplicable reason you get this interest in a model. Then it becomes a fascination bleeding quickly into obsessive and compulsive trips to a place like Sprue Brothers. One day you learn, because you are on their mailing list, that the Brothers Sprue are offering 20% off that kit you’ve been slobbering over. Mr PayPal goes, Ca-Ching! and it is winging its way to you in the tender bowels of a random USPS truck.
It kind of happened that way with my fascination with the IDF Merkava (Chariot). I think it may have sprung from our small group trip to Israel in 2009 when, driving up to, and down from the Golan Heights I spied a few of these rather prehistoric looking machines laagered off the highway. The bus driver failed to heed my demands to stop for an inspection tour, so my glimpses were fleeting but long lasting. Having recently returned my armor modeling phase (the initial period lasting quite some time and focused almost exclusively on WWII German vehicles) I recalled the fun I had during that period making my only foray into modern armor, Tamiya’s Challenger II Desertized kit. One great thing about that kit, and all Tamiya armor I believe, was NO INDIVIDUAL TRACK LINKS. Pardon the shouting, but really, those damned things are torture. If armor modelers just have to have multi part track links in the name of accuracy or some other socially mandated requirement, fine, but just throw in a couple of reasonable rubber band tracks for the rest of us.
Hmmm… my recollection of the Merkavas in Israel and my old build of the Challenger called for a browsing of the current modern armor kits selection. Browse, browse, then bang! Merkava. A bunch of them from different modeling companies. Tamiya has one, maybe more, of course, but so does Meng. Coming off my WWI Meng armor builds I was pretty confident that this would be the kit for me, having had fun and relatively few frustrations. How could I go wrong?
The Meng Merkava IV kit isn’t exactly wrong, but it isn’t up to the standards of the three Meng WWI armor kits I’ve built, one with full interior. I’m sure the kit is as accurate as most but the designers must have hit the happy pipe a bit too much because it sure isn’t a well conceived build in some aspects. I went through most of these aspects in painful detail in this blog, along with pictures with arrows explaining what each one was.
Chris, another armor modeled who comments here offered his experiences with this kit which edged on prophesy, and a great deal of support too.
Suffice to say that the Merkava by Meng certainly looks like the reptilian monster sporting a 120 mm gun that it is, but it cured me of getting more vehicles with tracks for some time. Unless, they might be rubber band tracks.
I’m almost done. Needs a few touches like machine guns, a few ready ammo boxes, cables, perhaps a scratch built tarp or two which I will undoubtedly get around to completing some time next year. I think what put the icing on it was my desire to weather it appropriately for it’s environment which is dominated by giga-tons of sandy colored sand that gets everywhere. I used Roy’s water, Future and acrylic paint wash technique, first with a dark gray instead of black as I wanted contrast and for the lines between hatches and armor components to be emphasized but not too much. Then I did it again substituting a sand color Tamiya acrylic in the wash mixture. After that dried, I used a stiff brush and Tamiya’s Weathering Master compounds to scrub in, guess what, more sandy colored sand goop.
Worked pretty well. You can tell it’s been operating in sandy color sand but it isn’t overdone.
The rest shall wait upon the new year. Like maybe summer, even.
My thoughts turn to 1915 and Mr. Fokker’s scourge machines. I just happen to have a Wingnut Wings Eindecker EI in the stash.