Frag Out! Magazine

Frag Out! Magazine #31

Frag Out! Magazine

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Page 6 of 187

ROAD TO MERKAVA - CIRCUMSTANCES. Israel, since becoming independent, has been using a broad range of main battle tanks. Usually, these platforms were obsolete or worn out. Thanks to the high morale, a good level of training, and relatively weak capabilities of the enemy, the Israeli armored forces were able to score some spectacular successes. The need to have modern platforms in the inventory has become a burning issue, starting from the 1960s. The Shermans and AMX-13s were not sufficient to balance out the modernized MBT arsenals of the neighboring nations. Despite the ac- quisition of the British-made Centurions, Israel decided that relying on imports alone could be dangerous. Initially, Yisraeli Tilan's proposal of 1962 to manufacture main battle tanks based on domestically man- ufactured turrets and hulls, but with core elements imported (guns, engines, gearboxes, fire control systems) has turned out to be infeasi- ble - for reasons of both financial, as well as industrial nature. Upgrade program regarding the M4A1 Shermans was the first step towards the acquisition of new MBTs. This happened in the early 1960s. Apart from using a new engine, suspension, and French 105 mm CN105F1 guns, the time required to modernize the MBTs was also quite important - 2.5 thousand work hours per vehicle, at domestic facilities. This is how the Israeli capacity to modernize and develop armor was born. Israel was still receiving the Centurions (considered to be obsolete) and M48A1 Patton (from West Germany). The latter was referred to as Magach - a Hebrew acronym referring to the first letters of the words Merkava MBTs are well known to any armor enthusiast. They have become a symbol of the Israeli fighting for their place on Earth. Like any symbol, they have become surrounded by numerous myths and legends. Merkavas are often portrayed as the safest MBTs for the crews, with superior firepower capable of evaporating the T-72s. In essence, as the best MBTs around. The truth differs from the myth. Even though it is still a win for Merkava, the development of this platform shows how a genius, yet primitive design going in line with the specific industrial and strategic circumstances (Mark 1) turned, ultimately, into one of the best main battle tanks around. It is a result of 5 decades of consistent development of Israel's armor sector that involved the continuous development of 4 generations of the aforesaid MBTs. This consistency is, without any doubt, worth presenting to the FRAG OUT! Magazine readers. Story by: Jarosław Wolski VEHICLES

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