The decision on the development of its own tank was taken by Israel in 1970 after the failure of England to implement tanks «Chieftain». Manage the development of the new tank was appointed commander of the armored troops last IDF Major General Israel Tal retired, the creator of Israel’s military doctrine on the use of armored forces.
The project has received the title of the tank «Merkava» — chariot.
Manage the development of a fundamentally decision was made to abandon the traditional assembly of the tank, previously spent in the framework of Russian, American, German and Russian schools of tank. As Prof. tanker, I.Tal did not focus on the protection of the machine, and to protect its crew. To this end, he placed the engine-transmission compartment (MTO) in front of the hull and applied wheel drive track mover. As an additional protection for the crew used the front fuel tanks located behind the lower front part body, armored bulkhead between the tanks and logistics, also armored bulkhead between MTO and branch management.
The second difference fundamentally «Merkava» traditional tanks was a significant increase in body height (up to 1860 mm) while reducing the height of the tower. In taking this decision, ruled I.Tal Stat hits in tanks at the beginning of 1970 — more than half of the shells had strokes in the projection of the tower.
As part of the tank initially expected to apply enhanced reservation that increase the support surface defined by caterpillars grow their width and length. First modification was protected homogeneous armor, the following modifications have increased protection through the introduction of cost modules composite armor and side skirts. In connection with the use of multilayer armor with air gaps between the layers of reactive armor parts installation was impossible.
Highest body has permitted assemble engine and box height, releasing a relatively longish tank hull extra volume in the stern. According to the plan is the separation of the head developer was supposed to be used for transportation of spare tank crew.
In order to implement this controversial decision of the turret was placed in a traditional style — on the center of the body, which is not allowed to balance the weight of the tower weight of the motor box. As a result, the center of mass «Merkava» moved forward, which resulted in uneven distribution of rollers in the longitudinal plane.
Armament of the tank first modification consisted of 105-mm rifled gun unitary loading, 2-7.62-mm machine guns (one of which was paired with a gun, the other is mounted on the turret), 60-mm mortar mounted inside the driver’s compartment and firing shrapnel and lighting mine and smoke mortars, fixed outside of the tower. In the rear recess towers placed on mechanized boeukladka 5 shots, increasing the rate of fire of the gun in the designated provisions.
For the first time in the practice of all the shots of tank to tank gun, boxes of ammunition and mines were in fiberglass fireproof containers can withstand an open flame for 45 minutes. In addition to this the MTO office management and additional compartment was equipped strong fire-extinguishing system. Feed fuel tanks were removed from the body in some lightly armored tank.
Also for the first time in the practice of tank in series was used caterpillar machine rollers suspension system with an external location Christi twin tube shock absorbers and springs. This decision allowed increment twice (to 604 mm) full speed rollers compared with tanks equipped with torsion bar suspension, and significantly expand the free volume of the enclosure. One half of the rockers rollers were rotated to the side of the nose, the other half — in the aft hull.
Modification of the tank «Merkava Mk.1» was adopted by the Israel Defense Forces in October 1979. First be tested in the tank was in 1982 during the First Lebanon War. Results of its implementation were diverse combat — on the one hand, «Merkava» suffered the loss of small (up to 15 cars, 7 of them irrevocably), on the other hand lost all tanks were amazed ATGM, as during the war there was no 1st fire contact with Syrian tanks T-72 Russian production.
The debut of «Mercan» on the battlefield was very spoiled snapshots one of the cars burned ATGM near Beirut airport. Due to the fact that certain images bypassed all naikrupneyshim newspapers around the world and to rehabilitate the structure of the new Israeli tanks were organized staged shooting «Merkava» on the Syrian T-72, previously lined ATGM «Thaw» and remain in the neutral zone. Shooting was performed after the truce between the warring parties in the presence of a camera head of the IDF General Staff.
In the following years, «Merkava» participated in all the local military conflicts in southern Lebanon, also in police operations on the territory of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Due to constant increase combat capabilities of the enemy anti tank «Merkava» modernized by growth-caliber guns and installation of modern fire control system, enhancing armor protection in the form of suspended modules composite armor and side skirts also increase engine power due to the increasing weight of the tank.
Chassis «Merkava» also endured significant changes — all balancers rollers were sent to the stern, openly disposed tubular springs were changed vane mounted in thicker armor.
Last changed «Merkava Mk.4», adopted into service in 2004, weighs 70 tons, armed with diesel engine 1500 hp, five-speed automatic transmission and 120-mm smoothbore gun. Capacity mechanized combat pack increased to 10 shots. Suspension composite armor mounted on the edges and on the roof of the tower, also on the upper front part of the housing. Multilayer board reserved screens, the bottom — the iron plate mounted with an air gap (with a decrease in clearance from 530 to 430 mm).
But certain measures have led to working result. If in the First Lebanon War in 1982 «Merkava Mk.1» was used as the main battle tank (MBT) with a small level of losses, then in the second Lebanon war in 2007 «Merkava Mk.4» when trying to combat the introduction of MBT as incurred loss in an amount of about 50 vehicles (half of those who took part in operations in the area of South Lebanon), 10 of them were destroyed irrevocably.
As a result of opposition from the Lebanese militia organization «Hezbollah», based on previously prepared fortifications (located on the ground inhabited Fri) and armed with RPGs and ATGM Russian production with tandem shaped charges, the IDF command was forced flaw «Merkava» from the assault teams and take them in the second echelon.
Henceforth «Merkava» began to be used as self-propelled artillery to fire on the front edge of the defenders, since the magnitude of elevation tank gun and qualifications gunners did not allow them to lead a false fire on targets deep urban fortified. Left without a tank cover infantry assault teams suffered significant loss.
Plan for the military campaign was disrupted — Coming Common ground in southern Lebanon was halted rocket attacks «Hezbollah» in areas in Israel grew throughout the second Lebanon War and were stopped only after the truce between the warring parties.
The main prerequisite failure IDF from using «Merkava» as MBT were constructive vulnerability inherent in the very first machine modification.
I.Tal being the main ideologue of the unique assembly «Merkava» fundamentally made a mistake — has replaced the concept of protection of the tank crew protection concept. With all this protection method was also elected crew mistakenly — by substituting actual jeopardy desired item tank design — the engine block with a box. Order was ignored one of the requirements of mandatory MBT — opposition to loss of turn.
With all this protection forehead housing increased less than 10 percent: thickness of the upper front part together with the composite armor is 200 mm at an angle of 75 degrees, the thickness of the vertical partition between the nasal fuel tanks and procurement — 40 mm, the thickness of the vertical partitions between MTO and the separation of management — 80 mm, additional protection to the motor and the box is estimated at 60 mm metal homogeneous armor.
But the situation with the protection of «Merkava» from the loss of progress even worse — the lower frontal part of the highest housing with a width of only 100 mm at an angle of 25 degrees can not keep from hitting MTO rocket-propelled grenades with tandem shaped charges RPG-type 29 — precharge hit lower frontal part , the main charge punches 40 mm partition and disables the engine box, simultaneously igniting the fuel tanks in the nose.
In addition, the introduction of front-drive track mover forces make final drives in the body in the nose protruding niches. Even being covered armor of a certain thickness, gears gears and bearings, which are based on the axis of the driving wheels, are very sensitive to even what skewed own design. Because the explosion on the lower front part on the caterpillar or on the ground under the tank 152-155 mm high-explosive projectile or thermobaric grenade fired from RPG «Hashim» Jordanian production, also lead to the loss of range without breaking the frontal armor.
Paradoxically, but the fact is — if the MTO «Merkava» was postponed to place additional aft compartment, and integrated fuel tanks are located in nadgusenichnyh sponsons, vacant volume in the nose could be filled puff «pie» of composite armor width of 1,500 mm, and all this without running the risk of loss in the case of partial penetration of armor or airborne jamming gear.
Developers of the first modification of the tank allowed two more engineering issues: — increment the cabinet height and situated in the center of the turret housing.
First error led to a sharp increase zabronevogo volume. As a result, a 70-ton «Merkava Mk.4» has 1.42 times the lowest degree of protection (3.18 tonnes / cubic meter), 50-ton T-90ms (4.54 tonnes / cubic meter). With all of this, be aware that due to the massive introduction of MSA combat stats in tank shells hit in the 2000s dramatically changed — now account for most of the strikes in the body and not in the tower.
Second error led to a shift of the center of mass in the nose of the machine. This causes a buildup of tank shell when firing on the move, nullifying techno rate cannon provides automatic loader.
Direct consequence of the unique assembly «Merkava» is also impaired accuracy gun laying on the target when firing forward angles in the spectrum of the horizontal guidance + -15 degrees at the working engine. Flow of warm air rising from the upper front part covering the heated engine causes distortion visibility goals in a tank sight. Because the main method of firing «Merkava» with the engine running — turn it on its side on the gun angle greater than 15 degrees, recorded on the countless photos and video footage. With all of this tank gun substitutes under enemy attack weakly protected own board.
After the second Lebanon war, the IDF tried once again to upgrade the tank, setting him on the active protection system Trophy, created to intercept the rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank missiles. March 1 2011 submunitions ready, shoot mortars from the first time in a combat situation on the border with Gaza rocket-propelled grenade hit, released on the «Merkava».
But there Trophy ineradicable flaw — radar detection rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank missiles mounted on open turret and completely vulnerable to bullets of small guns, not to mention the small caliber projectiles and fragments. Because in future armed clashes Common opponents armed with RPG and ATGM, it is entirely possible to be included in the group of anti-sniper who shot from the IRS or other rifles with telescopic sights will incapacitate radars Trophy, on condition that his companions could then easily hit the tank from portable means.
Recognition of the end of a career, «Merkava» as the main combat vehicle IDF is that the management of defense research and development of Israel Defense embarked on a project Rakiya — «Rakia» — (??? «?) -» Sky » promising to build armored platform consisting of a set of specialized armored vehicles, designed to change the existing tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, self-propelled artillery, engineering vehicles and armored recovery vehicle.
Weight of one combat unit made on the platform «Rakia», defined at the level of 35 to 40 tons. As the main form of protection is deemed promising SAZ capable of intercepting including armor-piercing projectiles. During 2013 it is planned to prepare the tactical and technical requirements of the tender documents and the creation of a promising platform for the contest in the midst of manufacturers of armored vehicles. Scheduled date setting on arms — 2020.
Created by Andrey Vasilyev