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Osprey New Vanguard 21 : Merkava Main Battle Tank 1977-1996

The Merkava, or Chariot, was the first tank entirely designed and built by the Israeli Army. The IDF had previously been using a variety of vehicles, acquired from various sources, including in particular the Sherman and Centurion. These were all conversions and suffered from one sort of failing or another. In particular although very mobile their armour protection proved to be deficient in the Six-Day War of 1967, costing the lives of many Israeli tank crews. The Merkava was designed specifically for the type of warfare and opponents that Israel faced. The resulting tank was heavily armoured and packed a powerful 105mm main gun backed up with a digital fire control system and laser range-finder. The sophistication of the vehicle surprised even the Western powers and certainly came as a shock to Israel's enemies. It first saw action in Operation Litani (the 1982 invasion of Lebanon) where it easily outclassed its opposition. The new Merkava Mk III is armed with an even more powerful 120mm gun and has gained favourable analysis against its illustrious contemporaries, the M1 Abrams and the Challenger II. Samuel Katz examines the development and deployment of the Merkava. The political background which led to the Israeli's need to produce an indigenous battle-tank is investigated as is its performance in such campaigns as 'Operation Peace for Galilee' in Lebanon. The changing technical aspects of the various marks are also investigated making this a useful and comprehensive study of Israel's most formidable tank. Illustrations by Peter Sarson.

    Contents
  • Introduction
  • Background
  • The Chariot Programme
  • The Blue and White Merkava
  • Baptism of Fire in the Lebanon
  • The Mk II and IIIs
  • Mk IV and Beyond

 

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