Tamiya’s Merkava I 1/35

One of my quickest builds ever! I finished this tank in 72 hours, from start to finish. Of course, if it weren’t a Tamiya kit, this could’ve never happen. It is so nice and easy to build, that even the fact that is old and need a lot of aftermarket to represent the Merkava I as it has to look in reality – it’s still a gem!
The assembly itself took me about 3,5-4 hours. Tracks are vinyl, and even though it is know that this is almost the same kit as Merkava II from Academy, the tracks are different story.

They are very flexible, and in the same time
, once on the tank, they stay exactly as they should be. Of course, Friul aftermarket would be even more better choice, but still…
Lack of Ball and Chain on the Merkava Mk.I also helped reduce time of the modeling.
Anyway, the rest of the build was done so quick due to the fact that I built it during first days of August, when the weather is pretty hot and dry. During winter season, I need to wait 24 hours after a varnish coat to settle and cure, so to apply the decals with Microsol and Microset, and not leave any nasty stains. During August…well, 2-3 hours in a room with open window, or even better – on a current, and you are set!

I decided to over-weather it a bit, because those tanks were the oldest Merkava MBTs and it is logical to be most worn. So oils and washes, again – during August – you need just a couple of hours to settle so to continue onto the next step.
My goal was to divert a bit from the right color: it has to be green. Sinai Gray shades in other words which are difficult to be done properly. But I wanted dusty, worn and tormented look of the tank, so I decided to go with sandy and yellowish colors.
I added scratches and dents here and there, and sponge chipping as well. The mud, unlike other times when using pigments, I decided to switch with something else. Recently I’ve been to a hiking, and found a very fine /and I mean extremely fine/ dirt, which even in 1/72 it is still usable as a sand. I mixed that with some glue and started “painting”. Actually, I didn’t expected very nice effect, but it turns out to be good looking and realistic.
Having in mind that the project is quite simple, and very quickly completed, something inside of me told me that I must do something to make it look different. Heavy weathered was good, but it needed something else, so I started wondering around the local shops to see what could grab my attention, and give me an idea or inspiration.
I found a cool material for the antennas which ,as seen from the picture above, were not yet installed. To get my point, check out the other pictures, and if at first that didn’t caught your attention, well, now you can see what difference does they make.
I added also part of my weathered aftermarket chain, which after this project I started using on most of my Merkava tanks. It even started to annoy me at some point. But in the end, it looks realistic, and the people that get my models for their collections like it.
So, 72 hours during summertime, appeared to be enough for a decent looking tank. Actually, I’ve spent five times more, and in the end, I got a result that is far from decent.
Timing is not everything! Contrary to what modelers use as an excuse for not finishing their projects.

In case you wonder, I used Tamiya paints, some oils /for washes, filters and streaks/ and Vallejo varnishes. You don’t have to have the whole AK or MIG line to make a model look like this. Maybe Microsol and Microset helped a lot, but it is well known that they worth every penny.
I believe that this tank kit is somewhere in France now /excuse me if I am wrong I don’t remember where they all go/, in a private collection. As far as I know, the owner is happy with it, and I was too, especially for such a short project.
I hoped you enjoyed the article and feel free to write me if you wanna share something or have some questions about it!