by: Darren Baker [ ]
When Academy released their Merkava Mk IV LIC, closely followed by the Hobby Boss version, there was a lot of discussion about various faults in both products. The general consensus of this was that the most accurate rendition would be obtained by combining the two models together due to omissions and inaccuracies in both products. Voyager Model, amongst others, came to the rescue of these products with various update sets and corrections allowing you to improve either model more than could be achieved by combing them.
In Voyager Model’s case they released a series of sets concentrating on improving or correcting details on specific areas of the base model. This allows the customer to decide which features they wish to improve on their model and which areas they can live with. Voyager Model does have one problem and that is that when they release their sets they usually show all the possible sets on a finished unpainted model, the problem with this approach being that it means the potential customer is unsure exactly what is included in specific sets.
In this review I will take a look at what is included in set PE 35413 which is designed specifically for the Academy offering of this vehicle.
This product is packaged in a slide opening box inside of which there is a plastic sleeve protecting the components, the contents consists of;
• 5 photo etch frets.
• 4 resin tow cable eyes.
• Small brass balls.
• 0.7mm brass rod X 2.
• 0.5mm copper cable.
• 0.3mm copper wire.
• 0.3mm steel wire.
• 0.5mm ABS rod.
• Chain link.
• 3 double sided A4 size instructions.
I will start with the instructions which are some of the clearest I have ever seen, I will not tell you the instructions are perfect as I am sure some questions will arise when this set is utilised. The stages are clear and in a logical order, placement of the various stages also looks to be precise which apart from poor eye sight should make using this set less of a chore.
The set itself is a general improvement and detail set with some of the most visual improvements being the replacement deck grill, the chain armour at the rear of the turret, and the mesh covers on the rear hull bins. This set is a lot more than that though on closer inspection.
This set replaces most if not all of the handles which are moulded on detail on the base model, this will mean taking a knife or a chisel to the model bearing in mind that Merkava Mk IV LIC from Academy has moulded on anti slip detail great care will be called for to prevent unwanted damage to that coating. This set also replaces the ammunition boxes for both turret machine guns, and improves detail on the 50cal. The only negative I have is the ammunition belt for the commanders MG being in photo etch which just does not look right, that is a personal opinion and yours may vary.
This set also attacks the commander’s hatch improving the overall detail. The main gun is not ignored either with all the straps being replaced with photo etch, which says to me get out your drill or lathe when it comes to removing the moulded on detail. The turret grab rails are also put up for replacement, but this step will need some scratch work as the rails are not supplied in the set. Careful measuring of both the rail lengths and end angles will also require your attention.
The guards for the optics and sensors are replaced with this product and they are better detailed than any of the kit offerings in my opinion. One area where the base kit really suffers is the flat photo etch ball and chain armour, which is not only 2 dimensional but also, I believe, poorly scaled. This set takes care of that with the entire ball and chain armour and its hanging assembly being supplied, it will again require a steady hand or the carpet will be well fed with little brass balls. I have been trying to find out the correct number of balls and chains for the turret rear but without success so far, because of this I cannot confirm or deny if it has the correct number or not.
One piece of etch that really caught my eye in this set will rarely if ever be seen, and that is the floor panel of the rear turret basket. The etch has incredibly small holes in it which allow it to be seen through while still looking solid. This part may not be perfectly accurate though as a picture I have seen showing this basket off of the tank looks as if the floor cross members should be mounted to an un-perforated surface with the perforations being in between.
The multi part deck grill is a thing of beauty but will sorely test your ability to apply glue only where needed. Both of the tow cables and their mounts are completely replaced with this set and should be a good improvement, I will say that using copper twisted wire for the cables may be a mistake due to possible stiffness when trying to replicate a natural sag.
The rear hull bins mesh covers have been well thought out, allowing the various parts to be connected together on the fret before being removed and applied to the model. The front and rear mud guards are also replaced, with the rear flaps being workable if you enjoy punishing yourself.
Lastly this set replaces the exhaust flutes and its cover which should be an easy enough task.
Of all the possible sets you could get for your Merkava IV LIC this is the one which I believe will give you the biggest bang for the buck, this set does something for every surface of the model and will be the most notable improvements you could make. Highly recommended.