Academy Merkava MkIID 1:35 scale

build update 09-01-2014
I stumbled across this Academy kit at my local hobby shop a few weekends ago. I’ve always liked the looks of the Mk1 through III Merkavas (the MkIV looks too much like a “Box on tracks” in my opinion), and with the IID containing a mix of MkII and MkIII feautures, heavy combat use, and an MSRP of only $45, it became an instant “must-have”!

I blew through most of the basic construction and parts cleanup in a couple of sessions. One of my deviations from the strict “out of the box” plan included chopping the skirts up for a more organic appearance. Merkava skirts are split into paired sections of 2 skirt segments, with each section mounted to the hull on a spring steel frame. These sections are free to move, mostly independently from adjacent sections, resulting in non-planar orientations of all sections. To me this is one of many small “tells” that help to add liveliness and realism to a scale model, and it’s fairly easy to incorporate.

I started by labeling each of the backsides of the various segments (L-1, L-2, L-3, R-1, R-2, R-3, etc…) to help me relocate them during final assembly. Then I cut small slits at the skirt segment breaks in the backside structure, so it would be easier to snap the segments apart after scoring the visible side with a sharp blade. After the segments were separated, I cut away the rubber portions and replaced them with slightly beat-up styrene versions.

SKIRT CHOP

General assembly commenced and was progressing nicely when I came to the turret and a big fat empty hole where a bunch of tanker stuff should go: The Bustle. Pictures of the area were hard to come by, and what photos I did find showed that the area was often covered by a cloth cover. I also found images of Legend Production’s Merkava MkIID detail set, which includes, among other things, a very nicely rendered cloth turret basket cover. I really didn’t want to spring for the full set, and I have always felt that soft goods is an area I struggle with, so what better opportunity to develop my sculpting skills? If I succeeded I would be rewarded with many Facebook “Likes”. If not, I could shelve the beast and move on to something else in the stash. I used photos of the Legends parts as reference and busted out my collection of epoxy putties.

I started by replicating the vertical element of the cover, inside the back face of the basket, with Tamiya epoxy putty. After that cured, I filled the bulk of the basket with a chunk of foam, then packed the rest with some really old Miliput Terra Cotta that was getting quite hard and unusable for finer work. I added some rolled up blankets made from Miliput and Tamiya epoxy putties to one of the corners, and a .50 Cal ammo can to the other corner. After all of that had cured, I rolled some of the Terra Cotta putty flat and added some “structure” underlays that would peek through the final top layer.

BASKET TARP UNDERLAY V02

BASKET TARP UNDERLAY 2_V02

The top layer was made with Tamiya epoxy putty rolled very thin on a cutting board dusted with talcum powder. The Tamiya epoxy putty accepts detail well and cuts nicely if you press straight down on it. I added details and straps with the tip of an old Micron pen, from which I have removed the felt nib.

BASKET TARP TOP LAYER_V02

BASKET TARP TOP LAYER 2_V02

Next I will follow roughly the same process to model the rear hull stowage boxes.

STAGE 1 ASSY

Thanks for looking. Now go build something!

Pete

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