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“Merkava”. The brainchild of Israeli tank building

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June 24, 2006 a tank battalion commander Guy Kabili was ambushed. Explosion 300-pound land mine under the tracks turned heavy machinery, then it released three anti-tank missiles. Nevertheless, six of the seven people who were inside, survived. Their lives are saved tank “Merkava” (“Chariot”), created under the slogan “The most valuable thing in the tank – the crew!”.

As developed tracked fortress

It is noteworthy that Israel “Talik” Tal, the “father” of the future “Merkava” was not a designer, and a tanker. Previously, he commanded the 84th Israeli “Steel” Panzer Division. It Tal suggested to focus on creating their own combat vehicle after attempts have failed to agree on the procurement and manufacturing in Israel British tanks “Chieftain” and the French AMX-30.

Based on own extensive combat experience and abandoning the need to look foreign partners, the Israeli developers to focus on creating a tank optimal for local conditions and specific application. For example, Soviet designers to create new tanks had to take into account the need for transportation by rail and to comply with restrictions on size and weight. But the Israelis because of the small size of the future theater of operations could manage vehicle transporters or simply maneuver the course.

In order to improve the chances of survival tank, the engine-transmission compartment is located in the front, and the crew and ammunition – in the most secure rear of the machine

Developers have studied and compared the running of the few tanks from different countries, including captured Soviet-made machines. Then they decided that an Israeli tank is best suitable spring suspension. She was considered “obsolete”, but provides a higher mine stability and allows you to quickly replace the rollers. When simulated a review from the place of the driver, was created a wooden model mounted on a jeep. His obkatali in places where the future might take fights.

The main armament was adopted Israeli version of the British 105-mm rifled gun L7, well-proven in combat. In the later version of the “Merkava” establishes a 120-mm smoothbore gun.

The main task of the developers became survival tank. To do this, the engine-transmission compartment is located in the front, and the crew and ammunition – in the most secure rear of the machine. Chances of survival when leaving the wrecked tanks increased and stern hatch. Due to the fact that the fighting compartment of the tank was very large, you can load additional ammunition into a car or take out troops from the battlefield wounded. On the basis of some “Mercan” even created later so-called «tankbulance» – recovery vehicle with nurses and medical equipment.

New tanks entered service in the Israeli army in 1979.

Application in practice

In battle, “Merkava” debuted in 1982, during the war in Lebanon. In early June, two hundred of these tanks took part in the operation “Peace in Galilee”. However, the first scheduled fight in which they had to confront the new Syrian T-72 did not take place. On the Internet many colorful stories of massacres, uchinёnnyh “semdesyatdvoykami” Israeli vehicles, but actually “Merkava” just did not come to the position – Syrian T-72 in the battle opposed light unarmoured jeeps with TOW anti-tank guided missiles from the summary division “Koah Yossi. “

Ironically, the first contender for the destruction of the” Merkava “became Israel as” magicians “(” Patton “). June 9, one of the “Mercan” 198 Battalion was hit by the Syrians in the village of Ain-A-Tina, and then mistakenly fired on Israeli tanks another battalion. Generally, this operation is the share of “friendly fire” had lost a fair amount of “Mercan.” For example, on June 10-11, Israeli helicopters fired twice their tanks – was damaged five cars, killing two crew members.

On its combat debut during the operation “Peace in Galilee” “Merkava “from the 77th Tank Battalion did not have time. According to the recollections of operation, traffic jams sometimes created no less difficulty than enemy action

The most massive of today use “Mercan” happened in 2006, during the Second Lebanon War. In the attack on the territory controlled by the organization “Hezbollah”, attended by about 400 vehicles, including the latest “Merkava-4.” According to Israeli sources, the tanks were produced over thousands of rockets and missiles, including the new anti-tank systems “Cornet”. 45 tanks received a total of 51 hits, while the armor was pierced in about half of cases. Irretrievably lost three Israeli tank, killing 25 crew members (these statistics do not include losses due to mines and roadside bombs).

Battles in 2006 once again demonstrated that there are no invincible tanks – the only question is how much forces required to spend on their destruction. And even the best machines used properly, will inevitably incur large losses. Such negative example was the battle at the dry river Saluki. Israeli offensive on this route was delayed for two days. During this time, “Hezbollah” was able to train in the area of ​​strong anti-defense, and Israeli intelligence to reveal these preparations could not. Although the attack was allocated latest “Merkava-4” from the losses it did not save. Tanks shot from several directions, three of the 24 machines attacking column got penetration killed 7 soldiers. Although, given the circumstances of the battle – dashing tank assault without proper reconnaissance and support – we can say that the losses are relatively small: on sandy slopes Saluki could stay the whole column of armored vehicles.

Designer “Merkava” actually managed to achieve its Objective: To provide new tank maximum survivability, and in particular to protect the occupants of people. As once said its creator Israel Tal: “In the battle to win the tank whose crew better!” Fighting the way “Mercan” clearly demonstrates that prioritized the creators of this machine everything was in order: the key “module” of the tank – an experienced crew – valued above all else.

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