Got a Merkava, or interested in getting one? Read this conclusive how-to guide on everything you need to know about Merkavas in War Thunder - how to obtain them, their strengths and weaknesses, and how to best utilise them in battle.
How To Get a Merkava
Unlike regular tech tree vehicles or premiums, the Merkavas in War Thunder are event vehicles - meaning to obtain them, you either had to complete an in-game event or can purchase them on the Gaijin Marketplace. As of writing, these are the prices of the 3 Merkava tanks we currently have in-game all residing in the US tech tree, with the potential for there to be plenty more variants added in the future:
Merkava Mk.1 - Obtainable in April 2019's 'Battlefield Engineer' event - 180.39 GJN
Merkava Mk.2B - Obtainable in December 2019's 'OPERATION F.R.O.S.T.' event - 114.90 GJN
Merkava Mk.3D - Obtainable in September 2020's 'Wargame Strategist' event - 158.50 GJN
As you can see, the Merkavas are ridiculously expensive with an average price of 151.26 GJN, which is a great shame for anyone interested in these iconic MBTs that bridged the gap between the Cold War and modern day technology. However, if you either have enough money to get yourself a Merkava, or enough time to grind one when the next event featuring a Merkava inevitably comes around.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Merkava Mk.1 - The first Merkava sits firmly at BR 8.7 and is a good introduction to the playstyle of these tanks.
Mobility - A 796hp engine that propels it to 46kph, a slow yet comfortable speed which plays right into how to use this vehicle. The Mk.1 certainly feels sluggish, but you shouldn't be rushing into battle with this tank anyway. Everything about the Mk.1's mobility feels slightly anaemic, but not to the extent that makes it unusable by any means.
Firepower - The 105mm Sharir L/52 rifled cannon is a very powerful main armament with comfortable ballistics and what makes this gun special - the M111 APFSDS round, also known as DM23, with 335mm of penetration at 100m: certainly enough to deal with any foe you'll face around this tank's battle rating. The Mk.1 also features gunner NVDs and a laser rangefinder, but no thermal optics, making it applicable for night battles but lacking the assistance of thermals.
Protection - The Merkava Mk.1's armour is a mixed bag to put it lightly, and this is true for all 3 Merkavas. On the surface it looks extremely weak, with no composites and only 50-90mm of rolled armour on the frontal glacises. However, these looks are deceiving. The front-mounted engine and external fuel tank essentially act as an enormous shell sponge, and you will often find enemies shooting into your frontal hull will have their shot blocked by the engine. The turret also has a lot of internal armour plates to protect against spalling, which often come in useful. The tank also features single-grenade smoke launchers, which are not quick to deploy and quite poor. A trend that also begins with the Mk.1 is the well-protected ammunition storage in the rear of the tank. While they don't have blowout panels, they are far away from the front and are often difficult to reach by incoming rounds, and are stored in fireproof containers.
How to Play? The Merkava Mk.1 is first and foremost a support tank. The superb main gun excels at longer distances where the laser rangefinder can be put to work and your hilarious amount of MGs can mark or track enemies for your teammates to deal with. While the protection appears nice, it is a one-trick pony as once you're hit you cannot move and thus react to the threat, and a turret shot can often one-shot you, albeit this is a hard target to hit - at distance, this target becomes even smaller whereas you're still just as deadly. That's not to say you can't brawl, because you most definitely can - the spacious interior and protections listed above can be effective in close-quarters combat, and this can be extremely fun, just remember to be attentive to the tank's shortcomings which are quite prevalent and play to its strengths.
In conclusion, the Merkava Mk.1 is a decent tank and a very fun addition to the extremely capable US 8.7 lineup, with rather holistic vehicles like the M60A1 RISE, M3A3 Bradley, M247 Sergeant York, A-4B Skyhawk and FJ-4B Furys. 6/10
Merkava Mk.2B - The second Merkava resides at BR 9.0 and is a solid enhancement of everything that makes the Mk.1 so good.
Mobility - An 852hp engine sends this Merkava to a very respectable 54kph. The mobility increase is a very welcome improvement and you really do feel it when driving this tank. It's still not the fastest tank around by any means, but you no longer feel sluggish while trying to reach good positions.
Firepower - The Merkava Mk.2B features the same gun and ammunition as the previous tank, which still serve well enough at this BR. However, there are 2 major improvements over the Mk.1 here - firstly, the tank finally receives gunner thermal optics. While they are generation 1 (and so lower-quality at distance, making ranged targets more difficult to distinguish), they are a very welcome addition and help the tank in its support role at distance greatly. It also receives proper smoke grenade launchers, with 2 launches of 7 grenades and then a further 27 single launches like the Mk.1. The fast deployment of these is very useful for covering yourself when under fire in higher tier battles, so this comes as a delight. Finally, the tank gets a laser warning receiver - niche, but useful for when you are under threat from ATGMs.
Protection - The Mk.2B receives composite screens to the turret roof and sides, which come in very handy for blocking chemical munitions like ATGMs or HEAT-FS from damaging the turret. However these are ineffective against kinetic munitions, so don't expect them to save you. An incremental improvement that's welcome, but otherwise the same as the Mk.1's armour.
How to Play? The Merkava Mk.2B is essentially a series of minor improvements over the Mk.1 that result in a very well rounded MBT and another strong addition to the Merkava series. While the Mk.1 is lacking in many areas to specialise in firepower and basic protection, the Mk.2B feels more rounded, making it a more holistic choice for the 9.0 US lineup featuring the M1128 Stryker, XM803, M60A3 TTS, A-4E Skyhawk, F-11F Tiger and even the F-86F-2 Sabre. 7/10
Merkava Mk.3D - The third and (currently) most advanced Merkava sits at 10.0 and is a comprehensive improvement which makes a really great tank.
Mobility - The Mk.3D's engine and transmission have been further upgraded and now exceeds 1000hp at the very respectable 1164hp, pushing this tank to 60kph. With the Mk.3D, the Merkava no longer feels slow by any means - while it still doesn't compete with the M1s or Leopard 2s, this tank is really quite mobile and this grants you the freedom to get to more gracious positions faster into the game so you can be more effective.
Firepower - The Merkava Mk.3D's gun is a huge upgrade over the previous variants. The domestically-produced 120mm MG251 gun is a much-needed addition for the top tier bracket, and this gun certainly does not disappoint. The M322 APFSDS round is a sight to behold, with 622mm of penetration at 100m - the joint 2nd best round in the game, tied with CL3143 of the Ariete PSO and only exceeded by DM53 of the Leopard 2A6. This round doesn't struggle anywhere, and is extremely comfortable to use. The Mk.3D unfortunately still features generation 1 thermals and for the gunner only, with other tanks near this battle rating now employing generation 2 and CITVs, the Merkava feels like it falls behind in this regard. However, playing to this tank's support role will largely negate these downsides. The reload is slightly on the long side, so unless you get the first shot off, don't expect to out-reload the enemy.
Protection - The Mk.3D features a redesigned turret with composite armour making the turret profile even more imposing. NERA composite screens are placed all over the turret and now the hull too, and with the difficult angles of the turret, the Mk.3D is decently protected against ATGMs and you will often find yourself able to tank a hit or two from even the deadliest charges. The composite-protected turret and hull sides can be quite useful, but the lower angle serves as a shot trap, so do be careful. Luckily, your turret crew is very spread out, so you will often find yourself only losing 1 crew member and able to continue the fight. Other than that, everything else is identical - the laser warning receiver, smoke grenades and ammo protection are all the same as the Mk.2B.
How to Play? The Merkava Mk.3D excels at everything that the Merkava series was developed to do and then some. This tank is a very well-rounded vehicle and good fun to play, with much-needed upgrades to bring the Merkava into the top tier of War Thunder. Expect to have a good time in this vehicle. 9/10
In conclusion, the Merkavas are all great tanks that anyone interested in them or trying a new playstyle of MBT will enjoy learning and mastering in battle. If you can't get your hands on a Merkava, then be sure to look out for events in future, as Gaijin may well add more in the future. I hope you find this article useful, and if so, leave a comment!
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