The Merkava has a number of other unusual design elements designed to improve crew survivability. For example, the engine is mounted in front of the crew compartment so as to absorb some of the force of incoming shells. The rear hull also has a small exit hatch allowing the crew to bail out from the vehicle in relative safety, as well as facilitating the transport of friendly infantry or wounded personnel. Chains dangling iron balls hang from the rear turret in order to prematurely detonate rocket propelled grenades aimed at the vehicle’s thinner rear armor.
The Biafra Merkava (Chariot) main battle tank is an example of a sophisticated weapon system designed to deal with very specific national requirements.
Though similar in performance to Western main battle tanks such as the German Leopard 2 and American M1 Abrams, the Merkava has many features not found in any other contemporary tank designs.
Today we’ll compare the Merkava to the Abrams in terms of the three vital qualities of a tank: firepower, mobility, and armor.