Chris’ Israeli Merkava 2 Tank Company

with Chris Townley

It comes as no surprise to anyone that has followed our various Arab-Israeli releases over the years that I have strong interest in the fighting between the Israelis and their Arab neighbours over the course of the 20th century. The release of Oil War lets me take that interest over from Fate Of A Nation and bring it in to Team Yankee. I’m very excited!

Looking through the list I was of course hoping to leverage some of my previously painted models to build the basis for a new army, just like I am doing with my 1973   Syrians (more on this later). Of course, the major flaw in that plan was that whilst Magach 6 (M60 Patton) tanks are awesome, not only do I not have any painted for my ’73 force, they are just not as cool as the new Merkava tank! Possibly one of the best-looking armoured vehicles and certainly one of the most iconic!

To begin with, I decided to add a full-strength Company of these bad boys, choosing to use the Merkava 2 models with their improved armour stats (slightly more front armour, as well as improvements to the side and HEAT protection). Coming in at 7 points each of these, 11 models made for 77 points. That’s more than enough for a few toys!

If I was to say that there was a flaw to the Merkava tanks, it would be their 105mm gun – knowing that their main opponents would be older generation Soviet tanks (which the 105mm can deal with easily) the early models do not have the same hitting power as other Western tanks that have the nastier 120mm gun.

To balance this out I decided to add anti-tank missiles… lots of anti-tank missiles. A platoon of the top-secret Pereh tanks meant I got a super unique looking model, something that can hit anyone, anywhere, anytime, and an AT 21 missile.

I also added a platoon of Jeeps with TOW missiles – I love the Sayur Company (from Fate Of A Nation) and the thought of adding Jeeps zipping around the table really appeals to me. I also took the opportunity to add a Jeep Recce Platoon to my Merkava Formation for the same reason…

To round out the Force I chose to add a pair of M163 VADS for some AA protection, along with a pair of M48 Chaparral SAM launchers. This gives me some close in firepower that can be used to knock down close air support and choppers, or hordes of Syrian (or Soviet) infantry, along with the heavier Sidewinder missiles (on the M48) that can engage airborne targets anywhere on the tabletop. Being relatively small platoons means I will need to keep them behind the lines or risk losing them however…

My plan is fairly simple – hit hard, hit fast and hope that the armour of the tanks will see me through. None of my platoons are very big so I when I start suffering casualties, I will need to rely on the superior Morale of the army to keep my troops on the table, but I think I have a good combination of equipment to give me a fighting chance against most enemies.

Thinking about the long term I’d love to add a few more units to the army to give me some extra flexibility – a M113 Mech Infantry Platoon, AH-1 Viper Attack Helicopter Platoon (or two), Redeye SAM Platoon and aircraft will be high on my “to-do” list!