The "revolutionary" approach of Merkavas engine compartment location is its Achilles hill.
The engine is located in the front of the hull just like in various APCs, and has a total of THREE internal fuel tanks.
One in the engine compartment, and two in the back. Fuel lines run the entire length of the hull thus posing a much higher danger of fire in
comparison to a single aft mounted internal tank with additional external tanks.
While Merkavas do allow a limited space in the back for infantrymen (4 to 6), just like in previous generations in order to facilitate the men part
of the ammo has to be unloaded.
Even though a concept of a MBT carrying its own infantry for protection is a good one in principle, the space required to carry them simply robs from
performance of the tank.
Further more, those troops are not as well protected as the crew, and when the tank is hit they are the ones that usually suffer casualties.
4 soldiers killed in Lebanon
An IDF soldier was killed Thursday evening by an anti-tank missile in the Lebanese village of al-Taibeh in the eastern district of southern Lebanon.
The soldier has been named as SergeantYonatan Sharabi, 19, of Petah Tikva.
Earlier three IDF soldiers were killed and another was severely wounded when Hizbullah operatives fired an anti-tank missile at their Merkava
Another issue with forward mounted engine is uneven weight distribution resulting in down slope "tipping".
Note that on all Merkavs the turret location is shifted towards the rear, and it is done so in order to balance the weigh of the power pack and
prevent down slope "dragging".
Tipping looks kind of like this;
Tanks with traditionally rear mounted power packs do not suffer from such issue and negotiate down slopes much easier and faster then Merkava.
Naturally another major issue is vulnerability to mines of even moderate strength, since once the engine is struck the tank is completely
I'm not going to look for it now, but there was another article about a Merkava which took a hit to the engine from a mine during the recent Lebanese
campaign, and required a massive operation in order to evacuate the surviving crew.
Mark my words, the next Israeli tank will have a rear mounted engine.