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Israeli Armor Master/Merkava Designer Dies

It's a couple days late, but in case you missed it, Gen. Israel Tal who helped design what many believe is the world's best tank, died a couple days ago in Rehovot, Israel.

Born in 1924, he held a series of important posts in the course of an illustrious military career, leaving the army as deputy chief of staff.

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He is considered one of the best five armored commanders in history, alongside U.S. Gen. George S. Patton, Gen. Creighton Abrams, German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel and Israeli Maj. Gen. Moshe Peled, according to the Armor Museum at Fort Knox, where he is commemorated.

Tal oversaw the design of the Merkava tank - Hebrew for "chariot" - which is widely seen as one of the best of its time. The tank was created to ensure the safety of its crew by placing the engine at the front, allowing crew and medics to enter and exit from behind, even under fire.

The tank was also developed for Israeli terrain, particularly specializing in long-range fire, according to the Armor Museum. The Merkava tank entered combat in the 1980s.

The Merkava is an amazing tank, no matter how you slice it, and the fact that it was designed by a tank driving hero of the '67 Suez war and the '73 Yom Kippur war is a testiment to the idea that gear should be designed from the ground up "by the warfighter."

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