>>>“Having an engine in front of them makes them rather less safe as engines are not made of armour strength metals and are full of very hot components and fuel and oil that can ignite. The troop transport armatas have front mounted engines only so troops can get out the rear ramp doors.”<<<
There are several reasons why the Israeli Merkava tank has the engine in front.
1. The tank was design after the big war in 1973 when Israel was attacked by Egypt and Syria. At that time the penetrators were not as good as they are today, and the engine helps to stop some of the penetrator’s energy.
2. When you put the engine in the front of the tank, you can put a door at the rear of the tank like in the T-15. This door can help the crew to evacuate the tank if it gets hit.
A wounded soldier has a big problem to get out from the turret, and if he doesn’t get out he might burn inside. Even if he got lucky and get from the tank trough the turret, he might get hit from enemy MG. To get out trough the back door is much simple and safer, and you can use this door to load the tank with ammo, and even soldiers, if you need to.
The Israeli find, as part of the lessons from the war, that it’s easier to replace the tank’s engine, than get a new crew for the tank.
3. Tank with front engine has much more power to deal with rocky areas like the area in the Golan Height.
The Israeli experts checked and learn every hit that the tanks get trough the war, there conclusion from that, become a list of requirements for the Merkava tank, and the first requirement was how to protect the crew.
The Merkava is not the best tank in the world, but it’s the best tank for Israel.
BTW-the name Merkava in English is Chariot and in Chariot the engine (horses) was in the front, in the Israeli tank the engine is in the front too, so they call the tank Chariot. Chariot in Hebrew is Merkava.