Tri-Pact News Service

We Make The News

R/C Tank Combat

British Invasion

Father and Son Battling

Mike Lyons

After a hectic day of sports and other commitments David and I headed north, arriving late afternoon to find a dozen tankers sitting around enjoying the beautiful fall weather. We set up Bazooka Joe so David could practice for the next day's battles. It took him only a few shots to begin consistently hitting a 1/10th scale Jeep at about 20 feet, which gained the attention of his likely foes. He then started working on long shots and was quickly splattering buildings in the village about 50 feet out.

We enjoyed a leisurely meal and some good company (especially Neil and Claire) then retired to our motel. At 6:00 a.m. we were up and I put in a couple of hours getting my new Nebelwerfer work-in-progress to the point where it would rotate, elevate, and fire one tube. Then it was back to the farm to find everyone furiously preparing their assets. David wanted more practice (who doesn't love blasting paintballs?) but the marker failed after the first shot. I quickly replaced it with a spare and we were good to go. (Thanks to John Pitelli for diagnosing a weak battery and supplying a replacement. Lesson learned: Bring spares of everything.) David was hitting targets at will so we spent a few minutes gathering dead leaves and weeds to camouflage Joe's base.

The morning scenario was Fox-and-Hounds, with two tanks trying to stay alive while pursued by all the others. The Flak 88 (FA004) and Bazooka Joe (RL001) were "free agents", able to take out tanks at will. After the first round we agreed we would keep the foxes alive to make the game last longer. David and I set up RL001 under a pine tree adjacent to road and very close to two paths through the pine trees. Steve Tyng spotted us very quickly as the hounds set forth and spread the word, with the result that no tank came close to us. Perhaps David's prowess on the practice field scared them all off? He fired a couple of shots at tanks moving down the road at high speed but they were deflected by twigs. Lesson learned: Clear your shooting lanes in all directions.

The second round was much the same, with most of the action in the woods way beyond us.

In the third round we set up in a nice position where several paths converged in the deep woods. Unfortunately David was hit by a couple of errant shots which put a damper on things for a short while, but he was soon ready to go at it again.

In the fourth round the foxes backed into tall weeds at a T-intersection. The Flak 88 was parked right in the intersection and we set up Joe under a low-hanging tree close by. The hounds approached from behind, saw the situation, and circled away to approach from the far side. Late in the round things were chaotic as the foxes sprang from the weeds to attack a pack of hounds bursting from the forest. In all the excitement David landed a shot on Frank's new Semovente as it was chasing something. Frank had determined the "one shot, one kill" rule be in effect so David had his first points. He was one delighted nine-year-old!

It was time to break for review, arguments, and lunch. After another pleasant meal I put a few final touches on the Nebelwerfer and we were ready for the Battle Royale. Rather than the usual all-in last tank standing this version had tanks entering the Ring of Fire at intervals to take on each other, an occasionally-mobile Bazooka Joe (the CD having pointed out that he is infantry and so can "walk" around) and my Nebelwerfer ... if it worked.

David had a great time, landing several knockout shots from near and far. Even with a little side-to-side slop and some serious recoil he had that thing dialed in. He was so successful that Frank and I agreed he should be awarded ownership.

My Nebelwerfer was not quite a success. There was a serious gap between the distributor and the barrel liner that I couldn't keep closed, causing paintballs to fly short or really short distances. I hadn't practiced with it and it showed as I missed the Cromwell (T040) three or four times at very close distances as Steve raced past at his usual breakneck speed. I did land a couple of shots, one on T040 at about 10 feet and another on Will's SU-100 (T026) at about 30 feet but both balls glanced off without breaking. Towards the end of the battle a machine screw in the elevation mechanism locked up and the motor tore itself free. Lesson learned: Expect everything to move in ways it shouldn't. While somewhat disappointing on the day I think my radical design (using flexible tubing and an inverted Gatling-style mechanism) worked enough to justify further research.

On the bright side it looked good. I had kept it concealed and told Frank only that I had another rocket launcher. He announced there would be a "rocket man" which had the tankers keeping an eye out for another Bazooka Joe. I was pleased to hear several comments to the effect "What the he$$ is that?!?!" and one "Wow! Is that a Nebelwerfer?!?!" and several tanks stayed well clear of the menacing six-barrelled unknown.

It was a great event and we really enjoyed ourselves. Thanks to everyone for good food, good company, and great hospitality. Special thanks to everyone who took time explaining their setups and especially to Frank for making the event so special for David (including answering a barrage of rules questions ... you know Frank loves those!)