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R/C Tank Combat
Fall Brawl 2006
The "Fall Brawl" in Maryland this past weekend was lots of fun. It was a two day event, which allowed a number of people to attend from far away (Michigan, Ohio, New York). The two people that traveled the furthest didn't even have working tanks (one just about ready for battle, the other still in the planning stages), but their devotion was evident. Both were allowed to operate artillery during a battle or two so they could join into the fun.
We had no less than three brand-new tanks on the battlefield, including John Carioti's Centaur, Rob Snyder's Tiger and Amir's long-awaited T34. All rookie tanks performed admirably and overcame some mechanical problems of various sorts. Veteran tanks were also suffering some mechanical problems because of the really rough terrain on Saturday. John, Rob, and Amir definitely got a baptism under fire, participating in some horrendous fire fights in close quarters.
On Saturday, we played in a wooded area where you couldn't see one home base from the other. There were a number of footpaths that interlaced the area and tanks were all over the place. Tyng's Cromwell had the big advantage because he could move around the forest with good cover and we sometimes lost track of him. Then, when you least expected it, he'd be attacking from behind your ranks. Fortunately, the numerous obstacles and rough underbrush stymied some of his mobility, so after the shock was gone, shots were flying in both directions.
The first game was a "defend the flag" scenario, where one team was given a low-lying cul-de-sac to protect their flag. Each side had 30 minutes to defend the flag. The opposing team had to simply find the flag and run it over to win mission points. There were numerous barricades, obstacles and thick brush to help build a defensive perimeters. Marlow & Sons Construction (John and Sean) were available to both teams to lay around dragon's teeth, barricades and their recently completely barn. In both sorties, the fighting was intense, with lots of action focused on the opening to the defensive area, where two paths converged to face the Navarone Gun. There are plenty of tales of heroism, intense fighting and a mad dash to the finish, as will be told by other commanders in their own words over the next few days.
The second game was a classic "seek and destroy" scenario, where each team would hunt down the others and kill them. Mechanical breakdowns hindered one side more than the other and eventually the team in the cul-de-sac was bottled up pretty good and hammered pretty hard. Nonetheless, throughout that battle, John's new Centaur (painted a beautiful fall color of pumpkin) could be seen defending itself against heavy odds and scoring some hits himself along the way.
On Sunday, we returned to the normal, wide open field for two more battles. Once again, Marlow & Sons Construction was on hand to build a nice village, so the 3rd battle was a "defend the village" scenario, with each side taking turns to defend the village for 30 minutes. The attacking forces didn't have an easy time of it, because the village (having prospered in recent years) had 3 artillery pieces and two trucks supporting it, along with 4 or 5 tanks depending on the team inside. Nonetheless, during both sorties, each side came within a shot or two of clearing the village of tanks a couple of times, although neither tank succeeded by the end of the 30 minute time limit.
The 4th battle on Sunday was a new scenario ... "Survivor". All tanks would be on their own throughout the battle, starting anywhere on the field. Once you were dead, you were out of that sortie. The artillery and support vehicles were the enemy of all tanks and could shoot at any vehicle. Alliances (some tighter than others) were formed very quickly and small groups of tanks went after each other. Certain commanders were more devious than others, and certain tanks were targeted more often in the beginning. There was plenty of skull-duggery and back-stabbing, as the numbers dwindled to two tanks for the final skirmish. A total of three sorties were fought, with Amir & the Cromwell winning sortie one (Steve's knee was bothering him so he blasted away with the Navarone Gun), and Will's SU-100 winning sorties 2 & 3 (don't let him be your wing-man near the end of the game!!!)
I certainly had a great time. It was fun to meet everyone - and sorry if I accidentally shot anyone!
The Centaur held up pretty well for the first time out. The biggest issue was driving backwards - uphill. My drive sprocket was slipping in the treads and the tank would grind and produce a horrible noise until enough teeth engaged and things got going. Definitely something that needs to be fixed. Had a few other minor things happen, but nothing critical.
I realized a few things after the battle:
Stopping Russians ... With A Russian Defense?
The Czech Hedgehog (named for its original use on the Czech-German border to prevent a German invasion before WWII, we all know how well that worked) was used extensively by the USSR (and many others) to stop tanks. And on Sunday, they were used to stop one Soviet tank in particular, the KV-1.
The idea for these came from Amir thinking about making tank traps or other structures to make the battlefield more interesting. Always up to a challenge, Marlow & Sons jumped and made several. The first were made of 2x6's which we ripped down to 2x3's. We then put them into a rough hedgehog shape and bolted them together with 2 bolts. Figuring they could hold up and nobody would really challenge them (PRETEND they are real) we sat them out on the battleground for a defense.
Apparently, Steve Tyng never pretended as a kid. Steve drove the Cromwell right through the traps without thinking twice. Actually, he used a trashcan to push them out of the way and then proceeded to drive the trash can around the battlefield for a bit (quite a sight to see). Never wanting to be out-done and always the resourceful engineers, Marlow & Sons changed their plans slightly.
The next hedgehogs were built from ripped down 2x4s, cut to 18" in length. Mark the midpoints @ 9" and put all of the lines together at the center. We then put *3* ¼" bolts through to ensure that they weren't going to twist. Finally, a hole was drilled dead center through all of the midpoints to accept a 3/8" piece of rebar. Once on the battlefield, we drove a piece of rebar through the center of the hedgehog and well into the ground. In the future the rebar will be bent on one end, to facilitate removing the rebar, and also to hold the hedgehog from jumping off the rebar if struck by a tank.
Upon close inspection by Steve the next morning, he vowed to give much more respect on Sunday than he had on Saturday, and the Cromwell never approached the hedgehogs. The crazy Russian however was much bolder. As the first battle wore on, Paul thought to himself, "These things don't look so tough; I bet I can drive through them or spin them enough to break through." These are fatal thoughts.
As he attempted to break through the defenses, Crazy Ivan found itself trapped on the Czech Hedgehog, not able to go forwards, not able to reverse, an easy kill. The defenses worked perfectly. I believe they will be well respected by all in the future (until Steve Tyng really DOES try to jump over them).
Veteran Rookie - Just A Newb
After 2-3 years of on/off building, I finally brought T034 to battle. A camera man no more, I took Friday off of work to prepare for my tank's debut. By 3AM all preparations were made -- and as it turns out -- damage was already done. Weary eyed, I reversed the polarity for my transmitter's battery pack and nuked it. This wouldn't sink in until morning, when John Pittelli confirmed I was DOA. Fortunately for me, the veterans are an awesome group. They can fix almost anything in the field and are well stocked on spare parts. Joe Sommer opened up his mobile tank garage and unloaded a number of tx's rx's and batteries on me and I was in the game!
For the first battle I ran as a supply vehicle, using just the hull of my tank. The UN vehicle and my T34 prime mover made a number of runs and overall I was pleased with my mobility over the varied terrain. Towards the end of the first battle I decided I needed to get shot so I ventured into the fray and was promptly pummeled. After half-time I switched sides and the Pittelli logicians determined I'd be better off if I were classified as a tank, getting 4 hits. So I popped my (still non-functional) turret in and went off in search of a flag to run over. Not afraid to lay my tank down for the greater good I faced off with T001 in my first tank on tank encounter. Frank suspected I was gimped and bluffing but still wasn't willing to present his sides to me. While he and I squared off, Steve went around and scored a hit on him -- an assist! Later on I plowed straight into the enemy encampment and drove around to stir up confusion. My favorite quote of that game, "What are you doing?! The T-34 is right there!". After I blew a fuse, Marty plugged me twice to finish what the Navarone had started.
During lunch Frank set me up with a C6C from the goer to use in my turret. Still using Joe's pistol TQ3 controller for the hull, I was branded a "two-fisted tanker". After acclimating to the pistol *and* ps2 controller mixing I started the second battle as a full fledged tank, but not for long. I navigated to the road between the two camps and followed my general's orders to take up position behind him. Not seeing the "easy" path to Frank, I ventured through the rough stuff and got snared on a large branch. Steve's Cromwell smelled a beached tank and came in for the assassination. While trying to navigate back to base, I uprooted a viscous vine that wound up wound in my chain -- eventually breaking it! I somehow still had some mobility and made it back to base where I took desperation shots at any passers-by. The post-mortem also suggested that I burned up a motor, but I haven't completed the autopsy.
Somewhat disappointed with my performance I was preparing to head back north to rebuild instead of staying for the second day. But my tank support group wouldn't hear of it and convinced me to stay on. While attempting to get me back in battling shape, Joe and Steve stifled their disgust at my unorthodox building techniques :) and got me running better than ever. Just spending a few hours with them taught me lots, many thanks again guys! For the second day of battling I was "differently gimped". This time, my hull was knocked out by an electronics malfunction of some sort (yet to be diagnosed). So I ran as field artillery. Although not without incident, I enjoyed lobbing some far shots with my flatline barrel. For the second half of the first battle I was really into the swing of things and scored a bunch of hits and had a blast.
Steve let me run his Cromwell, the Rolls Royce (or perhaps Jaguar?) of rctankcombat, for the last battle of the season. Its really an awesome machine - fast and great handling. This last game was a free-for-all survivor, but alliances quickly cropped up. Chris and I teamed up early on along with Joe and Marty. We cornered the panther off the bat (his alliance failed him consistently throughout the battle and I feel bad for pouncing on the jungle cat). Eventually, Joe, Chris and I were the last ones standing and duked it out. Finally Chris and I (notice, two Tyng built machines) went head to head. There was a lot of sloppy jousting and awkward one-on-one standoffs because of my lack of experience but it finally came to an end with a lucky shot landing on the T34. The last two brawls, saw me get knocked out early on, but not after forgetting my allegiances and taking Marty out ;)