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R/C Tank Combat

First Tyng Invitational Battle


St. Charles, Maryland - June 28-29, 2003:

The First Annual Tyng Invitational was held in St. Charles, Maryland on a beautiful June weekend, under fair skies with temperatures in the low eighties and a nice breeze. Elements of the 4th Armored Tri-Pact Division, commanded by Frank Pittelli, moved south into St. Charles in response to hostile actions taken by the Tyng Regime, commanded by Steve Tyng, in the preceding weeks. The long-awaited battle would pit the advanced technology of the Tyng Regime against the numerically superior Tri-Pact forces.



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Attendees

Given the infancy of the R/C tank combat hobby, the battle was relatively large, with 5 armored vehicles (all tanks) on the battlefield, one support vehicle and one lightly armored quadricycle.

Participants (left to right): Joe Sommer, John Pittelli, Steve Tyng, Frank Pittelli, Will Montgomery

Vehicles (left to right): Fred Simms' Quadricycle (SV003), Hetzer (T010), Panzer IV (T012), T34-85 (T005), Tiger (T001), Panther (T017)

Not Shown: M3 Scout Car (SV001)

Battlefield

The battlefield in St. Charles couldn't be better ... excellent job Steve. There were areas with dense grass, gravel and dirt, slightly muddy flat spots and lots of nice 3-5 inch ruts here and there. As shown in the diagram, the home bases for each team were set about 100 feet apart, with a relatively flat area on one side of the battlefield and a dense grassy area on the other side.

 
Prior to the start of the battles, each battler tested their vehicles in the thick grass and it was immediately evident that Tyng and Sommer had a big advantage: their drive systems had much more power and speed than the other vehicles. Both the T34 and Hetzer ran over the thick, bumpy service with relative ease, turning whenever and wherever they chose. The Tri-Pact vehicles, on the other hand, had no trouble going forward and reverse through the rough terrain, but they only had minimal turning capabilities.

Clearly, the EV Warrior motors being used by Tyng and the 18v drill motors being used by Sommer provided much more power than the kiddie car motors used by Tri-Pact. The extra power not only provided more speed, but also much better turning ability. Tri-Pact could only hope that the Tyng Regime batteries would run dry before the end of the battle and that tactics and experience would compensate for the devastating difference in speed and turning.


Battle #1

With both sides anxious to get the battle started, but a little concerned about the first true battlefield test of their vehicles, it was decided that the battle would last 30 minutes, with up to two 5-minute timeouts per side. A timeout could be called whenever no vehicle was being attacked (on either side). During a timeout, any battler could fix anything on their vehicle, but they could not move the vehicle or the gun during the timeout. Any time during the battle, battlers could also reload or fix their vehicles by bringing them into home base.

 
The first battle started with a blazing charge by the Tyng Regime down the center and right side of the field. In the same time that Tri-Pact was moving to positions about 10-30 feet from their home base, the T34 had moved about 60-70 feet down the right hand side of the battlefield. In fact, the T34 made no effort to even shoot it's gun, it simply drove down the side of the field in an attempt to out-flank Tri-Pact.

As the T34 moved down the field, Will Montgomery's Panther moved into a firing position and tried a few initial long range shots, which missed. At the same time, Frank Pittelli's Tiger slowly turned to face the T34. As it continued to move down the right side, the Tiger kept turning more and more.

When the T34 was in position, it started to engage the Tiger at about 40 feet. With both tanks facing each other, hits started to land as both battler's accuracy improved, but none counted because of the frontal armor rule.

As the stalemate on the eastern front continued, Joe Sommer turned to his right and engaged John Pittelli's Panzer IV, which was anchoring Tri-Pact's left flank on the western front. Here again, the vehicles went head-to-head, about 15 feet apart (the maximum distance of the Hetzer's gun) and frontal hits were abundant. The Panzer scored a side shot on the Hetzer, which was the first hit of the battle. Then, Will's Panther, which was holding a strong position in the middle, spun it's turret around and engaged the Hetzer at about 25 feet. With two additional side hits, the Hetzer was destroyed ... approximately 3 minutes into the battle.

With 27 minutes left to go in the battle, the Hetzer retreated to the Tyng Regime home base to be reloaded and re-incarnated. At approximately the same time, the T34 ran out of ammo and was racing back to home base up the eastern front. Will Montgomery took the opportunity to fire some long shots, one of which hit the T34 squarely on the back of the turret from about 50 feet away. Both sides were now aware that long range shots were not only possible, but could be used effectively throughout the battle.

While the Tyng Regime reloaded, Tri-Pact vehicles moved back to home base for reloading as well. Both sides came out a few minutes later ready to battle again. The Tyng Regime used the same tactics, with the T34 deep in enemy territory on the eastern front and the Hetzer barreling down the center of the field. Once again, the Tiger engaged the T34 in a virtual stalemate, although the T34 did score a cupola hit on the Tiger from about 40 feet.

In the center of the field, roughly the same scenario played out again as the Panzer IV kept the Hetzer busy in a head-to-head position. In addition to some non-scoring frontal shots, the Hetzer scored a side hit on the Panzer and the Panzer scored a side hit on the Hetzer. At that point, the Panzer ran out of ammo and decided to move in close to the Hetzer. As John explained later, "Since the Hetzer didn't have an elevate mechanism, I knew he couldn't shot me from point blank range". While attempting to get some distance between the vehicles, the Hetzer rammed into the Panzer (the first accident insurance claim in the hobby?) Unfortunately for Joe, while he was dancing with the Panzer, Will's Panther scored another side hit on the Hetzer and then Frank's Tiger scored a final hit on the Hetzer when it was trying to retreat.

While Joe was going back to home base to be re-incarnated, the T34 started to have mechanical problems and Steve called timeout. During the timeout Steve worked on an apparent axle problem, while Tri-Pact check their vehicles. After 5 minutes, Steve still hadn't resolved the problem, so he called another timeout. With Joe anxiously awaiting his return to battling, everyone watched as Steve gave the cut-throat signal indicating that the T34 was out-of-commission because of an axle problem. When the battle resumed, the T34 was dead in its tracks, although it still had an operational gun. The Tiger slowly approached the T34 with a full magazine and enchanged paintballs until the T34's magazine was empty. Then, two quick shots (out of 20) destroyed the T34, which had earlier received another two shots from Will's Panther.

With his leader out of commission, and Frank and John reloading in home base, Joe's Hetzer drove onto the battlefield for his 3rd incarnation. With some skillful driving, he caught Will in the middle of the field, trying to back-up in heavy terrain. Will scored two shots on the Hetzer, but then the Hetzer drove straight at the Panther, performed a J-turn less than 10 feet away and scored 3 quick side hits on the Panther. The Hetzer then got behind the Panther and scored the final hit.

With the Panther retreating to home base, the Hetzer attempted to get back to home base itself. However, the Tiger which had recently reloaded scored a medium range hit on the Hetzer as it moved across the field, destroying it for the third time in the battle.

Offical Scores for Tyng Invitational Battle #1
Team Asset Operator Hits
Taken
Hits
Made
Runs
Made
Moves
Made
Steals
Made
Mission
Pts
Points
Given
Points
Earned
Points
Pct
Tri-Pact T001 Frank Pittelli 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 1,000 1.000
  T012 John Pittelli 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 750 1.000
  T017 Will Montgomery 4 6 0 0 0 0 1,000 1,500 0.600
TOTAL 4 13 0 0 0 0 1,000 3,250 0.765
Tyng Regime T005 Steve Tyng 4 0 0 0 0 0 1,000 0 0.000
  T010 Joe Sommer 9 4 0 0 0 0 2,250 1,000 0.308
TOTAL 13 4 0 0 0 0 3,250 1,000 0.235

Asset Type Net Points
T001 PzKpfw VI-I Tiger 1,000
T012 SdKfz 166 Brummbar 750
T017 PzKpfw V Panther 500
T005 T-34-85 -1,000
T010 JgPz 38(t) Hetzer -1,250
Operator Net Points
Frank Pittelli 1,000
John Pittelli 750
Will Montgomery 500
Steve Tyng -1,000
Joe Sommer -1,250


Battle #2

During the lunch break, Steve Tyng successfully fixed his axle problem, which was caused by an insufficiently flattened shaft and a set screw. The powerful EV Warrior motors cranked the set screw around the shaft in a spiral manner, causing it to wind-off the drive pulley. With the T34 ready for battle again, the second battle began with the teams on opposite sides of the field and Tom Tanner joining Tri-Pact as the operator of the M3 Scout Car support vehicle brought by Will Montgomery. A one-hour running clock would be used, with each side getting up to 3 timeouts.

At the beginning of the battle, Steve Tyng began experiencing gun problems, which kept the T34 at home base for quite a while. During that time, Joe "Never Say Die" Sommer took the Hetzer straight up the middle of the field into battle. The entire Tri-Pact team confronted the Hetzer and Will Montgomery single-handedly killed the Hetzer with three shots.

With the T34 still in home base and the Hetzer going back for re-incarnation, Tom Tanner started the process of moving paintball supplies to the forward ammo depot, which was strategically positioned in the center of the field on the eastern front in a gravel area that suited Tri-Pact vehicles. The M3 Scout Car moved two loads of 40 paintballs each to the depot before the Hetzer arrived to engage the Tiger, which was guarding the depot. Unfortunately, the Tiger ran out of ammo and the Hetzer quickly moved into a strong position behind the Tiger. The Hetzer single-handedly destroyed the Tiger with four stern shots, as it desperately tried to get away, without success.

Pleased with his success, Joe maintained control of the depot while Tri-Pact moved in with its entire force. While John and Frank kept the Hetzer busy with a frontal assault, Will moved into position and destroyed the Hetzer again with some long range shots.

After fixing his gun problems, Steve brought the T34 down the far side of the field and took a long-range firing position opposite the supply depot. With the Hetzer in a head-to-head position with the Tiger, the Panther kept the T34 busy at long range, while the Panzer IV was in home base. The T34 destroyed the Tiger with a couple of long range shots, and the Tiger returned to home base for a quick re-incarnation.

The Panzer IV then engaged the T34 and was unable to match its turning ability. Eventually, the Panzer IV, which had no support at that time, was out-flanked and destroyed by the T34. In turn, the T34 was destroyed by the Panther. The T34 returned to home base only to discover that they were out of paintballs. Joe Sommer informed him that the supply depot still exists and they proceeded to take over the Tri-Pact supply depot. Fortunately, Tom Tanner, who had previously made four supply runs out to the depot, made a final run to recover a full load before the depot was taken by the Tyng Regime. Unfortunately, the M3 Scout Car went out of control and became caught in thick grass before he could return for another heroic run.

With the T34 re-supplied and re-deployed, the Hetzer took up a defensive position at the supply depot and the Tiger went out to avenge itself. Once again, the Tiger and Hetzer stood toe-to-toe, while the Panther held the T34 at bay. Then, the Hetzer attempted to make a flanking move around the Tiger. Unfortunately, before the Hetzer could complete the move, the left side track fell off and it was stopped dead in its tracks. The Tiger swung it's turret around and destroyed the Hetzer at close range.

With the battle timer winding down, the Tiger and Panther returned to home base, leaving the Panzer IV to engage the T34 again. Both tanks closed in and the Panzer IV had 3 hits on it before returning to home base in the last 30 seconds. In an act of frustration, the T34 shot the M3 Scout Car at point blank range as it remained caught in the tall grass with radio problems.

As time ran out, all vehicles returned to the pit area under their own power, except for the Hetzer, which was recovered by the Sommer Search and Rescue Team.

 

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The Hetzer threw a track in the last minutes of the second battle, which was the first track failure of the day. Later analysis showed that the two plastic (yes, plastic) supports for the rear bogey axle had broken, causing the track to come off the idler wheels. The plastic (yes, plastic) parts were replaced by walnut parts constructed at Tyng Labs later that evening. Despite this set-back, Joe Sommer vowed to repair the damage properly with plastic parts upon his return to State College, PA. (Presumably, some graduate student will be getting that assignment.)
The only other wooden parts on the Hetzer, it's heavy duty balsa armor took a beating throughout the day from Tri-Pact's guns. As seen here, a large section has been blown out on the left side. This photo also shows the plentiful supply of paint deposited on the front of the Hetzer during the afternoon battle. Joe later reported that the frontal shots were causing paint to squeeze through the seams onto the otherwise nice looking, and expensive, electronics inside. (A little duct tape might help ...)
 

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The venerable Tiger-1 took its fair share of frontal hits during the afternoon battle. Even though frontal hits don't score on a tank (except for the front of the cupola), they still keep the battler on edge, preventing them from moving one way or the other. Straight-back is in order in such situations, provided you're not backing into another line of fire.

Battle #2 Results

The hour-long battle was full of action on both sides. A total of nine tanks were destroyed, as well as a support vehicle. Ironically, it was the last act of desperation by the T34 in the final minute of the battle that sealed the long-term fate of the Tyng Regime. By destroying an un-armed, abandoned supply vehicle with a point-blank 12 inch shot in the waning moments of the battle, the Tyng Regime will be hard pressed in future battles to find a group of teamsters who will want to carry their supplies into battle.

Offical Scores for Tyng Invitational Battle #2
Team Asset Operator Hits
Taken
Hits
Made
Runs
Made
Moves
Made
Steals
Made
Mission
Pts
Points
Given
Points
Earned
Points
Pct
Tri-Pact T001 Frank Pittelli 8 4 0 0 0 0 2,000 1,000 0.333
  T012 John Pittelli 4 5 0 0 0 0 1,000 1,250 0.556
  T017 Will Montgomery 0 11 0 0 0 0 0 2,750 1.000
  SV001 Tom Tanner 1 0 0 0 0 0 250 0 0.000
TOTAL 13 20 0 0 0 0 3,250 5,000 0.606
Tyng Regime T005 Steve Tyng 8 5 0 0 0 0 2,000 1,250 0.385
  T010 Joe Sommer 12 8 0 0 0 0 3,000 2,000 0.400
TOTAL 20 13 0 0 0 0 5,000 3,250 0.394

Asset Type Net Points
T017 PzKpfw V Panther 2,750
T012 SdKfz 166 Brummbar 250
SV001 M3 Scout Car -250
T005 T-34-85 -750
T001 PzKpfw VI-I Tiger -1,000
T010 JgPz 38(t) Hetzer -1,000
Operator Net Points
Will Montgomery 2,750
John Pittelli 250
Tom Tanner -250
Steve Tyng -750
Frank Pittelli -1,000
Joe Sommer -1,000


Battle #3

The next morning found all battlers back for another glorious day of battling, with the addition of Paul Pittelli. Paul decided that sitting behind a desk at Tri-Pact headquarters and directing the battle remotely was not as exciting as being on the battlefield, so he came by for a visit. The controls of the venerable Tiger were placed in his hands and he was anxious to get into battle.

In order to give everyone a chance to shoot someone different, the combatants were mixed up to form two teams as follows:

Red Team Steve Tyng (T34), John Pittelli(Panzer IV)
Blue Team Will Montgomery (Panther), Joe Sommer (Hetzer), Paul Pittelli (Tiger)

Frank Pittelli served as the Contest Director, photographer and all-around cheer-leader. A one-hour running clock would be used, with both teams getting at most 2 timeouts.

The Blue Team began to advance as soon as war was declared, using a V-formation. (Actually, they tried a straight-line formation, but they couldn't keep everything even and a V-formation was the final result.) Since Tom Tanner was not present to drive the support vehicle, a couple of concrete blocks and an old tire (as seen in the lower left corner of the photo) were strategically positioned to serve as a bunker that could be used by either team.
 

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With little hestitation, the Red Team advances down the middle of the field to meet the Blue Team head-on. The Panzer IV was having drive system problems and stayed well behind the fast charging T34. The T34 and the Panther engaged each other with long-range shots, while the T34 attempted to get the Tiger caught out of position.
The Hetzer, deep in enemy territory, apparently attacks the Panzer as it is caught in a deep rut about 10 feet from the Red Team home base. Unfortunately, just prior to the taking of this picture, the Hetzer was single-handedly destroyed by the Panzer, and he is about to return to base for re-incarnation.

Also unfortunately, just after this photo was taken, the T34 attempted to "nudge" the Panzer a little to free it from the large rut. In the process, the T34 ran up and almost over the Panzer, causing the Blue Team to think that some sort of strange mating ritual was taking place. Perhaps the T34's crew needs a little R-and-R.

 

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A couple of concrete blocks and a tire sitting in the middle of a big field makes for some interesting tactics. Here, the Panther uses the low wall to prevent frontal track hits. The wall is too short, however, to truly provide an advantage.
A little bit of re-building (putting the tire on the blocks) makes the bunker more useful, as the Panther and Tiger take up a defensive position. The wall protects the sides of each tank, augmenting their frontal armor.

Immediately after this photograph was taken, the T34 charged the bunker at full speed from the right, causing the Tiger operated by Paul Pittelli to fire and retreat quickly. At one point, the vehicles were within a few feet of each other, with both flanks exposed to the other tank and both turrets swung around attempting to deliver the final shots needed for destruction. Paul had the first opportunity to destroy the T34 as he toggled the fire button back and forth. Unfortunately, he toggled the button so quickly that the gun trigger was never fully activated and no paintballs were fired. By the time he got everything back under control, the T34 ended his moment of glory with a couple of quick shots.

 

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The bunker continues to grow throughout the battle, resulting in a large wall which can significantly improve the T34's chance of survival. As it turns out, Steve could have used the bunker a lot more, since he was destroyed 4 times throughout the battle. To his credit, he destroyed 7 opposition tanks using his "rush-right-at-em" tactics, which he adopted because the Panzer IV couldn't venture too far from its home base. With the Panzer IV providing long range gunnery support and the T34 barreling into the enemy lines, the Blue Team was often caught off-guard.
Paul Pittelli reloads the Tiger for the 7th or 8th time in the last few minutes of the one-hour battle. With the Hetzer out of commission because of axle problems (yes, Joe broke 5 out of 8 plastic axle supports) and the Panther having motor mount problems that caused the hull to "pop a wheely" everytime he moved forward, Paul took the Tiger out for one last "rush to glory". Unfortunately, as soon as Paul left home base, he found out that his CO2 supply was empty, but he decided to pursue the Panzer IV anyway. With relative ease, the T34 slipped in behind the Tiger and ended the battle with four rapid stern shots.
 

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Battle #3 Results

The hour-long battle capped a great weekend of tank battling, with a total of 12 tanks destroyed on both sides. There was so much action and fun being had that nobody could remember who shot whom, so individual points were distributed equally amongst the team members in such situations. The final tally was as follows:

Offical Scores for Tyng Invitational Battle #3
Team Asset Operator Hits
Taken
Hits
Made
Runs
Made
Moves
Made
Steals
Made
Mission
Pts
Points
Given
Points
Earned
Points
Pct
Blue T001 Paul Pittelli 12 5 0 0 0 0 3,000 1,250 0.294
  T010 Joe Sommer 9 5 0 0 0 0 2,250 1,250 0.357
  T017 Will Montgomery 8 6 0 0 0 0 2,000 1,500 0.429
TOTAL 29 16 0 0 0 0 7,250 4,000 0.356
Red T005 Steve Tyng 16 13 0 0 0 0 4,000 3,250 0.448
  T012 John Pittelli 0 16 0 0 0 0 0 4,000 1.000
TOTAL 16 29 0 0 0 0 4,000 7,250 0.644

Asset Type Net Points
T012 SdKfz 166 Brummbar 4,000
T017 PzKpfw V Panther -500
T005 T-34-85 -750
T010 JgPz 38(t) Hetzer -1,000
T001 PzKpfw VI-I Tiger -1,750
Operator Net Points
John Pittelli 4,000
Will Montgomery -500
Steve Tyng -750
Joe Sommer -1,000
Paul Pittelli -1,750


Lessons Learned

The battlefield was truly a test of the performance and reliability of all systems, showing strengths and weaknesses with equal opportunity. Although it was generally agreed by all battlers that all of the vehicles performed very well considering this was the first major battle for all of them, a number of improvements could definitely be made, including the following:

  • Reliable elevate systems are crucial for the effectiveness of any vehicle. An elevate system allows the gunner to compensate for terrain features and to fine-tune the shooting distance. Accurate shots up to 60 feet were made repeatedly after each gunner became familiar with their own elevate system.

  • A smooth rotate system significantly increases the effectiveness of any gun system. Even a gun system that only pivots 5 or 10 degrees from side-to-side makes it easier to hit a target.

  • All four different track systems worked well throughout the battles. The Sommer track was the only one that failed, but that was caused completely by a structural axle problem, not the track design itself. The aging bicycle track design required the most attention and both the Tiger and Panzer IV will probably be replacing them within the next year by another type of track. The Montgomery and Tyng track designs were both rock-solid, without any problems or adjustment need throughout the battles.

  • Unlike the track systems, some of the drive systems need a lot more work. The performance of the kiddie car motors is OK on regular terrain, but they can't be compared to the more powerful motor/gear combinations used in the Tyng and Sommer vehicles. Even though such motors require more battery power, they still performed very well after an hour or so of heavy use.

  • Set-screws-suck. If possible, replace them with spring pins with an adequate diameter. If you need to use them, always check them to make sure that they are still tight and are properly seated before every battle.

  • Even with only a couple tanks on each side, R/C tank combat is an awesome, action-packed game. As tanks continue to improve and the number on the battlefield increases, the fun will grow by leaps and bounds.