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R/C Tank Combat

Green War

The Summer War

by Mike Lyons

First Battle
From a distance, the battleground for the Green War looked ideal: a gentle slope down to a level grassed area, surrounded by tall shady trees. On closer inspection, it looked a little more challenging: the slope was not so gentle, the level area was covered with long, stringy vines among the grass, and the sun was directly on the field.

After an elaborate ceremony to define the scenario, agree on rules of engagement, and allocate assets and battlers to teams, I was assigned to Marty Hayes' Flak 88 (FA004). I was keen to get my hands on an artillery piece as my prior experience had been only with a supply vehicle. After rolling the gun into a position where it could cover much of the Marlow village against the invaders, Marty gave me a quick briefing on the controls: a big joystick traverses and elevates the gun, and a big red button fires it. A capped copper tube holds 10 rounds of ammo and a spare tube makes it easy to reload. In consultation with General Montgomery I placed my three artillerymen, manipulated the controls to swing the barrel and fired a test shot to get an idea of the range.

As the battle commenced, the enemy tanks rumbled from their home base and spread out to flank the village. My eye was drawn to the brightly re-painted T047 (now known as "Heidi von Richthofen"?) moving into a position on the left, in front of the Recycling Depot. I quickly lined up on the hull, lifted the barrel a little and stabbed the fire button. Unfortunately for Rob, my elevation was way too high and the paintball hit him square in the chest (sorry Rob!), which made it pretty obvious to him he was in my sights. I dropped the barrel and fired again, scoring a hit in the left side wheels as Rob turned quickly to face me. By the time I got off the next shot, he was head-on to me and the hit was on the front of his turret where it doesn.t count.

Since it seemed Rob was intending to approach front-on, I looked for another target. On the right flank Frank was bringing T001 around the foot of the slope. I lined up the barrel and fired quickly, scoring a hit on the side of the turret. I hadn't adjusted the elevation, but was lucky in that he was a little uphill and closer and it all worked out. I jabbed the button quickly several times, scoring two more hits on the side and rear as he turned away. After the third hit, the gun misfired on the next press, and then nothing as I continued to hit it while the Tiger moved to a position where my firing line was blocked by a building.

I spent the next few minutes attempting to solve the problem. The marker would fire very weakly and not re-cock, so it seemed to be a gas problem. In the meantime my three artillerymen had been knocked out, so I walked them back to home base, ready to be returned in a supply vehicle once the gun was repaired. I walked back to the gun with a fresh gas bottle, but it made no difference. After a couple more minutes checking the obvious, I gave up and returned to home base to become a spectator.

I was surprised to see little movement on the battlefield. There were vehicles being worked on in both home bases and on the field, and only a couple still running. In addition to the usual mechanical problems, the heat had taken its toll and the vines underfoot were constantly wrapping around axles and drive sprockets. The rough terrain made steering difficult, and the slope drained battery power significantly more than the flat ground. When time expired most vehicles had retired for repairs.

Second Battle

For the second battle Doug Conn kindly loaned me AC004, to use as a supply vehicle since it was without its missile launcher. Our mission for this battle was to take our trash and dump it in the enemy village. While Steve repaired a blown macroline in T040, Monty held a council of war and we devised a brilliant two-pronged strategy:

  1. Do as little as possible in the early part, waiting for the enemy to succumb to the heat.

  2. Engage the two tanks on the flanks to keep them busy, then send supply vehicles into the village behind a tank acting as a screen against artillery fire.
This strategy proved so effective that we accomplished our mission within a few minutes, dumping all our trash in the village with minimal losses. We then searched for additional trash to add to the pile, including empty ammo pods and parts from damaged vehicles.

I had a hard time driving Rocket Man in the first few minutes. The steering was working correctly, but the vehicle would constantly turn much more than I wanted, resulting in a path that resembled a snake, several collisions with buildings and obstacles, and lots of backing up. The problem was exacerbated by the terrain, with bumps knocking the wheels sideways and vines pulling at the rear wheels and drive sprocket. While attempting to serpentine my way into the village I took a hit at long range from Frank. Since Rocket Man was un-armed this counted as a kill, so I wrestled with the controls to return to home base carrying most of the front bumper assembly which had been knocked off in a collision. This turned out to be a good thing, as I crossed paths there with Doug and he suggested I check the steering turnbuckles. I found they had vibrated loose and the wheels were dramatically toed out, made worse by a collision with a wall. After a few quick turns Rocket Man drove much better, so I took the bumper parts to the trash pickup point and then to the village dump for more bonus points.

Having collected all the trash we could find, we were looking for work to do. Steve had T040 high on the slope and was firing down onto the enemy, so I collected an ammo pod from home base and headed off to resupply him via an impromptu supply depot that had been established under a small tree. All my erratic driving early on had sapped a lot of battery power and I barely made it up the slope via a long, gentle climb far away from the action. After dropping off the ammo, I headed down the hill at a crawl and Rocket Man died before reaching home base. Tyng was still firing on the enemy from the hill, so I took the controls of the idle SV011. The ZD 3000 has plenty of weight in its rear but is a little lighter in the front and the bumpy terrain caused it to buck sideways often. I was able to steer it to the foot of the slope, but it struggled to make it up the incline, and after a few attempts to climb sideways I drove it back to home base as its power declined too.

Lessons Learned

  1. Fire more than one test shot to get the range at various distances.

  2. Keep your mask on. While engrossed in diagnosing the problem with the Flak 88, I absentmindedly took of my mask to see better. Rob told me later that he held off on firing at my artillerymen because I was exposed. Rob was such a gracious competitor that I invited him to join DOD.

  3. Test your vehicle on rough terrain. A smooth concrete shop floor is no basis for comparison against an ungroomed field. Having plenty of weight on the drive wheels of 2WD vehicles is critical.

  4. Anything that can come loose probably will. Locknuts, wire ties, or even tape might keep parts from adjusting themselves.

  5. Reliability is key. Simple designs are less prone to failure and easier to repair quickly.

  6. This is fun!!! Getting a paintball to fly 30 foot or more to score a hit on an enemy asset is a real adrenaline rush. Even sitting around discussing designs and swapping war stories is very entertaining.