Tri-Pact News Service
We Make The News
R/C Tank Combat
St. Charles Slaughter
Another fun day of battling has concluded, with plenty of stories to tell and lessons to be learned. Unfortunately, our normal field reporter, Vern Dernberger, was unable to attend because of a "previous engagement". (Many insiders believe that the editors at the Tri-Pact News Service (TNS), Vern's employer, are miffed over the fact that the hobby was featured on a cable channel that isn't owned by Tri-Pact Global Media, inc.) Therefore, each attendee was responsible for submitting their own vignette.
Background by Frank Pittelli
A total of 13 assets were on hand for the battle, including 7 fully operational tanks (Tiger, T34, Hetzer, PzIV, Panther, KV-1, SU100), two artillery pieces (Navarone, 155mm Howitzer), three support vehicles (UN, Goer, Stuart) and one Fred Simms Quadricycle (true to form, however, Fred did not make a battlefield appearance, stating "I won't battle ... because of no news coverage).
The battlefield consisted of knee high grass with battling areas (aka. crop circles) and narrow roads cut low with a lawn mower. All roads led to a large rectangular battling area directly in front of the parking area. Much thanks for Steve Tyng for going out to the field the night before a huge rainstorm to single-handedly groom it for the battle.
A total of 16 participants attended and battled, making this the largest battle held to take, including Frank, Will, Steve T, John P, Paul, Joe, Chris, Nathan, Mike, Karl, Rick, Tony, Steve E, Scott, John R and John's Dad (sorry, forgot his name).
Teams were decided by the flip of a coin, with the Navarone Gun going to the team with only 3 tanks, as well as the home base closer to the central battling area. Team "Cougar" (yep, they chose that name) consisted of John P. (Pz IV), Nathan (Panther), Chris (T34), Steve T (Navarone) and Tony (Goer), while Team "Marauders" consisted of Frank (Tiger), Will (SU100), Paul (KV1), Joe (Hetzer), Nathan & Karl (UN). (Halfway through the first battle, Joe turned traitor and switched sides for no real reason??)
Street Fight by Frank Pittelli
About 40 minutes into the first battle, Team Marauders was pushing hard into the Cougar's side of the field, with relatively high casualty counts for the Cougars. While the rest of the Marauders were occupying the middle of the field, John's Panzer IV and Joe's "Traitor Hetzer" were driving Will's SU-100 towards the parking area. The SU-100 took up a position next to Will's trailer and dug in for a fight. Frank then realized what was happening and drove over to the dirt road outside the range of the Navarone Gun, which was ruthlessly operated by Tyng the Merciless. In a movie like setting, the Tiger started driving straight down the road towards the smaller PzIV and Hetzer, which immediately moved to a more defensive position because of the orthogonal firing positions of the SU-100 and Tiger. At a range of 20 feet, the Tiger started shelling the Hetzer and Panzer in hopes of pinning them down so that Will could start flanking them.
With Will on one side of them, a stand of pine trees on the other side and a Tiger coming straight at them down the road, the Panzer and Hetzer dug in as well. At that point, Chris saw the situation and started bringing the T34 down the road directly behind the Tiger. That caused Frank to quickly turn off the road into a spot between Will's trailer and another car. Chris continued to barrel down the road towards his teammates, going right past the Tiger lurking down the alley. The T34 then turned around the trailer and I think the SU-100 finished him off.
The Tiger then took up a position in the road again. At that time, unknown to John and Joe, Paul was coming across the field with his KV-1 hidden from their view by the pine trees. Frank saw the flanking move and knew that they would soon have the duo surrounded. Just then, the Tiger fired a few more rounds to keep them pinned down and the worst of all sounds was heard ... the Tiger was out of CO2. Within a split second of the sound, the Hetzer and Panzer started driving straight towards the Tiger, which was retreating quickly to reload. As they cleared the trees, they saw the KV-1 coming at them and destroyed it before it could destroy them. The Tiger took off towards the forward base for reloading and I'm not sure how Will's SU-100 did after that (I think it made it out alive).
Back To School by Frank Pittelli
After refilling the CO2 bottle for the Tiger, I put it back in the tank and fired a couple rounds to make sure everything worked. Unfortunately, it fired multiple rounds without recocking, with no apparent reason. After a couple basic field checks (CO2 valve on, trigger working, etc) the battle ended and it was time for lunch and repairs. Again, some more basic checks were made (CO2 bottle filled properly, barrel cleaned, breach cleaned) with the same results. OK, time to check if the gun is firing too hard. Nope, no change. How about too soft. Nope, no change. After about 20 minutes of tweaking with no success, time to remove the gun from the turret so it could be worked on properly.
Lesson 1: Always mount the gun so that it can be "easily" removed for repairs.Since everyone else was done prepping their tanks for the afternoon, the Tiger started to attract a crowd as everyone offered suggestions. Perhaps the "sear" was worn. Nope, not the problem. There was a little piece of something in the trigger area, perhaps that was causing the problem. Nope, not the problem. Aha, someone says, it's the "hammer". Nope, that looks good. When's the last time it was oiled, someone said. "Oil?" I said, what's that? Yep, everyone said, that's the problem, throw some oil at it. Nope, that wasn't the problem.
Lesson 2: Too many doctors standing around doesn't necessarily mean you'll find the cure.OK. There's only one thing left, pull the bolt out. When the bolt was pulled a couple more little pieces of something were seen and then the problem was revealed ... the bolt O-ring was torn to pieces. Yep, someone said, probably cause you never oiled it ... or maybe because it was old ... or maybe because things just break.
Lesson 3: Disable every gun before each battle, clean everything, oil everything and replace every O-ring ... small prices to pay for reducing headaches on the battlefield.
Lesson 4: Put all of your CO2 and marker spare parts in a compartmented box that is separate from all your other spare parts and tools. Saves lots of time finding everything when working on the marker.The lesson continued in the second battle, when I learned that I didn't quite have the gun re-mounted properly and it started moving around, thereby preventing paintballs from feeding properly. Some field work fixed that final problem ... after some muttering under my breath.
Lesson 5: See Lesson #1 above and make sure it can be accurately re-mounted just as easily.Other than the gun problem, the aging Tiger ran well and I had lots of fun driving it around.
Russian Against Russian by Paul Pittelli
After a successful reliable morning battle, the KV-1 was feeling spunky for the afternoon session. Unfortunately with her 12v 26Amh battery towards the end of the 60 minutes, KV-1, code named Crazy Ivan, was getting real slow and could not turn. So against all desire, KV-1 ignored commands from Cmdr Frank as he screamed, "Go flank them" and took up a defensive position in the high grass against a couple small trees. And then we saw it coming, Will and the SU-100!
Now typically you don't see the SU-100 up close and personal, because Will is plucking you off with his super sniper scope from 50 yards. The SU-100 was circling like a shark looking to back me away from my trees. KV-1 nature kicked in, I hit reverse as hard as possible and backed away facing Will as he moved in front of the trees. That's when the beast within Crazy Ivan "Denisovich" said, No fish-eye soup for you!, and charged the SU-100.
After a couple point blank paintball exchanges, SU-100 attempted a reverse double gainer flank the slow KV-1 maneuver. At that moment, mother nature scored a major blow on the SU-100. The SU-100 hit the small tree when in reverse and stopped dead. We mean completely dead. Not knowing what happened, but realizing his tank was a sitting duck, Will reverted to the age old quick escape and called "TIME OUT".
Everyone on the field of battle froze saying, "Who called time-out?" Over the next couple minutes, Will diagnosed the problem and realized he had a blown fuse. After the timeout, SU-100's gun was operational so the team decided to be merciful and each of us contributed to the final kill of the SU-100 for the afternoon battle.
Lesson Learned: Don't charge an old tired Russian taking a siesta by a tree!And yes, KV-1 had just enough battery strength to get off the field after the battle was declared over.
Panzer in the Weeds by John Pittelli
Walking the field prior to battle, I was wondering if 4 x 26ah batteries would be enough. Lots of thick grass meant hard work for the Panzer IV. Even the clearings would be treacherous because of the small hillocks of grass left by the mower. The tall grass would be a hindrance to long range gunnery,the grass deflects or breaks up the shot. Actually the tall grass is a hindrance to short range also. The Panzer would have to go hunting.
Surprisingly enough, the Panzer was able to handle the nasty turf,although it required what I would call "mogul" techniques. For those who don't ski, you always turn on the top of the mogul, in the grass, I learned to put one track on top of the grass hillock and then pivot. Worked very well, even the King of the Bush, Frank, commented that the Panzer was doing well in his land. And, I only used 3 batteries, 40 minutes on each and still had plenty of power. Hey, I guess Frank was right about this "properly charge your batteries" thing.
The lone highlight for the Panzer IV, other than the mercy kill on the Hetzer after it threw track while we were battling, was the solo kill on the new and improved KV1. Yes, Paul had succeeded in sneaking up on Joe and myself. But those scrub pine saplings prevented the shot from going through and hitting us. My first attempt over the pines failed. I guess Paul figured he was safe and turned to go aroung the trees. But I had found a small section to squeeze through and was presented with the broadside of the KV! In less than 10 seconds the Panzer scored the required 4 hits. Ah yes, life is good.
Lesson #1: Test your vehicle and components regularly. Tony had come over for a trial run 2 weeks prior to battle. A firing glich and a turret rotate glich both showed up. The firing glich just required shortening the wire from the trigger to the servo wheel. The rotate needed a new screw and drilling a hole for a hitch pin to secure the axle for the rotate wheel.
Lesson #2: Bring extra parts for your gun,co2 lines,transmitter batteries, receiver batteries. Even if you don't need it, some else might. We all share to keep everyone in the game if possible. I make a checklist the week before a battle of everything that is necessary to operate and repair my vehicle. It may seem silly, but it really helps.
Lesson #3: Plastic track stretches. That seems to be the case as late in battle 2 the track started jumping off the sprockets on occasion. At the end of the day, both track were much looser than at the beginning.All in all an awesome day, and it looks as though there might be at least 4 new tanks by the fall battle.Hoorah!
Tales from the Tyree by Tony Tyree
The first battle was fast and deadly. The Pittelli brothers were leading the charge, (actually Frank and Paul beating up John). I saw more attention to details and more personal conversations about different tanks. I really enjoyed looking at the different designs and am looking forward to the next battle.
My first time running the supply truck was a lesson in staying out of the way. Don't take the Goer out in the open or you will be killed. You have to constantly be aware of where you are and who's around. I made 9 supply runs and 2 gun moves. And that kept me super busy.
Now I REALLY had a great time on the big Navarone gun. I must have fired 1,000 rounds from that baddy. (Editor: No wonder there was never much ammo at the forward base.) My favorite was watching Paul coming up a trail. I had laid in and sighted a few rounds and just watched him roll right on up. When I fired 2 salvos that hit, Paul exclaimed "Where'd that come from?". So watch out guys, me and the "Big Daddy" are getting to know each other.