By Bob Stinson
Back in July some of you may have noticed a couple of members – me and Scott V – piloting something different than planes; tanks! Steve B was there to take some photos and published them in our newsletter. More recently, you may have seen me “playing in the dirt” at the east end of the runway. So, what was all that about?
Radio control tanks is a niche hobby that nevertheless enjoys an international following. There are forums dedicated to it and aftermarket suppliers throughout the world. As in our hobby, advances in electronics and battery technology have greatly expanded choices. The most common scale for these tanks is 1:16, which makes them about 12 to 18 inches in length.
A basic r/c tank runs on 2.4ghz, which controls two motors driving each side’s tracks. A motor operates the turret traverse and another controls the main gun elevation. Some tanks have airsoft pellet firing capability and some have infrared emitters and receivers enabling drivers to battle. Many have both. Tanks can have sound and exhaust smoke generators, headlights and taillights. Models span early WW2 through the latest MBT’s currently operating.
An entry level tank is mostly plastic. This includes the body, wheels and tracks. There are metal upgrades for all of these, as well as additional details to enhance authenticity. There are advanced radios, transmission gears and main control boards. The extent of customization is governed only by imagination and your pocketbook! A full setup – tank, transmitter and a battery – can be as little as $200 or north of $1500. Most use Lithium Ion batteries, but upgrades may include Lipos or Nimh’s. Weight, which is an airplane’s nemesis, is actually an advantage for tanks. It increases traction and realism. Painting, detailing and weathering if desired are all potentially a part of the hobby.
Clubs exist to, among other reasons, provide opportunities for “tankers” to battle each other. using IR capabilities. A tank will receive a number of hits and will stop when this is achieved. You’ll be a dead hulk until a scenario objective is achieved or only one tank survives. Los Angeles and San Diego both have battle clubs. Some battlers travel for hundreds of miles to participate. “Hobby Squawk” is a forum that includes a number of local participants. “RC Tank Warfare” is another forum based in England with members from all over the world. Google will direct you there and undoubtedly reveal more.
I’ve attached some photos of these pocket monsters. Check out SoCalBobS on Instagram and the Hobby Squawk website and Robert Stinson on Youtube for more information about this hobby, or talk to me and Scott V at the flying field.