New idea - Battling naval ship models : LUSENET : Junkyard Wars : One Thread

To any Interested Parties,

-- I sent the following ideas to the Robotwars and the Battlebot people and I didn't get a response. Maybe this would be of some interest and would be close enough to the Junkyard Wars theme to warrant giving it consideration.

I am a serious model railroader in HO scale (1:87) and have been con- sidering for some time, getting into modeling large scale ships (1:87 or "O" scale 1:48). The thought occurred to me a number of years ago of building radio controlled, operating, scale battleships which would translate to model ships in the 10 to 20 foot range (in these scales) representing say the Bismarck, Iowa and Yamato class of WWII warships. At these scales, these ships would be breathtaking models in their own rite, but could you imagine if they could actually fight!! (I.E. shoot at each other, hence the Robotwars connection). Can you imagine the H.M.S Prince of Whales vs. Bismarck or the Missouri vs. Yamato (even though the latter never happened). They could be fit with multiple turrets (similar to respective proto- types) containing individually video aimed scale "16" guns engine- erred to fire say .22 caliber "short" loads (safety is a major concern here and will be addressed below). Every turret, gun and aiming device could be controlled and fired via an independent radio channel, along with independent rudder and screw controls. It would take a whole team to operate and fight these ships (strategy, navigation, fire control, and many more). Note that high power air rifle technology could instead be used especially in the .177 or .20 calibers (this would be almost exact scale size for 1/87th ships) -- the reservoir(s) and firing system would obviously have to be quite tricky however. Note that CO2 could also be used.

The ships could be equipped with armor (like the prototypes) engineered to withstand (at most angles) .22 "short" rounds but rules would not permit extending the armor belt beyond prototype areas because if the whole ship were armored from keel to main-deck it would hardly float (just as would be the case in the real world). The hull and deck armor could cover engine, storage battery (around the waterline) and turret spaces, but parts of the hull would have to be of a gauge that would permit penetration by a .22 short (say 1/16" steel or aluminum). Watertight compartmentation would also be allowed (as in the prototype) and the thickness of the watertight bulkheads would be limited to allow for possible penetration from incoming "shells", thusly allowing multiple compartment flooding from "lucky" hits, just like in the real world. Probably 1/8" steel would stop this caliber (empirical testing would be required) and would work as "armor" and would be not that far from scale also. Empirical testing would also deal with angles required to penetrate non-armored areas which would dictate necessary strategies in ship position during battle. Also longitudinal bulkheads could be allowed (this would then maybe necessitate remote "counter-flooding" cap- abilities due to list situations caused by compartment(s) flooded on only one side of the ship). Also, multiple engine (screw) ships could have each engine and set of electric batteries in separate watertight compartments (as is usually the case in the prototypes) which would then not allow the ship to be disabled in the case of one lucky hit (it would just be slowed down as would be the case in the real world where one engine room is flooded).

One can see that the possibilities are endless as far as the strategies and the various rules of competition are concerned, such as: Should ramming be allowed?; What speeds should be allowed?; etc. Maybe there should be different classes (such as a WWI "Dreadnaught" class where ramming was still a possibly realistic strategy). Speed could be limited to "hull speed" (I.E. knots = 1.34 times the square root of the waterline length). This would then not require a limit on power because it is extremely difficult to push a true displacement hull past this speed. Maybe scale screws and rudders should be required to make the ships handle and maneuver in a very sluggish, prototypical manner - this would then require very skillful ship handling. Maybe there could be a multiple ship competition (simulate the battle of Jutland etc). Aiming technology would have to be limited in some way and range and size of the "battle- field" would have to be taken into consideration. One would want to make it fairly challenging to hit the opponent's turrets or waterline say from 50 to 150 feet. Rules concerning defeat would also have to be established, such as requiring sinking or allowing the losing team to "throw in the towel" to minimize repair and downtime of their unit. The "battles" could be engineered to last anywhere from a few minutes to many hours depending upon the amount of armor and the extent of watertight subdivision allowed. Keep in mind that if prototypical subdivision were allowed, the hulls would have to be reduced to virtual "Swiss cheese" before these ships would sink. Also note that this competition would not have to be limited to just the "heavy units" (battleships). A destroyer class could exist (maybe in a larger scale) with no armor and limited watertight subdivision, which would translate into a battle-time of just a few minutes. Finally there could be clubs, national competition, international competition, etc. Could you imagine what a spectacle this would be if it were televised.

Now we must consider safety: I think this could be conducted indoors in a large pool area or outdoors in a shallow pond. A high, thick, surrounding plexiglas shield with a "roof" area (to protect from ricochets from the water or glancing blows and to protect from "high shots" from listing or sinking ships) may provide sufficient protection. The material and thickness would have to be exhaustively empirically tested. Another concern would be "cocking" or auto loading mechanisms (this will also relate to rules dictating the rate of fire allowed). The handling of a damaged or sunken ship where scale guns are possibly still cocked, would require some careful thought and methods and some very strict rules!!

Clubs or teams could be formed to spread around costs and labor. They could consist of skilled sheet metal workers, machinists, shipwrights, master model builders, gunsmiths, and science and engineering students. There would probably have to be age requirements due to safety considerations. Also, this could be an exciting hobby for retired E.E.'s, M.E.'s, nautical engineers and naval officers. If it were advertised properly, this could become very popular and would be an incredible hit if televised.

Some other thoughts:

-There could be a non-scale class (I.E. anything that floats with some rules and limitations).

-There could be a scale, land battle-tank class (either 1 vs 1 competition or groups of tanks to simulate a large tank battle).

-There could be large scale (say 1/5 or 1/6) RC model fighter plane competition. A laser "painting" scheme could be devised (obviously shooting in the air would be too dangerous) where a laser (or possibly another type of beam) with a video aiming device is placed in the nose of the plane. Sensor areas could then be placed elsewhere on each plane. When a plane is "painted", say for more than a second, a target solution or a "kill" could be deemed.

If any of the above has already been invented or if anyone finds any of this interesting please contact me. I have many more thoughts and ideas related to these subjects. I am a computer programmer/analyst/engineering type and an amateur ship and rail historian well into my 50s, but you can see that I have an active, childlike imagination.


David Schmieding 15148 40th Ave N. Plymouth, Minnesota USA 55446


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-- David C. Schmieding (, May 30, 2002


I read your web page and find it very interesting. I have been foryears planing to build a lage scale model of US Battleships with radio control. I might suggest instead of 22 cal ammunition use paint ammunition with different color schemes,eg red=12"-18" hits, yellow=5- 8" hits etc.. This way the ships canbe preserved with less structural damage. Would like to hear more of this idea. Thanks for youe time. Robert J. Reilly

-- Robert J. Reilly (, December 29, 2002.

i suggest a contest in a battlefield simulation best battlefield and items wins!

-- Sean Griffin Abbey (, April 19, 2003.

This has all pretty much been done at

they use bb guns. and to me that seems a safer option then using rifles...

-- nicolai imset (, July 31, 2003.

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