One of my favorite movies, Kelly's Heroes, came out in 1970 when I was in Junior High. With an all-star cast including Clint Eastwood, Don Rickles, Telly Savalas, and Carrol O’Connor, and based on a true story, it is about a group of WWII soldiers who go AWOL to steal German gold from a bank behind enemy lines. But the most memorial character was Oddball, played by Donald Sutherland, the commander of three US M4 Sherman tanks, who were tasked with fighting three German Tiger tanks that were guarding the town. My kids still say, “Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?”, one of Oddballs most famous lines. The David and Goliath battle between the smaller Sherman tanks and the mighty Tiger Tanks is still a classic.
Several months ago, I saw my son John watching a YouTube video about RC tanks. It brought back memories of Kelly's Heroes and I wondered how expense and difficult it would be to buy and drive one. Having flown RC helicopters, gas power cars, and a drone over the past 40 years (all with a very steep learning curve), I was interested to find out the capabilities of 1/16th scale RC tanks. After doing a lot of searching on the internet and reading a lot of articles and reviews, I finally took the plunge and bought two Taigen RC tanks. What models you ask? An American M4A3 76 mm Metal Edition Sherman w/Airsoft BB cannon and a German Tiger 1 Mid Version Metal Edition w/Airsoft BB cannon including barrel recoil, of course.
This past weekend, by good friend Paul and I had the chance to unpack both tanks, figure out how to get the batteries installed, load them with plastic BBs, add some smoke fluid, and let 'em rip. The first thing that surprised us was the weight and length of both tanks. At over 11 lbs. and 18” for the Sherman and 15 lbs. and almost 22” for the Tiger, it was obvious that these where not cheapo plastics tanks. Next, we were surprised by the level of detail and the paint job on both tanks. Though neither of us can vouch for how accurate these 1/16th models are compared to the real things, it brought back memories of Oddball and Karl-Otto Alberty, the commander of the third Tiger tank, as they faced off. But the best was when we started them up, the sounds thundered from the speakers making them sound like real tanks and not whining electric cars, and we took off chasing each other across the front yard shooting at everything in sight. Pretty fun even for a couple of old guys.
Unfortunately, our fun was cut short when our lovely wives arrived home from a pottery fair and brought home their negative waves. Bummer. Not to be deterred, Paul and I are already talking about building a course where we can shoot at various targets (and likely each other), and I just received a FPV camera and LCD screen that will allow us to drive them as if we are actually in the tanks. More to come.