Welcome to the fascinating world of R/C BIG GUN Warship Combat. So what exactly is R/C Warship combat? It is a hobby where scale model warships, armed with low-pressure CO2 cannons, fire small ball bearings at an opposing ship.  When enough holes are put in the easily punctured balsa wood covered hull to overload the internal bilge pump, the ship will sink.  All ships have a float and recovery line so there is no need to go swimming unless you want too. Yes, we shoot holes in our models on purpose. How else can you simulate real sea battles. It's Allied versus Axis; Battleships, and Cruisers and Destroyers maneuver for attack, or struggle to protect the cargo ships that are valiantly trying to get supplies through.  Oh, and we cannot forget the need to defend your port city from bombardment from sea. Any questions?  Good, you can ask any Midwest Battle Group member. But, we have to warn you, you're going to get hooked on this hobby.

The Ships:
The ships are 1/144 scale (range from 3 to 6+ feet in length), WWI - WWII era (1900-1946) warships, transport ships, and occasionally submarines. The wood or fiberglass hulls are covered with balsa wood skin. They have bilge pumps to simulate damage control, are electric powered, and are armed with low-pressure CO2 cannons, that can rotate and depress. The models are equipped with a float attached to a recovery line. This allows easy recovery of the ship when it sinks. The ships are quickly recovered, repaired, and put back in the game. The only damage is to the balsa wood on the hull, since the internal components are protected by shielding, and the electronic equipment is usually waterproofed.

This instructable walks you through the process of building a model warship from just a set of overhead and side views.

More about me....I've built 5 ships from scratch and used to run a small business selling supplies and building cannons for the ships.  I made several design improvements to the cannon, but cost of having parts cnc'd drove the prices up to high.  I sold my business to strike models http://www.strikemodels.com/.

More about the hobby.  You can learn about the hobby from www.strikemodels.com they support both versions of this hobby small gun and big gun.  Small gun limits the number of cannon and they are all bb size.  Big Gun uses various ammo sizes upto 1/4" linked to the ships actual cannon size and allows you to arm all the guns.  Big Gun is what is pictured in this instructable.   The currently are selling everything you  need to battle.  They have a very good website which includes a list of currently active clubs.

The guns way anywhere from a 1 to 1.5 pounds.  The ships themselves can get fairly heavy.  A Yamato weighs around 40 pounds and is around 6 foot in length and 10 inches in beam.

Also new is our club's promotional video.  Unfortunately the club has disbanded do to shrinking membership, but many clubs are still active across the US and Australia.
SandyM138 days ago

I am thinking of building a rc model warship with my grandson who is 10 ,is there any where u can get free plans and a how to make one from scratch . Thanks sandy

Would it be offensive to consider futuristic/Sci-Fi models like littoral combat vessels or arsenal ships?
i'm wondering if you can arm r/c planes with firecrackers and call them anti-ship bombs.

Those would be illegal, They have the risk of burning the deck, Further exposing internal parts.


argo711 year ago

i am toying with the idea of building a yamato class battleship using a poulan 40cc gas engine. is there anybody interested in this project? ship size might go to almost 1:2 if not possible, then i might consider going to 1:8.

LukeF argo716 months ago

Yes I am very interested

Also I need free plans that i can print off my printer with 8.5"x11" paper

Hey I'm new to this hobby and I was wondering which would be better big, gun fast gun or treaty?

Is it legal to use an aircraft carrier with planes?
Neander2 years ago
Hmmmm....Might try to do an all Metal Iron Clad!
ebaneser2 years ago
Awesome as heck I might try to make a replica of PT-109
pp213 years ago
Wow, I never knew that there were reenactments/battles with RC battleships. I always thought it was fake and it didn't believe it until now. I would love to do this, but money is tight. So it will be awhile before I build and participate in these battles.
picklwg (author)  pp213 years ago
A full up Iowa can cost around 2,000 dollars.
The R/C unit and cannons are the major expense with these. You can find plans online for free and get balsa at craft/art stores relatively cheap and get started building the base ship... Depending on you ship's size and the level of detail you put into it, this could take quite a bit of time where you can save up for the money sinks. I would buy the R/C unit first so if nothing else you have a ship you can cruise around in a local pond - which might help boost the interest of others.
jcomtois3 years ago
NIce to see this hobby caught on enough to have a real cannon supplier, those used to be the biggest problem. I'd quit following it about 15-20 years ago because of the expense. What is the reference document you used for the pictures, a hobby magazine? What are the hobby publications/sources and is there a list of locations where these events are regularly held?
picklwg (author)  jcomtois3 years ago
Current supplier is strikemodels.com I used to run BDE, but sold it to strikemodels.
bumsugger3 years ago
This IS without doubt The Most Realistic use of models I have ever seen,(though I've often imagined it given all the technology around these days) however,I have often imagined that I might one day arm my fairly large radio controlled model aircraft,so I would welcome any ideas on just such a project,and I'd also like to know what the "all in" weight of the "gun units" are?
picklwg (author)  bumsugger3 years ago
Big Guns are anywhere from 3/4 to 1.5 pounds. The ships can weigh upto around 40 pounds.
rgraylint3 years ago
This looks like a really fun hobby. I took my family to the MakerFaire in Austin a few years back and my 13yo son was awe struck by the ships on display there. The guys in the booth were very friendly and patiently answered all our questions. Unfortunately we couldn't get anyone else interested enough in building here to start a club. I don't think it would be that much fun to shoot at your own boat.

I do have one question. I spoke to a gentleman in Austin who told me about a spray he used to waterproof his electronics. He drilled a small hole in his servos and receiver then inserted the spray can tube and squirted this water repellent chemical. I believe he said he could sink his boats a few times before he sprayed again, but don't quote me on that. I can't remember the name of the spray. I don't see any mention of it in a quick skim of your article. Do you have any idea what I'm talking about? Sorry if it is there and I just missed it.

BTW, it would be great to see some video on your Instructable.

Thanks for sharing your great hobby!
picklwg (author)  rgraylint3 years ago
That can work two things will get your servo. 1 corrosion if the water is allowed to stay in the box the board gets corrosion and it's toast. 2. water gets on the potiameter (sp?). This will cause the servo to jitter or turn uncontrollably. Rinsing with alcohol to displace water then squirting with WD40 will help.
Good God why isn't there any video?!? Would LOVE to see this in action!
picklwg (author)  brendangillespie3 years ago
I've got an 11 meg one. I need to edit down so it will upload to the site. They seem to have a size limit on file uploads.
+1. What this man said! This needs a video!
bpfh bpfh3 years ago
Check this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehkb_9VBxeg&feature=related
yariv_ar3 years ago
Wow, amazing!
this is amazing......
schmitta3 years ago
Love RC boats. This Instructible goes above and beyond the call of duty.
krauser3 years ago
You've got my vote. Great Instructable!
ostomesto3 years ago
Amazing instructable, to time consuming for my short attention span(LOL) but this is really amazing. Subbed and voted, Really great job I applaud

btw really cool with the working cannons:D
billbillt3 years ago
GREAT!!...Just WAY TO complicated for me, but VERY COOL!!!.....