Whether you’re a model ship enthusiast, a history buff, or an armchair Admiral, you may want to chart a course to Ramsey, Minnesota, for an off-the-wall (or off-the-hull, as the case may be) event.
It’s called Model Warship Combat, and it gives participants the chance to recreate some of their favorite naval engagements of the First and Second World Wars – only at a fraction of the size.
“We build and battle scale model warships from World War One or World War Two, like this cruiser here which I’ve built,” event participant Tyler Helland told WCCO-TV in Minnesota, referring to his scale model version of a Japanese Agano-class heavy cruiser.
“We come from all across the country, and indeed internationally. Folks come down from Canada, and we have a battle!”
So how does a “battle” work, exactly?
Well for starters, the rules of Model Warship Combat stipulate that each ship be built on a 1/144 scale of the historical vessel it’s intended to mimic.
Each vessel is controlled remotely by an operator on shore, capable of maneuvering the ship via electric motor, as well as firing the main cannons.
In this case, said “cannons” are .177″ pneumatically-powered BB guns, typically fired using C02 or compressed air. The weapons are also self-reloading, since finding 1/144 scale crew to man your 1/144 scale ship can be a bit of a pain.
Instead of reinforced steel, the hulls of the model warships are composed of thin layers of Balsa wood, allowing the BB’s to penetrate with a direct hit.
The best part? Most models are equipped with on-board bilge pumps, allowing the ships to compensate for damage inflicted and requiring multiple direct hits to sink a (miniature) battleship.
At battle’s end, each side counts the number of directs hits inflicted vs. received (assuming their ship isn’t headed into Davy Jones’ Locker) and a winner is chosen.
The event runs all week long on a private property in Ramsey, Minnesota. You can learn more about the event, and the hobby, on Model Warship Combat’s official website.