Apples to Apples
Comparing Your Boat to the Competition by Curly Barrett

You ask, "How's your ship doing?" The wily veteran responds, "Works great...turns awesome and the guns are unbeatable!" But what is he really saying? How great is "great?" It's time we start comparing apples to apples and develop standard performance testing-not mandatory, but for information purposes. I have gathered eight basic tests used by three seasoned veterans who represent a combined total of 53 years of battling experience. These tests are designed to provide information that will help battlers improve their ships, while also allowing accurate comparisons of ship performance.

Stationary Targeting
Build a penetrable target that is 2' long, with 1-1/2" above the waterline and 1" below the waterline. Give it 5 ribs (not counting the leading and trailing edge of the target) and cover it in balsa or just silk span. The leading edge and trailing edge should be made with longer pieces of wood which will serve as stakes for positioning the target in the water. Place the target in the water-then go at it! See how much damage you can inflict on it if you have 5 minutes of time (simulating a ship that has gone dead in the water). Try the same test with a more hurried approach and see what you can do with 1 minute.

Results: In 5 minutes, one battler was able to put 77 above, 11 on and 32 below. In one minute-35 above, 3 on and 6 below.

The Course
This is an old standby that was developed by an overzealous German who happens to be one of the hobby's founders. The basic course is 100' long. You start the course as if doing a speed trial, with a running start. As you near the middle of the course, do a hard 360° turn to port, straightening out and hitting top speed again. At that point hit full reverse until you cease forward motion, then hit full forward and get back to top speed. Throw the rudder hard and turn a 360° to starboard, then race across the end line. Try this in both directions to compensate for wind.

Results: A famous German ship did the course in 1:44.10, and did it one hour later in 1:54.39.

Gun Dumping
This exercise is simply to measure how long it takes you to unload all 50 BBs in your magazine. Try to count how many stick movements it takes, too.

Results: One battler has recorded dumping 50 rounds in 15.0 seconds with a sidemount; 14.2 seconds with the other sidemount; 18.8 seconds with the stern gun.

Gun Accuracy 2'/4' Range
Our battling has been described as "a knife fight in a phone booth!" So how can anyone miss from that close? Try this experiment. Place a sheet of cardboard, foam core or paper 2' away from the tip of your gun. Fire a magazine into the target and see how accurate your BBs and barrel are. Then try the experiment again with the target at 4'. The spread, if you're using standard brass barrels, is pretty amazing.

Results: A certain German captain reported a spread of 2" wide x 3" high @2'. It was 7" wide x 9" high at 4'. Aha! THAT'S how people miss from that close.

Battery Drain
This is a simple measure of the 100' run at 5-minute intervals, running constantly in between. See how fast the speed drops off with each set of batteries. This is a great way to test batteries that have a few years of service on them. Faithful batteries can turn against you with amazing speed. This gives you a glimpse of the batteries faithfulness.

Pump Output
The widely accepted measure for pump output is a measurement of Gallons Per Minute (GPM). In addition to that basic test, fill your entire hull to the rim and see how long it takes to pump it dry. Also, measure how much water is actually left in your hull after the pump runs dry.

Results: One Kraut-made pump moved 1.75 GPM @ 12 volts and could pump his battleship dry in 78 seconds. One captain reported two ships and found that his new ship left only a few table spoons of water in the hull, while his older battleship left 3.5 cups of water in the hull.

Standing 360°/Running 360°
Start with your boat facing out to sea and hit full forward while holding the rudder over to port. Time how long it takes to spin 360°. Try the same thing turning to starboard. Then try the same tests with a running start.

Results: You'll probably notice much wider turns with a running start. One Texas battler reports a standing turn of 12.5 to port and 11.2 to starboard; running turn of 11.6 to port and 11.1 to starboard.

Standing 50'/Running 50'
This is a very simple test but it allows you to measure your boat's acceleration...particularly helpful when trying out new propellers.

Results: A battleship sporting a 12.2-second running 50' turned in a 14.9-second standing 50'. The difference-2.7 seconds-is a measure of acceleration.

1" Square Hole Standing Sink/Running Sink
Right before you resheet, try this one-its a bit sadistic. Cut a 1" square hole, centered on the waterline, in the bow of your ship. Time how long it takes to sink. Then recover the ship and try again while running forward at full speed, time the sink again, try the same experiment with the pump running.

Results: A Lutzow sank in 18.5 seconds standing still; 8.1 seconds running. With the pump on, it didn't sink; running with pump on, it sank in 22 seconds. If you are really bored, patch the bow hole and try it all again with a hole amidship...the difference is impressive: 19.9 standing, 15.3 running, no sink with pump running!

Now not everyone is going to do all of these, but this gives you an idea of how some veterans test their ship and have benchmarks to measure improvements. And if you want to compare apples to apples when you get together with the veterans, these are the tests to use. Good luck improving your ships!