BAY AREA TANKERS ORIGINS


By Rich Upton

On August 1st of 1989 I walked into the Kit and Caboodle hobby shop in Albany, Ca. asking about R/C tanks. I had decided that I wanted to do something fun for myself instead of just plugging away at my U.P.S. job and my jewelry business incessantly. I permitted myself to indulge in my old love of model armor which I had abandoned early in high school. Lance, the owner at the shop, didn't carry any R/C tanks, but he said he had something that might interest me and pulled out an old brochure that made my eyes bug out. It was a pamphlet describing 1/10 scale gas and electric-powered aluminum Panthers from Germany. The person who gave Lance the material years earlier actually lived in the area! It was a bombshell to me. On August 2 I had my first phone conversation with Gerald Carducci who had produced the pamphlet during the time he was selling these impressive machines here in America.

In a way B.A.T. was born the day I walked into that store because I see now that it was an inevitability that I would find others with the same interest and see where it would lead. Later that month I found a built King Tiger at Family Hobbies in San Leandro and was thrilled at the prospects of modifying the tank. But from early on the real prize seemed to be the 1/10ths of the kind Jerry had. That was the big league, and it was very appealing, if not more then a little intimidating.

It wasn't long before a fine scale modeler at my job, Basil Mederios, said that he had noticed someone running an R/C tank in his front yard just blocks from his house. Soon I was pals with Fred Dorn who already had quite a collection of Tamiya tanks. He particularly liked the Leopard family and had built the bridging and engineering versions on the Leo chassis.

I clearly became a pest to Jerry that year by being a broken record regarding the starting of a club for model armor. Of course it was an idea he had always considered, but had not found the ideal circumstances to begin the process. It must be kept in mind that Jerry had had his share of enthusiastic guys who wanted nothing better then to see him run those fabulous Panthers and Japanese tanks and hang out with him and those machines. Almost all of these “lookie-lous” got their kicks from seeing them and then leaving, not having bought anything from him. So he was naturally wary of me initially. Nonetheless I persisted, and we both enjoyed the discussions, although his technical knowledge was much greater then my own on this subject. Eventually Jerry did act on the club idea by compiling a mailing list starting with the contacts he had made during his time he was demonstrating his 1/10 scale metal models imported from Germany and Japan and then adding a few names I had such as Fred. The name for his group was taken from German Wehrmacht nomenclature and thus called Armor Group - West. With some occasional contributions from me regarding 1/16th tanks, he produced ten issues of the Armor Group - West Newsletter during the period between February of 1990 and June of 1992 which he mailed to guys from all over.

It was a good effort, but an effort it was nonetheless, so while on an expedition to Germany's museums in that June of 1992 with other AGW members, Jerry and I agreed he would take a break from the publishing schedule and focus more on the 1/10 side of things with those who might be inclined that way. He would go on to dissolve AG-W in advance of some new effort down the road. In my new role I would attempt to address 1/16 issues in a new publication and form a new club around the 1/16 and 1/15 models. It was my fervent belief that we should more actively promote the smaller 1/16 models and let guys move up to the larger 1/10ths in due time. After all, 1/16 is where most of the Germans had started before going on to 1/10, 1/8, and 1/7 scale tanks.

I myself went on to produce 7 issues of a newsletter called the Recon Report starting in late 1992 with a mailing of less then 200 issues each time. They are heavy in black and white photos and came to be a hefty 28 pages by the time I concluded my run in 1997 having spent a lot of time and losing a ton of money. Thankfully the Internet was coming into its own at the time and I felt RR was no longer needed as one could more easily find a wealth of data and modelers this new way.

B.A.T. was created July 12, 1992 in the living room of Freddy Dorn’s house in San Lorenzo, a suburb of San Francisco. In fact, Fred's suggested name for the club won out in the voting. All five of us who made the first meeting had been involved in AGW.

More installments of B.A.T. history will follow in due time ...







B.A.T. TODAY
We have three separate scale divisions. For convenience, and to be “cute” we drop the “one” and call them the "16th Tank Corps", "10th Tank Corps" and the the "6th Tank Corps". The idea here is that there is a separate co-ordinator for each Corps' activities.

The 16th Tank Corps includes all 1/16th and 1/15th scale kits produced by Tamiya, Bandai, Trumpeter/WSN, Imai, Doyusha, as well as any scratch-built vehicles in those scales. It is, by far, the most active part of the club. Currently I am the nominal leader of this section.

The 10th Tank Corps is not a very active segment of the club with only about 3 members with 1/10 vehicles. We include any 1/8ths in this category as well.

The 6th Tank Corps have a handful of members, but their few models -- if put on a kitchen scale against all the 1/16ths -- would probably tip the scales! We have a source for 1/6 and 1/8 vehicles from Russia -- as well as other suppliers -- and in our own B.A.T. member Leonard Rose. Go check out Rolling Thunder Technologies http://www.r-c-tanks.com to see what is offered.

B.A.T. member Bevan Johnston, built, among other things, a short run of all-metal 1/6 “Easy-8” Shermans that put his " Cactus Tracks " http://www.rctanks.us on the map. He is currently looking at doing another vehicle, once more in metal.


“ BATTLE DAY ”
This is our annual gathering in late September. We make a day out of running our models with a second day devoted to touring the largest private armored vehicle museum on the West coast, the Military Vehicle Technology Foundation. Go to our Event Gallery to see pics from past Battle Days.