A war at Oakboro Park
Story and Photos By Joyce Lavene

There was a war going on at Oakboro District Park last weekend. If the sounds of shots fired from the pond seemed a little less than rifle fire and a little more like BB gun pellets, that was because the war was between W.W. II model ships.
The IRCWCC,  International R/C Warship Combat Club, was founded in 1978 by a group of enthusiasts who wanted to have fun with radio controlled, semi-scale model warship competition.
These ships are battery operated, 1/144 scale models of warships which operated between 1905 and 1946.  They are equipped with CO2 gas powered cannons and take place in mock battles as they attempt to damage or sink their opponents.
Rob Stalnaker, of Mt. Pleasant,  was the host for this year’s national competition. Members from Boston, Greensboro, Charleston, S.C., Georgia, Florida and as far away as California, took part in the battle.  Stalnaker said he likes Oakboro Park. It’s well maintained, the bathroom facilities are great and the town is easy to work with. Plus the pond isn’t so deep. “I can almost walk all the way across it,” Stalnaker said.
That comes in handy when your ship has been sunk, which happens frequently as the battles rage. BB pellets are shot from the ships’ mini cannons, trying to take down their opponents. Players and spectators must wear safety goggles because sometimes the BBs don’t fly exactly where they shoot them, Stalnaker explained. He has the BB shots on his legs to prove it.
There are awards for the winners—staying afloat the longest, doing the most damage, the member who came the farthest to battle.
It’s  a little pricey to set up a boat that can battle against the ones that were on the pond. The basic ship costs about $1,000 to get started. Stalnaker said they are not as expensive to maintain. But there is the cost of CO2, BBs, and any damage that comes from being sunk. Sometimes the electronics gets the bad end of the battle.
The club had a good time this year and vow to come back again next year. The paths were blocked around the pond to keep pedestrians from accidentally getting fired upon by the warships. Stalnaker said he is always thinking about safety—except maybe when his ship is about to go under.