Indulge your Inner Child: Play a Game of Real-Life Battleship


When Rob Wood was a young boy, he decided to read the encyclopedia. For a curious kid with an inquisitive mind, this was his idea of pre-internet fun.

When he got to “G” volume, he stopped—at the word glider. He was intrigued. Young Rob convinced his dad to help him build a model glider and thus began his life-long love of model-making. His passion for his modeling eventually led him to a group that builds radio-controlled, historically accurate robotic ships that engage in simulated naval combat.  “Once I found out about it, I couldn’t get enough of it.”

Imagine Battle Pond as a real-life game of Battleship. Around 20 wooden replica battleships–outfitted with real mini artillery–are floating in a 27,000-gallon ocean. During battles, selected audience members get to control the ships’ direction and real mini-gunfire with a remote control. The audience, sitting in bleachers, is divided into Allies and Axis teams, so those not controlling a ship cheer for their side. The team with the last floating cargo ship is the winner.

And the ships really do sink. They are well constructed and historically accurate WWI and WWII battleships, torpedo cruisers, destroyers, and submarines, but certain areas are designed to be penetrable—those areas are covered in soft balsa wood. Between battles, Rob’s team dredges out the sunken ships and patches them up for the next bout. The artillery built into the ships uses a blasting mechanism similar to that in paintball guns.

Close look at a battleship

“It’s exciting, competitive, engaging — and there’s an element of danger,” Rob says.

(And if you’re concerned about wasting water: don’t worry. Previously-used water will be purchased for use in the pond, then it will be drained into a tank and used to water Balboa Park.)

Rob and the Western Warship Combat Club are bringing their super-interactive and exciting Battle Pond to the first annual Maker Faire in Balboa Park on Oct. 3-4th. He will be one of more than 200 Makers exhibiting their creations at Maker Faire San Diego.  If you’ve been working on a special project that you’d love to show the world, the Call to Makers is now underway!  Apply now (see top of the page)!

Early Bird tickets are available from now until September 1st. Adult tickets are $22.50 for two days/$15 one day, children’s tickets are $15 for two days/$10 one day.

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