Replica battleships capture historic events

Navy Veteran George Wells shares his decades-long passion project with the public


Navy Veteran George Wells has spent years building and designing more than 215 model replicas of US, British, German, and Japanese warships used in battle during World War II.

Each of the vessels are built seven hundred times smaller than the originals and are grouped together based on different military campaigns, including the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the Battle of Samar, the Battle at Midway, and the Battle at Guadalcanal.

Wells, 74, of Hewlett, served in the military from 1966 to 1972. Two years later he began building replica ships that he bought at a local hobby shop.

Several decades of work went into recreating each battle’s precise time and location. He even went as far as to paint some of the replicas with the same camouflage used by the US Navy to divert submarine torpedo attacks.

“It’s important to tell these stories so they won’t be forgotten,” Wells said. “That is my motivation… that and my plain enjoyment of sharing with folks.”

Wells said that he created the exhibit to provide a basic understanding of the naval battles that took place in the Pacific war theater more than 75 years ago and that based on the American Legion charter, one of the Veterans organization’s purposes is to preserve the memory of events and battles that occurred in both World Wars and other military conflicts.

“Anytime I have a guest in here,” Wells said, “it’s justification for the exhibit.”

Yet despite all of the hard work and dedication he put into designing and building these replica warships, the exhibit is not very well known or popular. Hoping to attract more attention, Wells eagerly invites families and kids to visit and experience it for themselves.

Some of the replicas out on display include such infamous ships as the USS Enterprise, one of the most decorated vessels in the entire US Navy, and the USS Intrepid, an aircraft carrier that today serves as the Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City, and the USS California, which was impacted in the attack on Pearl Harbor and later rebuilt and re-commissioned for service in 1944.

The exhibit also includes models of the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service fleet including the battleship, Yamato, which remains one of the heaviest and most powerfully armed military service ships ever constructed.

A portion of the exhibit also features a short documentary video highlighting the Battle of Leyte Gulf, which was one of the largest naval battles in all of recorded history, involving more than 200,000 sailors and Naval personnel.

Any patrons interested in experiencing the exhibit up close and in person can contact George Wells at the American Legion Post No. 303 at 516-766-9740.