VA NY Harbor Health Care System
Veteran builds model ships and customizes them, creating historic scenes
As a boy of 10, George Wells had a keen interest in the Navy and in Navy battles. What started out as a hobby soon became more for the Long Islander.
The son of a Navy Veteran, Wells signed up for the Navy too, serving two years in the late 1960s in Bermuda at a naval aircraft support attachment, which eventually became the Naval Air Station at Bermuda.
Following his service, Wells worked locally and noticed that several companies were developing recreations of Japanese fleets, as well as British and German fleets. It was then that Wells decided to re-ignite his passion for historic Navy battles. He began building model ships and customizing them.
"I read all the books," said Wells. "I am fascinated with war stories."
Using sheet plastic and plans of the ships, which he scaled down, Wells has completed – and hand-painted -150 ships for his collection. His goal is to finish 420 ships.
Currently, part of Well's collection, the 1942 Battle of Lady Gulf, is on display at New York Harbor Healthcare System’s Brooklyn Campus. "It’s one segment of the largest naval battle in history," said Wells, adjusting pieces of the display outside of the Chapel. "It broke the back of the Japanese in World War II."
Shortly, Wells, 62, will bring another display to the Brooklyn Campus. His work is also showcased at other areas on Long Island for Veterans – and others – to enjoy.
Showing off the work is a treat, he said. "I’m getting positive results. People recognize that it's a lot of work." Part of the displays is in-depth histories, researched by Wells, for guests to read. "I hope they read about the histories. I want to share them. I want the kids and anyone who is interested to read the histories I put down- I leave reading lists, look up books. There is so much fascinating information out there.
Wells admits that working on the models takes lots of patience. The hand-painted insignias, the scaling down, all takes time. So do mistakes. "I have to be patient, especially when I hunt for small parts that get dropped," Wells laughed. "But I enjoy it like I did 30-35 years ago."