Posted on December 20th, 2016 by:

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By Cpl. Richard Douglass

Yank Staff Correspondent

PANAMA—You might expect a sailor to build a ship for a hobby, but you would hardly expect him to build a battleship complete with radio-controlled turrets whose guns will fire real ammunition.

Wally W. Powers MM2c is doing just that at Coco Solo. The battleship, a model of the Idaho, has been under construction for 15 months. Powers, who works in the station’s instrument machine shop, figures it will take another 12 months to complete the battlewagon.

sailor wally powers builds radio controlled battleship

Wally Powers working on his model battle-wagon.

It is 6 feet 4 inches long and weighs 150 pounds. It has a beam of 14 inches and is 32/12 inches from mast tip to keel. The battleship will be powered by four storage batteries of sufficient amperage to keep her going 11 hours. Except for the guns, which are steel, the vessel will be all-aluminum.

Powers salvages most of the parts from the station’s junk pile. A landing light motor from one plane will drive the turrets; the 21 gears that will drive the four propeller shafts will be turned by an old windshield wiper motor. The gear box itself took three months to build.

The model is enclosed in an enormous shipping case, which serves two purposes; it safeguards the ship while in the process of construction; it will eventually serve as a shipping compartment. Powers has a packet of letters from high ranking officers authorizing him to freight his battleship home to New York City when his tour is up.

Powers, a sailor for six years, is 24. He saw duty aboard the heavy cruiser Tuscaloosa, then on neutrality patrol, and at the Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi, Tex., before his assignment to Panama.

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