Atticus Bennett and Logan Roser created a 10-ft., 350-pound scale model of the USS Arizona. Roser said the project has been especially well received thanks to Veterans Day and the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
By Garth Snow
Homestead High School students Logan Roser and Atticus Bennett hope to turn their respect for the military into a charity for veterans’ causes.
The 16-year-old friends have built a 10-ft. scale model of the USS Arizona, which was destroyed in the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor.
Roser started the project while an eighth-grader at Woodside Middle School. Science teacher Laura Smith has encouraged Roser throughout the project.
“He started carrying around this big, thick book about the Arizona and it became a topic of conversation between the two of us,” Smith said. “One of the projects that he worked on includes a scale drawing and a model, and he made his own scale drawing of the Arizona and by the end of the year he wanted to make a model. I had some extra material from a Future Cities project and gave him some of his first materials.”
Roser said he could not buy the model on his own, so he decided to build one. That was four years ago. “I invited my friend Atticus to join me on it, and it kind of spiraled into this. We decided to build the biggest, best ship we could build,” he said. “My garage has primarily held one car. Everything else has been shifted over and I made my workshop here. She’s exactly 10 feet long, she’s got a beam at the widest point at about 1-foot, 9-inches, and she’s approximately 350 pounds.”
“I’ve been Logan’s friend since first grade and when he came to me with this project I was totally on board with it,” Bennett said. “At first it seemed like a little project, and then it turned into a not-for-profit. We both have family in the military and we wanted to help them out.”
Their not-for-profit is called 60.8ft Fleet, indicating the scale of their first ship. They hope to add a model of the USS Indianapolis to their fleet, and to show both ships to support their cause.
The reaction has been very positive, Bennett said. “Everyone’s been super supportive of it, and we’ve gotten a lot of calls from people. We’ve gotten offers to display it places,” he said.
Roser researched the Arizona thoroughly. “I dug deeper and found things out, like she wasn’t actually supposed to be in Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7. It was just a coincidence,” he said.
They invested two years in planning and dimensioning and two years in the actual building.
“Imagine trying to get that thing on scale,” Bennett said. “We have pictures from all the way before it was built, in the planning phase, all the way through today.” Bennett said he also is benefiting by learning to operate a not-for-profit.
Much of the Arizona model is wood. Many of the turrets and 12-inch guns are metal. Roser’s uncle John Reed in Alpena, Mich., machined some of the metal parts. Another uncle, Wesley Lewis, is deployed in the Navy and has helped plan the electrical layout for the ship. The builders hope to put the ship afloat with remote-control guidance. Roser described his grandfather Paul Roser, a Korean war veteran, as a major support who helped with tools and instruction. Roser said Smith, at Woodside, supported the project from the beginning, including donating the first material.
“He promised to stay in touch, and he has,” Smith said. “He has sent very enthusiastic emails about what he has learned.” The builders have learned about history, but also about welding and electrical wiring. “He has sent pictures of the progress and I try to continue to be encouraging and supporting,” she said. “I hope they really get to help bring this idea to the people and help support the veterans. It’s really neat to be able to stay in contact with a student over the course of the years and watch them accomplish their goals. Their perseverance has been very impressive. It’s an interesting project. They’ve spent a lot of time and they have a deep commitment to what they’re doing. I’ve been very impressed with that.”
Roser said he does not see the project as honoring war, but as a tribute to the men and women who served.
Find more information about their project on Facebook at 60.8ft Fleet.