How to Turn a Battleship Replica into a Naval Inventory Tool

Ever think that a dream of yours is impossible? That it will just take far too long to complete so why bother?  No?  SolidWorks users never cease to amaze us with their creativity, drive and determination.  Today we revisit a story that embodies this sentiment.

Last May we looked at SolidWorks user Donn McKinney’s 30+ year dream to recreate a fully operational replica of the U.S.S. Missouri. (On a smaller scale, of course.)  Donn is part of a team engaged in producing operational replicas of the Iowa Class Battleships with the goal to put these operational ships on display for the education and enjoyment of the general public, in various locales.

However, the development of fully operational battleship replicas is only part of Donn’s story. During his creation of these naval models, Donn also discovered another use for SolidWorks that may help naval engineers.  Through his efforts to recreate the Missouri, Donn developed the ability to take hard copy designs and convert them into electronic media.  This electronic media can then be modified in both design and engineering systems, and then turned back into a hard copy at any scale desired (think “Honey I Shrunk the Kids”, but for full scale vehicles).

This is not only helpful for vehicle creation, but the labor intensive inventory process.  Using SolidWorks, Donn created a way to manage effective maintenance and inventory control of all types of vessels and vehicles.  SolidWorks enables him to analyze and support every detail of the U.S.S. Missouri, in every configuration of the life of the ship, with every part, assembly, or sub assembly being noted and electronically recreated.  If engineers follow Donn’s processes with SolidWorks, manufacturers can store information like date and place of manufacture, component serial numbers, component of the subassembly, and shipping information on a flash or thumb drive, which can then easily be shared with the general contractor and end user of the sub assembly. 

Additionally, components subject to failure by material fatigue could be tracked and identified prior to the component failing by fatigue stresses.  This electronic record keeping would also prevent the replacement of expensive critical components by calendar dating alone.  With the user of a vehicle knowing how many cycles a component had been exposed to, a true picture of the health of a critical component would be known!  There are very interesting uses of SolidWorks with the original intent on only building a sole replica of a battleship!

What about you?  Have you started one project with one intent and then discovered multiple benefits or uses for it?  We’d love to hear from you!






Matthew West

SolidWorks alumnus. I like plate reverb, Rat pedals, Thai curry, New Weird fiction, my kids, Vespas, Jazzmasters, my wife & Raiders of the Lost Ark. Not necessarily in that order.