you could but it would probably be jenky as all get out. Look on CL and facebook. There are tons of super old wood lathes for sale cheap. They might have dead centers and stuff but they would work well for what you want.
It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.
It would be pretty difficult to fasten a hand drill to be perfectly horizontal and then jury rig something else on some kind of track so you can move it closer and futher away from the drill chuck and have both perfectly lined up. I would think more trouble than it would be worth. Better to look for a used one or some place like this for an inexpensive new one.