IPMS/Willow Run Bomber Plant (WRBP) has developed and is introducing a new IPMS chapter outreach pilot program called the Internationally Connected Modelers Group (ICMG)
We are proud to announce that both IPMS/UK West Suffolk and the Norfolk Scale Model Group are now officially partners in the “Willow Run Bomber Plant – West Suffolk/Norfolk ICMG.”
As a new IPMS chapter, WRBP saw the importance of not only promoting the art and craft of model building but also the importance of promoting the historical connections that our neighbor, the Willow Run Bomber Plant, had to its role in World War II. With this idea in mind, WRBP looked for a real-world connection to other modelers in another country that Willow Run, Ford-built, B-24s also historically affected. One of the largest war-time consumers of Willow Run B-24s was the USAAF 8th Air Force, 2nd Air Division, based out of Suffolk and Norfolk Counties in the United Kingdom. WRBP contacted Gary Wenko, the IPMS/UK international contact person, about the possibility of WRBP connecting and informally communicating with IPMS UK branches in areas that had B-24 Liberator bases during WWII. The idea was to have a connected community history, because, in our case, Willow Run built over 8000 B-24s, of which a large number went to England.
We received very positive interest from two IPMS/UK branches in England. Both are in the epicenter of Liberator country – Norfolk (RAF Horsham St. Faith) and West Suffolk (RAF Sudbury). Again, our primary goal was to have not only a model connection, but also a real historical connection that our two countries and communities share. The connection that WRBP made is unique to our chapter, but our reasoning and methodology can serve as a template for other IPMS chapters to follow.
Primary Goals of the ICMG are:
Connect IPMS/USA chapters to IPMS chapters/branches in other countries that have a direct historical connection to that particular IPMS/USA chapter’s historical location or name. These connections could include such things as:
Same city or regional name
Civilian and/or military manufacturing industries
Military training or deployment bases
Areas of combat action
Many other types of direct historical connections (or any others we did not think about).
The most important part is that both interconnecting chapters have something historically in common and can build a connection on that. This will create a conduit for the exchange of information thru models, building techniques, personal interactions, and even live history exchanges (i.e. – WRBP can’t go to the Imperial War Museum, but a connector in West Suffolk is a volunteer there and take pictures I need for my project. Alternatively, someone in Norfolk is building a USAAF reconnaissance Mosquito and needs pictures of the one located at the National Museum of the USAF in Dayton, Ohio. A WRBP connector can get his/her car and go take some pictures for him).
The program will build international friendships and relations, between both individual IPMS members and IPMS chapters, through the one hobby that truly does not have any borders.
The key to the success for this program is that it has to be self-initiated by individual chapters. IPMS chapters interested in the ICMG program know their local roots, history, and historical connections to the world better than anyone does. Interested chapters would have to find overseas chapters that they would like to interact with and reach out on their own behalf. The world is the only limit.
There needs to be considerations for language barriers. If language is a barrier for that first contact with other international IPMS chapters, Google Translator can be a great tool to start the process.
We are hoping that the framework presented here will provide the opportunity and encouragement for other IPMS chapters to connect with international partners in history, as well as our hobby, and build a world-wide lasting International Plastic Modeler Society friendship.
For more information on the ICMG Pilot Program or if you have questions, contact Joe Rivers: ICMG Contact at email@example.com