I was absolutely stunned the other day when someone sent me an email asking me if I heard about these new model figures featuring War Correspondents that they had come across. I followed the included link and was thoroughly amazed. The link took me to a website called TRACK-LINK,
“Since (the website) came online in January 6, 1996 as one of the first AFV (Armoured Fighting Vehicle) modeling sites on the Internet, TRACK-LINK has established itself as the leading electronic resource for thousands of AFV modelers worldwide.”
Within the forums section of the website was a posting by modeler Martyn Smith. His topic; Subject: [Figures Review] Bronco Models – W.W.II British & Commonwealth War Correspondent Set
Following the link to his review, I found a very detailed and extensive review of the modeling set. Knowing I had to learn more, I reached out and contacted Martyn. Martyn agreed to share some of his review for this post. See his full review by following the link below…
Martyn was a WO2 in the Infantry (Duke of Wellington’s Regt), and retired from the British Army in 2004. Always interested in modelling he joined Track Link and wrote his first review in Sept 2009.
The modeling kit included everything needed to recreate a 1/35th scale model of one British AFPU cameraman, a British War Correspondent, and to my utter surprise, four Canadian Film & Photo Unit personnel! In an email he explains,
“When I was sent the kit I knew little about ‘our’ forces brave photographers even though I spend an extraordinary amount of time in IWM’s (Imperial War Museum’s) archive pages. I knew the pics were credited to AFPU photographers and they operated in small sections and that was about it!”
I instantly recognized the members of the Unit having been familiar with the photographs from which the models were created. Posing with their camera gear are; (Clockwise from left) Lt. Harold G. Aikman, Sgt. Lew Weekes, Sgt. Gord Petty, and another of Lt. Harold Aikman. Below them are two British military personnel; crouching on one knee is AFPU cameraman Bob Jones (yet to be confirmed – see NOTE below ), and seated at his typewriter is War Correspondent Alan Wood.
Martyn’s review describes in excellent detail some of the characteristics of the set, including a short description of the figures themselves;
“Figure “F” This is based on Lieutenant H. Gordon Aikman of the CFPU, Colombelles, France, July 1944 although he is wearing a tie rather than an open collar with a revolver shoved down it. Again he is wearing early BD Serge which was worn through the entire war period and a Mk.II steel helmet. The same problem is evident with the rim although I’m being a tad picky to be fair. He is again portrayed holding his trusty 1940-47 Anniversary Speed Graphic camera and the purist may want to replicate the ‘finder’ from fine wire.
Lt. Harold Gordon Aikman – H-101604 – Born Grandview, Manitoba, 26 JUNE, 1914
Lieutenant H. Gordon Aikman of the Canadian Army Film and Photo Unit, Colombelles, France, 19 July 1944. Credit: Sgt. Gordon Petty / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-145496.
Figure “A” This is based on Lieutenant H. Gordon Aikman of the CFPU, Vught, The Netherlands, February 1945. He is wearing early Battle Dress (BD) Serge with a leather jacket of unknown origin (I suspect Air Force or civilian?) and is wearing a Holster, webbing, No.2, Mk.2 for a Browning pistol. The figure is supplied with an excellent rendition of the 1940-47 Anniversary Speed Graphic camera in four parts although the purists may want to add the wire frame finder from fine wire.
Lieutenant H. Gordon Aikman of the Canadian Army Film and Photo Unit, holding an Anniversary Speed Graphic camera. Credit: Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-150144.
“Figure “E” This is based on Sergeant Gordon D. Petty of the CFPU Hoogerheide, The Netherlands, October 1944. He is depicted wearing early BD trousers and a field jacket I don’t recognise. He is also wearing a MkII infantry steel helmet and again this is fairly well shaped but the anti magnetic rim is oversized a bit. He is depicted filming with a Bell and Howard Eyemo on a tripod. This camera was widely used by the CFPU and AFPU.”
Gordon David Petty – B-84120 – Born August 29, 1921, Galt, Ontario
Sergeant Gordon D. Petty of the Canadian Army Film and Photo Unit taking cine pictures beside a shell-damaged building near Hoogerheide, Netherlands, 15 October 1944. Credit: Lieut. Ken Bell / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-136212.
“Figure “C” This is based on Sergeant Lew E. Weekes of the CFPU near Hoogerheide, The Netherlands, October 1944. He is depicted wearing early BD Serge (with the box pleat pockets) and a MkII infantry steel helmet. This is also reasonably well shaped but the anti magnetic rim is oversized a bit although I reckon this must be nigh impossible to represent properly in styrene its too fine a detail. Also provided is a very nice ’37 pattern holster for, probably, an Enfield or Webley revolver.
He is depicted reclining while filming with a Bell and Howard Eyemo motion picture or cine camera with the distinctive three-lens rotating turret, on a tripod. This is an excellent little model in its own right consisting of 13 parts some extremely tiny. Note to assemble this you’ll need to study the diagrams carefully the actual construction is shown over three different pictures. Those of figure C, figure E and a stand alone view of the camera and tripod’s left profile.”
Sergeant Llewellyn (Lew) Edwards Weekes – A-34826 – Born Vegreville, AB., March 16, 1916
Sergeant Llewellyn (Lew) Edwards Weekes of the Canadian Army Film and Photo Unit taking cine pictures beside a shell-damaged building near Hoogerheide, Netherlands, 15 October 1944. Credit: Lieut. Ken Bell / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-136214.
“Figure “B” – This is based on the Daily Express War Correspondent Alan Wood, Arnhem, The Netherlands, September 1944. He is depicted wearing early BD Serge (with the box pleat pockets) and a reasonably well shaped MkI airborne troops steel helmet. The typewriter is a very nice item (two are supplied) and looks to be a 1937 Underwood sat in the bottom half of its carrying case. Note the upper part of the case isn’t supplied.”
War Correspondent Alan Wood is seen typing his despatch, while Airborne troops in the background consult a map during Operation ‘Market Garden’, Holland, 18 September 1944. Smith D M (Sgt) © IWM (BU 1146)
“Figure “D” This character I have not yet identified. Like the others he is portrayed wearing early BD Serge but this time with a beret. He is provided with a RAC Mk.II pistol case for his Enfield or Webley revolver and appears to be using a Zeiss Contax II 35mm still camera acquired initially through the USA 1939-42, although it’s hard to tell from the tiny part on the sprue. Some carried pairs of cameras and a spare is provided.”
NOTE: Regarding the unidentified British cameraman, forum member Keith Mathews adds “The kneeling figure is based on a photo of still photographer Bob Jones, paired with his film cameraman Fred Palmer during the ‘Goodwood’ operation – they were responsible for many of the photos of Cromwell tanks in action. Palmer has the more typical in NW Europe ‘boxy’ Vinten “Normandy” cine camera. American, De Vry ‘lunchbox’ cameras were also in use in NW Europe.” Unfortunately the link supplied by Keith Mathews is no longer active. To visit the forum posting page click here.
If anyone has more information regarding the identity of “Figure D” please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I want to thank Dan Conlin, and Christopher Hoyt for notifying me about the Bronco Correspondent Set, and to Martyn Smith for allowing me to post sections of his 2013 Model review, he writes;
“I guess my thought on the kit are hopefully captured in the review, they’re pretty accurate, based on real characters, and it’s a refreshing change to have a chance to portray the guys taking the photos rather than those in front of the lens.”
I am very pleased to post pictures in the gallery of a finished set from the Bronco War Correspondent kit, sent to me by Jerry Plettenberg of The Netherlands.
Once again, a special warm thank you to Jerry Plettenberg who writes;
“Hi Dale…I would consider it no less than an honour to see some of my work so much appreciated it is deemed good enough to be shown on your site : )
Do keep the memories alive of all these heroes, CFPU included, to whom us here owe so much; our freedom to begin with!”
© Dale Gervais, January 2016