A Brief History of AFV News by George Bradford


Editors note: Some of you may have noticed the similarity between the name of this website and the long running publication AFV News.  While the similarity in names was not intended, we have been fortunate to have gotten the attention of AFV News publisher and book author George Bradford of Ontario, Canada.  Mr. Bradford has been kind enough to share his extensive knowledge of all matters pertaining to tanks and armored vehicles with us (and also catching some of our typos!)  He has graciously provided us with a history of the AFV News Bulletin for us to share with our readers. While AFV News is no longer published, its legacy lives on at the AFV News Discussion Board at Com-Central.  Mr. Bradford’s vehicle plans and blueprints are available at AFVplans.blogspot.


AFV News Logo ModernAFV News magazine 1966 to 2010

By George Bradford

I was about 32 when I first took a serious interest in armoured vehicles. At that time (about 1963) I published “ARMORED VEHICLES from their conception to the present times” a small illustrated booklet attempting to show little line drawings of every tank built to that date. This was sold to all the armour contacts I had at the time, and later to AFV News subscribers as well. At this time I had also been subscribing to a little wargaming magazine called “TABLE TOP TALK” by Jack Scruby out of California. I wrote a few articles and did some artwork to improve the cover design for Jack, and all this must have planted the seed for AFV News. There wasn’t much out there on AFVs, but Merberlen in the UK did have a nice series of Bellona plan view drawings coming along, for which I was assigned to do cover illustrations. Also out of the UK was the renowned series of AFV Profiles, which appeared on a regular basis.

As art director for a local printing firm in Kitchener, I was able to get a realistic estimate for printing and binding a small magazine. The group of AFV enthusiasts I was corresponding with urged me to produce some sort of Newsletter for distribution titled “The Miniature AFV Collectors Association”. This I did and there were two single sheet Newsletters sent out before we actually had a folded magazine called AFV News. Originally it was 12 pages published six times a year for a $2.00 subscription during the 1960’s. One of our more enthusiastic members at this time was Anton Maund from Britain, and eventually in the 1970’s he would start publishing “Tankette” magazine over there under the Miniature A.F.V. Association name.

AFV News 1968I was corresponding by regular mail with many armour contacts by 1967, when one of them invited me down to Hartford, CT to meet a young teenager named Steve Zaloga, who was doing impressive research and modeling projects. Steve was from Lee, MA and one could tell immediately that he had a bright future. He was eager to contribute to the magazine and being endowed with artistic talents, he was able to supply accompanying drawings as well. There were many others who made their mark in AFV News and went on to help build the armour repertoire we have today. As for me, ARCO Publishing asked me to prepare a very general book on tanks titled “50 Famous Tanks”, and that was published in 1967. That little book seemed to have awakened a lot of people who had had a casual interest in tanks, but nothing to turn them on.

Much of the support for AFV News was generated by word of mouth, since every new subscriber knew several others who would be interested, but once the subscriber base reached 1400 in about 1975, membership began to level off, as other armour and military modelling magazines joined in. I was more than happy to keep it small, since I had family and other interests to fill my time as well. Two months would pass like lightning and I was always under pressure to meet that mailing date. Each issue had to be pasted-up on boards and film shot on an old flat-bed camera. Photos were shot as halftone film to be stripped into clear windows. Stripping up the final film on a small light-table I built in the basement was truly back breaking, and then it was off to the printer the next day to burn offset plates. Watching as they went through the press and into the bindery, then load the cartons of zines into the trunk, and head home. Insert the issues into 6×9″ kraft envelopes, addressing the hard way, lick them shut and then start licking stamps. Different stamps for Canadian, U.S. and Overseas members, then haul it all into town to mail it.

AFV News 1977In 1968 I started painting gouache colour illustrations for my 1971 book “Armor Camouflage and Markings: North Africa”. After 3 years of work it was published in 1971 with colour profile art throughout, along with markings and b&w photos of the main participants. It used a landscape presentation which was not a common layout at the time. This was published in hardcover with about $15,000.00 of my own money back then, and I figure I broke even, and never tried to do it on my own again. This book sort of opened the door for colour profiles accompanied by good b&w photos, and Squadron/Signal jumped in with their “In Action” series of armour booklets, all in landscape format.

By 1972 the annual subscription rate for North America was $2.50, and $3.50 for Overseas. As postage and printing costs increased by 1977 it was $4.00 and $5.00, and by 1986 it was $10.00 worldwide for three 24-page issues. In its final years the annual sub was $16.00 N. America and $20.00 Overseas. The very early postage was .03¢ per issue in 1966, but by 2000 it was close to $1.00 per issue, with Overseas mailings even more.

AFV News 1981During the early days from 1965-1990, all the typesetting was pounded out on a carbon tape typewriter. At some point desktop publishing began to take hold in the 90’s, and things got a little bit easier. Back then I was using an Atari desktop computer and their simple laser printer. Resolution was poor, but since the AFV News art boards had always been prepared oversize, the reduction to film cleaned up the type quite a bit. By the time we ceased publication in 2010 everything was done on a Mac using Adobe InDesign and saved to disc. I could pull an issue together in a quarter of the time, and with far less pressure. At this point we had covered so many topics that the guys were running out of fresh material. Excellent books on armour had emerged, and the Internet was now the way of the future, so it began to look like the end of the line for AFV News. The circulation had dropped off drastically, and I simply could no longer finance it and Canada Post. At age 77 my health was failing and the last thing I needed was another weight on my shoulders. The time had come to say goodbye, and the last issue published was Sept-Dec, 2010.

AFV News authors from late 60’s

William Auerbach    Peter Brown    Peter Chamberlain   Bruce Culver    Hilary L. Doyle    D.P. Dyer

David Fletcher    Robert J. Icks    Norm Harms    Richard Hunnicutt    Tom Jentz    Charles Kliment

Jacques Littlefield    James Loop (aka Grandsen)    Janusz Magnuski    Jim Mesko    Armin Sohns

Walter J Spielberger    Fred Vos    Geoff Walden    B.T. White    Steve Zaloga

AFV News 2002

Comments

  1. Ely Tandeter says:

    I had the pleasure of meeting George during one of my trips to Canada and have contributed a few reviews to his magazine. I am happy to find out that he is well. The abrupt interruption of my subscription got me a bit concerned for his health.

    Like

    • George Bradford says:

      Hi Ely; I recall many guys dropping in, but find it hard to separate them all in my memory. Good to hear from you and feel free to email.
      gbradford777 AT gmail.com

      Like

  2. Wow, this is nice. This site keeps getting better. 🙂

    Like

  3. Jack Mc Carthy says:

    George as a 86 year old that followed ww 2 I became interested in the weapons of ww2 when I discovered your publication I would read each issue from cover to cover & found every issue to produce something unique. Your publication was to me one of the best around if not the best. You can be prout of AFV yours JACK MC CARTHY Crestwood Illinois

    Like

    • Hi Jack, I forwarded your comment along to George in case he doesn’t see it here. My interest in tanks and AFVs came after AFV News stopped publication, but I have had the chance to look at some of the old issues. There is definitely some good stuff in those bulletins, I wish I had a full collection!

      Like

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