Where can I find 1960s Military Production Statistics
September 8, 2012 12:13 PM   Subscribe

Where can I find information about military production by country in the 1960s?

I am designing on a Risk-style world conquest board game set during the 60s. I will have a number of different unit types, and, if it makes historical sense, I'd like some countries to be better at constructing different types of units.

To help figure out which countries (if any at all besides the USA and USSR) would be best at producing different kinds of units, I'd like to find some statistics on production capacity of military vehicles by country, preferably in the 1960s. I don't have the first clue as to how to go about this. My Googling has come up pathetically short.

Also helpful would be some sort of compare/contrast or rating of the various 1960s military vehicles produced by different countries, but I suspect that might be even harder to find.

While I'd prefer to find something like this on a website, I am totally open to tracking down books if it is necessary.
posted by Caduceus to Grab Bag (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Unfortunately, the Federation of American Scientists Military Analysis Network doesn't go back that far. That's usually my go-to place for that kind of information, but it only seems to go back to the mid 1990's.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:18 PM on September 8, 2012

take all 1960s major weapons systems, go to wikipedia, then look at outright numbers. in the sixties, Russia owned us in tanks, better and more. US had better aircraft, USSR made more (MiG 21!). US subs, aircraft carriers and naval fighters unbeatable, US whips Russians in missilery race, overcoming initial Soviet lead in a few short years.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:40 PM on September 8, 2012

Russia owned us in tanks, better and more.

Uh, no. More, but not better. Soviet tanks (right through the very end) were crap, looking really fierce but performing terribly on a real battlefield. Every time they faced western equipment they got slaughtered.

Which is why the gray-market price for used western tanks (i.e. the M-60) was usually four or five times the price for comparable Soviet tanks (i.e. the T-64).

Ironmouth's proposal would get you part of the way there; it'll show you production. But it won't give you quality comparisons. I don't know of any single source where you could get anything like that.

It isn't easy to evaluate that kind of thing. Even the experts had a hard time with it. There were treaty negotiations between NATO and the Warsaw pact to try to limit the amount of military equipment in the European theater, back in the day. And one of the reasons those negotiations were difficult was that western military formations were higher quality than comparable Warsaw pact formations, and both sides knew it. If the notiated force sizes on both sides had been the same, it would have left the Warsaw pact badly outclassed.

A lot of the difficulty in the negotiation was in getting both sides to agree on just how much better the western units were, and thus how many more formations the Warsaw pact would be permitted to have, in order for the forces to be approximately equal in battlefield capability. (Which led to the strange situation of the Warsaw Pact negotiators arguing that their own units were really shitty, and the western negotiators trying to claim that they were really good.)

If you can find a copy of this book from 1983, it'll go into a lot more detail about all the things that were wrong with the Soviet military of that time. It was published six years before the end of the Cold War, during a period in which the conventional wisdom in the west was that the USSR had the best military in the world. After the end of the Cold War and the breakup of the USSR, when it was possible to get a lot better info, it turned out that Cockburn had been almost entirely correct about it all.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:39 PM on September 8, 2012

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