A Horror Story on Production Quality

With apologies to all those who work in the manufacturing business, but this story is important. Particularly if you are writing a tale where firearms’ manufacture is concerned – or any manufacturing process, really. Do your villains have better tech than the heroes? If so, why? What makes their gear better than the good guys’?

Or do the good guys have better equipment and the villains have inferior – or even garbage – gear? The Axis is generally accepted to have had better technology than the Allies during World War II, but they still lost to us. A lot of that was due to American manufacturing; not only did we ramp up production, we poured effort into making sure our planes, guns, ships, tanks, et al would function even when shot to rags. For instance:

Once we figured out where to look, our planes improved. No, a hundred percent of the pilots sent into battle didn’t make it back, but more made it back alive and/or in one piece than had previously. The Axis managed much the same because they focused on quality as much as quantity during production. Hence why the Panzers were so feared, and why no Japanese soldiers or sailors ever saw an American bomber crash. Bombers sent over Japan did crash on the return flights…

…but only after flying out of sight of Imperial territory.

That is the difference quality of manufacture makes in war as well as peace time, since it means that your gear is more likely to stand up to heavy use and abuse. When that manufacturing excellence is lacking, it can cause a great deal of damage, not only to the production company and the item, but to the people who are supposed to use the machine. This is the subject of the video below, from the channel Forgotten Weapons:

L96A1 Behind the Scenes: Manufacturing Catastrophes and Exploding Rifles

Again, apologies to the engineers in the audience. That being said, future authors should take note of this. You can make it an important piece of background for a character, such as the techie on the heroes’ team. Imagine the curses he or she would be hurling at the villains for sending their shock troops out with something so poorly manufactured that it is as likely to blow up in their face as to fire. Or the redeemed villainous engineer marveling at how much dedication the heroes put into making their gear good and as reliable as possible.

The villain engineer who is yelling at higher ups to get good materiel or workers so the quality of the gear he produces will remain up to snuff is also a possibility, to say nothing of the heroic rebel designer falling asleep at his or her desk trying to work around a problem so fewer people may die in combat. The video game League of Legends did this very well with two of its characters – Viktor and Jayce. Viktor creates some truly helpful technology, but unfortunately becomes so obsessed with saving lives that he devolves into villainy. Meanwhile, Jayce’s brilliance tends to distance him from others until he at last runs into a problem he cannot solve effortlessly.

The two are engineers who want to make their world a better place. They have very different views on how to accomplish this feat. This divergence leads to their clashing as one tries to force his vision on others. The other is left realizing he has more humanity than he initially believed.

Consider the people who make your fictional world tick, future authors. And if you are interested in Forgotten Weapons, the website is here and the YouTube channel is here. They are not only informative, they are fun to watch, too!

I will sign off by offering thanks to the engineers who keep the Internet up and running so you can read this and many other posts across the world wide web. Let’s no more forget the men and women who make the modern world tick than those who keep us fed. Without them, we in the modern era would be bereft!

8 thoughts on “A Horror Story on Production Quality

  1. Going along with “production quality” is “production quantity”.

    You can have the Best Weapon System Around but it doesn’t do much good if you can’t produce enough of them (or produce enough ammo for them) to fight an enemy that out-numbers you one hundred to one.

    IIRC That was the theme of Arthur C Clarke’s “Superiority”.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Do your villains have better tech than the heroes? If so, why? What makes their gear better than the good guys’?

    Or do the good guys have better equipment and the villains have inferior – or even garbage – gear?

    :starts to hand-flap like a weirdo:

    Oooh, ooh!

    I just realized… a lot of the Evil guys (like Santa Anna– sorry, Alamo Massacre guy, your treatment of your dudes makes you flat evil) threw people at the enemy like they are cheap and easy to replace.
    American tanks… threw cheap equipment. And yeah, sometimes people died.

    But not as much as the tanks, and not as fast as the tanks.

    Burning material vs burning “cheap people” can be a powerful way to demonstrate good vs evil.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Exactly. “We value life more than equipment, because we can replace the equipment. Not only are people *much harder* to replace than gear, they are utterly irreplaceable as individuals.”

      :cue the befuddled former villain having a lightbulb moment as he realizes he really *has* joined the good side: “Oh. Oh, my…”

      Liked by 2 people

  3. The end of the war in Europe was more to do with Russia opening up the Eastern front and bogging the Germans down, than superiority of weapons. And yes, throwing men into the furnace of war seems to come easy.


    1. That war would ended with Allied victory either way once the US was involved. In our history we gave the Soviet Union entire armies-in-a-box worth of equipment and — more importantly — logistics. In an alternate history the Nazis would have extended themselves all the way across Russia and burned their capacity that way, and have a longer trip back to try and reinforce the western front.

      The only thing the USSR can legitimately claim credit for is having less care of its people and stupider military strategy than even the Nazis had.

      Liked by 2 people

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