These books are exceptional and are also exceptionally expensive, the trick is to pick up an out of date second hand version which can be done for relatively sensible quantities of mony. I have two one from the 80s and one from 2002. The later ones tend to cover a lot of the earlier vehicles unless they are pretty much out of Service, each book covers:
- Reconaisance vehicles
- IFVS of all flavours
- artillery systems both self propelled and towed
Each platform is comprehensively covered usually with production history, vehicle description and all of the main in service varients described along with the users that bought the systems. A few pictures generally complete the description and selected vehicles get line drawings. The more widely used vehicles tend to be better described. The post Cold War books have a lot more data on the Soviet systems so to some extent represent better value for money having said that they are generally more expensive.
Interestingly from the Soviet perspective platforms are covered by producing nation so all the different flavours of T-72s get covered amoungst others. What they don't give you is a detailed history of the evolution of the vehicle and it's detailed deployment and use that you might get in an Osprey, but they do provide wall to wall coverage of the worlds armoured vehicles at a level of detail you can't really beat them. The Russian Federation and Associated states in the 2002/3 book is covered in some 30 close typed pages covering Russian tanks from the T-54 to T-95 and Black Eagle.
Not being a rule writer I tend to get most benifit from the general descriptions, who operates the vehicles and the production history which can be invaluable when trying to unravel the mysteries of organisational change. They are not a cover to cover read and are very much a reference work I find them both fascinating for the breadth of vehicles covered and their utility when kicking off a new project, such as the work I have been doing on British Mechanised Units all the data I have derived on Saxon production came from here.
There are a few pitfalls to watch out for when your buying them:
- Shop around, even on amazon check through the listings you'll find the same book under a number of similar descriptions and prices can vary
- Don't end up with the armour and artillery upgrades which is also a Janes Year Book, easily done :)
- The late 1990s early 2000 books have significantly better data than the 1980s books.
- Buying consecutive volumes is probably a complete waste of money.
- If your interested in the Cold War you have a lot of flexibility in which book to buy in terms of dates.
- Second Hand and out of date is the only affordable option! :)