Thanks for this information. I always needed to know what was the stockpile of the USSR in 1962. It could still hurt the U.S. badly, but the U.S. would virtually destroy the Soviet Union in this case.From
The Cuban Missile Crisis:
A Nuclear Order of Battle October/November 1962
by Robert S. Norris
A Presentation at the Woodrow Wilson Center
The most authoritative figures on ICBM availability come from Strategic Rocket Forces historian Lt. Col. Sergei Karlov. He concluded that there were 42 ICBMs deployed during the crisis. These included six SS-6s (R-7) and 36 SS-7 (R-16). Four of the SS-6s were on open launch pads at Plesetsk and two were reserve missiles at Baikonur that were not on permanent duty as they were intended for space exploration. During the crisis the two Baikonur SS-6s were made ready by being fueled and attaching a warhead.
A topic for further research is to understand the alert procedures of the Strategic Rocket Forces in particular the Soviet military in general. Were there Soviet counterparts to the U.S. Defense Readiness Conditions (DefCon) and were they activated during the crisis? Were the ICBMs “combat ready,” able to be fired with assigned targets?
The SS-6 was the first Soviet ICBM.It was a one and one-half stage cryogenic, liquid-propellant missile capable of delivering a 10,000 lb reentry vehicle, (with a 2.8 megaton warhead) to a range of 9000 kilometers and had a CEP of five kilometers. They were too large to fit in silos and were fired from reinforced concrete launch pads. It took twenty hours to prepare for launch and could not be kept on alert for more than a day. The liquid fuel for the missiles was corrosive and toxic, could leak, and was potentially dangerous.
The majority of the Soviet ICBM force during the crisis was the 36 SS-7s (R-16), 26 in silos and 10 on open launch pads. The SS-7 Saddler was a two-stage storable, liquid-propellant ICBM capable of delivering 3500 lb reentry vehicle to a range of 12,000 kilometers with a CEP of 1.0-1.25 nm. It was deployed in soft and hard sites. Reaction time under normal conditions was three hours for soft sites and five to fifteen minutes for hard sites.
American estimates at the time were slightly higher. As of 30 June 1962 the U.S. estimate was 32 at soft sites. The CIA estimated that the Soviets had 60-65 ICBMs operational. Later assessments reduced the number to 44 operational with six training launchers with some operational capability, close to Karlov’s figure.
Secretary of Defense McNamara testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committees on September 5, 1962 that the Soviets had about 165 long-range bombers and tankers and about 950 medium-range bombers and tankers.
“[T]hey could put about 200 bombers, we believe, over North America today.”
This is close to a later estimate: "By the end of 1962 Long Range Aviation had about 100 Tu-95 [Bear] and 60 3M [Bison B] bombers, which could deliver about 270 nuclear weapons to U.S. territory."
It is unclear how many of these bombers were on some stage of alert, whether they were on the tarmac, with weapons loaded and crews aboard and target folders at hand. More is needed to be known about the status of these aircraft.
In conclusion, Soviet strategic forces totaled some 300-320 weapons (all but about 40 of them bomber weapons), with the potential of hitting the United States. If war had broken out and Soviet Bear and Bison bombers attempted to fly over the North Pole to attack North American targets they would have been met by formidable U.S. and Canadian air defenses. Air defense interceptor aircraft, many (or perhaps all) armed with nuclear Genie or Falcon air-to-air missiles would likely have prevented any Soviet bomber from reaching its target.
(The same situation would have been the case for the any of the Beagles flying from Cuba.)
As noted above the U.S. had over 3,500 fully generated weapons at the ready to use against the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union may have had around 300 weapons ready to use against the United States. While that is a ratio of about dozen-to-one, given the difficulty of Soviet bombers to carry out their missions, the actual ratio is probably higher