In December 2006, the American television channel Military Channel unveiled the rating of the best models of small arms created in the last hundred years. American and British experts meticulously considered almost everything that they fought on the planet Earth from the Russian-Japanese war to the “Desert Storm.” Evaluated by five criteria: accuracy of shooting, reliability, combat effectiveness, originality of design and ease of maintenance. Four out of ten positions are given to the “trunks” produced by the United States. But even with this approach, they could not be regarded as the best weapon of an infantryman of all times and peoples of the Soviet Kalashnikov assault rifle. For four out of five points, except for the accuracy of shooting, the child of Mikhail Kalashnikov received the highest score and was in the first place. Here’s how this rating looks:
The most perfect weapon of the century
1 AK-47 USSR / Russia / 1947
2 M 16 / AR-15 USA 1960
3 SMLE Mk.III United Kingdom 1895
4 M1 Garand United States 1936
5 FN FAL Belgium 1950
6 Mauser-98 Germany 1898
7 Steur AUG Austria 1960
8 Springfield United States 1903
9 Sturmgewehr-44 Germany 1944
10 M 14 US 1957
… For the calendar reference in the history of the creation of AK-47 should be taken July 15, 1943. On this day, at a meeting of the Technical Council of the People’s Commissariat of Armaments with the participation of civil and military specialists, the issue “On the consideration of new foreign weapon samples for a cartridge of reduced power” was discussed. The trophy complex (weapon and cartridge) was shown – the German automatic device MR 43.
Judged, ransacked, and then issued an order: immediately make a similar domestic complex “automatic-cartridge”.
In a record short time – in just six months in OKB-44 chief designer Nikolay Elizarov, leading design engineer Pavel Ryazanov, technologist Boris Semin, developed a cartridge of 7.62-mm caliber. He occupied the position between rifle and pistol cartridges, that’s why he got the name “intermediate”. The idea of creating an intermediate cartridge arose at the end of the XIX century and belonged to the Swiss ballistics Hebbler. But the cartridge itself was developed by the Germans only in the early 30-ies of the XX century.
According to the ballistics, our cartridge fully corresponded to the German, with equal lengths of the gun barrels. The Germans simply did – shortened the staff Mauser rifle sleeve. As for our standard rifle case with a hat and a large outer diameter, it could not be used in the same way.
In April 1944, a tender was announced to create an adequate weapon for the new patron. At first, 15 leading designers of the country joined the competition for the development of the automaton. Ahead of the competing was Alexei Sudayev. He proceeded to create an assault rifle under the new cartridge in early 1944, as soon as he returned from the besieged Leningrad.
In June 1944, the first polygon tests took place. According to the testimony of the military tester of the training ground A. A. Malimon, nine samples of machine guns and machine guns manufactured by six designers were presented: VA Degtyarev, F.V. Tokarev, S.G. Simonov, S.A. Korovin, A.I. Sudaev and V.F. Kuzmishchev.
A clear advantage was on the side of Sudayev and two samples of his automatic device AS-44, manufactured by the Tula arms factory. Their automation was based on the principle of the removal of powder gases from the bore of the barrel, and the locking was effected by the skewing of the shutter in the vertical plane. Between each other, the samples differed only in the design of the impact mechanism: one was a hammer mechanism, the other a hammer mechanism. A model of Degtyarev with a sector store showed himself quite well. Received an order to refine the submachine guns and submit a month later for repeated testing.
Kalashnikova among the contestants at the first stage was not. Michael was engaged in Central Asia, the completion of the machine gun Goryunova. Periodically driving to the test site in Shurovo, he was keenly interested in the course of the tests. And directly to the development of his machine Kalashnikov began in mid-1945.
In July-August 1944, in addition to the already mentioned samples, two more new systems were introduced: the automatic machine G. Shpagin and the automatic machine A. Bulkin. NM Elizarov arrived, as it was required to finish the cartridge also. Present was the developer of the first domestic automatic rifle, the theoretician of weapons business Major General of Engineering and Technical Service Vladimir Grigorievich Fedorov. It was thanks to Fedorov in Kovrov in 1918 was built weapons factory. In the beginning of 1900 his first scientific works appeared. One of them – “Foundations of the automatic weapon device” – was sent to all weapons factories and issued as a bonus to all the best graduates of weapons schools.
Kalashnikov famous Fedorovsky two-volume “Weapons on the verge of two eras” (the work of the gunsmith 1900-1935) to the holes read in the hospital. He had a great desire to come to Fedorov and thank for everything. But there was not enough courage.
The tests were tough. First they could not stand the machine guns Shpagin and Degtyarev. Sadayev was recommended to increase the survivability of the parts (the drummer, the stopper, the gas piston, the ejector), and also to facilitate the construction and make the automation work more reliable.
The first reviews from the troops forced Sudayev to redesign some of his machine components. A modernized sample, known as the “7.62-mm lightweight Sudaev’s automatic machine” (AC), was produced. It was then submitted to a new contest, announced by the Chief Artillery Administration (GAU) in October 1945.
It was a lightweight version of the AC-44. The only external difference is the absence of bipods. However, preliminary factory tests have shown that the accuracy of the machine’s combat when firing from the rest to the range is much worse than that of the AC-44. The reason was to reduce the mass and the resulting recoil. But Sudayev did not have to finish his automatic rifle. By this time he was no longer alive. The AC was withdrawn from further trials as unfinished.
“And it so happened that the three of us – Rukavishnikov, Baryshev and me – were to be after the approval of our projects, figuratively speaking, to raise the banner that fell out of Sudayev’s hands.”
And again the State Automobile Inspection in 1946 announces a tender for the design of the submachine gun for the cartridge of the model of 1943 for new tactical and technical requirements, this time closed. The machine must hit live targets at shooting ranges up to 500 meters, have an aiming range of 800 meters and weigh no more than 4.5 kilograms.
At the first stage of the contest, 16 draft designs were submitted to the Department of Small Arms of the State Automobile Inspection. Among them was the project of M.T. Kalashnikov, developed with the help of officers of the Shchurovsky testing range V.F. Lyutoy, D.M. Bitaev, E.A. Slutskiy, A.A. Malimon, B.L. Kanel.
The tender commission recommended the samples of Colonel-engineer N. V. Rukavishnikov (KB NIPSMVO), senior sergeant M.T. Kalashnikov (KB NIPSMVO), test engineer K. A. Baryshev (KB NIPSMVO), for testing prototypes and for testing tests. G. A. Korobov (Tula KB), A. A. Bulkin (Tula KB) and A.A. Dementieva (Kovrov Plant). The remaining projects were rejected.
In an atmosphere of rivalry, many wonderful ideas appeared which sooner or later were grafted onto the tree of Russian weapons art. Take, for example, the original scheme of the “bullpup” in the design of Tula, Herman Aleksandrovich Korobov. True, his short machine was not perceived at that time. Many original projects were presented by the contestants, among which there were also little-known designers-gunsmiths – E.K. Aleksandrovich, N.M. Afanasyev, G.S. Garanin, N.N. Efimov, P.E. Ivanov, I.I. Slostin and others.
The most powerful rival of Kalashnikov was the designer of KB No. 2 of the Kovrov plant, Alexander Andreevich Dementiev. A promising design of the submachine gun was developed by A. A. Bulkin in Tula Central Design Bureau No. 14. The barrel of his product was manufactured by punching from sheet metal.
Participants were to develop not only drawings of general types, but also detailing all the main nodes, to present calculations on the rate of fire and strength of the trunk locking assembly. Attached to Kalashnikov in aid draftsmen and technicians formed a labor collective, the soul of which was Katya Moiseeva. Everyone was obsessed with the desire to defeat the venerable armourers.
“A great interest in my work was shown by some test officers and engineers who served on the test site. They attracted, I believe, the unexpectedness of a number of my decisions in the design. I really lacked special training, especially when it came to calculations. And here I received invaluable help from Lieutenant-Colonel Boris Lanoldovich Kanel. He carefully, carefully checked each of my calculations, made the necessary amendments, gave reasons. ”
Finally, the stage of the preliminary design was left behind. A few weeks of night vigils, rare pauses for sleep and food, which were mostly black bread and boiling water. Nobody was convinced of anything – they worked hard. Hundreds of sketches of individual parts. And now the main contours of the future automaton have cleared up. The main problem is the barrel trunk locking assembly. With some changes, it was taken from the newly discarded self-loading carbine, where the locking was carried out by a compact and durable rotating bolt. This knot in the carbine was borrowed by MT Kalashnikov from the American rifle “Garand” M1, which was a natural phenomenon in the design business.
One of the conditions of the competition was the presentation of works under the author’s pseudonym – so that the names of celebrities did not dovetail and to avoid bias in the work of the commission. Under what cipher to send sketches and technical documentation to the Kalashnikov assault rifle, discussed by the whole team. The most original proposal seemed to Captain PS Kochetkov, the designer of pack equipment, an extraordinary joker and merry fellow. Two initial syllables of the name and patronymic: “Miktim.” Kalashnikov doubted for a long time – no one had ever called him by his first name and patronymic, would not seem indiscreet. But Palsip, as after this notion began to call himself Kochetkov, and other friends persuaded him. On the envelope sent to Moscow, the magic word “Miktim” was printed. The staff officers then staggered off, searching for Mihtim to inform him that his design was recommended for development. Initially, the creative pseudonym was perceived as a cipher of a closed research institute.
And then there was the congratulation of Katya Moiseeva with the victory of the “shooter”, the call to the headquarters and the official notification that Miktim had passed the competition (took 2nd place) and moved to the stage of the embodiment of the design in the metal.
About that, with what tension was the preparation for the contest, says Miktim himself:
“I’m working on a drawing, all of a sudden – shooting. At once I hear – my carbine. I know that there must be ten shots. But suddenly a feeling tells me: not ten shots were made, but less. And this means that there was some delay in the work of the carbine. Immediately I run to the phone, call. And the testers laugh: “On the track came the elk. So we stopped shooting. We stand and argue: will you call soon? “”.
A great psychologist, Kalashnikov liked to compare how the designers behave during the tests of their samples:
“I’ve always been interested in watching Degtyarev. Vasily Alekseevich demonstrated with his whole appearance that he was not much occupied with firing and he was entirely in the power of new ideas. Usually the master sat on the sidelines of everyone and was concentrating something on the sand with a twig or a stick. Still, the indifference of the venerable designer was fake. It was just necessary for him at this time to be alone with himself. ”
(Incidentally, Degtyarev, in an attempt to keep up with the times, on an initiative basis presented for a testing range from June to August 1947 a machine gun for a rifle cartridge combining the functions of manual and easel, using the now-fashioned design in the design world of locking by turning the bolt and the straight line feeding the cartridge from the metal band tape. For several reasons, the development of this system was not completed.)
Shpagin carefully analyzed the speed records of the automation of his weapons, plunging into reflections, into the analysis of the first shots.
Bulkin jealously watched every step of the testers: meticulously checked how the sample was cleaned, was necessarily personally interested in the results of processing the targets. He seemed to think that his competitors could give him a leg.
Leaded in the competition Rukavishnikov. He was an experienced designer. By that time, Nikolai Vasilyevich had been working in the sphere of weapons development for a quarter of a century. In 1939, he defeated the designers B.G. Shpitalny and S. V. Vladimirov in the development of an anti-tank rifle. April 18, 1942 was filed an application for an invention – “Anti-tank rifle system N.V. Rukavishnikov” R-6 “caliber 12.7-mm and 14.5-mm.” It came into service, however, due to incorrect evaluation by some senior officials of the People’s Commissariat of Defense, serial production was curtailed.
The third place was taken by the young designer K.A. Baryshev, who had just graduated from the Artillery Academy and worked at the design bureau as a test engineer. Kalashnikov quickly became friends with Baryshev. They were both full of energy and ambitious plans.
“After the projects of Rukavishnikov, Barysheva and mine were approved, Rukavishnikov and I determined the places where we had to make samples in metal for comparative tests. But with the determination of the place for the further work of Baryshev, the solution of the question was delayed. And Konstantin Alexandrovich at this time joined in another contest – the development of the project gun for a 9-mm cartridge. And here Baryshev also excelled. Of the twelve developers who submitted samples for comparative tests, the products of two designers – N.F. Makarov and K.A. Baryshev – were recommended. ”
Soon Baryshev had to choose between a pistol and a submachine-gun. He chose the modification of the pistol.
As a result, only Rukavishnikov and Kalashnikov participated in further competitions from the design bureau. The competitors were Bulkin and Dementiev. After the first round, only three remained: Bulkin, Dementiev and Kalashnikov. The Commission proposed to remove comments and submit by the end of May 1947 prototypes of automatic weapons.
In the fall of 1946, Kalashnikov was sent to Kovrov in the Vladimir region. A quiet, small town on the Klyazma, secret from prying eyes. Accompanying the GAU was Major V.S. Deikin – an indispensable mentor and a devoted friend of Michtim.
The arrival of Kalashnikov on the Kovrov machine-gun factory was taken very cautiously. “The Varangian only lacked us,” thought the Carpet Masters. And they had good reason. First, the plant has always been the fiefdom of the recognized arms designer V. Degtyarev. There he first arrived in the winter of 1918, together with V. Fedorov, when the machine-gun plant was still being built. In that year a couple of hundreds of Danish specialists left Kovrov – in the factory design bureau No. 2, a dozen home-grown projects were already developed at the first stage. What only cost one development Degtyarev and Kubynov!
How much labor was invested in the original turn of the bolt when locked with a rod through a spiral groove on the bolt! Samples of automata for father and son S.V. and V.S. Vladimirov, P. P. Polyakov and A. P. Bolshakov, S. G. Simonov and G. S. Shpagin were also born here. Okay, the last two have already moved to the time of arrival of Mihtim in other design bureaus. But the rest, then? How can they be explained? – thought the management of the Kovrov Weapons School. The same Alexander Andreevich Dementiev, for example, who was, perhaps, the main, most powerful rival of Kalashnikov at all stages of the competition.
II Olkhovich, assistant to the military representative of the Kovrov plant No. 2 named after I. Kirkizha since 1945:
“At the factory during this period a very strong team of KB No. 2 worked under the leadership of V.A. Degtyarev, and in the department of the chief designer there was an experimental development bureau, where S.V. Vladimirov worked. In these offices, experienced designers, accountants, analysts were collected, and at the production site KB-2 – virtuoso locksmiths. The war showed that the old 7.62-mm cartridge was too powerful. A lighter intermediate cartridge was created, but of the same 7.62-mm caliber. Only I had then to test, probably, pieces of 12 different systems of Vladimirov, Kubynov, Dementiev, Degtyarev. It’s included in this competition and Kalashnikov. And he won. So as a designer he was born in our factory. ”
A small stature, in a short sheepskin coat – that was how Kovrov saw the future winner, at that time a sergeant unknown to anyone. Maybe that’s why during the year of his stay in Kovrov Kalashnikov never had a chance to meet with the famous designer Degtyarev. You can, of course, explain this by the fact that the work was in an atmosphere of unprecedented secrecy. After all, according to Kalashnikov’s response, each worked out his own sample, and all the designers were as if fenced off from each other by some invisible fence. Or maybe it seemed to the eminent General Degtyarev that he did not have to show any signs of attention to the inconspicuous sergeant.
Sometimes griefs and experiences reached a critical mass. At such moments doubts prevailed over Mihtim … And the thought crept in: was it possible to leave the race? But somewhere from the depths of a distant and difficult childhood for some reason Nekrasov’s lines popped up: “Feet barefoot, dirty body and barely covered chest … Do not be ashamed! What’s the matter? It’s a glorious way to many! ”
And at such moments, Kalashnikov seemed to be shaking something from inside. It was like a scoop of ice water. And life called again and again forwards. He knew, felt: sooner or later fortune would turn to face him.
Stand up and defeat Mihtim in a fierce battle helped the factory workers themselves. II Olkhovich allocated his office for work, although all the designers were sitting in the same room. VS Deikin was able to connect to the Kalashnikov project the necessary specialists and experienced workers.
On the advice of the chief designer I.V. Dolgushev, the young Carpet designer Alexander Alekseevich Zaitsev was working on the technical documentation for the prototype. Demobilized from the army after the Soviet-Finnish war, he began to work in the department of the chief designer of the enterprise. He was a highly professional, modest and decent person. Smiling, but somewhat secretive. In the war he was a radio operator in army intelligence, twice wounded. So it happened that after the second wound his relatives already mourned and sang. The guy with this hardening could not fail. Mikhail quickly found a common language with his assistant. They addressed each other only by name. To work on the drawings was also involved designer Piskunov, subsequently transferred to Podolsk.
“After acquainting me with the 7.62 mm carbine for the cartridge of the 1943 model and the general view of the machine designed by him, Mikhail Timofeevich set before me the task of working out a technical project and developing a complete set of technical documentation for a 7.62 mm automatic machine for making a prototype and testing it at the factory. Then, after finalizing the documentation based on the results of the factory tests, it was necessary to make two more samples for tests at the test site. All this had to be done before the end of 1946 “.
Time was short; work had to be very tense, often around the clock, without leaving the factory. A month later, all the blueprints of the technical project were issued on the mountain. After this, the experimental workshop started in November to assemble the samples.
In the factory trials participated M.T. Kalashnikov and fitter-debugger B.P. Marinichev. They were guided by the main requirements of the GAU as the main customer, and focused on the accuracy of combat, weight and dimensions of the weapon, on its trouble-free operation, the survivability of the parts and the simplicity of the automatic device.
In November 1946, the assembly of the first samples of the machine began. They produced five: three – with a wooden butt and two – with a folding metal. Alexander Makhotin, one of the best locksmiths at the Kovrov plant, was collecting weapons. Samples were named AK-1 and AK-2. They entered landfill tests, bearing the AK-46 brand on the receiver, and they were numbered: “No. 1”, “No. 2” and “No. 3”. Differences between the second and third samples were small – the third has a developing butt and, accordingly, slightly reduced dimensions. And features of samples No. 1 and No. 2 have been analyzed by military journalist Viktor Myasnikov:
“First of all, these samples should be compared with self-loading carbines Kalashnikov, because of them much has passed into a new design. First of all, the automation works in exactly the same way by removing a part of the powder gases through the hole in the barrel wall with a short stroke of the piston. Virtually unchanged moved to the machines lock assembly with a rotary valve. The high base of the front sight is also in place, with almost no changes left a stopper with a step of setting the distance from 100 to 800 meters. Like the carabiner of the 1945 model, the barrel is open from below, which allows it to be removed without removing the piston. Here, two flags-switches – a fuse and a fire translator from automatic to single. The layout has changed: instead of a solid wooden box, now separate retention elements – butt, pistol grip and forearm. The lid of the receiver is now traditionally for Kalashnikov fixed by the protruding shank of the return spring rod. But the lid is made one-piece with the receiver. Therefore, when disassembling, the machine opens into two parts: one is a trunk with a forearm, a receiver and a magazine socket; another – a trigger box with a butt, pistol grip and trigger guard. Connect the trunk and trigger boxes with a check in the form of a pin, passing through the walls of both boxes in the area of the magazine nest. ”
To reduce the throwing of the trunk of the machine when shooting bursts in the trunk behind the base of the front, six holes are drilled, three on each side. Two more openings, serving for the discharge of powder gases, are on the gas tube. Under the barrel of the machine is mounted a ramrod. The magazine latch is in front of the trigger guard.
Sample No. 2 differs from sample No. 1 primarily by the technology of manufacturing a barrel and trigger box. If in the first case they are milled, then in the second case they are made by stamping and welding. This makes the machine more simple and cheap to manufacture without losing combat qualities. The attachment of the butt was simplified. The design of the shutter frame has changed somewhat. The recharge handle is separated from the bolt frame and remains stationary when shooting. The slot for the handle in the receiver is covered with a dust cover. For a more reliable attachment of the magazine to the receiver, a special neck appeared. Trunk and trigger boxes are held together by two checks. The trunk became longer by 50 mm.
7.62-mm automatic transmission. The prototype of 1946 No. 1.
Cartridge 7.62×41 (sample 1943).
The length of the trunk is 397 mm.
The total length is 895 mm.
The magazine capacity is 30 cartridges.
The aiming range is 800 m.
Weight without cartridges – 4106 g.
7.62-mm automatic transmission. The prototype of 1946 № 2.
Cartridge 7.62×41 (sample 1943).
The length of the trunk is 450 mm.
The total length is 950 mm.
The magazine capacity is 30 cartridges.
The aiming range is 800 m.
Weight without cartridges – 4328 g.
Life at the training ground was gaining momentum. Michael believed and, as they could, supported. Among them – the officers of the range VF Lyuty and AA Malimon. The machine, in the end, showed good results and went into the second round of tests. To the automatics of competitors A. A. Dementiev and A. A. Bulkin, there were much more complaints, mainly on delays in normal and difficult conditions of shooting.
And again Kovrov. There has come a stage of completions. What did Kalashnikov do? He implemented separate control of the fuse and the translator of fire regimes. Technological changes have been made to the trigger guard and the hook, the store latch, the fuse interpreter. This made it possible to reduce the cost of production of parts, simplify their use. This sample of the Kalashnikov assault rifle was named AK-46. In it, the handle was located on the left side to recharge it could be a free left hand. Note that in AK-47 the cocking handle is located on the right side.
In addition to the shooters-debuggers, one of the first at the Kovrov factory shot from A.K. Olkhovich. “Kalashnikov,” he recalled, “the machine went well … It works well when dusty, and under the rain, and dry, ungreased …”
Again, the comparative tests from June 30 to July 12, 1947. Design samples of N.V. Rukavishnikov, M.T. Kalashnikov, G.A. Korobov, A.A. Bulkin and A.A. Dementyev participated in them. The commission, chaired by N.S. Okhotnikov, reveals new shortcomings, which are to be eliminated in just two or three months. A verdict was issued: all the automata submitted for testing do not meet the tactical and technical requirements of the GAU, and none of them cannot be recommended for mass production; Kalashnikov assault rifles (with a stamped receiver), Dementiev and Bulkin, as most fully meet the requirements, recommend for revision.
With the support of Zaitsev, Kalashnikov decides on a daring plan for the complete re-arrangement of the entire machine. We needed a reliable “disguise”. Such a cover was the modernization of the model.
Miktim devotes all the same to his secret plan of V.S. Deikin. He, being an innovator and a determined person, supported the idea. It seems that he consulted the head of the testing department of the test site, engineer-major V.F. Lyutym. They trusted each other, previously worked together to create a machine gun LAD (Liuty – Afanasyev – Deikin). After talking with Deikin, Liutiy, obviously, came to the conclusion that the construction of Kalashnikov really should be remade. And personally outlined 18 cardinal changes, the introduction of which into the design led in fact to the second birth of the machine. Only after this processing it became as everyone knows it.
- G. Koryakovtsev:
“There is a fact that Kalashnikov, without embarrassment, went to the reception to the head of the testing department of the polygon V. Lutomu with the documents that noted the shortcomings of his machine, and he gave him a number of tips on how to work on the improvements. Kalashnikov, knowing him as a very experienced engineer, accepted them with gratitude. ”
“Fierce was at the test site officer test. Rivaled to the rank of “Colonel”. Goryunov felt at the front. One day he was with friends in Moscow at the Metropol Hotel. They said that there he was saying something loud. The next day he was arrested and sentenced to 25 years. It seems that something is attributed. Fierce left the colony – a closed KGB in the KGB. He fell under amnesty, he was rehabilitated. He was removed from the conviction and reinstated in rank. Then he came to me in Izhevsk. We sit down to have supper. Suddenly there was a knock at the door. On the threshold is our factory chekist. Asked Liutoy, the camera, pulled out the film. We were advised to be more careful in the future. It turned out that when he came to Kazan, he photographed something. And there was located the Kazan powder plant. He suffered with this case. After retiring in Kiev, the apartment was received. Everything at the military enlistment office sought some kind of front-line privileges. And he died without being recognized as a frontline soldier. An interesting person was. He raised his son, his wife was beautiful. ”
But it’s back to the re-arrangement of the machine. There is a version that Zaitsev insisted on her. Kalashnikov initially doubted, since there was very little time until the repeated tests. Of course, they risked it. But only this could greatly simplify the design of weapons and increase its reliability for operation in the most difficult conditions. But who does not take risks, as we know, he does not get champagne.
“We worked with inspiration, with all our heart, all who could help us in everything. And only when the work was completed and all the documentation was presented, sighed with relief. A new sample decided to call AK-47. Further all went on rolled, that track passed AK-1 “.
“We went, of course, to a known risk: the terms of the competition did not provide for a reconfiguration. But it greatly simplified the arrangement of weapons, increased its reliability in operation under the most difficult conditions. So the game was worth the candle. One thing worried me: will we be able to meet the deadline set aside for finalizing the sample? .. ”
The changes were largely revolutionary. Particular importance was attached to the reliability of the automation, technological, improving performance and appearance. There was a lot of work. The shutter frame was combined with the stem. The trigger mechanism has been altered. The lid of the receiver has completely closed the moving parts. The fire translator became multifunctional: not only switched the fire from single to automatic and fuse, but also closed the groove for the recharge handle, protecting the receiver from getting inside dust and dirt. Finally, the trunk was shortened by 80 millimeters – from 500 to 420. This could be removed from the competition altogether.
It required not only additional time, but also new means, and money was sorely lacking. And when the work for this reason arose, Kalashnikov decided on a trip to Colonel V.V. Glukhov in Moscow. Help came from the Chief Marshal of Artillery N. N. Voronov. He opened Mihtim as an inveterate hunter – the horns of an elk, a wild boar head and stuffed birds hung in the office. And the sergeant saw with his own eyes that he was not only trusted, but also waiting for the result. Voronov called the financier and minted: you are here for the company, from which there is no payback, and I stand for a particular sample, for a specific designer. And then I wished Mikhail good luck. The necessary funds have been allocated.
“What we did was a real breakthrough in technical thought, innovative approaches. We, in essence, broke the established ideas about the design of weapons, broke those stereotypes that were laid even in the conditions of the competition. ”
Of course, the birth of a new appearance of the machine became possible due to the personality of the chief designer. But without the attendant circumstances and without the support of specific people, the realization of the plan would be impossible. Among those who played a significant role in the fate of the AK-47, once again, we will refer to VS Deikin and VF Lyutogo. Later, Kalashnikov and Deikin established strong friendly relations.
But with Liutym … As already mentioned, with Vasily Fedorovich, fate played a cruel joke. In 1951, he was convicted and only after Stalin’s death in 1954 rehabilitated. By the way, at the insistence of Academician Blagonravov Liutogo was reinstated in the army and returned to the NII-3 GAU. Having received the title of “Lieutenant-Colonel-Engineer”, V.F. Lyuty undertook developments in the field of small arms. In 1956-1957, he defended his thesis, based on a number of new ideas, including the principles of stability of the automatic rifle system, the optimal rate of fire, the retarder of the trigger, etc. Vasily Fedorovich participated in the development of the Strela- 1 and Strela-2. In 1969, he retired to the reserve and worked as an assistant professor at the Kiev Polytechnic Institute, and in 1982 – in one of the Research Institute of Kiev.
December 1947 came – the most crucial period in the history of the birth of AK-47. Several samples were submitted to participate in the repeated tests from the Kovrov plant. Acceptance of competitive works was carried out by representatives of the State Automobile Inspection. When Kalashnikov and his samples were shown to Degtyarev, the general did not hide his admiration. “Cunningly coined,” he said, holding the shutter and the receiver’s lid. “The translator of fire is also original.”
After examining the machine completely, Degtyarev said:
“It seems to me that it is useless to send our automatic weapons to trials. The design of the sergeant’s samples is more perfect than ours and much more promising. This can be seen with the naked eye. So, comrades’ representatives of the customer, our samples, probably, will have to be handed over to the museum! ”
“He stood in the general’s uniform with numerous medal slats, with the Star of the Hero, with the laureate’s sign and with the deputy” flag “on the tunic. He stood with my submachine gun in his hand and, with a little sad smile, said that this sample is certainly better than his own … ”
It was a decisive time for the AK and its chief designer. From December 27, 1947 to January 11, 1948 at the Shchurovsky testing range was the final test tour. In addition to KBP-580, created by Kalashnikov (and subsequently named AK-47), samples of A.A.Dementyev (KBP-520) and A.A. Bulkin (TKB-415) were presented. Each model was presented in two versions – with wooden and metal (folding) butts.
In total, five models of AK-47 were manufactured. The main differences from the 1946 models – the shutter cocking handle moved from the left to the right side of the receiver, on the same side the fuse, simultaneously performing the function of a fire interpreter. Now it is impossible to get confused in two flags – the fuse and the translator. The store approached the trigger guard, between them – the store latch. In the mechanism of a significant change: the rod with a piston are threaded with a bolt frame and fixed with a pin. The barrel is stamped.
Model No. 2 has changed the design of the gas chamber and the shape of the gas piston with the rod. Muzzle brake-compensator two-chamber. In model No. 3, the muzzle compensator has in the upper part two oval holes 10×7 millimeters. Prototypes No. 4 and No. 5 have metal folding attachments. One of them has a muzzle brake-compensator, the other does not.
The second round of polygon tests revealed the undoubted superiority of AK-47 over other submitted samples. Simultaneously, there was a comparison with the submachine gun Shpagin (PPSh), which was at the time in service with the Soviet Army. Here the superiority of the Kalashnikov assault rifle was even more striking. With the same dimensions, weight and the same rate of fire, the machine, in comparison with the PPSh, had twice the fire range, due to the best ballistic qualities; it provided a more bulletproof action of the bullet. This made it possible to use the machine in populated areas, in the wooded area, to hit the enemy’s live force, protected by helmets and bulletproof vests. The targets were struck at a distance of 500 meters, while the range of actual damage at the PPS was 200 meters. The design of the AK-47 shock-trigger mechanism allowed for more accurate firing with single shots. In submachine guns, after aiming and pulling the trigger, the movement of the massive bolt forward led to a knockdown of the axis of the trunk, and in the Kalashnikov assault rifle only a small detail is turned at the moment of the shot – the trigger.
The Kalashnikov assault rifle showed reliability from the very first shots, never drowned in tension. And it grew with the more complicated conditions of testing. They soaked the loaded submachine guns in the marshy vigor, and then they threw them from a height onto the cement floor. Filled with water, with clogged mud cracks, the machine without a single delay coped with the test program. Then followed the “bathing” of weapons in the sand – every crack is crammed into them. Nothing – he shot himself as pretty, only sand, like water splashes, flew in different directions. But the competitors “got wet.”
There were incidents, many of which became lessons for life. For example, this one. When testing the muzzle device, a good combat accuracy was shown. But the test shooter unexpectedly resigned, after which the representatives of the GAU did not confirm the accuracy indicators.
The choice of the final sample was not simple. All the tested machines did not meet the requirements for accuracy of fire in bursts. However, the customer, in the person of the GAU, preferred to reduce the weight and size by its accuracy, paying special attention to reliability, survivability and ease of handling. Here, on the totality of these demands, Mikhail Kalashnikov and his offspring, the legendary prototype AK-47 No. 1, won.
The document proposed to the attention of the reader is evidence of the most complicated struggle that unfolded at that time at the training ground without exaggeration of historical significance. This is Protocol No. 11, dated January 10, 1948, of the meeting of the Scientific and Technical Council of the NIPSMWU of the Armed Forces for discussing the results of the 1947 polygon tests.
- Consideration of the results of testing machines for the cartridge of the 1943 model of the designers Kalashnikov, Bulkin and Dementiev. (The lecturer is Major Engineer Lyuty VF)
They listened to: 1. The results of testing the submachine guns under the cartridge of the 1943 model.
Test leader Major Engineer Liutyy reported to the meeting about the results of repeated tests of Kalashnikov, Bulkin and Dementiev automatic machines after their modification, recommended by the polygon and SPM, the necessity of which was revealed during the first tests. Comrade Liutyi noted that the most complete modification was made by the designer Kalashnikov.
On the question “does the Kalashnikov assault rifle fully meet the tactical and technical requirements,” VF Lyuty answered: “does not satisfy the accuracy of combat with automatic fire and some, not the basic, service characteristics.”
Poddubny. In the opinion of Comrade Liutoy, the Kalashnikov assault rifle should be recommended for a series with simultaneous refinement to improve accuracy and minor corrections. But fine tuning is not an easy task. The machine should be started up on a series with the existing accuracy, or not allowed on the series, until the accuracy of combat is corrected. In the report, it is necessary to analyze the question of the accuracy and weight of the machine, linked with the data of the Sudayev machine. Otherwise, I agree with Comrade Liutym.
Orlov. I think that we have enough grounds for recommending the Kalashnikov assault rifle for the series. Reliability and vitality are good. The accuracy of combat in all three designs is not good enough. Above improving the accuracy of combat in the Kalashnikov assault rifle, it will be necessary to work in the remaining time before the launch for the series and during the production of the series. Samples Bulkin and Dementieva refine no sense.
Lysenko. Before making a definite decision, it is necessary to continue the more detailed testing of the machine in the context of those requirements of the troops that were presented in the field trials to the Sudaïd automatic rifle. The Kalashnikov assault rifle satisfies basically all tactical and technical requirements, except for accuracy, and this is an important factor, but the designers did not pay enough attention to it when developing the automatic machines. To improve the accuracy of battlefield ways, you can offer a lot, but all of them for testing require a large and long work. But what to do with the series, if you need a large alteration in the machine to improve the accuracy? Therefore, the report should give an analysis of the possibility of starting a Kalashnikov assault rifle in a series with the existing accuracy of combat.
Kutsenko. In the report it is necessary to say in principle about the accuracy of the battle – is this kind of accuracy permissible? I believe that it is necessary to admit the Kalashnikov assault rifle to the series with the accuracy that is now. It is necessary to test the possibility of improving the accuracy of combat by using firing from the stop on the store. It is necessary to analyze also – why the AU-44 still has better combat accuracy than these machines.
Shevchuk. The question of the accuracy of the battle is very serious. I think that 100 meters is hardly possible to complete the task when firing from these machines.
It is highly doubtful that in 15 days, as Comrade Liuty assumes, it was possible to resolve the question of improving the accuracy of combat. Here you need a lot of care. Let us work on accuracy even half a year, but we will not be forced to abandon the machine when it is rejected by the troops.
I propose to recommend for refinement for accuracy only the Kalashnikov assault rifle and after revision recommend it to the series.
Flowers. Automatic machines for a cartridge of the 1943 model are tested after completion. However, the designers did not comply with all the instructions of the range for finalizing the samples.
The Kalashnikov assault rifle is the best one presented after the completion, but it is still not good enough to recommend it to the series for military tests, as it has inadequate accuracy and survivability.
I believe that if time permits, it is necessary to make 10 pieces of Kalashnikov assault rifles for revision and experiments, after which it is time to decide on the issue of manufacturing a series for military tests.
Dlugiy. It is highly doubtful that in 15 days it was possible to resolve the question of improving accuracy; it is necessary to study and research on this design, and not the “blind” way, as suggested by Comrade Liuty.
Orlov. I do not understand the speeches of some of our officers. We are giving the machine gun to the series and to the military tests in order to replace the submachine gun with a more powerful automatic weapon, and in this respect the machine’s accuracy is not worse than the submachine gun. But we are not even limited to this, but we suggest improving the machine in the process of manufacturing the series. If we do not recommend the machine for a series, then again we will have a bitter experience of delaying the arming of the army with an automatic weapon.
Dlugiy. On all machines there are no ramrods, or they are poorly executed. It is not accidental and shows that the task here is not so easy and it can not be solved in 15 days.
On the crack on the Kalashnikov rifle, it should be said that this phenomenon was also on the Sudayev machine (PP-43), and until it was eliminated, a lot of work had to be done.
Lysenko. It is necessary to recommend the machine for a series, but in the report it is necessary to justify why it is possible to give an automatic machine with such accuracy, confirming it with the appropriate firing for the fulfillment of the tasks of the course of firing. At the same time, one can not so easily treat the question of the accuracy of combat, it is impossible to go blindly in improving the accuracy of the battle-to drill holes on the trunk and so on, serious work is needed here.
Canel. What to do with the machine, if we now study the accuracy? Humming, of course, is a very serious requirement.
I think that it is necessary to conduct additional firing on the performance of tasks at the rate of firing, and then decide whether it is possible to admit the existing accuracy. Experiments to improve the accuracy of combat should be carried out on this particular design of the machine.
The way from the series to the gross sample is not so easy and not so short. Therefore, we should not waste time, but it is necessary to run the Kalashnikov assault rifle on a series and in the process of manufacturing the series to overcome difficulties in debugging the series simultaneously with improving the accuracy of combat.
Litichevsky. During the testing of the Sudaev machine, two drawbacks of this machine were seen as a red line: the weight is large and the reliability is not sufficient. The tested automata do not have these drawbacks, and the most promising of them is the Kalashnikov assault rifle.
On the survivability of details and trouble-free operation, all automata, and especially the Kalashnikov assault rifle, were given, I would say, as prototypes, brilliant results.
The accuracy of the battle remains below the requirements of TTT, but it is supposed to be finalized before the production of the series.
I think that it will be possible to refine the Kalashnikov assault rifle during the manufacturing of the series. But even with the existing position, the machine solves the problems facing the submachine gun. Let the troops estimate the serial automatic machines with the existing accuracy, and in the meantime, it will be necessary to find ways to improve the accuracy.
The comments on the finalization, indicated by Liutym, are not so complicated and feasible in the production of the series.
The hunters. For the correct solution of the problem, since there are differences, one should turn to the history of the question about the machine. The machine under the pistol cartridge took a strong place in the system of armament of the army in the Patriotic War. Meanwhile, the war showed that the range of real fire of this machine is small.
The first step in increasing the range of automatic fire was the creation of the AS-44.
According to the troops, the AS-44 had flaws in weight and trouble-free operation, but there were no complaints about the accuracy of the battle.
Based on the results of the military tests of the AS-44, new TTTs were built on the automatic machine, on which the development of automatic machines for the cartridge of the 1943 model was carried out.
As a result of competitive testing of automatic devices for a cartridge of the 1943 model, Kalashnikov, Bulkin and Dementyev assault rifles were selected and recommended for further development.
Testing the machines after completion showed that they are better than the AC-44 for trouble-free, survivability, weight. Yes, and for the accuracy of the AU-44 is not better than these machines, which is confirmed by figures (the speaker cited the indicators of accuracy from current and past tests). For reliability (only 0.05 percent of delays), no claims can be brought against vending machines.
Liveness cannot be claimed either. The cracks in the Kalashnikov and PP-43 automatic guns have a different character, in the PP-43 it was from the shutter blows in the forward position. In any case, the issue of the crack should be investigated in detail and checked before starting the machine in a series, but it cannot be the reason for delaying the launch of the series.
The Kalashnikov assault rifle should not be refined; it should be carried out under the supervision of the designer of the plant where the series will be manufactured.
You can not recommend a composite ramrod – this is contrary to TTR. Do not also limit the designer in the development of the trigger mechanism (versatile or non-separable).
The question of the accuracy of combats of automatic machines with wooden and iron butts should be carefully analyzed.
Fierce. Some of the comrades who spoke here were mistaken, saying that during the military tests against the AU-44, there were no complaints about the accuracy of the battle. Claims were.
I still believe that in the time that remained before the launch of the machine for a series, the range, of course, can do something to improve the Kalashnikov assault rifle, and even in 15 days one can experience something in the direction of improving accuracy. I believe that Kalashnikov should finalize the drawings of the submachine gun at the test site under our supervision … ”
The results were summed up by the Chairman of the Scientific and Technical Council Ivan Tikhonovich Matveyev:
“AK can be recommended in a series with the existing grouping. He satisfied all the other points of tactical and technical requirements. A weapon for ammunition of the model of 1943 is required now, and the feedback of troops must be obtained this year. Otherwise, there will be a delay in the development of the army’s armament system. ”
Let’s bring the decision of the Scientific and Technical Council of January 10, 1948 (Protocol No. 11), which finally determined the fate of the AK-47:
“1. The ATTs, manufactured according to TTT No. 3132, which take into account the remarks of the troops based on the results of the tests of the AS-44 and finalized based on the results of the previous test tests, are a step forward in comparison with the AS-44 along the way of the automatic machine that satisfies modern combat requirements.
- The Kalashnikov assault rifle showed the best results from the number of tested automatic rifles, which, according to the reliability of the automatics, the survivability of the parts basically satisfies the tactical and technical requirements and can be recommended for the production of the series and subsequent military tests with the received accuracy of combat, since the latter is not inferior to the accuracy of combat AC-44.
- Before starting the series, propose to the factory, which will be responsible for manufacturing the series, under the supervision of the designer, to eliminate all the shortcomings (except for the accuracy of combat) found during the testing process.
Pay special attention to checking the strength of the box at the junction with the liner.
Lead samples from the series are submitted for polygon tests.
- Work on the study of the issues of improving the accuracy of combat automaton to conduct in parallel in an emergency, without delaying the release of the series.
- Samples Bulkin and Dementieva recommend to refinement should not be. “
The Chairman of the NTS, engineer Colonel Matveyev put to vote the draft decision proposed by engineer-colonel Okhotnikov. Consistently voted for decisions “for the basis” and “in general” – unanimously.
The chairman of the NTS, Engineer-Colonel Matveyev, and the Engineer-Captain Zedgenizov, the NTS secretary, signed the historical document.
Thus, the 7.62-mm Kalashnikov submachine gun for the 1943 model cartridge was recommended for series production and subsequent military tests.
This protocol shows how difficult the decision was made. There were disputes and different opinions. And yet, the only correct decision was made, which gave preference to the invention of an unnamed, unknown designer-nugget, who did not have a special education. It also testifies to the high professionalism, objectivity and impartiality of the specialists of the State Automobile Inspection, who opened the “barrier” for the triumphal march through the world of the great achievement of Russian weapons thought.
The Ministry of Armaments decided to manufacture the first batch of assault rifles at the Izhevsk Motozavod, which produced “Maxim” machine guns during the Great Patriotic War.
In the order of the head of the 5th Main Directorate of the Ministry of Armament KN Rudnev of June 14, 1948, it was noted that on June 11, 1948, 500 automatic weapons were manufactured.
“The first batch of AK-47 and AKC-47 submachine guns was launched in July 1948 with a slight delay from the military target. Accepting military receipts Major S. Ya. Suhitsky and Captain L. S. Voynarovsky carefully checked all the nodes and mechanisms.
… Soldiers who loaded heavy sealed boxes into the car looked with some kind of mistrust in my direction. Apparently, they were told that it was me, sergeant, who was the creator of what is contained in this specially guarded cargo. ”
And in December 1948, the chief engineer of the plant number 74 reported to the GAU: “… As a result of the finalization, 596 changes were made to the drawings, of which 228 are constructive in nature, 214 technological and 154 modifications-refinements.”
The official document on the adoption of the 7.62-mm Kalashnikov assault rifle (AK) (index 56-A-212) and the 7.62-mm Kalashnikov assault rifle with the folding butt (AKS) (index 56-A-212M) will be released in a year and a half. This will be the Decree of the Council of Ministers of the USSR of June 18, 1949.
1947 became for our country not only the year of disclosure of the secret of the atomic bomb, the abolition of food cards and the implementation of monetary reform, but also the year of the creation of the best automatic weapons of all times and peoples. According to Forbes magazine, it was this year that there was especially a lot of innovations that transformed the world. This is a cell phone, a microwave, a transistor, and plastic utensils.
- G. Koryakovtsev:
“Could Kalashnikov, without having a special education, win this struggle of their more experienced competitors? Yes, he could! Nature awarded him with a huge engineering talent; in 1942, a professional weapon business Blagonravov drew attention to his makings.
The gas engine of its system in combination with the design of the main leading link of the automation – the shutter frame – was reliable, and its location above the barrel ensured the ease of attaching the moving parts to the machine. This was facilitated by the peculiarity of connecting them with the receiver. Locking the trunk channel of the machine was carried out by a compact and durable rotating bolt. Its leading protrusion, interacting with the shutter frame during the turn, is positioned to provide the most favorable conditions for the joint operation of the frame and the shutter. Kalashnikov managed to unite the bolt with the bolt frame into one unit, easily detachable and attached with one hand when disassembling and assembling the machine. He also managed to create conditions for his free movement on the guiding of the receiver in any operating conditions. Movable parts were reliably protected with a cover of the receiver, fixed in the simplest and most convenient way.
The designer has already used his proven version of the anchor shock-trigger mechanism, having made it much simpler and more technologically advanced than in many samples, where similar mechanisms were applied long ago and widely. ”
Let’s add, Kalashnikov invented a straining of the cartridge to reduce delays in shooting. During the shot, the powder gases inflate the sleeve. Because of its unsuccessful taper in the chamber, the effect of ground cork is triggered. The sleeve as it were stuck, or even completely stuck. So in the “Kalash” there is a special hook, which, as it were, jerks off the sleeve before it ejects, strains from the spot, and then it is easily extracted. Thus, Mihtim successfully solved the problem of the insufficient quality of the cartridge and its design.
On the question “could a simple guy create an automaton?” History has several variants of an affirmative answer. Kalashnikov is only one of them. Eugene Stoner, the creator of the American M16 rifle, also had no special education, like Kalashnikov, he was a simple soldier during the Second World War. Another American – Ronnie Barrett, photographer and amateur shooter, created a long-range self-loading sniper rifle 50-caliber (12.7-mm). Under the name Barett M 82, it was successfully operated in the US Army during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. It is said that Ronnie sold the first samples of his rifle at a loss for 3,700 dollars at a cost of over 6,000.
The assimilation and deployment of a 500-piece Kalashnikov assault rifle will be carried out in Izhevsk at a motor factory, and a mass production at the Izhevsk Machine-Building Plant. Everything was just beginning…
In 1960, a historical model with engraving on the cover of the receiver, AK-47 No. 1, was handed over to the Military History Museum of Artillery, Engineers and Signal Corps in Leningrad for permanent storage.
In 1999, MT Kalashnikov opened on the facade of the production building of the Izhevsk Motozavod a marble memorial plaque with a bronze image of a life-size legendary machine from the first experimental series. Sculptor PK Mendeleev made an exact copy from the copy that is stored in the museum of the plant.
To gain space under the sun, the AK-47 took just over two years, although usually for these purposes a new sample requires five to seven years of testing.