This article may cause you very serious buttHurt in following cases:
If you think that smart people may be born only in North America – Sorry English is not my first and not even my second language.
If you worship Mikhail Kalashnikov.
After seeing STG 44 in action Soviets needed such a weapon really badly. Also they had to adapt STG 44 to existing soviet round 7,62х39. All they wanted to do just a blind copy of STG 44 because at that time it was such a decent weapon you can not imagine anything better.
They nominated that task to 5 groups of engineers. Most of them including Kalashnikov just tried to copy STG 44. You can see from pictures who tried just to blind copy or who came up with their own project.
- Bulkin’s group who managed to come up with AB-46 / TKB-415. They were based in city of Tula (location is quite important detail here).
- Dementev’s group who presented AD assault rifle based in city of Kovrov.
- Kalashnikov’s group in City of Kovrov. All you can see his model AK-46 is a blind copy of STG 44 and absolutely different design from AK-47.
- Korobov in city of Tula. As you can see it’s a different project and they used quite interesting Bull-Pup design.
- Rukavishnikov’s group in city of Kolomna.
You can clearly see who was trying just to copy and who was trying to develop his own weapon. As legend says no model was a good enough. Especially AK-46. Red Army decided that AK-46 was so bad not even suitable for further development. By prohibiting any further development of AK-46 Red Army put big red X on Kalashnikov project – ones and forever! It looks like they had enough of his inventions.
But less then a year later all the sudden Red Army accepting Kalashnikov’s AK-47 and not from city of Kolomna, but from city of Izevsk! Also with altogether different design! It is simply impossible. Kalashnikov had no team, he had no time, and he was even prohibited from developing his project. Needless to say moving from one city to another in Soviet period was not easy.
For now let’s have a look elsewhere. By the end of WWII Germans came up with really fearful weapon StG 44. StG 44 was such a good weapon that in Czechoslovakia it was in use till 1980. Trust me Czechoslovakia had (and they still have) very good military production and they would not use some kind of crap.
StG 44 was designed by Hugo Schmeisser. He was born in 1884 and his father Louis Schmeisser was one of best-known weapons designers in Europe. Needless to say his son Hugo Schmeisser was well educated and followed his father steps. He had fundamental training in weapons technology not only from his father but also at Bergmann. Hugo Schmeisser had a numerous patents even difficult to trace but here is a list of guns he designed and the ones had success.
- Three years even before Kalashnikov was born in 1916 Hugo Schmeisser made world’s first practical submachine gun MP18. At that time Antanta forces had nothing even close to compete with. MP18 was such a powerful weapon and had such an impression on the Allies that the Treaty of Versailles specifically banned further study and manufacture of such light automatic firearms by Germany.
- In 1928 Schmeisser released the MP-28, which was used extensively by the German police. But under different names manufactured and sold in South Africa, China, Spain, and Japan.
- Ironically Hugo Schmeisser did not designed MP 38 and MP 40 but had a patent for magazine used in them.
- Hugo Schmeisser was not only weapons designer but also a big businessman. He was developing methods that revolutionized weapon production, allowing manufacture at much better speed.
- In April 1944 he presented really fearful StG 44 (MP 44).
Huh… So far It sounds a bit more successful then Kalashnikov? It certainly looks like.
But here comes the main part. After WWII Hugo Schmeisser was captured by Soviets and he was forced to work for them (obviously developing weapons). They released him only in 1952 and in 1953 he died. During his captivity along with 15 other Germans he was working at factory number 74, later known as Izmash.
Hold on…. isn’t it the same place where supposedly uneducated 28 old peasant called Kalashnikov invented AK-47? Damned, it is indeed the same place and these days it is called Kalashnikov Concern. For now it’s becoming quite obvious how “influential” StG 44 actually was.
It is quite certain that alongside Soviet engineers there was also a group of German engineers working in captivity. But quite obvious reasons official Soviet propaganda could not mention it.
Assuming that the best European gun maker Hugo Schmeisser using his own engineering combined with Browning inventions (at that time he did not had to bother about patents) was capable of producing such a weapon will be quite reasonable.
You see even copying somebody’s else weapon is not just presenting a drawing. Not even finding right materials for right task. Not even processing those raw materials. It’s also abut the ways to manufacture that gun.
Inventing such a weapon requires a LOT. It requires a lot of experience, knowledge and talent. Not only having a deep knowledge in weaponology, but it’s also organising the whole manufacturing process. To organise it in a way to be economical, fast and also not to loose in quality. What you have to do, you need to reconstruct the whole technological process. Some thing you can reconstruct, but some thing you simply can not. Not even Hugo Schmeisser himself. One of things you can not reconstruct is a skilled German labour and general attitude. This is cornerstone of German quality. Even if you meet every criteria about technological process, every detail you produce in Russia will be much worse quality then made in Germany and as result terrible loss in quality of a whole assault rifle (or anything else).
This is something Kalashnikov could be never capable of. And this is Russian problem in general. Look this is probably only country in the world can not produce a car. Weapon production is actually one of factors that contributed to Soviet union collapse. At a time they had a nuclear and space race with US, Soviet projects were simply times more expensive then US models. And it was expensive because they tried to produce modern weapons using outdated technology. I’s quite obvious such a product will be times more expensive.
That’s why even Hugo Schmeisser himself was not able to copy his STG 44 in Russian conditions. Instead based on STG 44 he designed AK-47 which was possible to manufacture in Russian conditions. You can clearly see that from early AK-47, He just had to adapt it to Russian manufacturing possibilities. Prime example is stamped receiver something STG 44 had and early AK-47 didn’t. That is a step back from STG 44 design . From other point of view it is most definitely a step forward to make AK-47 functional at reasonable price. To understand all these factors you need to be not only engineer but also to have experience of running your own factory – this is something only Hugo had and Russian engineers didn’t. And as result they failed. Myself I believe Hugo Schmeisser was certainly developing AK-47 up to type 3 and AKM. But with AKM soviets took a bit longer to put into mass production. After AKM I can not see any kind of development.
AK-47 type 1
AK-47 type 2
AK-47 type 3
Probably this is what happened. After epic failure of Kalashnikov he was send to Izhevsk to monitor the German group. All he was just lucky be at a right time in the right place because Soviet propaganda simply had to say that AK-47 was designed by anybody, but not a captured German. I believe it is a time time to admit that Kalashnikov was nothing else then dummy idol created by Soviet propaganda and to give a credit to the true developer of AK-47 Hugo Schmeisser. If to listen for the whole story about Kalashnikov we must believe in miracles. If miracles happening indeed? Yes they do happen, but not ten times in the row.
Regarding Kalashnikov you can certainly say that engineering wise he was absolute looser and every of his inventions was rejected. After claiming to be creator of AK-47 he failed to invent anything else. And actually it’s not surprise to consider his education (or should I say lack of education). The funny thing even at a time of AK-47 creation he wasn’t any recognised and his awards at that time were really more then moderate, that’s because way too many people knew the true story. Only long time after Stalin death in 1956 (9 years after AK-47 went to army) he was rewarded Technic-lieutenant rank and a year later he was promoted to head of Engineering bureau .If you are from Europe or US you may not understand what it means. Let me try to explain. First let’s have a look at military ranks. Soviet union was very , very much militaristic. And almost every dog that could be used for Army had military rank. Even my mum after finished college as a school teacher was lieutenant in reserve. At a time of World War II almost anybody who could read were send to commanders courses (just for few weeks) and were given rank of lieutenant. So if Kalashnikov after going to commander courses was given just a sergeant, he was probably the dumbest person on that course.
For now let’s have a look at any kind of award like medals. As you know in Soviet Union it was no private property. So whatever you do you still can not become richer. But people needs to be rewarded somehow. And they were given medals! If you work hard you will have some kind of medal. If you fight hard you will have a bigger medal. The fact Kalashnikov did not had any medal till 1949 is a bit strange really. It may mean only one thing to me – he haven’t done anything useful to Soviets – I mean nothing at all!
If you have a look at this parer again it also says that he has no military rank at all. Only after 1956 started his real promotion from nobody to Lieutenant General In modern Russia (such a joke).
Probably whatever Michail Kalashnikov did – he did it well, but it wasn’t engineering.