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The true story of AK-47 – Part 1

2014-10-15

Warning!
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.

To tell you honestly even these days I can not see any replacement for AK-47 (AKM). Well, obviously it all depends on general warfare strategy, something AK-47 does not exactly fit in present days. You need to understand that for each purpose a different weapon is needed .

AK-47 is truly one shot – one kill. As simple as that and nothing else. It is the the weapons you can supply regular army infantry dirt cheap. AK-47 is a weapon for the serious and dirty war till last man standing  – something World War II was. This is the weapon you will use in a forest and in jungle because when bullet hits bushes it will not change trajectory. This is the weapon that actually gave a birth to legend about AK in general. You can abuse it in any possible way and still will be functional. You can drive a tank through it, throw it into mud and dirt, pour a sand into it, put it into water. But when you need it you can use it straight way without cleaning. You can rapid fire probably as many rounds as you want…700, 800, 900 and it will not jam. It will not jam probably till barrel will melt (the chances are you will catch the fire before that).

While it’s later development in AK-74 is not even close to be as good as AK-47 was. And I’m not talking about different round, let’s just leave it alone for time being. AK-74 and it’s modifications are not even close quality wise. AK-74 is much more fragile, it needs constant cleaning, after firing 60-90 rounds it will most certainly jam.

When it comes to round change it’s not as simple as it looks at first glance. During cold war NATO changed some strategies and it was decided that injured solder is as good as dead (from economic point of view) and developed 5.56×45mm round. Obviously except of “wounded is as good as dead” strategy soldier can also carry much more ammo. Soviets without even thinking decided to copy that strategy. Obviously Soviets wanted to have everything better and came up with even less powerful and smaller round 5.45×39mm (joke).

Let’s imagine if some global war war happens my first choice would be AK-47 (AKM) and my second choice would be Heckler & Koch G36. Thus leaving out AK-74 to my worst enemy. Why did I made such a choice? Taking more ammo is a good thing, but it will become useless if your assault rifle will jam. You can use almost any Kevlar (so you can reasonably walk), but still can not cheat almost certain deaths from AK-47. But if using AK-74 it becomes kind of paint-ball game (with a lot of jams).

So how can AK-47 be such a decent weapon and AK-74 to degrade so much?

A  lot of people start asking questions these days if AK-47 was simple copy of StG 44? Because it’s not the first time when Soviets simply copied German weapon. The prime example is Russian main pistol Makarov. Even Russians admit that Makarov is nothing else then blind copy of German Walther PP.

Makarov

Makarov pistol

Makarov pistol

 

Walther PP

Walther PP

Walther PP

RPG-2 that developed into famous RPG-7 is nothing else then copy of of German Panzerfaust 250. Before encountering Panzerfaust Soviets even did not had idea of such a weapon.

Panzerfaust 100

panzerfaust 100

 

Panzerfaust 150  – with modified warhead

Panzerfaust 150

Panzerfaust 150

 

Panzerfaust 250 – to tell you the truth it it never went to mass production, because war was over. So it is a bit unlikely to find the actual picture.

Panzerfaust 250

 

So if AK-47 is just a copy of German StG 44 (MP 44)?

AK-47

AK-47

AK-47

 

StG 44 (MP 44)

MP 44

MP 44

You can see shocking similarities, but it’s certainly not a same weapon. AK-47 action is rotating bolt, but StG 44 uses tilting bolt. Also AK-47 uses locking lug design, trigger and safety group very similar to M1 garand designed by Browning. But even Kalashnikov himself in his latest years admitted that StG 44 “seriously influenced” creation of AK-47.

Let’s have a closer look at AK-47 and it’s creator Michail Kalashnikov, to understand how much StG 44 influenced creation of AK-47. I tried my best to reconstruct the time line, but info from different sources contradict and quite an often and does not make any sense. Actually it contradicts so much that most certainly Soviet propaganda just made it up.

Mikhail Kalashnikov

Michail Kalashnikov was pretty much uneducated amateur. He was born in 1919 and got his education in the village in the middle of nowhere (even by Russian standards). If to consider location and time he went to school at the very best case they could teach him only basic grammar and basic maths. Well…. Mikhail Lomonosov was also born as a peasant, but became a scientist. Could it be the case with  Michail Kalashnikov?  For some time period he was mechanic at a tractor station, where supposedly he managed to learn mechanics. To tell you the truth you can not even imagine what it means to be a tractor mechanic those days in Russia! If to come to European or American standards they were mostly alcoholics suitable just to smash something with a sledgehammer. If you do not believe me just go there and have a look yourself. If you get there nowadays, trust me instead of learning anything at all you will because one of dumbest persons possible to imagine. Anyway let’s assume Kalashnikov was really outstanding person and also genius. In 1938 (at age of 18) , after attending commander course he was conscripted into the Red Army as a tank driver in rank of sergeant. Kalashnikov was quite keen in weaponry development. Unfortunately most of his inventions went down the drain for the very simple fact – they were useless. But he tried and tried it again. As we know in June of 1941 Germany attacked Soviet Union. Kalashnikov got wounded in October 1941 and was hospitalized until April 1942. After that ( I believe) he was seen by Marshal Zhukov pretty much commander of the whole red army, because Zhukov was impressed by Kalashnikov’s inventions.

My first question is why the hell on earth Marshal Zhukov should see nobody named Kalashnikov? As I mentioned earlier in fact Zhukov was commanding the whole of Red Army when Stalin was sending him from one to other front-line. Believe me Zhukov had more important things to do then meeting pretty much nobody. My second question, what exactly Zhukov could be impressed with when so far every Kalashnikov’s invention was rejected. Anyway as a legend says Zhukov was so much impressed that send Kalashnikov to military “Kiev’s technical tank college”. Here is the funny bit – by then Kiev was occupied by Germans long time ago. Makes not too much sense isn’t it? But let’s imagine that somehow this is also true and I simply could not follow dates.

In 1942 he presented his submachine gun and as Soviet propaganda said it was a prototype of AK-47. Please have a closer look if you manage to find any similarities. In any weapon you can always see its designer touch in general design and also in small details. Have a look for now at Kalashnikov submachine  gun and also the Red Army verdict about it.

kalashnikov submachine gun 1942

kalashnikov submachine gun 1942 detailed

All I can see is some insane model trying to combine Thompson receiver, a PPSh barrel, and MP-40 buttstock. Whoever created such disaster had no his own vision in which direction to  develop weaponry. Also Red Army verdict says that it is way too complex and way too complicated to manufacture. On the contrary,  whoever designed AK-47 made it really simple and dirt cheap to manufacture. Besides it’s a submachine gun, not assault rifle – two different things really.How can you call it prototype of assault rifle?

Regardless of Kalashnikov’s “engineering genius” they rejected his submachine gun. It was way too complex, but the true fact it wasn’t good enough for anything.

Before going any further I just want pay a bit more attention on  Kalashnikov’s submachine gun. The one he supposedly presented in 1942. Actually I do not think that it existed in the way story says.  I believe it was indeed invented by Kalashnikov but much later. The trouble is the whole story dates do not match.

As official story says he started making submachine gun drawings while being in hospital. He came out of hospital in april 1942 and managed to build working prototype in tractor or tank depot. Later prototype was send to Moscow and here is the verdict:

my own short translation, but the most important thing is there

” Regardless of some advantages your submachine gun is too complex compared to PPSh-41 and PPS submachine guns. Also to expensive to manufacture”

  • You can not just make a machine gun on your laps and apply for army accreditation. Even if it’s the best weapon indeed some initial military trials must be done. Only after that somebody on higher level may bother to consider reviewing it. But for whatever reason that was not the case with Kalashnikov.
  • Red Army physically could not send such reply in 1942. The reason is quite simple. PPS submachine went into red Army (after testing in mid 1942) production in very late 1942 / beginning 1943. So they simply could not refer to PPS submachine gun because it simply did not existed yet.

If you have a look at Kalashnikov first award proposal. It’s dated in October 1945. among other things it stated:

We recommending for award Kalashnikov because he has very promising design for submachine gun.

Kalashnikov first award proposal

But if to believe official story this is nonsense because nobody will reward for failures and his submachine gun supposedly was rejected 3 years ago. If to think at least little bit it is clear that his submachine gun could be rejected only after that date (October 1945).

In 1944 Kalashnikov tried to copy M1 Garand rifle but lost out to the new Simonov carbine.

 

To be continued