Background to the creation of the Soviet machine
The analysis of combat operations during the Great Patriotic War showed that with the saturation of the howling armies with mechanized vehicles, the most intense battles for infantry begin to unfold at short distances and usually take place transiently. Since infantrymen cannot always count on the support of artillery and other powerful fire weapons, it was necessary to increase the power of infantry fire with the help of compact and light weapons. Partly with this task copes machine guns, as they had an effective striking effect and a relatively small mass. But the range of their effective fire was extremely limited and did not exceed 200-300 meters due to the use of pistol cartridges.
Rifle cartridges were created on the basis of the destructive power of a bullet at ranges up to 2000 meters and even more. However, in the course of a real battle, the shooting of small arms at such a range was not conducted from heavy machine guns, so it became clear that rifle cartridges had an excess capacity. Attempts to develop light machine guns and automatic rifles for existing rifle cartridges have shown that the high recoil momentum of individual automatic weapons creates difficulties when firing standing, kneeling or in motion. The question of developing a new cartridge, which in terms of its ballistic characteristics, dimensions and mass would occupy an intermediate position between pistol and rifle cartridges, was brewing.
Alexey Ivanovich Sudaev
In July, at a special meeting of the People’s Commissariat of Arms, a discussion was held on the German automatic rifles MKb.1943 (H) caliber 42x7,92 mm (diameter of the base 33 mm), and they were captured by the Soviet fighters on the Volkhov front in the winter 11,9-1942 years, and M1943 Carbine carbines of caliber 1x7,62 mm (diameter of the base of the sleeve 33 mm) also obtained from the USA. According to the results of the discussions that took place, it was decided to develop in the USSR small-arms of a similar class with an effective range of firing near 9,04-400 meters, and also to develop a cartridge for it.
In record time, the development of the base version of the new cartridge was carried out by the designers N. M. Elizarov and B. V. Semin. Already in October, at the meeting in the People's Commissariat of Arms, it was decided to take for further development their cartridge of reduced capacity 1943x7,62 mm (diameter of the base of the 41 mm sleeve), which had a pointed shell bullet with a lead form without protruding lip. Options with 11,26 mm and 5,6 mm ammunition cartridges, which were also considered, were rejected. It should be noted that the cartridge 6,5х7,62 mm was further transformed into 41x7,62 mm (the development was fully completed only by the 39 year) and it is in this form that it went down in history.
The muzzle energy of the new ammunition, which received the 57-H-231 index in the GRAU, reached 2200 J, which was approximately equal to 2 / 3 from the muzzle energy of the standard rifle cartridge 7,62х54 mm (diameter of the base of the 12,37 sleeve mm). In combat conditions, the shooting was usually conducted at a distance of no more than 600-800 meters (with the exception of heavy machine guns). At this distance, a new intermediate ammunition ensured the breaking through of three pine planks 2,25 cm thick, the bullet had an energy of about 196 J and a pulse of about 2 kgm / s. Compared to the American 7,62x33 mm cartridge with 1300 J muzzle energy, the Soviet 7,62x41 mm cartridge had significantly better ballistics, providing better penetration (light obstacles) and a large effective firing range. As early as December 1943, a trial batch of intermediate cartridges was ready in the Soviet Union. At the same time, the first tactical and technical requirements for a new small arms for infantry weapons were drawn up. It was the adoption of the intermediate cartridge of the 1943 model of the year that opened up new perspectives in the development of automatic weapons in the USSR.
7,62-mm cartridge sample 1943 of the year
The first to develop his submachine gun for the new intermediate cartridge of the 1943 model of the year, then 7,62х41 mm, was started by the young designer-gunsmith and the creator of perhaps the best submachine gun of World War II, Alexey Ivanovich Sudayev. Already in the 1944 year, he presented his development to the military, which was designated AC-44.
The automatic machine designed by Sudayev worked on the principle of removal of powder gases through an orifice located in the upper wall of the barrel (the same principle was used in the Kalashnikov assault rifle), and had a thick-walled barrel with a compensator. The gas piston was located above the barrel. The use of thick-walled trunks, which even near the front sight and the muzzle had an external diameter from 17 to 20 mm, was typical of all Alexey Sudayev prototypes. This had a positive effect on the accuracy of the fire, but at the same time had a negative effect on the weight and size characteristics of the weapon. The barrel of the AC-44 was placed in a casing having 32 holes of the same diameter - 7,5 mm. Locking the barrel was made by skewing the shutter in a vertical plane. The mass of moving parts (bolt carrier with a gas piston and the bolt itself) was equal to 715 grams.
The shutter handle was located on the left, it was fixed on the frame of the bolt carrier. It was an unusual decision and suggested juggling the shutter with his left hand. Return-combat spring with a guide rod with its front part was placed in the hole in the gate frame, and the head of the rod was fixed in the rear wall of the receiver. Used trigger mechanism allowed the shooter to lead from the AC-44 both single and continuous fire. A translator of flag-type fire regimes was used, which was similar to the one installed on the Kalashnikov machine gun. A translator of fire, combined with a fuse, located on the receiver on the left side. A pistol-type fire control handle, made of wood, with a trigger mechanism placed in it, was folded down (a similar design was used on another craft by Sudayev, his PPS-43 submachine gun).
The automaton of the Sudayev system is a prototype of the 1944 of the year (Model 1). Left view
The power of the AC-44 cartridges came from detachable box magazines with a double row of cartridges, the capacity of the store - 30 cartridges. The sights were represented by the front sight on the rack, in the round earpiece and the sector one. A distinctive feature of the machine was folding bipod, which was mounted on the barrel before the forearm. For fastening the bayonet in the design was provided a tide under the barrel. In the production technology of the new automaton and other prototypes, stamping was widely used, which was typical of all models of Sudevsky weapons.
The second model of the automaton Sudaeva repeated the first, but the shape of the gas chamber was subject to change. Also, the weapon shutter was slightly modified, the mode switch and the fuse were represented by two separate controls, the first was in the trigger guard, and the second was above the fire control handle. The machine received a removable stamped receiver cover, which somewhat simplified the process of disassembling it.
The third model of the АС-44 automaton differed from the previous ones by a shortened barrel and forearm, there was no possibility to install a bayonet. The design of the bolt was significantly changed, the trigger mechanism allowed only automatic fire, the role of the safety lock was performed by a dustproof hinged lid on the receiver on the right, which had two cutouts for mounting the bolt handle to the safety device in the stowed position. The rest of the machine in its design repeated the previous model.
The fourth model of the Sudayev automaton was presented at once in three variants (conventionally, these were the fourth, fifth, and sixth models), which differed from each other only in the barrel length. Technically, the fourth model of the AC-44 was an automatic venting machine, the locking was carried out by tilting the bolt in a vertical plane. The difference from the previous models of weapons was in a modernized trigger mechanism and safety device, an improved shutter and a modified form of the dust cover. The button-type fuse used by the designer was above the fire control knob, the fire translator was on the left of the gun shank. The bipods again appeared on this model, as well as a place for a possible mounting of the bayonet. The mass of moving parts dropped to 660 grams, and there was no muzzle brake compensator on the barrel.
The automaton of the Sudayev system is the prototype of the 1944 of the year (Model 1), right view. B - parts of the machine, G - parts of the gate
The seventh model of the automaton Sudaeva was a modified fourth model, but with automatic, which worked on the principle of recoil free shutter, with a gas brake.
Tests of automatic machines АС-44
At the 1944 test of the year in May, Alexey Sudayev presented the first and fourth models of his AC-44, the first model more than the other samples submitted for the competition met the requirements for weapons. Including the reliability of their work. In the spring of 1945, an experimental batch of AS-44 assault rifles was released at the Tula Arms Plant, after which it was sent for military tests, which took place in the summer of the same year in the Moscow, Leningrad, Central Asian and Transcaucasian military districts, as well as in the group of Soviet troops in Germany and on the Higher Officer Courses Shot.
The automatic design of Sudayev fully satisfied the requirements for accuracy of fire when used with bipods, almost at a distance to the DP machine gun at 600 meters and by far exceeding the machine guns at that moment in service with the army. At the same time, the accuracy and accuracy of shooting single shots was much worse than the Mosin rifle. Also significant disadvantages of the machine AC-44 attributed its weight. After the completion of the military test stage, the commission made the following conclusion: “The АС-44 automatic rifle chambered for the 1943 model of the year can take its corresponding place in the infantry weapons system in the army and replace regular submachine guns (ППД-40, ППШ-41 and ППС-43 ) with the proviso that the machine gun will not yield to the latter in accuracy of automatic firing and in maneuvering qualities. ” Also, some parts of the machine: gas piston stopper, drummer, ejector showed low reliability. A separate item of the commission noted the difficulty of disassembling the AC-44 of the first model.
In October, 1945, Alexey Sudayev presented a modernized version of his machine gun to the military, using the second model as the base. This model is also known as SLA - Lightweight Automatic Sudayev. In addition to the inherent features of the second variant, the bipods disappeared from it. Thanks to this simple solution, a significant portion of the mass of weapons was saved. However, preliminary tests showed a sharp decrease in accuracy. The reason was a significantly increased return due to the reduction in the mass of weapons. In addition, a number of details of the updated machine showed unsatisfactory survivability. The commission decided that the production of a series of SLA automatic machines for carrying out full-fledged field tests without the elimination of all the flaws that had been identified in factory tests was inappropriate.
The automaton of the Sudayev system is a prototype of the 1944 of the year (Model 4). Right view
Who knows what the history of automatic small arms in our country would have been like if Aleksey Ivanovich Sudayev continued to improve his development. Unfortunately, this young and talented designer seriously ill, the disease struck him in 1946 year. Already in the hospital, the designer continued to work and improve the various components of his promising machine. According to the memoirs of contemporaries, his hospital room was more like a study, it was filled with drawings, diagrams and various documents. 17 August 1946, at the very peak of his creative power, the 33-year-old designer died in Moscow at the Kremlin hospital, without having had time to modify his AC-44 machine gun.
In connection with the death of the designer, the AC-44 development project was stopped, and the machines themselves no longer participated in the competition. Despite this, it cannot be said that all his work was in vain. Some solutions proposed, implemented and verified by Sudayev himself will be applied in the future to create other types of automatic weapons. In the second round of testing, another designer Mikhail Timofeevich Kalashnikov will take part, who will succeed in them with his version of the AK-46 assault rifle.
Not many samples of Alexei Ivanovich Sudayev’s automaton have survived to this day. Like many other unique models of domestic small arms, they are stored today in the Military Historical Museum of Artillery, Engineer and Communication Troops (St. Petersburg) and the Tula State Museum of Weapons. But the fate of the AU-44, which were produced for military tests, is not known for certain. Most likely, after completion of the tests they were sent to storage, and then simply disposed of.
Tactical and technical characteristics of the AU-44 model 1:
Caliber - 7,62 mm.
The cartridge - 7,62x41 mm.
Overall length - 1033 mm (without bayonet).
Barrel length - 505 mm.
Sighting line length - 583 mm.
Weight with bipod and empty magazine, no bayonet - 5670
Magazine capacity - 30 cartridges.
Sighting range of shooting - 800 m.
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