Perhaps, it’s worth starting with the fact that, personally for me, German Alexandrovich Korobov is, so to speak, an example of a domestic gunsmith. Of course, according to the majority, it’s Kalashnikov, but for some reason, it’s not me who is closer who constantly won all the contests, but the one who fought in each of them, not tired of improving his weapon, no matter how bad or bad views from colleagues. Agree that when your development is rejected at every competition, and many of them reach the final, but they do not win due to the fact that production needs to be reequipped for them, it hits you very much at will to do something else. Nevertheless, from the first to the last competition held for new machines for the army, German Alexandrovich Korobov participated, and the fact that his weapon constantly “flew by” only pushed the armorer to improve designs and search for new solutions. In other words, for me German Alexandrovich Korobov is an example of what a person should be.
Immediately I want to say that this article will not mention how and who made his way up, there will be only bare facts about weapons, so I hope that I will not offend anyone with this article, although I already have a definite opinion about the “competitions” It happened and it is not the most positive. In general, let's go.
TKB-408-2 Automatic Goby
In the 1943 year, GAU formed the first requirements for a competition for a new machine for the army, from which time Korobov began to work on his machine gun. In 1945, these requirements were corrected, and the future winner of Kalashnikov entered the arena. Unfortunately, Korobov's rifle dropped out of the competition, as he did not satisfy the conditions for accuracy of the fight and withstood the total number of shots in 5 thousands of shots. But “the first pancake is lumpy”, let's try to figure out what that one was.
This machine gun is especially noteworthy, since it was not made in the classical layout, but in the bull-pap arrangement, which, you see, is quite bold for the first competition for a machine for the Soviet Army. However, this is not the first model of a weapon in a similar layout, there were similar models to it, even in the Soviet Union, for example, the Korovin machine gun. Actually, the whole calculation was an unusual design, it was assumed that a single sample in such an arrangement would attract attention with its small dimensions and in fact really attracted. But attracted, unfortunately, not by its size, but by a bunch of nuances that are inherent in weapons in such an arrangement. Thus, it was noted that this machine has negative qualities in the form of an inconvenient change of weapons store, close distance from the face of the shooter’s window for ejection of spent cartridges, which caused irritation of the mucous powder gases and completely excluded the possibility of firing from the left shoulder.
Korobov’s automatics were built according to a scheme with removal of powder gases from the barrel, the gas piston was located above the barrel of the weapon. The barrel was locked when the bolt was skewed in a vertical plane, and the return spring was also placed above the barrel of the weapon. The insignificant, but very interesting point was that the cover for ejection of spent cartridges was covered by a lid. The shutter handle was on the left side. It was also interesting that in comparison with the first “golden” Kalashnikov assault rifles, the receiver of which was made by milling, the Korobov machine was much cheaper to manufacture, since virtually all of its parts were stamped. Also noteworthy was that the fuse and the translator of the fire regime were separated. So the fire mode switch was located to the left, and the fuse switch was located in front of the trigger. Sights were, of course, open, the rear sight was mounted on the receiver, and the front sight on the gas tube. It fed on this machine from detachable box stores, with a capacity of 30 cartridges, the stores themselves were fixed by the pistol grip of the weapon. The length of the weapon was equal to 790 millimeters, the weight of the machine gun was 4,3 kilograms.
Of course, this sample can not even claim to be able to reach the final of the competition due to its low survivability. Nevertheless, we should not forget that such an event was held for the first time, and there was virtually no experience in creating such weapons, so you should make a discount on the fact that this is the first sample of the Korobov machine gun. It will be more interesting further.
Despite the complete failure of the "Bychka" at the 46-47 competition of the year, German Alexandrovich Korobov did not abandon the idea of creating a new machine that would be cheaper, simpler and better than the Kalashnikov at that time. Already at the end of 1947, the new TKB-454-43 machine gun was created, which was the first machine gun in the world to implement a free-gas gas braking system, and this is when using 7,62-X39 cartridges. Korobov came to the conclusion that, after launching the Kalashnikov assault rifle into production, it was too late to offer something to replace it, except perhaps a really simple and at the same time reliable design that would be much cheaper than AK production. All this turned out to be realized in TKB-454-43, in addition, the automatic weapon system made it possible to almost halve the recoil when shooting, which only had a positive effect on the accuracy and ease of controlling the weapon during firing. This attracted the attention of the Ministry of Defense, which decided to try this weapon on an unplanned basis. Despite the fact that it was possible to bring this system to the ideal, Korobov himself decided to abandon it, giving preference to the lever braking of the shutter, so TKB-454-5 appeared, which turned out to be no less interesting than the previous sample.
The automatics of the new version of the machine was built on a semi-free shutter, with lever tracking, the barrel bore was locked through the retarder lever with the mass of the shutter stem. This principle of work Korobov brought to perfection in the 6 and 7 models. In 1951, a new sample was introduced. However, it was not possible to test it fully. The reason for this was the barrel coupling, which again did not withstand a long shot from the weapon. Only in 52 was it possible to create a more or less working sample. Thus, its main positive points were an increase in accuracy of fire, depending on the level of training of the shooter, in 1,3-1,9 times, a reduction in the cost of production in 2 times, a decrease in weight per half a kilogram compared to the Kalashnikov assault rifle. In addition, there were negative aspects that related to the survivability of individual parts, which in principle is not surprising, given the stress they experienced. There was also a slight decrease in the speed of the bullet, an uneven rate of fire, an increase in the muzzle flame.
In order to more accurately compare the capabilities of the Korobov machine gun and the Kalashnikov machine gun, about 20 units of weapons were ordered, during the comparison, Korobov naturally lost because his sample was less reliable, which did not even cover its low cost and ease of production. However, at the same time, it is impossible to say that the gunsmith wasted time to develop wasted. Fortunately, the weapons business is such a field of activity where even from mistakes there is a benefit sometimes even more than from a positive experience. Thanks to the work that Korobov did, the knowledge base of other gunsmiths was added, and they already took this experience into account. If we look at this question from the practical side, then Korobov's developments have been useful to him in another model, the TKB-517 machine gun, but about him below.
It is in this weapon that the character of Herman Alexandrovich Korobov manifested itself. Despite the fact that the development of an automatic machine based on a semi-free shutter was recognized as inexpedient, the gunsmith did not stop and nevertheless modified his automatic machine, just in time for a new competition. And these efforts almost came true. This model of the machine became the main competitor of the AKM, in addition to this was presented the Korobov light machine gun. Having corrected all the weak points of his weapon, Korobov demonstrated a reliable and cheaper sample in production, which at the same time possessed accuracy of almost two times higher than a competitor. In other words, the Korobov machine gun "tore" the AKM as a tuzik hot-water bottle, exactly until the weapon was sent for revision. The Kalashnikov machine gun was “licked” by all the forces that they found, but with the Korobov machine gun everything was completely different, as a result, he didn’t even get to the testing grounds, as there was no point in sending a weapon that no one had just finished. As a result, later, when the question was raised about the refinement of TKB-517, there was a refusal with the wording that the Korobov machine gun cannot surpass the Kalashnikov machine gun that has already been mastered in production. In general, since the Inquisition said that the sun revolves around the earth, it is better to agree with that. Thus, we can assume that this formulation was buried by the domestic FAMAS, which was also ahead of its time by 15 years.
The machine turned out to be 930 millimeters long, fed from detachable stores with a capacity of 30 cartridges. The weight of the weapon at the same time was equal to 2,78 kilogram. There was also an option with a folding butt instead of a fixed one. In my opinion, the fact that this machine gun did not win the competition is precisely the most offensive loss of Korobov’s weapons, because here, in fact, they said openly that you can not try, in all competitions the winner is Kalashnikov. Although from the point of view of a financial issue, maybe they were right.
After the refusal of TKB-517 was received, everyone would have dropped their hands, but not German Alexandrovich Korobov, who returned to the idea of creating a weapon in the bullpup layout. Naturally, the malice for refusal was, and he dismissed it in a rather peculiar way - he created a whole family of weapons of a rather futuristic look. Naturally, just spend the state. Nobody would have allowed Korobov’s money, and conscience would hardly have been glad about all this. Therefore, in addition to the unusual type of weapons still had no less unusual characteristics. In other words, German Alexandrovich Korobov continued to create fairly good samples of weapons, but the wrapper of these samples was, well, very specific. Actually, it makes no sense to say something, just look at the photo of this “disgrace”.
We will not dwell on the detailed characteristics of this weapon, since these are 9 machines, you only need to note that these samples were either close in their parameters to AKM, or they were superior to them and this with less weight and overall dimensions. Nevertheless, the samples turned out to be only experimental, since in addition to the combat characteristics there are other evaluation criteria, such as durability, and since all the models are made with extensive use of polymers, there was no talk about the durability of speech, yet the plastic of that time was somewhat different from modern, used in weapons.
Again, it can be noted that German Alexandrovich Korobov looked into the future with his ideas. Naturally, such plastic machines were not suitable for use everywhere in the army, but they would be more convenient to perform certain special tasks. In addition, there was still 20-25 years before the widespread use of plastic in weapons.
Not everyone liked the transition to the new 5,45 ammunition, however, however, the transition was realized and you need to work with the new cartridge. What did German Alexandrovich Korobov do? It was he who was the first to get acquainted with the requirements that had been issued for the 5,45x39 cartridge and came to the conclusion that he could not only meet these requirements, but even surpass them. The fact is that Korobov carried out a rather interesting work to clarify the dependence of accuracy of fire on the rate of fire of the weapon and the position of the shooter. In the course of this work, Korobov found out that the best indicators, when the shooter is in an uncomfortable position for firing, are obtained when firing with a rate of fire of 2000 shots per minute. When lying down, the optimal pace was the rate of 500 shots per minute. Thus it turned out that the weapon must have two rates of fire, in order to not only meet, but also exceed the requirements. At the same time, Korobov led the development of a balanced automation system. In other words, all this, that was at hand, gunsmith and decided to combine in one weapon. So TKB-072 turned out to be a double-circuit automaton with balanced automatics and breath-taking characteristics at that time. It seemed that he was at that moment of triumph, when there is an ideal weapon and production, in any case, will have to be rebuilt for a new weapon under a new cartridge, but no, this time also a blunder came out.
The whole bummer consisted in another “request” to remove one of the firing regimes. This was motivated by the fact that it would be difficult for a soldier to have time to switch weapons from one mode to another in combat conditions. Putting in front of the gunsmith the choice of which hand to chop off the right or left all attention was switched to the Kalashnikov assault rifle. The automatic machine of Korobov, though, stood out among all the contestants by the fact that it would be created with balanced automatic, but he lost his main advantage - the two-paced mode of firing. Left him the opportunity to shoot at a speed of 500 rounds per minute, apparently reinstated in case of claims for too fast consumption of ammunition. Naturally, with one rate of fire, the machine could not win this competition. Nevertheless, let us briefly get acquainted with the fact that this could be a weapon, well, let's estimate whether the victory was once again won by AK, or did it play that this is the most famous Soviet gunsmith, the Kalashnikov himself kinda brand and so on.
Automatic equipment Korobov TKB-072 built on an unstressed scheme, with balanced automation. This means that the moving mechanisms in the weapon have a minimal impact on the accuracy of shooting. Initially, Korobov, in addition to the two rates of firing, wanted to add the possibility of cutting the 3 cartridge, but he changed his mind before the competition and deprived the weapon of such a function that in my opinion is completely justified, since you can even teach the monkey to shoot with fixed lines. An interesting feature of the TKB-072 machine is the neck of the store's receiver, it is obviously hard not to get into this, although if the weapon is in the hands of domestic football players ... On the right side there is a fire mode switch and a fuse switch, otherwise this machine doesn’t stand out by anything.
It can be assumed that German Alexandrovich had a time machine lying around in the storage room, since TKB-072 is more like a weapon created for the requirements of a completely different future Abakan competition, so if the possibility of firing in fixed bursts was left, then there is no doubt would not be.
After adopting the AK-74, a number of flaws were identified, both of the weapon itself and of the ammunition used in it. In particular, a lot of questions arose about the accuracy of the battle when firing a queue, since only the first bullets (bullet) hit the target, the rest flew away to drive the crows. Thus, a new weapon was required, which would ideally be able to hit a bullet in a bullet, which would also have a positive effect when firing at enemy manpower protected by personal protective equipment. Despite the fact that during the competition, Korobov was asked to remove one of the shooting modes, if there were problems with a new weapon, the two-speed automatic was remembered and its characteristics were laid down in the requirements for a new weapon. It would seem that for Korobov, at last, the finest hour had come, it remained only to take the old machine gun, bring his commission and the trick, because the requirements for the competition were written off from this weapon, but everything is not so simple. Firstly, other designers also do not stand still, and secondly, even that design had much to improve and simplify, so German Alexandrovich Korobov again took up the work, running ahead and with a not very successful final.
The new machine gun was named TKB-0111, it was already built according to the scheme with automatic shock, had two rates of firing, but this time no one asked to remove anything. The fact is that at a higher rate of fire Korobov put the cut-off of three rounds, that is, to release a long line at a high pace, it was simply impossible. Several have been changed and the rate of firing due to the presence of a cutoff of three rounds. So, the low rate still remained 500 shots per minute, but the high one was reduced to 1700 shots. By itself, the Korobov TKB-0111 machine is a completely modern weapon, even by today's standards. The length of the machine is equal to 930 millimeters, the weight at the same time 3,69 kilogram. The butt, unfortunately, is not put in the line of fire, but in this case it may even be quite good, since the shooter can remain in the shelter for the most part of the face, besides the shock "Korobovskaya" automatic equipment behaves almost like a balanced one, which also plays important role. Speaking on the whole, in this model German Alexandrovich Korobov was able to fit all his experience, which he had accumulated for almost half a century of designing weapons, but this was not appreciated, which in principle is not surprising.
The whole competition was clearly traced by three finalists: the Nikonov machine gun, the Stechkin machine gun, and the Korobov machine gun. At the same time Korobov clearly was in the lead. But in the end they decided to leave only those samples that had a moving barrel, due to which the returns from several shots were summed up. As a result, Korobov's machine gun hit the final with an “optional” note, but apparently no one got to the weapon that needed to be considered out of the competition. In general, if you focus on the accuracy of firing with fixed bursts, then Nikonov and Stechkin assault rifles really were better than the Korobov assault rifle, which is not surprising, since the weapons for such firing were calculated with all the ensuing design nuances. However, the commission did not take into account the complexity of production, the maintenance of these samples in comparison with the Korobov machine gun. So once again Korobov did not win the competition, this time his last one. By the way, pay attention to the fact that the Korobov machine gun went around quite popular at the moment, but AEKs that were very raw at the time of the competition, and as a result they received at least minimal distribution, but TKB-0111 did not.
Of course, this is still far from all the weapons that were designed by German Alexandrovich Korobov, not even all the automatons whose authors he is are represented here. Korobov had models of weapons that really came into service and proved themselves well, however, not among machine guns. Despite all his efforts, Korobov did not manage to defeat AK. It’s good or bad to say that it’s hard if people haven’t learned how to predict the future so far, then, all the more, it’s no use trying to predict a possible future. Nevertheless, it is safe to say that German Alexandrovich Korobov repeatedly created promising models of weapons, which for some reason, I will not specify which one, bypassed. It is not difficult to guess that this can be easily equated to treason, since, in fact, where there could be a breakthrough on 10-15 years ahead, everything remained in its place. At the same time, the possible “breakthrough” itself left the money, but there was no return.
In fact, it is a pity that the works of Herman Alexandrovich Korobov remained unclaimed, in the end, the developments that other gunsmiths use are one thing, and the weapons used by an entire army are completely different. I would like to see that at least someone took one of the works of the designer, even his latest TKB-0111 and brought it to modern standards, because the idea itself is truly unique, and after a week of training, everyone will switch automatically shooting depending on your position. An automatic machine on a semi-free shutter was also not a bad idea. Especially since lately the issue of replacing the 5,45 cartridge with a larger caliber cartridge from 6 to 7 millimeters has already become ripe, so it's just the right time to think about the cartridge and the new / old weapon. In the end, everything was invented long before us, it remains only to take, adapt to modern requirements and put into production.