"... on soft pillows you will not drive into eternity ..."
(c) Nautilus Pompilius
(c) Nautilus Pompilius
It is enough to appear an article with a reference to the Kalashnikov assault rifle, but no later than in the tenth comment to it, the name of a “talented” or even “ingenious” German designer, “anticipated a whole epoch”, “laid the foundations”, “predetermined”, etc., will be mentioned. d. Moreover, the role of this genius is not limited to "anticipation." The absolute majority of such commentators ascribes to him nothing less than the authorship of AK-47. The arguments, of course, are indisputable - the external similarity of AK-47 with Stg-44 and, especially, the fact in the biography, according to which this “talented designer” worked at the same factory with the true author.
An amazing thing: the man became famous for weaponswhich did not develop. The head of the company ERMA Berthold Geipel, using the development of Heinrich Volmer, put the MP-40 submachine gun into production, but it is called and is still called "Schmeisser". The AK-47 machine gun is known to those who developed it, but the "tops" persistently attribute the authorship of this weapon to Schmeisser. Nevertheless, on the basis of these two paradoxes, the glory of the "great" German gunsmith is based. Not a single Schmeisser design was produced in the amount of more than several tens of thousands, with the exception of the Sturmgever, which reached 420000 units by the end of the war. The German gunsmith idea was undoubtedly remarkable successes in the form of a Walter P-38 pistol, MP Voln's MP-40 submachine gun, Grüner MG-42 submachine gun, 98 Mauser rifles and carbines and others. That's just about Gruner, Rod, Volmer, Walter, no one speaks in superlatives. Yes, and their names are not known to everyone, but to those who are interested history weapons.
Part one. Theodore Bergman and Louis Schmeisser
What the story is not mistaken about is that Hugo Schmeisser really was a “hereditary” gunsmith. His father Louis Schmeisser, according to the memoirs of contemporaries, was a modest, benevolent person and even cordial. The pursuit of enrichment was not his end in itself. Like any creative person, he was more interested in the practical implementation of his creative ideas. For these purposes, he organized his workshop. But no matter how ingenious the invention, it will remain on paper and will not bring fame to its author until it enters the market in mass circulation. And for this we need not only production facilities and working capital, we need engineers and technologists for the development of equipment and technical processes. Looking for merchants. In general, if a designer has an entrepreneurial streak capable of not only inventing, but also organizing production, then there appear firms that have the trademark of the inventor - Mauser, Walter. But if not, then you must at least be able to negotiate with people like Theodore Bergman. In this case, the designer will have the opportunity to see his work on the shelves, but under the brand name of the company that produced it. This was the interaction of two famous people of their time, but the insinuations around the name "Schmeisser" begin precisely with their relationship. Here is a typical picture:
"In 1902-1903, the father and son Schmeisser are developing a successful self-loading pistol" Mars "... This pistol received a patent by the name of the owner of the company - Bergman, which, in turn, discourages its real creator Louis Schmeisser, but he has nothing to do he cannot, Bergman makes it clear that he is just an employee, albeit from among the indispensable ones. It was at this time that Hugo understood how greedily, cynically and most importantly without much remorse Bergman appropriated other people's inventions, earning his name by someone else's labor. Despite the fact that the weapons developed by Louis Schmeisser were taken into service in Denmark, Belgium and Spain, he himself was not officially considered to be its developer and was practically not known to anyone, remaining in the shadow of the "great Bergman." This strongly affected Schmeisser Sr.'s pride, and in 1905, Luis finally broke off all business relations with his employer and left the city of Suhl, transferring the technical guidance of the gun factory to his son, who was a weapon technician. Bergman doesn't mind. ”
A. Ruchko “Hugo Schmeisser - from Bergman to Kalashnikov”
I understand, I want to raise the Schmeisser, these intellectual labor proletarians, but why is it worthwhile to dirty a decent man, calling his actions greedy, cynical and unscrupulous? Theodore Bergman was a famous entrepreneur. His talent was primarily in the fact that he knew how to identify advanced directions in mechanical engineering, knew how to pick up personnel and, most importantly, organize production in new, yet mastered areas. One of the first Bergman mastered the production of pneumatic weapons, and even himself was his designer. He organized the production of the first vending machines. In 1894, he masters the production of the first "self-propelled crews", is engaged in the production of racing cars and aircraft engines. At home, it is called the fourth number in the German automotive industry. Having mastered the automotive industry, Theodor Bergman is keen on a new idea - automatic weapons. He sells his auto industry, which after some time becomes known under the brand name "Benz" and begins to closely engage in automatic pistols.
Unlike the current "effective managers" who can steer with equal success with the trading network and the Ministry of Defense, Theodor Bergman not only held a weapon in his hands, but also himself was engaged in designing, was an excellent engineer, he was well and thoroughly versed in the field of mechanical engineering in which he had to work. Well, to whom it is best to apply the epithets "greed", "impudent" and "cynical", we will soon find out.
In 1884, Bergman and Louis Schmeisser set about developing automatic weapons. In 1887, Bergman opens the arms branch of his company in Suhl and appoints him technical director Louis Schmeisser. In 1891, the Schmeisser family befalls misfortune - Louis's wife dies. Children are left without a mother, and a child, deprived of maternal affection and the attention of a father engaged in production, grows, as a rule, selfish. Becoming adults, such people continue to suffer due to the lack of attention to them from others.
Part two. About patents
There are patents and there are patents. A patent makes sense if it cannot be bypassed by another engineering solution, or such a detour is significantly more expensive. For example, a hole at the tip of a needle in a Singer sewing machine, or a hole in the blade of a Spyderco folding knife. But when they receive a patent for the location of the return spring under the barrel, if it can be placed both above and behind and around the barrel, then this is not a patent. This is vanity, and the author of the patent is a patent troll.
Andrei Malakhov’s “Let Them Talk” program has lost a lot due to the untimely death of Luis Schmeisser and Theodor Bergman. The story of how the damned capitalist Bergman aches the talent of an unrecognized genius, attributing to himself all his inventions, and poor Louis Schmeisser, all in tears, goes to work and invent for another company, would surely go into the treasury of his plots. We turn better to two arguments and two facts.
Argument one: if Bergman patented something from inventions made personally by Louis Schmeisser, then the price of these patents was zero. Frankly failed model gun 1894 / 96 of the year. This weapon was designed without an understanding of the physics of the process in automation with a free gate, so it was unreliable and inconvenient. Other models were more reliable, but could not boast large quantities. More successful model "Mars" took part in the competition for the supply to the Kaiser army in the period from 1902 to 1904, but lost to Luger. As engineers, Bergman and Schmeisser could not help but realize that the Browning, Mauser, Luger models have much better market prospects than Schmeisser’s designs. Weak consolation was an order for an experimental batch of “Mars” from Spain. But then Bergman suffered another blow. He signed a contract for the production of pistols with a subcontractor, who after a while banally “threw” him, after which Bergman sold the license to manufacture the Marsow to the Belgians and decided to tie it up with the pistols.
Bergman is no stranger. And what is Schmeisser? Ten years of work, and all down the drain? True, there is still a machine gun, on which Schmeisser and Bergman have been working with 1901 of the year. But the designer is already 57 years old. For the beginning of the twentieth century it is a time. His most capable son, Hugo, is already a fairly mature and independent engineer, ready to take responsibility for developing new weapons. Therefore, it is logical that Louis Schmeisser went to refine the retirement experience in Frankfurt, where he was given the opportunity to continue to engage in pistols, and his son took his place.
Argument Two: So, Bergman "eagerly and cynically ..." Presumably, at the firm "Rheinmetall" with Louis Schmeisser treated differently. But, nevertheless, Schmeisser pistols were successfully patented and issued, but now under the trademark Dreyse. By the way, the same far from technical excellence, but with much more tangible commercial success.
The first fact (at the level of rumors). They say that to all else, Bergman’s son falls in love with Schmeisser’s daughter, and Bergman denies him nepotism. Schmeisser was upset and left Bergman. I do not know, I did not hold a candle. But in any case, the argument is more weighty than the insult for the attribution of patents.
The fact of the second.
Louis Schmeisser goes to the city of Erfurt to the company "Rheinmetall". His family remains in Suhl, and the technical director of Bergman becomes the son of Schmeisser Hugo, engaged in the development, which began his father. Pope made room for his son and kept the technical continuity in the enterprise. Bergman produced weapons under his own brand. And everyone was happy.
In 1907, 19-year-old Louis Stange enters the disciples of Louis Schmeisser. Planting a tree, building a house and raising sons is the lot of every man. Having your own students is the pinnacle of the achievements of a creative person. But it is not given to everyone. Rod became a worthy pupil and an accomplished designer, and after the death of Louis Schmeisser, he became his successor on the Rheinmetall. Thus, Louis Schmeisser brought up two technical directors - his son, working for Bergman, and Louis Stang, working for Rheinmetall, the future developer of the first single machine gun MG-34 and the automatic rifle FG-42.
A year after the birth of Hugo Schmeisser, in the German village of Altdorf, a fourth child was born in the family of German peasants Volmer, who was named Heinrich. The boy grew up, was educated at a vocational school and got a job as a mechanic. He studied at a Sunday school for four years and finally entered the engineering department of a machine tool manufacturing company. He made his first invention in 1908. It was a sawing machine. Further, the patent has its own firm. By the beginning of World War I, Volmer already had a solid company that produced machines for sharpening and setting saws, parts for machine guns, propellers for airplanes. As you can see, we face a rare case when a designer and an entrepreneur are combined in one person. Looking ahead, I will say that Volmer's company still exists.
Part Three The birth of submachine guns
Analysis of the fighting of the first year of the First World War forced the best staff minds of the warring countries to tense up: the need to create light automatic weapons for a less powerful than a rifle cartridge, became obvious. In Russia, Colonel Fedorov came to the idea of creating a machine gun with a rifle cartridge of reduced power, which he realized in his machine gun in 1916 year. In Germany and Italy, the understanding of the need for a reduced-power cartridge may have come later, but for now we decided to limit ourselves to automatic fire by a pistol cartridge. And the Italians and Germans approached the formulation of the problem from completely different positions. Italy approached the decision from a defensive position. Major Abel Revelli developed in 1915 a heavy double-barreled machine gun under the pistol cartridge for defensive fire, which after some time quite logically transformed into the first full-fledged submachine gun Beretta M1918.
But the German generals proceeded from the attacking positions. They implemented the idea of small assault groups to solve the “positional impasse” paradox. Such groups were supposed to launch an attack from a close position, by analogy with a boarding battle. And for such a fight, the musketons with a barrel rifle, shooting grapeshot, were the best weapons. This made it possible to compensate the time for precise aiming and gave a chance to hit more than one target with one shot. But at the beginning of the 20 progressive century you will not be able to storm trenches with musketons. Therefore, the search began for new weapons. Obvious was the use of a pistol cartridge, but the issue with the weapon arose. The existing automatic pistols had two drawbacks - the small volume of the magazine and the absence of automatic fire. And here in the 1915, the German General Staff was developing a technical task for a weapon, which, by a combination of indicators, could already be called a submachine gun.
I specifically decided to distract a little from the topic in order to show the very evolution of the emergence of a separate class of weapons. As you can see, the emergence of a class of submachine guns was preceded by collective thought and analysis, and not an insight into the "genius designer" (loner). The idea of an automatic fire pistol cartridge was born along with the pistol cartridge itself. Actually, the authors of the idea of weapons were unknown officers of the German General Staff, who were able to competently and clearly, in modern terms, “set the task” to the designers. A well-written technical task or problem statement is a half solved problem. The task of the designer is to find the optimal solution from the huge number of technical, physical, technological and economic contradictions arising at the stage of weapon design.
Above the topic of the technical assignment of the German Armaments Directorate began work: Hugo Schmeisser with Bergman, Louis Stang in Rheinmetall, Andreas Schwarzlose and the designers of DMW (Luger). As a result, the order went to Bergman, and the MP-18 received the palm of a serial submachine gun. Although there was still an Italian Beretta M1918, and one could argue about the palm ...
The MP-18 used two patents issued in the name of Bergman: the use of a return spring as a war spring and its use as a receiver latch. Like the vast majority of engineering products, MP-18 was a compilation of parts from other designs and systems: a pistol cartridge, a wooden butt, a barrel and a magazine from Luger, the principle of automation is the return of a free shutter. Even the protective casing on the barrel was "elegantly" "interconnected" from machine guns. And that’s it! Moreover, if we talk about the “genius” of Schmeisser’s design, one cannot but mention the lack of a fuse for the shutter in the forward position. Thanks to this simplification, a shot from MP-18 could be fired by the method of Comrade Sukhov. The shutter was put on the fuse in the rear (combat) position, designed in the form of a figured cut-out in the bolt shield familiar to everyone from the prototype of a regular window latch.
And what about Stange? He did not chase the glory of the "first" and calmly brought his work to mind. As a result, its MP-19 was more functional than the MP-18: it had a fire translator, a more reliable fuse, a hinged cover of the gate box. Of course, a simpler product by Hugo Schmeisser managed to get to the trough. Still, the best 30-machine gun most analysts consider the Steyr-Solothurn S1-100, made on the basis of MP-19. This is a note for those who like to measure ratings, championships and pipisek length.
Now let's compare the Rheinmetall-Borsig MP-19:
and Bergman MP-18 (pictured MP-28):
It would be surprising to find much in common between them, if you do not know that behind the backs of Luis Stange and Hugo Schmeisser looms the shadow of Louis Schmeisser!
We completely forgot about Volmer! During the First World War, Heinrich Folmer seriously began to engage in weapons-related topics. His first military development - body armor - was introduced before the war, in 1912 year. But in 1916, he presented a draft machine-powered hand-held machine gun. This development interested the weapons commission, and Vollmer was awarded a contract to develop a similar power supply for the MG 08 and MG 08 / 15 machine guns, as well as for the MG 18 TUF heavy machine gun. In 1918, he created a rather original development - a drum powered hose reel for Schmeisser MP-18.
The problem of the “positional impasse” was brilliantly resolved by the Russian General Alexey Brusilov, and without any submachine guns. But before the respite in the Compiegne forest is announced to sum up the results of the First World War and the foundations were laid for the Second, let us state one small fact that is directly related to our topic. What did Hugo Schmeisser and Heinrich Vollmer achieve by year 1918?
By this time, both reached the age of Jesus Christ, that is, the age when the creative abilities of the individual are fully revealed. And in general, we conclude that Hugo Schmeisser’s work is not very diverse. All his designs relate to weapons, and a large number of works are based on the father’s designs. The appearance of submachine guns is a matter of time, not of scientific foresight or brilliant insight. But the work of Heinrich Volmer simply shines with diversity - here, and weapons subjects, and agriculture, and engineering. Moreover, Heinrich Vollmer created his own production and was completely independent of Theodor Bergman!
Intermission. (To be continued.)