21 September 1949 was adopted by the Soviet Army with the legendary Kalashnikov assault rifle.
History The appearance of the Kalashnikov assault rifle began at the end of 1942, when Soviet troops seized on the front the first samples of the German MKb.42 (H) automatic carbines (automata) under an intermediate cartridge 7,92 × 33. In the summer of 1943, at a meeting at an NGO, based on a study of the captured MKb.42 (H) submachine gun and the American M1 carbine, it was decided to urgently develop its complex weapons under the intermediate cartridge, which provided infantry with the possibility of effective firing at ranges of the order of 400 meters (beyond the capabilities of submachine guns).
The development of the new complex was begun, of course, with the creation of a new cartridge, and already in November 1943, drawings and specifications of the new cartridge, developed by designers Semin and Elizarov, were sent to all organizations involved in the development of small arms. This cartridge had a bottle sleeve with a length of 41 mm and was equipped with a pointed bullet with a caliber 7,62-mm and a mass of 8 grams with a lead core. The development of weapons for the new cartridge was launched in several directions - automatic, self-loading carbine and carbine with manual reloading.
In the middle of 1944, the testing committee selected for further development the automatic machine of Sudayev’s design, which received the AC-44 index. According to the results of its refinement, it was decided to issue a small series and conduct military tests, which took place in the spring and summer of 1945, both in the group of Soviet troops in Germany and in a number of units in the USSR. The overall test experience turned out to be positive, but the troops expressed a firm demand for reducing the mass of the machine. As a result, it was decided to conduct another round of tests at the beginning of 1946. This is where Sergeant Kalashnikov comes on the scene. After being injured in 1942, he developed a submachine gun of the original design during the treatment, and as a result was sent to continue service at the Scientific Test Ground for Small Arms and Mortar Weapons (NIPSMVO) in the town of Shchurovo, not far from Moscow. Here the Kalashnikov in the 1944 year developed a self-loading carbine, in the design of which the obvious influence of the American rifle M1Garand was traced, and with the announcement of the competition for the Kalashnikov assault rifle, it was involved in it.
AK-46 and its competitors:
Automatic Bulkina AB-46
In November 1946, the Kalashnikov project was, among some others, approved for the manufacture of prototypes, and Kalashnikov was seconded to Kovrov, to plant No.2 for the direct manufacture of experimental automata. The first Kalashnikov assault rifle, known as the AK-46, had a design with a detachable receiver, an automatic with a short stroke located above the barrel of a gas piston and a butterfly valve, as well as a separate fuse and translator of fire modes on the left side of the weapon.
In December, the AK-1946 Kalashnikov assault rifle went to the test, where its main competitors were the Bulin AB-46 Tula automat (about him - TUT) and the Dementieva AD machine gun. Then came the second round of tests, after which AK-46 was recognized by the commission as unsuitable for further testing.
Despite this decision, Kalashnikov, with the support of a number of members of the commission consisting of NIPSMVO officers with whom he served at the test site from 1943, obtained a review of the decision and received approval for further fine-tuning of his machine gun. Returning to Kovrov, Kalashnikov decided to radically rework his design, in which the experienced designer of the Kovrov plant Zaitsev actively helped him. As a result, by the next round of testing, a new automatic machine was created, which had the most minimal similarity with the AK-46, but had a significant similarity with one of its main competitors, the Bulkin machine gun (the slide frame with a rigidly attached gas piston, the receiver box and its covers, placing a return spring with a guide and using a protrusion on the guide of the return spring to lock the cover of the receiver).
In general, all key design solutions of the new machine gun were borrowed from other systems - so, the trigger mechanism was borrowed with minimal improvements from the Czech self-loading rifle Holek, the safety lever, which was also the dust cover for the shutter handle window, was “peeped” from the Remington self-loading rifle Browning design 8, “hanging out” of the bolt group inside the receiver with minimal friction areas and large gaps - at the Sudayev’s submachine gun. It should be noted here that during this period, copying and borrowing other people's constructive decisions (including from direct competitors) was not only not forbidden, but was directly welcomed by both the test commission and higher organizations.
It should also be noted that the use of the sum of proven and successful solutions by itself does not guarantee the success of the resulting sample - this requires considerable engineering and design work, which was done by Kalashnikov and Zaitsev in the shortest possible time. As a result, the next round of tests, held in December 1946 - January 1947, came out three machine guns - slightly finished samples of Dementiev and Bulkin and in fact a new Kalashnikov and Zaitsev machine gun. According to test results, none of the samples completely satisfied the tactical and technical requirements - the Kalashnikov assault rifle, being the most reliable of all three, showed insufficient firing accuracy, and the only automatic machine that fully met the accuracy requirements - TKB-415 of the Bulkin system, had problems with reliability and vitality of a number of parts.
At the meeting of the test committee, the results of the next stage of the competition were finally decided to recommend the Kalashnikov assault rifle to be tested as the most reliable, and it was postponed indefinitely to bring it to the requirements of accuracy. This decision can be considered justified from the point of view that in the current situation of the Soviet army would be much more useful reliable, but not very accurate machine in the near future than a reliable and accurate machine is not known when.
Production of new machines was decided to start at the Izhevsk plant, where Kalashnikov was sent from Kovrov at the end of 1947. The first batches of new machines were assembled in Izhevsk in the middle of the 1948 of the year, and at the end of the 1949 of the year, according to the results of military tests, the Soviet army was adopted by the Soviet Army in two versions under the designations "7,62-mm Kalashnikov AK-machine" and "7,62-mm Kalashnikov" with folding butt ACS "(for the airborne troops). The serial production of new assault rifles unfolded in Izhevsk with big problems. The main problem was the receiver, assembled from a stamped steel body and a massive milled liner in the front with rivets. The imperfection of the technology led to distortions in the shape and size of the receiver and other problems, which, in turn, caused a large percentage of defects. After analyzing the problems, the designers of the plant made a seemingly paradoxical decision - the transition to the “outdated” technology of milling the receiver from solid forging instead of stamping and riveting would be economically justified due to a sharp reduction in the number of defects and returns from automatic acceptance. A new receiver was developed in the department of the chief designer of the Izhevsk plant, and from 1951, AK and AKS automatic rifles began to be produced with a milled receiver. At the same time, in the course of production, numerous improvements were made to the design and technology of production of automatic machines. The appearance in the first half of the fifties of an experienced Korobov assault rifle, which surpassed AK in shooting accuracy, as well as being lighter and cheaper to manufacture, led to the appearance of a new lightweight automaton in the 1955 year. In the future, these requirements were added to the requirements to create the most standardized with a machine gun automatic weapon - weapons of support for the level of separation.
Competitive tests were held in 1957-58 years and included a fairly large range of samples from different design bureaus. For these tests, the Kalashnikov group presented an improved version of the AK with a new stamped receiver, as well as a light machine gun at its base. According to the test results, the 1959-mm Kalashnikov Modernized AKM assault rifle was adopted by the Soviet Army in 7,62, as it demonstrated high reliability, acceptable performance in terms of accuracy and accuracy of shooting and “familiar” to both industry and troops. In 1974, the Soviet Army adopted the 5.45 mm rifle complex, consisting of an AK-74 assault rifle and a RPK-74 light machine gun, and the production of assault rifles in the USSR AKM was curtailed. Nevertheless, a significant number of 7,62-mm AKM assault rifles still remain in service with various branches of the Russian army - I myself had to shoot 1997-made 1998-end automatic 7,62-X machines during 1960-1970 in the Russian Federation. - the beginning of 7,62's. A considerable number of 7,62-mm automata are in service with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Russian police. AK and subsequently AKM were widely supplied to USSR-friendly countries and regimes, both in the form of ready-made weapons, and in the form of production licenses, coupled with all the necessary documentation and technical assistance. 90-mm machines were produced in Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary, the GDR, Egypt, Iraq, China, Romania, North Korea, Finland, and were supplied to an even greater number of countries. As a matter of fact, such a wide distribution of Kalashnikov assault rifles in the world (as a rule, the number of manufactured AK-type assault rifles around the world is estimated to be XNUMX million pieces) is primarily determined by the policy of the USSR, which generously distributed automatons and its production technology to all who declared their readiness to follow the socialist ways or at least to fight world imperialism and colonialism.
As a result of such generosity in the past, at present Russia has lost a significant part of the automaton market, as now only lazy in the countries of the former socialist bloc does not produce this or that version of the Kalashnikov assault rifle. Civilian semi-automatic AK variants are quite popular both in Russia (carbines and shotguns of the Saiga series) and abroad, especially in the USA (mainly due to the promotion of the Kalashnikov brand, unpretentiousness to the cartridges and low prices).
The Kalashnikov was not a copy of the MP-43 (Stg.44).
MP-43 (top) and AK-47 (bottom)
One of the myths related to the fact that Kalashnikov “sketched” AK from the German MP-43 submachine gun, also known as Stg.44, also indicating that according to some data Schmeisser worked in Izhevsk from 1947 to 1950. Indeed, at first glance, the external layout of the AK and MP-43 is similar, as is the concept of automatic weapons under the intermediate cartridge. Similar outlines of the trunk, front sight and the vapor pipe are due to the use of a similar vapor engine (invented long before Schmeisser and Kalashnikov). The disassembly of the AK and MP-43 differs fundamentally: for the AK, the receiver's cover is removed, and for the MP-43, the USM box is folded down on the pin together with the fire control handle. The barrel locking device is also different (rotary bolt at AK against the bias of the bolt at MP-43) and trigger mechanisms. It is likely that Kalashnikov knew about the MP-43, but it is obvious that when creating his machine gun, he focused more on other well-known samples and systems (see above). The main merit of Kalashnikov (or rather, his entire team, engaged in the development and debugging of the machine), is precisely the optimal layout of already known and proven solutions into a single sample that meets the requirements. Kalashnikov AKM is an automatic weapon with a gas engine automation, store-powered and air-cooled barrel. The basis of automation is a gas engine with a long stroke gas piston. The leading element of automation is a massive slide frame, to which the gas piston rod is rigidly attached. The gas chamber is located above the barrel, the gas piston moves inside the detachable gas tube with the barrel pad. The bolt carrier moves inside the receiver along the two side guides, and the design provides for significant gaps between the moving parts of the automation and fixed elements of the receiver, which ensures reliable operation even with strong internal contamination of the weapon. Another aspect contributing to the reliable operation of automation in harsh conditions is the deliberately excessive power of a gas engine under normal conditions. This allows you to abandon the gas regulator, and thereby simplify the design of the weapon and its operation. The cost of this solution is increased recoil and vibration of the weapon when firing, which reduces the accuracy and accuracy of fire, and also reduces the life of the receiver, in the back wall of which falls the massive bolt carrier. The barrel bore is locked by a rotating bolt on two radial lugs engaged in engagement with the elements of the liner insert. The rotation of the shutter is provided by the interaction of the protrusion on its body with the shaped groove on the inner surface of the bolt carrier. The recoil spring with the guide rod and its base are made in the form of a single assembly. The base of the return spring rod also serves as a latch on the receiver cover. Cocking handle zatselo executed with bolt carrier, located on the weapon to the right and moves when shooting. Receiver AKM - stamped from steel sheet, with riveted milled insert in front of it. In the early AK automatons, the receiver box was a combination of stamped and milled elements, for serial AKs, the whole was milled. At first glance, the milled receiver and stamped can be easily distinguished from each other in the form of grooves above the slot for the store. On AKs with a milled box these are rather long milled hollows of a rectangular shape, on AKM they are small stampings of an oval shape. The trigger mechanism (USM) AKM - kurkovy, provides maintenance of single and automatic fire. The choice of fire modes and the inclusion of the fuse are made by a long stamped lever on the right side of the receiver. In the upper position - “Fuse” - it closes the slot in the receiver, protecting the mechanism from dirt and dust, blocks the movement of the slide frame back, and also locks the trigger. In the middle position, it blocks the sear of a single fire, providing automatic fire. In the lower position, the sear of single fire is released, providing fire with single shots. In USM AKM, unlike AK, additionally introduced trigger retarder, which with automatic fire delays the trigger after the self-timer is triggered for a few milliseconds. This allows the bolt carrier to stabilize in the extreme forward position after it comes forward and a possible rebound. This delay has practically no effect on the rate of fire, but it improves the stability of the weapon. The muzzle of the barrel has a thread, which was originally placed nozzle for firing blank cartridges, and in its absence - a protective sleeve. From the beginning of the sixties, AKM's automatic machines began to install a compensator on this thread, reducing the tossing and shifting to the side of the barrel during automatic firing due to the use of pressure from the powder gases escaping from the barrel to the lower lip of the compensator. In addition, a special silencer (a device for silent and flameless firing) PBS or PBS-1 used in special operations can be installed on the same thread.
Food of automatic machines is carried out from box shops with a two-row arrangement of cartridges. Established capacity stores - 30 cartridges. Early shops were stamped from steel, with flat walls. Later, steel-stamped shops with vertical curved punchings on the sidewalls to increase rigidity, as well as aluminum light-weight shops, appeared. Then plastic stores of the characteristic dirty-orange color appeared in the army. If necessary, 40 cartridge horns and 75 cartridge disks from the PKK machine gun can be used in AKM.