Alexey Ivanovich Sudayev began work on promising small arms almost immediately after the appearance of a new intermediate cartridge. In the draft of the machine for this ammunition, it was planned to use already developed ideas and solutions of various kinds, and in addition, to introduce some new proposals. Thanks to this, in a relatively short time, it was possible to develop a draft automatic weapon, which partially met the requirements and could be used as a basis for new automatic weapons.
The first version of the machine, known as “AC-44, model 1”, was a weapon for an intermediate cartridge with automatic based on the removal of powder gases. The overall layout of the AC-44 units did not differ from other similar developments of the time or later samples. In addition, in this project were laid some ideas that are still actively used in the creation of small arms. For example, namely A.I. Sudayev proposed the use of relatively large gaps between parts that facilitate their production and improve performance.
Automaton AC-44 version "model 1"
The automatic Sudayev of the first model turned out to be rather large and heavy. Due to the use of the 505-mm barrel and the fixed wooden butt, the total length of the product was 1033 mm (excluding the bayonet), and the weight without cartridges reached 5,67 kg. One of the reasons for such a large mass was the use of a thick-walled barrel. In order to improve the characteristics of fire, the designer in all his projects used “heavy” barrels, the muzzle of which had an external diameter of the order of 18-20 mm. In the first draft, the barrel was closed with a cylindrical housing with perforations for cooling by ambient air. At the muzzle of the barrel there was a compensator.
"AC-44, model 1" used gas automatics. In the upper wall of the barrel there was a vent, through which the gases were to enter the chamber and put pressure on the piston, which was part of the bolt group. A relatively long piston tube was located above the barrel.
The piston tube, barrel and housing were mounted in a rectangular receiver. Interestingly, when developing this unit A.I. Sudayev applied the ideas previously used in the design of the PPS-43 submachine gun. So, it was proposed to mount the firing mechanism on the bottom cover of the receiver, which, in turn, could be folded down on the axis for maintenance.
Inside the receiver it was proposed to place a movable bolt group with a bolt and a piston, as well as a return spring with a guide rod. The gas piston had to fit into the tube and ensure the movement of the bolt group under the influence of gases from the barrel. It was proposed to lock the barrel by skewing the bolt in a vertical plane. An interesting feature of the АС-44, which distinguished it from some other samples of that time, was the cocking handle displayed on the left side of the weapon. The total weight of the bolt group was 715.
"Model 1" parsed
On a separate rocking base with a pistol grip and a protective bracket, it was necessary to mount the details of the firing mechanism. USM design allowed to block the descent, as well as firing single or bursts. The flag of the fuse-translator of fire was on the left side of the receiver and, with proper skill, could be controlled by the thumb of the right hand.
For the new machine, a box magazine with a double-row 30 cartridges was developed. The store was proposed to be placed in a small receiving shaft on the bottom of the receiver. Cartridges must have been thrown through a window in the right upper part of the receiver.
The sights of the AC-44 machine consisted of an open mechanical sight and a fly raised on a stand. The sight was designed for shooting at a distance of up to 800 m. The aiming line was 580 mm.
The machine should have been equipped with a fixed butt, pistol grip and a relatively short U-shaped forearm. All this accessories had to be made of wood. A curious feature of Sudayev’s early automata was the fry. It was assumed that to improve the performance of the fire, the shooter would be able to use the folding biped fry and rely on a weapon. Mount bipod was under the barrel cover, in front of the forearm. It was suggested to fold it by turning forward.
Product Type AC-44 of the first type was submitted to the ground tests in May 1944. The machine gun showed itself well and demonstrated the correctness of the main ideas and solutions. However, it was not without problems and complaints. Tests have revealed the low reliability of some parts, including the drummer, the ejector, etc. Also, the customer did not approve the difficulty of disassembling weapons. According to the results of the first tests, the designer was instructed to modify the existing project in order to eliminate the deficiencies found.
By the end of summer 1944, A.I. Sudayev completed work on the second version of the AC-44. Outwardly, this automaton differed from its predecessor by another form of receiver, which had an increased height, longer head and other arrangement of some parts. Some modifications have undergone internal units. In particular, the configuration of the gas chamber changed, and the moving parts were lightened to 520. At the same time, the gas automatics and other general provisions of the project remained intact.
Changing the design of the receiver, above all, was associated with the use of a hinged cover. To access the internal units, it was now proposed to lift the box cover mounted on the axle forward-up, which greatly facilitated the maintenance of the weapon. In this case, the bottom cover of the box with the trigger, as before, could be folded down.
During the modernization has significantly changed the ergonomics of the weapon. Thus, the bolt handle was placed on the right side, and the fuse and the translator of fire were separated. The button, which blocked the trigger, was now located above the pistol grip, and the movable fire interpreter was placed inside the trigger bracket.
"AC-44, model 2" had a length of 990 mm with an 485-mm barrel. Due to the processing of the structure, the weight of the weapon without ammunition was reduced to 4,775 kg. The main parameters of the machine remained at the same level, although the reliability of some of the details, previously the reason for criticism, has increased markedly.
According to the results of testing the second automaton A.I. Sudaev conducted a new revision of the project. The machine has again undergone significant alterations affecting all major details. While maintaining common solutions, the receiver was changed. In particular, the designer refused to fold the trigger mechanism. The design of the barrel casing also changed, and instead of the muzzle brake, it was proposed to use two groups of three holes drilled directly in the barrel walls as a separate part.
The moving parts of the automatics after the upgrade became heavier - their weight was 670. The bolt handle, as in the second project, was displayed on the right side of the weapon. The USM was seriously changed. Now he allowed to fire only in an automatic mode, and it was possible to shoot solo only with the appropriate skill. As a fuse, it was proposed to use a flap dust cover for the ejection window of the sleeves. There were special cuts in it to fix the bolt handle in the required position.
Refinement weapons again allowed to reduce size and weight. The third model of the AC-44 had a length (without a bayonet) 900 mm with a barrel length 400 mm. The weight of the construction with the magazine, but without the cartridges was reduced to 4,54 kg. One way to lighten the weapon was to abandon the bayonet and the bipod. In addition, the thickness of the walls of the trunk has decreased.
Tests of the third version of the machine, conducted in the autumn of 1944, showed that the product meets the requirements and can be admitted to new checks. Now it was proposed to make a batch of new automata and pass it on to the military trials. According to some information, the third version of the machine gun did not hit the troop tests. After the next checks at the site of A.I. Sudayev decided to change the design of the weapon again, as a result of which the troops had to test the fourth version of the AU-44.
The automatic machine "АС-44, model 4" was distinguished by a modified construction of wooden fittings and some other modifications. So, instead of a separate butt and forearm, a single relatively long unit made of wood was now used, which contained the lower part of the receiver. Automation weapons was slightly modified and retained the general principles of work. The trigger mechanism was once again returned to work in two modes, and the layout of its controls again changed. A fuse button appeared on the right above the pistol grip, and the flag of the fire interpreter was placed on the opposite side of the product. Finally, the bipod and bayonet were returned to the machine gun, simultaneously depriving it of the muzzle brake.
According to some information, the fourth version of the project implied the use of trunks of three types that differed in length. As a result, three versions of the weapon were presented to the tests, which are sometimes referred to as "4 model", "5 model" and "6 model". The known AC-44 samples of the fourth modification had trunks of length 490, 495 and 500 mm, because of which their length was 1010, 1030 and 1030 mm, respectively. It is noteworthy that the machine with the shortest barrel was the heaviest sample (5,47 kg), and the product with the 5,15-mm barrel had the smallest weight (500 kg).
According to various data, at least 600 machines with different types of barrels were manufactured. This weapon in the spring of 1945 was handed over to the army, where all the necessary checks were carried out. According to some sources, some of the new automata were sent to a grouping of troops deployed in Germany, and the rest were tested in the Soviet Union, in different regions of the country and, as a result, in different climatic conditions.
During the field and military tests, it was found that the AC-44 machine gun in its current form when firing at queues at a distance of up to 600 m does not differ in basic characteristics from the existing DP machine gun for a more powerful rifle cartridge. At the same time there is a serious gain in the weight of the weapon and ammunition to it. At medium distances, the submachine gun with a noticeable margin won against the pistol-machine guns in service. Nevertheless, in terms of the performance of a single lamp, the machine gun did not exceed some existing samples or even yielded to them. The designer was recommended to lighten the weapon, after which it could find a place for itself in the nomenclature of army weapons.
In October, 1945, a new version of the AU-44, also known as SLA (Sudaev Lightweight Machine), was introduced for testing. The lower weight of the structure was achieved by dismounting the bipod and the bayonet, changing the configuration of wooden parts and facilitating some metal. During the tests, it was found that the relief of weapons while maintaining the cartridge leads to a deterioration in accuracy and accuracy. In addition, there were problems with the reliability of some parts. It was necessary to rework the draft SLA in accordance with the new data on its design.
Approximately in the 1945 year (there are no exact data on this score) an experimental machine with a YE 328 serial number was manufactured. It differed from the rest of the development of the AC-44 family by its basic principles of operation. Based on the design of the fourth version of the automaton, the prototype of the YU 328 had automatics with a free gate. The barrel of the weapon had a gas outlet, which, however, was plugged. According to one of the versions, a prototype with a free gate was created for conducting experiments after the completion of troop tests of the product "AU-44, model 4".
Improving an SLA product could lead it to the leaders of the current program, and then lead to adoption. However, events have evolved differently. In 1946, A.I. Sudaeva struck a serious illness. Once in the hospital, the designer continued to work and improve certain nodes of his promising machine. 17 August 1946, the designer passed away at the age of 33 years. The AC-44 project in the OAC version has not been completed.
In connection with the death of the designer, the automatic machines of the AC-44 family were withdrawn from the competition. The development of these projects has been completely discontinued. Nevertheless, the ideas embodied in them did not disappear. Some solutions proposed, implemented and verified by A.I. Sudayev, later used in the creation of other projects of machines. Thus, the AU-44 did not become a weapon for the Soviet army, but to a certain extent helped other developments to find their place in the army.
Several samples of automata AI Sudaeva. Like many other unique samples, they are stored in the Tula State Museum of Weapons, as well as in the Military Historical Museum of Artillery, Engineering Troops and Communication Troops (St. Petersburg). According to reports, in two museums there are prototypes of the “1 model”, “2 model” and “3 model”, as well as three copies of the “4 model” with different trunks and a machine with a free gate. The fate of the machines released for military trials is not known for certain. Apparently, after completing the checks, they were sent to storage and later disposed of.
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