Photo: Ministry of defence of the Russian Federation
The Commission initially selected ten projects. In the metal it was recommended to produce only five samples. Then testing began. According to their results in December 1946, he left three of the project. Development Alexei was called Bulkina AB-46, Alexandra Dementieva — AD-46, Kalashnikov — AK-46. All three samples recommended to be finalized.
The Kalashnikov was recognized as the best?
— Not this time. In may 1947, Mikhail Kalashnikov introduced a new sample with the symbol AK-46 No. 2, and still exactly the same, but with the framework, not the wooden stock of the AK-46 No. 3 — for paratroopers.
They differed from the previous AK. But again, not satisfied with the military. Projects Bulkin, and Dementyev Kalashnikov again sent back for revision. Given time until August 1947.
Mikhail Kalashnikov was assigned to design Bureau of plant №2 of a name of Capriana Kirkia in the city of Kovrov of the Vladimir region. Later it will be the plant of a name of Vasily Degtyarev.
In Kovrov Kalashnikov worked together with young designers Alexander Smirnov and Alexander Zaitsev. You can call them sponsors. The team of Mikhail Kalashnikov at your own risk despite the terms of the contest almost radically redesigned machine. The development was named KBP-580. This project, in fact, became known as the AK-47.
— How was he different?
— Both in appearance and structurally, except, perhaps, venting systems, this sample was not similar to those which Kalashnikov participated in the contest previously. It KBP-580 (AK-47) has acquired the same recognizable features of a Kalashnikov.
Thanks to the talent of the designer, the design of the machine was simple, and the mechanisms — reliable and dependable in all conditions.
KBP-580 (AK-47) after finishing in Kovrov was submitted in August 1947 to the Commission. In our days it is kept in the Museum of Victory.
It is, in fact, a reference sample. On its basis was created the technical documentation. 21 January 1948, was an order of the Minister of arms of the Soviet Union Dmitriy Ustinov about making the installation of the party in the 1500 machines under the factory designation AK-47 at the Izhevsk motor plant No. 524.
Year the machine was tested. The Soviet army 7.62-mm Kalashnikov assault rifle (AK), enacted on 18 June 1949.
— That AK? Not an AK-47?
— The designation AK-46 and AK-47 was only used during the creation and testing of office documents for the project. After adopting, as a rule, weapons may even be called differently. Here is an example from aviation. The prototype of the 5th generation was initially called T-50. And only later it was called su-57.
For small arms in the Soviet Union there was a tradition in the name to specify the name of the designer. For example, the PPSH — submachine gun Shpagina, PM — Makarov pistol, SKS — Simonov self-loading carbine. Serial Kalashnikov correctly should be called AK, not AK-47. Version with folding stock is called the AX — Kalashnikov folding. Later in 1959 was accepted into service a modernized AKM.
The numbers in the name “Kalash” appears only in 1974, when it was adopted by the AK-74 under malinowsky cartridge 5. 45×39 mm.
— When you create some models of Soviet weapons used in Western practices, including German. In the designs of Kalashnikov such borrowing, is not it?
— From time to time there are hints that Kalashnikov could use the help of German small arms designer Hugo Schmeisser, who in the years 1946-1950 was in the USSR. After all, his company was created, Mkb and StG-44. But it’s a lie. Any part Hugo Schmeisser, nor any other German engineer or designer participation in the design, manufacture or modernization of the AK did not accept. It was impossible at least for security reasons.
Indeed, a number of German experts brought in the autumn of 1946 in Izhevsk. Among them was the Schmeisser, who was there almost to the end of 1952.
Mikhail Kalashnikov first came to Izhevsk, where they were supposed to release installation the AK party, in the spring of 1948. In may—August, 1947, as I said, he modified the machine in Kovrov — a thousand miles from Izhevsk. And started work on the machine he did in Kolomna.
That is, none of the Izhevsk designers, especially foreigners, have not seen machine and its designer, nor documentation until March 1948.
With the adoption service in June 1949 the AK on 26 June of the same year signed a Directive on the observance of secrecy when maintaining the production of the machine, which excluded any admission of foreigners to the entire project.
And the Schmeisser was not particularly eager to work for their former enemies. Periodically, he sabotaged the activities of the “German Department” Izhmash, but received a salary like any other employee of the company.
The only thing that unites shturmgevera and AK, as well as some other machines, presented in competition in 1946, is a certain external similarity. But of no copy, of course, can not speak.
System AK and StG-44 are different in the method of locking the shutter. This is one of the most important hallmarks of design. At AK locking takes place by turning the bolt around the longitudinal axis, and shturmgevera with the warp gate in the vertical plane. This is a key distinction.
In addition, different receiver machines. At AK it is in the incision looks like an inverted letter “P” with the bends at the top. There is a slide group, cover the top with a removable cover.
The automatic rifle — Schmeisser tubular receiver, divided almost into two equal parts horizontally. The upper part in cross-section resembles digit 8. There is a shutter, and the lower part of the trigger.
Our automatic German rifle differently understand and gather for cleaning. There are other important differences.
German layout, by the way, structurally, almost entirely borrowed American designer Eugene Stoner when created in the 50-60-ies of the M16. Various modifications of the M16 are still in the US army.
— Where are the first prototypes of the AK?
— I have already said that the final version of the KBP-580 was born in Kovrov, where Mikhail Kalashnikov worked in the design Bureau of plant No. 2. In the late 90-ies of this KB, it was called “Rebar”, was transferred to the Center Khrunichev, changing its profile. But in CB there are so-called technical Cabinet from the days when they were engaged with small arms. Everything was there, the prototypes of small arms and bladed weapons, including KBP-580 was donated to the Museum of Victory on Poklonnaya hill.
Only the funds of the Museum of Victory is kept 71 machine design is legendary gunsmith. 41 a sample of various modifications, created in the USSR and Russia; the Chinese a license 15 machines, 9 Egyptian, 2 automatic production of the German Democratic Republic, 2 in the Romanian version and one machine Polish and Yugoslav production.