Mikhail Kalashnikov

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Lieutenant General Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov (Russian: Михаи́л Тимофе́евич Кала́шников, Mihail Timofeevič Kalašnikov) (born November 10, 1919 in Russia's southern Altai region) is a Russian (formerly Soviet) small arms designer, most famous for designing the AK-47 assault rifle, the AKM and the AK-74.


Early life

Kalashnikov's father was deported when Kalashnikov was still a boy.[2] In his youth Kalashnikov wrote poetry, and he was expected to become a poet.[3] He went on to write six books and continued to write poetry all his life.[4]

Kalashnikov was conscripted into the Red Army in 1938, and became a tank driver-mechanic, achieving the rank of senior sergeant (tank commander) serving on the T-34s of the 24th Tank Regiment, 12th Tank Division[5] stationed in Stryi[6][7] before the regiment retreated after the failed counterattack at Brody, June 1941. He was wounded in combat during the defence of Bryansk, October 1941, and released for six months recuperation due to illness. While in the hospital, he overheard some soldiers complaining about the Soviet rifles of the time[citation needed].

He also had bad experiences with the standard infantry weapons at the time, so he was inspired to start constructing a new rifle for the Soviet military. During this time Kalashnikov began designing a submachine gun.[8]

Although his first submachine gun design was not accepted to service, his talent as a designer was noticed. From 1942 onwards Kalashnikov was assigned to the Central Scientific-developmental Firing Range for Rifle Firearms of the Chief Artillery Directorate of RKKA. Later in life he claimed that the priority of simplicity and dependability in his designs was influenced by principles he had gained from reading of Russian literature and the Bible.[9]

In 1944, he designed a gas-operated carbine for the new 7.62x39 mm cartridge; this weapon, influenced by the StG 44 assault rifle, lost out to the new Simonov carbine which would be eventually adopted as the SKS; but it became a basis for his entry in an assault rifle competition in 1946.[10] His winning entry, the "Mikhtim" (so named by taking the first letters of his name and patronymic Mikhail Timofeyevich) became the prototype for the development of a family of prototype rifles.[11]

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