There is now no more famous designer of small arms in the world than Mikhail Timofeevich Kalashnikov. And there is nothing surprising in this. The submachine gun created by him back in the mid-forties of the last century is by far the most widespread in the world and is in service with several dozen countries.
At the end of 2013, an outstanding Russian weapons designer Mikhail Timofeevich Kalashnikov passed away. He was 94 years old. During his long life, this man made an invaluable contribution to increasing the defense capability of his fatherland.
Childhood and adolescence of the great designer
Mikhail Timofeevich Kalashnikov was born from the village of Kurya, Kuryevsky District, Altai Territory, into a large peasant family. He was the seventeenth child of his parents.
When Mikhail was 11 years old, his family was dispossessed and deported to Kazakhstan. There, after finishing 9 classes, he went to work as an apprentice in railway workshops. A year later, he was transferred to work in Alma-Ata as the technical secretary of the Turkestan-Siberian railway.
The young Kalashnikov's ability to invent for the first time manifested itself in the army in Western Ukraine.
His first military invention was an inertial counter for recording shots from a tank gun. Then he created a device for the TT pistol, which allows aimed shooting from the tank's viewing slots. And finally, he invented a tank engine resource meter.
The last invention was not ignored by the commander of the Southwestern Military District, General Georgy Zhukov, and sent Kalashnikov to the Leningrad Tank Plant to introduce this new mechanical device into production.
Immediately after the start of the war, Mikhail Timofeevich went to the front, where he served as a tank commander. In the fall of 1941, his tank was hit, and he himself was seriously wounded and shell-shocked. The hospital had to undergo long-term treatment. It was there that Kalashnikov got the idea to create a fundamentally new submachine gun.
The creation of the Kalashnikov assault rifle
The first sample of his Kalashnikov submachine gun was created in the workshops of the railway depot at Tuya station in Kazakhstan, where he arrived on a six-month vacation for health reasons. The second - already in the workshops of the Moscow Aviation Institute. Immediately after manufacture, the prototype was sent for testing to the Artillery Academy, as well as to Moscow for consideration by specialists from the Main Artillery Directorate of the Red Army.
The design of the Kalashnikov submachine gun was highly appreciated by all specialists. But it was not accepted for production due to the complexity of the design. But Mikhail Timofeevich himself received a referral for active military service at the central research range of the Main Artillery Directorate.
During the Second World War, submachine guns were adopted by all armies of the belligerent countries. It was a good melee weapon. But they had a significant drawback. Firing pistol caliber bullets, submachine guns were seriously inferior to carbines in terms of range and accuracy of fire. Kalashnikov was given the task of creating an automatic weapon that shoots 7.62 mm bullets.
And in 1947, Kalashnikov successfully completed the task. His development of the machine won a test competition, and after 2 years it was put into mass production.
All subsequent years Mikhail Timofeevich lived in Izhevsk. He worked at the Izhmash plant, which produced Kalashnikov assault rifles. There he headed the design bureau to improve his formidable brainchild. He did not stop this work until his death.