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Creator of AK-47 dies

23 December 2013 05:16 pm - 20     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Lt. Gen. Mikhail T. Kalashnikov, the arms designer credited by the Soviet Union with creating the AK-47, the first in a series of rifles and machine guns that would indelibly associate his name with modern war and become the most abundant firearms ever made, died on Monday in Izhevsk, the capital of the Udmurtia republic, where he lived. He was 94.
 
Viktor Chulkov, a spokesman for the republic’s president, confirmed the death, the Itar-Tass news agency reported.
 
Born a peasant on the southern Siberian steppe, General Kalashnikov had little formal education and claimed to be a self-taught tinkerer who combined innate mechanical skills with the study of weapons to conceive of a rifle that achieved battlefield ubiquity.
 
His role in the rifle’s creation, and the attention showered on him by the Kremlin’s propaganda machine, carried him from conscription in the Red Army to senior positions in the Soviet arms-manufacturing bureaucracy and ultimately to six terms on the Supreme Soviet.
 
Tens of millions of Kalashnikov rifles have been manufactured. Their short barrels, steep front-sight posts and curved magazines made them a marker of conflict that has endured for decades. The weapons also became both Soviet and revolutionary symbols and widespread instruments of terrorism, child-soldiering and crime.
 
The general, who sometimes lamented the weapons’ unchecked distribution but took pride in having invented them and in their reputation for reliability, weathered the collapse of the Soviet Union to assume a public role as a folk hero and unequivocal Russian patriot.
 
A Soviet nostalgist, he also served as the unofficial arms ambassador of the revived Russian state. He used public appearances to try to cast the AK-47’s checkered legacy in a positive way and to complain that knockoffs were being manufactured illegally by former Soviet allies and cutting into Russian sales.
 
The weapon, he said, was designed to protect his motherland, not to be used by terrorists or thugs. “This is a weapon of defense,” he said. “It is not a weapon for offense.”
 
General Kalashnikov’s public life resulted from a secret competition to develop the Soviet infantry rifle for the Cold War. The result was the AK-47 — an abbreviation for “the automatic by Kalashnikov” followed by the year the competition ended.
 
General Kalashnikov, a senior sergeant at the time who had been injured in battle against German tanks, was credited with leading the design bureau that produced the AK-47 prototype. The Soviet Union began issuing a mass-produced version to soldiers in 1949.
 
The true AK-47 was short-lived. It was followed in the 1950s by a modernized version, the A.K.M., which retained its predecessor’s underlying design while reducing its weight and manufacturing time.
 
Shorter than traditional infantry rifles and firing a cartridge midway between the power of a pistol and the standard rifle cartridges of the day, the Kalashnikov line was initially dismissed by American ordnance experts as a weapon of small consequence. It was not particularly accurate or well made, they said, and it lacked range and stopping power.
 
It cemented its place in martial history in the 1960s in Vietnam, where a new American rifle, the M-16, experienced problems with corrosion and jamming in the jungles, while Kalashnikovs, carried by Vietcong guerrillas and North Vietnamese soldiers, worked almost flawlessly.
 
By this time, in an effort to standardize infantry weapons among potential allies, the Soviet Union had exported the rifle’s specifications and its manufacturing technology to China, Egypt, North Korea and the Warsaw Pact nations. Communist engineers would eventually share the manufacturing technology with other countries, including Iraq.
 
The weapon’s design was also incorporated into arms manufactured in Finland, Israel, South Africa and other nations. The result was a long line of derivatives and copies. Almost all are referred to as AK-47s by colloquial, if inaccurate, shorthand.
Because Kalashnikov rifles were principally made by secretive governments and often changed hands in nontransparent transfers, it is not known how many have been manufactured. Common estimates put production at 70 to 100 million; either number would dwarf the production of any other gun.
The rifles eventually filled armories throughout Eastern Europe and Asia and spread from war to war, passing to Soviet allies and proxies, and to terrorists and criminals, aided by intelligence agencies and gray- and black-market sales. The United States became an active purchaser, arming anti-Soviet fighters in Afghanistan in the 1980s and indigenous Afghan and Iraqi forces in recent years.
 
General Kalashnikov’s bureau also used the A.K.M. design to develop machine guns for infantry squads, helicopter crews and vehicles. By the 1970s, the rifle’s design had become the basis for a new Soviet rifle, known as the AK-74, that fired a smaller and faster cartridge similar to that of the M-16. That rifle remains the standard arm of the Russian Army.
 
The general often claimed that he never realized any profit from his work. But in his last years he urged interviewers not to portray him as poor, noting that he had a sizable apartment, a good car and a comfortable dacha on a lake near the factory where he had worked for decades.
 
Work and loyalty to country, he often suggested, were their own rewards. “I am told sometimes, ‘If you had lived in the West you would have been a multimillionaire long ago,'  ” he said. “There are other values.”
 
How essential the general was to creation of the Kalashnikov line has been subject to dispute. A post-Soviet account in the newspaper Pravda challenged his central role, asserting that two supervisors repeatedly modified his weapon during field trials.
 
An amiable personality with a biography ideal for proletarian fable, he was given credit for their work, the newspaper claimed. The general fiercely disputed suggestions that the design was guided by others, but also said the rifle was the result of the entire collective that labored beside him.
 
The Kremlin embraced his version, although a careful reading of the official histories and General Kalashnikov’s many statements and memoirs shows that his accounts of his life, combat service and work repeatedly changed, raising questions about the veracity of the conventional accounts.
 
Mikhail Timofeyovich Kalashnikov was born in Kurya on Nov. 10, 1919. He was married twice, the second time to Ekaterina Kalashnikova, a technician in his design bureau. He is survived by a son from his first marriage, Viktor Kalashnikov, who is also an arms designer; a daughter from his second marriage, Elena Krasnovskaya; a stepdaughter, Nelya; and several grandchildren.
 
Later in life, he disapproved of anyone who he thought had hastened the Soviet Union’s downfall, or who had been unable to control the political and economic turbulence that followed. In memoirs and interviews, he was harshly critical of Mikhail S. Gorbachev and Boris N. Yeltsin.
 
To the end he remained loyal to what he called Socialist ideals and the leaders who gave them shape, and seemed untroubled by the hardships endured by his family during the early years of Soviet rule. His family’s land and home had been seized during collectivization, and when he was a child the family was deported into the Siberian wilderness. His father died during their first Siberian winter, and one of his brothers labored for seven years as a prisoner digging the White Sea canal.
 
Still, General Kalashnikov spoke of his great respect for Lenin and Stalin alike. “I never knew him personally,” he said of Stalin, “and I regret this.” (The New York Times)
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  Comments - 20

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  • investigator Wednesday, 25 December 2013 05:53 AM

    gun do not kill.people who using it kill.doctor save the life of a sick man by using a knife,criminal kill a man using the same knife to rob and kill.do not blame the weapon,blame the people who are wrongly using it.

    Sinha lay Wednesday, 25 December 2013 05:49 PM

    We are very proud of him because he is a buddist ..he praise she lord budah..May he attain nibbana

    Arkam Wednesday, 25 December 2013 07:09 AM

    weapons are not made to kill people they are found to save good people by killing the bad ones...

    dalubanda Tuesday, 24 December 2013 10:43 AM

    May he attain Nibbana

    Gamarala Wednesday, 25 December 2013 07:38 AM

    #Dammika, He invented this rifle to protect his country. if others use it for nefarious purposes it not his problem.

    sam Thursday, 26 December 2013 01:50 AM

    according to buddhism,the following tradings are not to do,
    1.selling poisons.
    2.selling wepons.
    3.selling animals for meat.
    4.selling narcotics.
    5.prostitution.

    investigator Wednesday, 25 December 2013 08:08 AM

    he is a very talented gun designer.after he made it communist regime at the time jailed him for this invention,later decorated him with medals and general rank.he had few years in school education,this invevtion shows one can be excellent inventor even without university education.his invention miss used by millions of people.

    රටවැසියා Wednesday, 25 December 2013 09:17 AM

    Thanks

    Cobra Tuesday, 24 December 2013 12:57 AM

    He's created the ultimate weapon that is as lethal as they come.
    Can we say "Rest in Peace"?

    ANTON Tuesday, 24 December 2013 01:13 AM

    HE WILL GET VERY GOOD REWARDS IN THE HELL FOR THIS INVENTION.

    UN-Predict Wednesday, 25 December 2013 03:23 AM

    May he attain Nibbana or NOT?

    killmewithcash Tuesday, 24 December 2013 01:44 AM

    my best friend's mother makes $72 every hour on the internet. She has been fired for 9 months but last month her paycheck was $21932 just working on the internet for a few hours.

    MagodisThuma Tuesday, 24 December 2013 02:02 AM

    Now he can meet the dead people by his Magic Gun !.

    Dammika Tuesday, 24 December 2013 03:00 AM

    How may humans died out of his creation

    Ramani Tuesday, 24 December 2013 03:08 AM

    By now many people have lost their lives because of this man's AK47?

    sam Tuesday, 24 December 2013 03:12 AM

    he spend long life now and he will get long life in hell from now.

    VIRAJ ATTANAYAKE Wednesday, 25 December 2013 03:30 PM

    The AK-47 is great weapon, It's capabilities were well shown in Vietnam war , But most say its copied from German STG-44 first modern assault rile used in end of WW2

    Gamarala Wednesday, 25 December 2013 04:01 PM

    #ANTON: What a foolish assumption. Then accordingly the man who invented the knife too should end up in hell, by the number of stabbings and deaths that take place especially in sri lanka.

    Gamarala Wednesday, 25 December 2013 04:03 PM

    #Ramani: How many people have lost their lives due to knives?So per your "theory" the knife too is a bad invention.

    jude Wednesday, 25 December 2013 05:25 AM

    "Guns Don't Kill People!!!!...People Kill People"??!!!


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