The History of Kalashnikov Gun

Kalashnikov is a trademark, people say

The AK brand of arms is still the best in the world. A lot of people associate them with Kalashnikov. However, the true story of the machine gun and Mikhail Kalashnikov's role in it is not described anywhere, a lot of experts say. The creation of the machine gun was linked with a lot of talented Soviet fire arms designers, with military engineer Vasily Lyuty, first and foremost.

Vasily Lyuty was born in 1918 in the settlement of Ust-Labinsk of the Kuban region. In 1941, after he graduated from the Red Army Artillery Academy, he was sent for further studies to the Moscow region, together with other excelling graduates. Vasily became the testing engineer of the fire arms test ground. During the war, he was in charge of fire arms tests.

The history of the world-known gun started on July 15th, 1943, when a captured complex - an MP-43 gun and a cartridge - were demonstrated at a meeting of the arms committee. Chief designer Nikolay Elizarov and chief engineer Pavel Ryazanov created the Soviet "interim cartridge " within a very short period of time. The technological support was provided by Boris Syomin. After that, scientists started working on a new fire arms system for that cartridge.

About 15 designers took part in the competition to create the Soviet gun. Kalashnikov's name was not mentioned among them during the first two years. All tests were performed at the Schurovsky test ground on the outskirts of the town of Kolomna. Major Vasily Lyuty was the chief of the test department.

Mikhail Kalashnikov presented his first machine gun in the middle of 1946. According to the final testing conclusion, the gun was considered imperfect and was not supposed to be developed further. Vasily Lyuty said, Kalashnikov asked him for help in order to revise the official conclusion. Lyuty wrote: "I decided that the whole system should be redesigned. I changed the testing conclusion and recommended the machine gun to be developed. An old friend of mine, engineer Vladimir Deikin, took part in the works on the gun later. We were working until 1947, when we finally produced the testing gun. I personally tested the new weapon."

Vasily Lyuty changed the official conclusion and projected 18 fundamental changes. Yet, everyone was hoping for the gun developed by 36-year-old major Aleksey Sudayev. Scientists were testing the third model of the gun, when Sudayev suddenly died. It was Mikhail Kalashnikov, who took his place.

He went to work on the gun to the town of Kovrov. "Vasily Lyuty, who took Kalashnikov under his wing, did not mention either positions or ranks of the people, who took part in the competition," scientist Dmitry Shirayev said. - "However, about 15 machine guns of other designers were tested on the same ground too. Testing conclusions on each of them, including the Kalashnikov gun, depended on Vasily Lyuty, the chief of the testing department. Chiefs are supposed to be on a neutral side according to their status, but they interfered in the matter."

The stages of the competition were closed. Shpagin and Degtyarov were the first to give up, and only three guns achieved the final stage of the competition in January of 1947: ТКB- 415 designed by Bulkin, KBP-520 designed by Dementyev and KBP-580 designed by Kalashnikov.

Bulkin was the leader with his gun according to test results. However, the designer had a very malicious temper, he could not come to consent with military men. As a result, the talented designer was dismissed from the competition. Sergeant Kalashnikov was a lot more agreeable – he was always listening to his instructors - the people of higher rank. Kalashnikov took account of all recommendations during the last stage of the tests and won the competition. A special committee concluded on January 10th 1948 - preference was given to Mikhail Kalashnikov's gun, the future AK-47 gun. However, the gun should have been called not AK but LDK  - Lyuty-Deikin-Kalashnikov (Deikin was another chief of the testing department).

In his notes Mikhail Kalashnikov wrote: "Vasily Lyuty was a rather talkative man, he liked making jokes, but there was a serious and professional side in all of his jokes."

Vasily Lyuty fell a victim of repression in 1951. He was rehabilitated only after Stalin's death in 1954. At academician Blagonravov's request, Vasily Lyuty returned to the army and to the research institute. In 1965-1957, Lyuty's new works became the base to create an AKM. Later he took part in the development of Strela-1 and Strela-2 complexes.

"Kalashnikov hardly ever mentioned any of his instructors in his interviews and in his book. Only he knows the reason why," Vasily Lyuty said. The scientist died in 1990 after several operations.

People say that Kalashnikov is a trademark nowadays. This is apparently true. This trademark conceals the work and the mind of a lot of talented Soviet inventors.

Pyotr Kondratenko

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Author`s name Olga Savka