Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov (1919 – 2013 )                       

In 1938 Kalashnikov was enlisted into the Soviet army. He became a tank driver-mechanic and climbed up to the rank of senior sergeant. He served on the notorious T34 tank. The regiment had to retreat after the unsuccessful counterattack at Brody in June 1941. He got seriously wounded during the defence of Bryansk in October 1941. He was released from duty as he had to spent six mounths in Hospital for recovery. In hospital he came in contact with comrade soldiers and they told him the story there was a tremendous need for more fire power. Kalashnikov was focused on doing something instead of lying in his bed. He read several books about the gun construction and functionalities and started to design a submachine gun. It was the first weapon Kalashnikov designed. Kalashnikov needed the right contacts to get his first design under the attention of the key persons. He succeeded in that and he was allowed to continue his work in the model shops of the Moscow Aviation Institute. 

There he was able to work at his submachine gun. After Kalashnikov finished his design it was sent to a testing commission the conclusion however was that it would not offer extra advantages over the standardized PPS Despite that his weapon was not selected for further development Kalashnikov had his first experiences as a small arms designer. One of the most important lessons he learned was that a weapons design should be simple for two reasons one for the end user the soldier but also for production a simple design boosts productivity. What was more important Kalashnikov’s remarkable talent was noticed. As from 1942 Kalashnikov was assigned to the Central Scientific-developmental Firing Range for Rifle Firearms of the Chief Artillery Directorate of RKKA. Kalashnikov kept on designing submachine guns in 7.62 and 9mm but he advised to start developing a weapon for the M43 cartridge as well. He accepted this advise and he immediately started. It led to the Kalshnikov's Self-Loading carbine. Again another design - this time the SKS - was favored but it was the beginning of his career in designing an assault rifle what later became known as the AK47.  




Medvedev honours Kalashnikov with 'Hero of Russia' award

Such shining creative achievements move our country forward,'' Medvedev said. ''This really is how the media are discussing your career, how you are being described on television,'' the Russian President stated adding ''In effect, what you have created has made Russia's weapons one of our best national brands.'' ''Your brilliant invention and all the work you have done to create other excellent weapons is an object lesson in how we should go on working on in the future,'' he said. 
Moscow : Russia | Nov 10, 2009 

President of the Russian Federation Dmitri Anatoljevitsj Medvedev congratulates Mikhail Kalashnikov and honours him with the 'Hero of Russia award'. Mr. Medvedev said: "Such shining creative achievements move our country forward".


Kalashnikov's Decorations: HERO OF SOCIALIST LABOR 

Mikhail Kalashnikov received several decorations. Pictured here is the 'Hero of Socialist Labor' decoration. In the Soviet Union this was the highest degree of distinction. This decoration was granted as from 1938 to Russian people who realized outstanding achievements concerning improvements in increasing production efficiency and innovation and successful implementation methods and techniques improving the Soviet economy, science and culture. Mikhail Kalashnikov has received this decoration twice once in 1958 and once in 1976. This decoration also gave him the title and inherent status of Hero of the Soviet Union. 


Kalashnikov's Decorations: ORDER OF LENIN  

The Order of Lenin was received by Mikhail Kalashnikov for three times. This order was given to those whose effort led to a considerable improvements of the Soviet Union by breakthrough achievements in the fields of research, art, technology or economy. The award gave the recipient the title 'Hero of socialist labor'. The order is a solid-gold badge. In the middle there is a disc picturing Lenin's portrait. Around this disc there are two golden panicles of wheat and a red flag. In this flag 'LENIN' is written in Cyrillic script ЛЕНИН. On the left there is a red star at the bottom the 'hammer and sickle' in red enamel. 


Kalashnikov gun designer turns 90 

Red Army tank commander Sgt. Mikhail Kalashnikov invented his first machine gun in 1942, during the Second World War, as he sat in a hospital bed recovering from a wound that he got in western Russia. But as Russians say, the first blintz always comes out wrong. His first model had inborn flaws and defects, and is now on display in an arms museum bearing his name. It took him several more years to develop and fine-tune what later became an internationally recognized perfect killing instrument -- the AK-47. AK is a Russian acronym for 'Kalashnikov's machine gun,' and 47 stands for the year it was invented. On Tuesday the legendary weapons designer turned 90. It was a day celebrated in Russia on a scale akin to a national holiday. In a televised Kremlin ceremony, President Dmitry Medvedev decorated Kalashnikov with the country's highest order, the Hero of Russia. "You've invented not only the famous Kalashnikov machine gun itself but also a national brand which every Russian, every citizen of our country is proud of," the Russian president said. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin sent a congratulatory letter calling Kalashnikov "a truly legendary personality and world famous weapons designer," Putin's official Web site says. "You have lived a long life that is worthy of profound respect," it says. "Each stage of this path is inextricably linked to the history of our country, its heroic and military pages, as well as the development of the domestic weapons industry. Your main achievement -- the Kalashnikov assault rifle -- has repeatedly been recognized as one of the best inventions of the 20th century." The AK-47, along with its various modifications, has been recognized in the Guinness world record book as being the most common machine gun worldwide. For national armies and paramilitary guerrillas alike, it has been a weapon of choice for more than six decades. Apart from Russia, more than 50 countries employ various modifications of Kalashnikovs today, according to Rosoboronexport, Russia's government arms export agency. Two countries, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, proudly display a Kalashnikov on their state insignia. However, Anatoly Isaikin, general director of Rosoboronexport, told journalists that half of an estimated 100 million machine guns under the Kalashnikov brand around the world are fake: They've been produced without a license or a special agreement with the Russian government. 
Source: November 10, 2009
By Maxim Tkachenko, CNN


An interview with Mikhail Kalashnikov 

April 22, 2001. 

Mikhael Kalashnikov in 1996. (Photo courtesy guns.ru) Born in November 1919 one of 18 children, of whom only six survived Mikhail Kalashnikov was a Soviet T-38 tank commander in 1941, wounded in the shoulder and back when a German shell smashed part of the tank’s armor into his body. “I was in the hospital, and a soldier in the bed beside me asked: ‘Why do our soldiers have only one rifle for two or three of our men, when the Germans have automatics?’ So I designed one. I was a soldier, and I created a machine gun for a soldier. It was called an Avtomat Kalashnikova, the automatic weapon of Kalashnikov — AK— and it carried the date of its first manufacture, 1947.” The AK-47 became the symbol of revolution — Palestinian, Angolan, Vietnamese, Algerian, Afghan, Hezbollah, the battle rifle of the Warsaw Pact. And, of course, I asked old Mikhail Kalashnikov how he could justify all this blood, all those corpses torn to bits by his invention. He had been asked before. “You see, maybe all these feelings come about because one side wants to liberate itself with arms. But in my opinion, it is the good that prevails. You may live to see the day when good prevails it will be after I am dead. But the time will come when my weapons will be no more used or necessary.” This is incredible. The AK-47 has mythic status. Kalashnikov admits this. “When I met the Mozambique minister of defense, he presented me with his country’s national banner, which carries the image of a Kalashnikov submachine gun. And he told me that when all the liberation soldiers went home to their villages, they named their sons ‘Kalash.’ I think this is an honor, not just a military success. It’s a success in life when people are named after me, after Mikhail Kalashnikov.” Even the Lebanese Hezbollah have included the AK-47 on their Islamic banner — the rifle forms the “l” of “Allah.” We embarked along the Russian version of a familiar moral track. “My aim was to create armaments to protect the borders of my motherland. It is not my fault that the Kalashnikov became very well-known in the world; that it was used in many troubled places. I think the policies of these countries are to blame, not the designers. Man is born to protect his family, his children, his wife. But I want you to know that apart from armaments, I have written three books in which I try to educate our youth to show respect for their families, for old people, for history.” .
SOURCE: Robert Fisk, the independent / world press review
Moscow : England, London | July, 2001


Some remarkable quotes of Mikhail Kalashnikov 

"It is the Germans who are responsible for the fact that I became a fabricator of arms. If not for them, I would have constructed agricultural machines." - Mikhail Kalashnikov. 

"I am still ready to shake hands with anyone who designs a better assault rifle than mine." But, I think with the coming of the AK-200 the ball is still in his court. This will be the replacement of many rifles including the AK(S)-74[M], AKM, AN-94 and AK-105 that are currently in use.