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Old 03-16-2010, 06:23   #1
Novocaine
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Why I think M.T. Kalashnikov is a fraud (long)

Well, folks, I have finally decided to vent. The reason for this post is that every time someone sings praise to MTK’s genius (and not a thread nor book nor article in a gun rag seem to go by without it) it rubs me the wrong way as in my opinion he is little more than a self-centered fraud suffering from the narcissistic personality disorder. Now, MTK is undoubtedly a very talented man. While he is certainly endowed with mechanical aptitude and intuition his main talent is to take the credit for other people’s work.

How could a young, inexperienced and marginally educated country fellow who up to the point had produced exactly zero of substance all of a sudden create one of the most awesome firearm classics of the 20th century and fine tune it into functional and technological perfection that stood the test of time? As far as I’m concerned the answer is simple: he couldn’t and he didn’t.

I’d like to venture into the part of AK history that even on a rare occasion when it’s brought up is almost never portrayed correctly: trials that led to the rifle’s eventual adoption.

The conventional storyline is that Soviet Army impressed with StG-44 decided it wanted to have something similar. It held the trials in which a dozen or so of highly experienced and talented designers had competed and got their asses handed to them by hereto unknown tank driver and his ingenious amalgamation of known and proven principles gracefully wrapped into a bullet- (and grunt-) proof, cost-effective package. Sometimes the story goes as far as to credit MTK with actually inventing something. Even MTK himself hints at being the daddy of a rotary bolt. Now, brilliant inventor Kalashnikov can be easily dispelled with a simple: “what is it exactly that he invented?” My objective here is to address brilliant designer Kalashnikov. Here we go.

The specs for the new rifle were laid out by a customer, an agency at the time called GAU (Glavnoe Artilleriiskoe Upravlenie- Chief Artillery Directorate) –the procurement arm of the Ministry of Defense. Those specs, TTT3131 (Tactical Technical Requirements #3131) were based mainly on a rifle called AS-44 by A.I. Sudaev. In addition to being one of the brightest small arms designers, as evidenced by his PPS-43, arguably the best subgun of WW2, Sudaev, academy graduate, also spoke fluent German which undoubtedly was of great benefit to him as he ventured into the area of assault rifles. AS-44 and derivatives, while unserviceable, went through army trials and defined quite clearly what should be expected from any future development. They were also the testing media for the round itself. Sudaev’s successor to AS-44, called OAS, was absolutely slated to become the next issue rifle for the Red Army, unfortunately Major died in his early thirties in ‘46.

Trials in question were conducted at Tshurovo proving grounds and were divided into 2 phases. Phase one was to weed out the designs that were so flawed any subsequent development was useless. The winners of the Phase Uno were given short time to iron out the shortcomings revealed during initial testing. While going from Phase 1 to Phase 2 competitors were prohibited from major redesigns. Only minor updates were allowed. Phase Two was intended to see if the winners of Phase 1 had improved sufficiently to meet GAU specs and would be worthy to be recommended for army trials or should be send back for further “polishing” or outright disqualified.
Competitors were not allowed to see each other’s designs. Proving grounds staff was to impartially conduct the tests and submit results to the test team boss, who in turn was to make a report to and answer the questions from the so called Scientific Technical Council of 20 some small arms experts. The Council, convened on Jan10, 1948, would then render its verdict.

The man most directly responsible for the myth known as MTK’s genius is Major (at the time) Vasilii F. Lyutyi. He was the Boss, the man in charge of the test team who directed actual trials and submitted his findings and recommendations to the Council. Talented and experienced gun designer himself Lyutyi, of course, was barred from participating in the competition of which he was a chief judge. When he didn’t run tests at Tshurovo range he worked in one of the GAU’s research centers known as NII-3 (Nauchno Issledovatelskii Institut- Institute of Scientific Research). Wanna guess who was working for him at the time? Right. Mr. Kalashnikov. Himself. Just plucked out of Kazakhstan where he was building prototypes “so primitive nobody even bothered to test fire them” (Lyutyi’s words).

Phase 1. Being the creative genius of all times MTK of course tries to pattern his creation after the only gun that A) he has access to B) is proven to work i.e. StG-44, while replacing tilting bolt with an in vogue rotary lock-up.
The Kalashnikov Klub

Hugo Schmeisser he is not though and the resulting gun turned out exactly what a copy of StG-44 by an optimistic amateur with 7th grade education should be: POS also known as AK-46. The Kalashnikov Klub

I suspect the reason it worked at all was that Kalashnikov was assisted by a highly qualified designer Zaitsev. Typical Soviet MO is not unlike that of Wallace and Grommit. Zaitsev was MTK’s Grommit.

MTK fondly recollects how evaluators were particularly impressed with the originality of his rotary bolt. Fact of the matter is rotary bolt was used by several competitors and if memory serves me well was actually a mandated feature (along with a stamped receiver, availability of both folding and fixed stock versions and some other such niceties) for Phase 2.

Anyway, test-engineer Pchelintsev was in charge of testing of the design submitted by MTK during the first phase. In short order he disqualified it. And here things start getting interesting.

MTK appeals to his boss Lyutyi who simply takes Pchelintsev’s report and revises the conclusion. Out of fundamental failure with a stroke of a pen AK46 transforms into a promising product that just needs some itsy-bitsy TLC. Of course, all jokes aside, Lyutyi understands that AK-46 lives on borrowed time, no amount of improvement can save this POS. MTK, the oblivious Wallace he is, still thinks his design had advanced on its merits and tries to improve on it. Lyutyi and Zaitsev quickly bring him back to Earth and Lyutyi personally takes charge of the design. As he has to stay behind the curtains he assigns his old friend and colleague, another experienced engineer, Major (at the time) Deikin to assist Kalashnikov directly. Who is Deikin? Why, he is just one of three representatives of the customer who are supervising actual trials and is also a member of the Council.

In his memoirs Col. Lyutyi plainly and unequivocally states that three of them (Lyutyj, Deikin and Kalashnikov) collaborated on the design that became to be known as AK-47. He forgot Zaitsev, but who’s counting.

Incidentally, according to Lyutyi’s widow Kalashnikov tried to bribe her so that she would not release her late husband’s memoirs.

So what magic enabled Lyutyi-Deikin-Kalashnikov-Zaitsev to squeeze an entirely new (and this time working!) design into the time frame allocated for minor modifications? OK, from this point on I’m speculating but the truth is in the pudding. Lyutyi and Deikin, both being judges (Lyutyi being the judge), had access to all the competing prototypes and all the technical documentation. What they did was quite simple, they zeroed in on the most likely winner and stole his design.

At the time the design slated to take the cake was AB-46 by Bulkin from Tula. Bulkin, btw, was the first to use the rotary bolt in this type of weapon in '44.
The Kalashnikov Klub

The Kalashnikov Klub
^^^
Bulkin’s concept as worked over by Lyutyi and Co. More commonly known as AK47

All of the 3 designs that entered Phase2 failed to meet GAU specs. AB-46 and AK-47 being conceptual twins had the same satisfactory reliability and the same unsatisfactory accuracy. Seldom mentioned is the fact that AK-47’s receiver had cracked during the testing. Still, Lyutyi managed to successfully navigate the Scientific Technical Council clear of facts and to convince it to adopt the resolution that recognizes only AK-47 as worthy of further refinement and army trials and at the same time bars Bulkin’s and Dementiev’s designs from further development. I’ve read parts of the transcript of the Council’s deliberations and its Q&A session with Lyutyi. The audacity of the whole situation is approaching comic levels at times: Lyutyi, the chief examiner, who helped MKT to steal Bulkin’s design argues inferiority of Bulkin’s design to the Council.

Of course as Kalashnikov went on to become a household name he never bothered as much as to mention both his puppeteers who put him on the map and those he robbed. Lyutyi briefly enters the picture as he had designed the rate reducer thingie into the trigger group of AKM. The name of Bulkin is all but erased from, well, everywhere.
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Old 03-16-2010, 09:56   #2
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How dare you! Blastphemy I say.
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Old 03-16-2010, 12:20   #3
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Brilliant. Very well thought out. I like stimulating discussion.

Now, I wouldn't go so far as to say MTK was a fraud, but he certainly did "borrow" from other designs and the AK was not his first venture into design work. MTK designed a fixture to fire the TT pistol from a tank and an engine monitor based on a tachometer.

Borrowing from others certainly is not qualification for a fraud however. If you look around today, you'll see nearly all semi-auto pistols have certain features like the barrel lockup that are the same. Even semi-auto rifles can be grouped into one of several operating systems, blowback (roller-delayed or direct), short or long-stroke piston, and gas impingement, to name a few.

Designers just change the design a bit and you have a new gun. With the exception of groundbreaking designs, most guns are really variations or a combination of other designs. It's when all the ingredients tossed into the pot produce a perfect stew that you have a memorable meal. I think this is what happened to MTK. I'm positive he took parts from other designs and mixed them until he got him AK-47, but he gets ultimate credit. Sometimes, many people contribute to a project, but it's the person with the name that the design is forever associated with. This is what happened with the famous HiPower we all call the Browning HiPower. The gun god himself JMB has his name attached to it, but it was Dieudonne Saive who should get credit for it...the Saive HiPower. Hmmm. Nope, doesn't work.

One more thing I'd like to add...borrowing features from other designers, especially Russian, was very much encouraged in Russia, so just because MTK took design ideas doesn't mean he did anything wrong, even if it was with the help of his friends: "It must be noted here, that such copying and borrowing of ideas was actually encouraged by the trials commission (and the whole Soviet ideology), as all intellectual property in USSR was considered to be property of 'the people', or the state. Thus, any state-owned intellectual property could (and must) have been used to the benefit of the people / the state by anyone. And creating a new, most effective assault rifle for the victorious Soviet army was certainly on the top of the list of things, beneficial for the Soviet state at the time."

Bulkin's design was excellent and the most accurate, but it had durability issues. The Russians, in true form, decided they would rather have a gun that was not so accurate but durable, than one that was accurate and less durable. Thus, MTK's design beat out Bulkin. I'm surprised by what you found though that Lyutyi steered the committee in one direction. I often wonder if the whole selection process was somehow pushed by the Soviet desire to prove their ideology of peasants overcoming great odds. Think about it... what a propaganda goldmine it was to say that a nobody designed the gun that would equip the great and vast Russian Army.

Excellent discussion!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 03-16-2010, 13:24   #4
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So according to this I own 16 Automat Bulkinovas???
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Old 03-16-2010, 14:01   #5
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Old 03-16-2010, 14:23   #6
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Next on FRAUD!:

John Moses Browning - "The 1911 actually came to me in a laudanum induced coma!"
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Old 03-16-2010, 23:12   #7
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I have to say, this is a well thought out post. The Russians stole all kinds of ideas from everyone, tanks, planes and guns. Making Kalashnikov a national hero makes sense in a communist nation, hope for all and national pride. Gaston Glock and JMB did the same thing in many ways, though it was for the free market and personal profit. I'm curious to see what the next great rifle will be, who knows maybe it will be the Hitler-hated $3000 ACR or something we already have.
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Old 03-16-2010, 23:27   #8
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Yes this is an awesome post. It is stuff like this that makes gun forums great.

Now I just have to brush up on my AK history so I can have an informed opinion for this thread.
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Old 03-16-2010, 23:40   #9
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The Swedish Ljungman was direct gas operated and it came out before the Armalite-15.

The MG-42's feedtray and operating mechanism look suspiciously like the M60's own.

Unless you're the first one ever to put out a smallarm design, chances are you're going to "borrow" a tip or two from somebody.
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Old 03-17-2010, 11:17   #10
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Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
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Old 03-18-2010, 02:54   #11
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Interesting....and any of us that have done our research realize that MTK borrowed heavily from several other military rifles during the development of the AK. This does not constitute as fraudulism however. If you want to talk frauds, lets discuss an austrian curtain rod designer whom seemingly "out of the blue" designs a pistol that heavily influences everything afterwards and then does nothing for the next 30 years but add a light rail and change grip textures. Actually, an austrian small arms designer by the name of Wilhelm Bubits "helped" Gaston design the original P80 and he stayed with the company until 1997. It would seem that him and Gaston had a bit of a "falling out" over the direction(or lack thereof)the basic design was heading. Wilhelm had been working secretly on what he intended the 3rd gen Glock to become. When he had the design finalized, he approached Gaston with it and met nothing but resistance. Bubits approached Steyr with new design in hand and in 1999 the Steyr M was thus born. You see, there's a reason there's never been a Glock carbine, sub-machinegun,etc. You can google "Wilhelm Bubits" and put the pieces together for yourself.

Last edited by .45Super-Man; 03-18-2010 at 02:56..
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Old 03-18-2010, 03:10   #12
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Kalashni-who now? Is this one of those people only you evil black rifle loving weirdos know about?
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Old 03-18-2010, 07:41   #13
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The renown Springfield Armory and their XD line of pistols. Brilliant, huh? What a truly efficient design many say actually challenges Glock. Those guys at SA must really be on the ball, right?

Maybe some of you don't know the XD line of pistols are not made by SA, but by HS Produkt in Croatia. They were imported years ago under their original name, the HS-2000 (Hrvatski Samokres (Croatian Pistol)) when HS Produkt was known as I.M. Metal. SA recognized the superiority of the design and marketed the gun in the US under their name. Three generations of the HS-2000 were made before SA took over.
Tell that to a few XD diehards. Many already know, but there's always one who'll think you just told him his dad used to do gay porn.

By the way, I do like the HS-2000 design very much.
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Old 03-18-2010, 12:23   #14
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I remember when you could get those HS2000's really cheap in Shotgun news, nobody was buying them!
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Old 03-18-2010, 13:59   #15
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I agree that Kalashnikov stole alot of his ideas from the StG-44. Dad and I were discussing and cussing this exact notion a few weeks ago. But, yeah, we agree with you....

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Old 03-18-2010, 16:09   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CarlosC View Post
The renown Springfield Armory and their XD line of pistols. Brilliant, huh? What a truly efficient design many say actually challenges Glock. Those guys at SA must really be on the ball, right?

Maybe some of you don't know the XD line of pistols are not made by SA, but by HS Produkt in Croatia. They were imported years ago under their original name, the HS-2000 (Hrvatski Samokres (Croatian Pistol)) when HS Produkt was known as I.M. Metal. SA recognized the superiority of the design and marketed the gun in the US under their name. Three generations of the HS-2000 were made before SA took over.
Tell that to a few XD diehards. Many already know, but there's always one who'll think you just told him his dad used to do gay porn.

By the way, I do like the HS-2000 design very much.
But I don't think that Springfield makes it a secret that the XD pistol is not technically theirs. It has the croatian symbol on the slide and the frame says "made in Croatia." I am not sure how much of the original HS-2000 is in the XD, but I like the XD line of pistols very much.
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Old 03-18-2010, 16:14   #17
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While I agree that Kalashnikov was not the brilliant firearms designer that the Soviet Union made him out to be, he is not a complete hack as the OP indicates. Unless you were the original inventor of a gun platform, you borrowed some design aspects from somebody else, and improved upon others. Somebody who makes a reliable and match-accurate 1911 by improving on the original design is not a hack for example. What Kalashnikov did was take a weapon (that was already a borrowed design from the Germans), improve it, and turn it into the world-famous AK47 platform that we know of today. Would the AK (or whatever it would come to be called) be as prolific and renowned as it is today w/o Kalashnikov? Maybe, or maybe not. But it was Kalashnikov who made it what it is.
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Old 03-18-2010, 16:34   #18
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Originally Posted by sputnik767 View Post
But I don't think that Springfield makes it a secret that the XD pistol is not technically theirs. It has the croatian symbol on the slide and the frame says "made in Croatia." I am not sure how much of the original HS-2000 is in the XD, but I like the XD line of pistols very much.
They don't go out of their way either to say they didn't invent it or manufacture it either. In fact, go to their website and look around. I looked for a while and never saw any mention of the fact the XD is not SA's design. As for how much of the HS-2000 is in the XD, here's my 1st generation HS-2000. You tell me.
The Kalashnikov Klub

and the evolution of the XD. Here is the second generation...
The Kalashnikov Klub

and the third generation. Looks like an XD to me.
The Kalashnikov Klub
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Old 03-18-2010, 17:51   #19
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They don't go out of their way either to say they didn't invent it or manufacture it either. In fact, go to their website and look around. I looked for a while and never saw any mention of the fact the XD is not SA's design. As for how much of the HS-2000 is in the XD, here's my 1st generation HS-2000. You tell me.
The Kalashnikov Klub

and the evolution of the XD. Here is the second generation...
The Kalashnikov Klub

and the third generation. Looks like an XD to me.
The Kalashnikov Klub
Yea, I'd say they simply import the gun and put some of their own markings on it. But I can understand why they don't make it a point to say that the gun is not their design. It is not necessary really, and most people don't really care where it came from. I wonder if some people would be put off if they found out it was made in Croatia? Most people don't know anything about that country.
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Old 03-18-2010, 18:47   #20
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Again, I’m not entertaining the laughable notion that MTK was a firearm inventor of sorts (sure, he invented some fixtures; and Mugatu invented piano key necktie). And I certainly am not suggesting that merely utilizing a widely known component or a concept such as gas piston operation or rotary bolt or metallic cartridge makes gun designer a fraud.

JMB didn’t invent short recoil operation or the barrel accelerator, Mannlicher did. But crediting JMB with designing the M2 machine gun doesn’t make him a fraud. Crediting him with inventing short recoil machine gun does.

Stealing by itself doesn’t make you a fraud. It makes you a thieve. Claiming (or even being given) the credit for something you didn’t do makes you a fraud. MTK is both a thieve and a fraud. Simply put he stole Bulkin’s design and then claimed he came up with it. And whines about how whoever designed Valmet ripped him off.

JMB is not a fraud because FN who used his name to promote the Hi-Power during the pre-war economic turmoil will be the first to tell you JMB was not responsible for the final design. This information is widely available and is not disputed. Besides, even though Saive’s contribution is nothing short of major, the Hi-Power had retained a good portion of the original Browning’s design. I do cringe when people attribute the successful construction of Hi-Power solely to JMB but you can hardly blame J. Browning himself (or even FN) for their ignorance.

There is absolutely no question as to who MTK credits with creating the AK!

I saw a recent interview with Kalashnikov where he was asked about sharing during the competition. He said something to effect “what sharing? It was a real cutthroat event!” Speaking of which:

"It must be noted here, that such copying and borrowing of ideas was actually encouraged by the trials commission (and the whole Soviet ideology), as all intellectual property in USSR was considered to be property of 'the people', or the state. Thus, any state-owned intellectual property could (and must) have been used to the benefit of the people / the state by anyone. And creating a new, most effective assault rifle for the victorious Soviet army was certainly on the top of the list of things, beneficial for the Soviet state at the time."

Whoever wrote this is either disingenuous or has little clue and makes his own assumptions that sound plausible in light of the general “Soviet ideology”. Simple fact of the matter is the participants in Soviet assault rifle competition were A) not allowed to study or even see each other’s designs B) were only allowed to make minor improvements, no major redesigns, if promoted to Phase 2. This arrangement is typical of a Soviet military hardware development and there is a good reason for it. Simply put, this way Motherland was getting bigger bang for her ruble.

Say, you have two semifinalists, one in a standard configuration, another one is a bull-pup. Standard gun is slated to become a winner. If designs are shared you’re running the risk to get, in the final outcome, essentially two close versions of the same concept. And Motherland was very much interested in seeing where ALL the good ideas would lead. Getting two of the same is a waste as it is, why facilitate it?

So design teams were pitted against each other, rivalries were supported. Once in a blue moon competitors themselves would share their designs but it was a very rare exception to the norm. SVD is one such example. When Dragunov failed to develop a reliable magazine the design of the magazine was freely given to him by a fellow competitor (and finalist!) Konstantinov.

Every single competition MTK participated in did not facilitate (by rule) design sharing. And every single time he was the ONLY competitor who was given the opportunity by trial’s staff to study other’s designs. First with a help of Lyutyi, later by means of his own massive authority.

Of course there was no such thing as an individual intellectual property rights but copying generally was only reserved for cases of reverse engineering. Good example is Tu-4, the Russian carbon copy of B-29. But as far as actual creative work was concerned participant were kept in their own separate cages as much as possible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CarlosC View Post
Bulkin's design was excellent and the most accurate, but it had durability issues. The Russians, in true form, decided they would rather have a gun that was not so accurate but durable, than one that was accurate and less durable. Thus, MTK's design beat out Bulkin.
One piece of paper I wish I could get my hands on is the actual report by Lyutyi made to the Scientific Technical Council. I’m curious to know what exactly was it that failed on Bulkin’s gun? I’ve only read incomplete transcript of Q&A session and deliberations and the only durability issue mentioned (several times) was the cracked receiver on AK-47. Several times all three guns were mentioned as satisfactory and equal as far as reliability (less than .05% malfunction rate) and durability goes.

In a grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter. Even if AK-47 edged AB-46 (which wouldn’t be surprising as such heavy hitters as Lyutyi and Deikin were behind the polishing) it is not because of M.T. Kalashnikov. And that is my main point. The gun known as AK-47 simply was not created by MTK. At the same time MTK gets the credit for creating the gun known as AK-47. As such MTK is a fraud.

MTK at best has the same bragging rights as whoever reworked AK into Galil.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sputnik767 View Post
What Kalashnikov did was take a weapon (that was already a borrowed design from the Germans), improve it, and turn it into the world-famous AK47 platform that we know of today. Would the AK (or whatever it would come to be called) be as prolific and renowned as it is today w/o Kalashnikov? Maybe, or maybe not. But it was Kalashnikov who made it what it is.
The weapon “borrowed” was not StG-44, it was AB-46 and it had nothing to do with German design.
Bulkin created the gun, Lyutyi stole it from under him and Deikin, Zaitsev, Solovyov along with scores of nameless engineers at Kovrov and Izhevsk turned the raw stone into the diamond. And MKT took the credit. That’s all.

BTW this is the only Bulkin picture I was able to come across
The Kalashnikov Klub


Along with his experimental model ’44. As far as I know it was the first assault rifle with a rotary bolt lock-up
The Kalashnikov Klub
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