The ultimate weapon (‘The Wall Street Journal’, USA)

The ultimate weapon ('The Wall Street Journal', США)

Because cyclopean production volumes AK-47 has become in today’s world number one murder weapon.

AK-47 — the most common and frequent tool in the history in every corner of the planet it immediately and find out by name, and in appearance. Made in the late 1940s for the Russian Army, Kalashnikov-47 by the end of the 20th century was the «number one weapon» he used armies, militias and terrorists in virtually all military conflicts, and in most cases they were armed with two warring parties . Even the United States in droves buy an AK-47 for the government troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the armed forces and the State Department just in case taught U.S. military and civilian personnel appeal with this machine before heading to the «hot spots».

Why specifically the AK-47 has become so much a part of modern warfare attribute as applets Microsoft — «stuffing» of personal computers? CJ Chivers (CJ Chivers) tries to answer this question in his book «Automatic» («The Gun»). Creator knows about it firsthand — the last Marine Corps officer, and then a reporter New York Times, Pulitzer Prize, beheld an AK-47 in action, covering a huge number of conflicts from Iraq and Afghanistan to Chechnya and Central Asia, and personal experience, certainly enriches his story.


Origin of the AK-47 swathed in riddles, though familiar to what historians of Russia the «Cold War.» Russian government often surrounded by legends those it «nominate» heroes, and the man who is credited with the creation of the famous automaton held a leading position in this pantheon. Misha Kalashnikov (he was born in 1919) was awarded not only the highest Russian Awards, and the respective «official biography.» Oh, so it sounds: standard sergeant from farmers, wounded in battles with the Germans in 1941, during the long months of healing in the hospital suddenly showed superior engineering capabilities, think of a good tool for protecting the homeland from invaders. In post-Soviet Russian Federation, this version remained without changes — Kalashnikov (he currently ninety) has a rank of lieutenant general — and Chivers has not received special help in finding reliable sources of disk imaging to develop an AK-47.

In general, it did not prevent the creator of the machine just to find a place in the evolution of warfare and its impact — is felt to this day — on the history of the world. Create an AK-47, said Chivers — the crown automatic rapid-development tools: he small-size, easy to manufacture and appeal actually is trouble free. Creator traces its origin from the story with the first attempts of creation of machine guns in the midst of the 19th century. He carefully describes as civilians during the war in the United States Richard Gatling (Richard Gatling) Multiple quick-invented «kartechnitsa» whose trunks still spinning manually. In the course of this conflict is not actually Gatling gun was used, and after the U.S. Army for a long time did not take it on board, but the European countries with deadly efficiency applied these kartechnitsy in colonial wars. Then, in 1880, Hiram Maxim (Hiram Maxim) has developed absolutely automatic machine gun. «Maxim», whose rate of fire was 600 rounds per minute, and its numerous variants (German «Spandau» English «Vickers» on the machine Sokolova Russian, etc.), create a continuous fire Zahav, which became relevant feature of positional warfare in the years WWI.

But «Maxim» was very heavy — his payment was two people — and even during the war, began attempts to create an effective private automatic cannon. In Germany, Hugo Schmeisser designed MP-18 — sub-machine gun weighing 5 kilograms. Using comparable low-power pistol cartridge, it made quite small and light weapon, but his sighting range was small. After 1918 interest in such weapons subsided somewhat, and the first suitable for practical use automatic rifle appeared already closer to the end of the second World War. StG-44 was also designed Schmeisser, and Hitler himself called it a «assault rifle» (Sturmgewehr), but the widespread introduction in the process of fighting to get it did not have time. In general, as noted by Chivers, it is possible that StG-44 directly influenced the design of the Kalashnikov assault rifle.

In the USSR, the development of automatic rifle began immediately after the second World War. Kalashnikov then was an unknown twenty-six sergeant who had behind only secondary education, and only a couple of years as in the development of weapons. He led one of several groups of gunsmiths who participated in the competition for the creation of automatic rifle — most of these groups led by renowned designers, award large awards for development of the war years. After 2 years of comparative tests and modifications winner came AK-47.

Chivers emphasizes the decisive role in the emergence of an AK-47 played a genius 1st person, and competitiveness between designers, as long and difficult process of refining and improving the tools under the Ministry of Defence. It is also possible that some elements borrowed from the StG-44. Both «assault rifles» are of great outdoor similarity: located above the barrel, gas piston for automatic acts, curved box magazine 30 rounds and a handle that allows gun firmly to delay the conduct of one hundred percent automatic fire. Suspicions about what lies at the basis of AK StG-44, amplified by the fact that in 1945, Hugo Schmeisser himself fell into the hands of the Red Army and a couple of years worked at the factory in Izhevsk — mostly enterprise, where hitherto done Machine Kalashnikov.

Kind whatsoever, with an AK-47 automatic weapon development process reached its logical end. As StG-44 «Kalashnikov» developed under the crotch chuck — a few smallest in size than the rifle and machine-gun era second world war — this its effective firing range is sufficient for at least some of the real situation on the battlefield, and the low returns allows a single soldier without stop to keep automatic fire.

In addition, Russian commanders paid increasing attention to the simplicity and reliability of the instruments, because the competition beat courier, who had a small number of parts, inflated the strength and large enough gap between the main moving parts, which allowed for the fire of the AK-47, even after gunpowder smoke or pollution ground.

As a result, the light of day appeared actually neotkaznoe instrument operating in the most extreme conditions, even without the proper care and inexpert use. Total creation of «Kalashnikov» began in 1950, 15 years before the United States had adopted his automatic rifle — the M-16. Besides millions of AK-47, issued in the USSR, the factory for its production were made in the Warsaw Pact countries and the People’s Republic, and later in countries such as Egypt and Iraq, where Moscow is trying to increase its influence. It is believed that at present made up to 100 million AK-47 (10-fold greater than the M-16) and this number is constantly increasing. In fact, for every 70 inhabitants of the planet falls under one of the «Kalashnikov». Chivers notes, because such scale this machine is available and cheap — on the international arms market AK simply can buy for less than $ 200 apiece (including shipping by air).

Chivers attempt to put an AK-47 in the broader historical context — and once the most powerful, and most of his books rather weak place. First few chapters he devotes gun stories, biographies and Gatling and Maxim; most longish chapter is aware of the development of M-16 and dilemmas that emerged with this instrument in the first step of operation — during the Vietnam War. Only by overcoming half «automatic», introduces the reader to the very AK. In general, these «distractions» — the most exciting thing in the book: they are based on a comprehensive study of the theme — unrealizable in respect of the AK-47 and its creator Misha Kalashnikov — and contain noteworthy biographical information.

So as skillfully created specifies how the emergence of AK changed our lives. He knows one of Hungary, which became during the fighting in Budapest in 1956, one of the first in the history of the rebels, armed with «Kalashnikov»; of East Germans shot dead while trying to escape across the Berlin wall; American fighters lying under fire this machine in Vietnam; Israeli athletes killed by him at the Olympic village in Munich in 1972; young fighters from the Ugandan «Lord’s Resistance Army»; Kurdish bodyguard, wounded by a bullet from an AK an assassination attempt in northern Iraq in 2002. Chivers constantly reminds the reader of the deadly consequences of conventional firepower and cheapest kind AK-47.

Because cyclopean production volumes AK-47 has become in today’s world number one murder weapon — «weapons for all,» as Chivers. It is not the first decade of one of the major U.S. and hassle of international society is the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and in recent years the media attention focused on «fashionable topic» — Campaign to Ban Landmines. Chivers now introduces us to seemingly ordinary machine — but it took more lives and much stronger worked on character of modern warfare than at least some other implement.

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