Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov
Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov, Doctor of Technical Sciences, twice Hero of Socialist Labor, holder of the Lenin Prize and the State Prize of the USSR, deputy in the USSR Supreme Soviet, turned 90 on Tuesday 10 November 2009. On that day, Kalashnikov, the creator of the famed (or to some people, infamous) AK-47 assault rifle, received Russia's highest honorary title. President Dmitry Medvedev awarded him the Hero of the Russian Federation medal at a ceremony in the Kremlin. "The Kalashnikov is today one of the best-known Russian words... Such shining creative achievements move our country forward," Medvedev said during the ceremony. He described the AK-47 as "an excellent model of Russian weaponry" and "a national brand that makes each citizen proud."
Accepting the award, Kalashnikov voiced regret that his creation, the world's most widely used rifle, has been often misused. "I created a weapon to defend the fatherland's borders. It is not my fault that it was sometimes used where it shouldn't have been. This is the fault of politicians." Kalashnikov takes no pleasure in the destructive power he unleashed all those years ago. "I'm proud of my invention, but I'm sad that it is used by terrorists," he said on a visit to Germany in 2002. "I would prefer to have invented a machine that people could use and that would help farmers with their work - for example a lawnmower." On his 82nd birthday, Kalashnikov said "The youth should know that I created AK-47 assault rifle in defensive purposes exclusively. And it must be applied to defense the Motherland only". Despite estimated sales of 100 million, Kalashnikov, who lives in the Western Urals city of Izhevsk, claims not to have profited from the AK-47 and receives only a state pension.
On June 29, 2006 during the UN conference on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons the Russian delegation disseminated the address of Mikhail Kalashnikov. "The problem of the elimination of illicit trade in small arms and light weapons is now acute as never before. Thousands, if not millions of people in all the parts of the world die from the uncontrolled usage of such weapons. And UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was right to name light weapons the weapons of mass destruction. I regret to admit that many victims resulted from the usage of the assault rifle designed by me. I was at war myself and defended my country during the WWII, and I know the pain of losing the friends in combat. But what can be compared with the tragedy of death of innocent people killed by terrorists?! ... World War II was the most bloody in the world history. Within the 4 years Soviet nation lost 28 million people. And that is why I created my weapon - reliable, effective and simple - to defend my Motherland....
"Currently over 50 armies of various countries are armed with different modifications of my assault rifle. I want to believe that this weapon will always protect peace, security, honor and justice. Yes, I am glad to know that in many countries they name their newborn children "Kalash" as a symbol of freedom and fight for independence and justice. But I also feel pain to see and know that very often the fakes, that bear my name, got in the hands of terrorists and criminals. AK has existed for 60 years, and in total there has been produced over 100 million pieces of this weapon. But only one tenth of this arsenal has been manufactured legally. The rest is piracy and unlicensed fakes. Alfred Nobel made a great discovery - he invented dynamite. But by the will of politicians this invention caused death of millions of people. It seems that the history repeats itself, and this time with the small arms."
Mikhail Timofeevich Kalashnikov was a self taught inventor. Mikhail T. Kalashnikov was born on 10 November 1919 in Kurya village, Altai territory. Kalashnikov entered the Red Army in Kiev 1938 where he attended tank mechanics school. In the army, he designed a device to count the number of shots fired by a tank as well as other useful tactical devices for tanks. After surviving fierce battles against the Nazi's in 1941 as a tank commander, he found himself in hospital recovering from serious wounds and battle fatigue. Here at the hospital he began to conceive ideas for a new machine gun which could provide high volume, light weight firepower for soldiers in mechanized infantry. While on temporary medical duty, stationed at Matai, he took advantage of the workshop facilities to prototype his weapon.
As early as in 1941, being a participant of the region conference of the army inventors and rationalizers, Mikhail Kalashnikov, the student of the tank school, received a good reference for designing the combined meter of the tank motor capacity. Thus 22-year sergeant received his first award - the watch engraved with the name of G.K. Zhukov, the Army General. The inventing of that meter and the recorder of the tank cannon shots became a starting point in his way as a designer. The machine-pistol designed by M.T. Kalashnikov in 1942 was the first of the small arms he designed.
Academician A.A. Blagonravov, highly prominent specialist in the field of small arms, became interested in the new system. He devoted attention to the fledgling designer and recommended that the latter study persistently and continue his design work. In 1944 his first prototype was adopted for further development and finally in 1949 the Soviet army adopted the Automatic Kalashnikov design of 1947 as their standard rifle. The subsequent success achieved by Kalashnikov in the development of the assault rifle placed him among the leading designers in the Soviet Union. The development out of the assault rifle of various models of standardized small arms for hunting and for the tanktroops, which entered the armament of the Soviet Army, is further testament to M.T. Kalashnikov's talent and brilliant, creative design innovations. Mikhail Kalashnikov denies his assault rifle was based on the German Sturmgewehr 44 assault rifle despite circumstantial evidence to the contrary.
In 1944 M.T. Kalashnikov designed a sub-machine gun and offered a light machine gun for the rifle cartridge and a self-loading carbine for the intermediate cartridge. The foundation of M.T. Kalashnikov future profession of a designer was laid down in 1947 when he, a young and unknown designer, developed a simple, reliable and high effective rifle - AK-47, the improved modifications of which are still being used by the Armed Forces of Russia and other countries. Just this weapon made a name of its designer to be a real legend in the world. Nowadays the AK-47 abbreviation is known throughout the whole planet.
In 1949 the AK-47 was put into mass production and adopted with the Armed Forces and M.T. Kalashnikov was awarded a Stalin prize, First class. The legendary person, M.T. Kalashnikov was honored with many government awards for his service to the country, including: orders of the "Red Star" (1949) and "Red Banner of Labor" (1957), three orders of Lenin (1958, 1969, 1976), the orders of the "October Revolution" (1974), "People?s Friendship" (1982), "Patriotic war" First class (1985), "For Distinguished Services for the Motherland" Second class (1994), the order of "Saint Apostle Andrey Pervozvanniy" (1998), the "Pashany" (Honour), Republic of Belarus (1999). Also he was honored with two "Hammer and Sickle" gold medals (1958, 1976). M.T. Kalashnikov was twice honored as "Hero of Socialist Labor" (1958 and 1976) for modernization of the AKM assault rifle and development of the RPK light machine gun.
In 1997 a genius designer of the automatic arms during the second half of the 20th century was decorated with Honorary inscribed weapon (pistol) by the order of the President of the Russian Federation. The same year the Ministry of Economics of the Russian Federation instituted a medal "M.T. Kalashnikov - designer of small-arms" to decorate the citizens of the Russian Federation for developing, creating and producing the small arms, for their contribution to the country defence potential. The Government of the Udmurt Republic established a Kalashnikov premium.
In 1999 M.T. Kalashnikov was presented with medals of the Honorary worker of the office of Public Prosecutor of the Russian Federation and Honorary worker of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The Union of the scientific and engineering companies decorated the legendary designer with a Shukhov Gold medal.
The Scientific circles of the country, of the Udmurt republic and the International Scientific Academies recognized the invaluable service of M.T. Kalashnikov in designing the whole family of the automatic small arms and gave him the following academic status: the Honorary Professor of the Izhevsk State Technical University (1984), the Honorary Member (Academician) of the Russian Academy of the Missile Artillery (1993), the Honorary Member of the Russian Engineering Academy (1994), the Real Member-Academician of the Engineering Academy of the Udmurt Republic (1995), the Honorary Member of the International Academy of the USA Sciences, Industry, Education and Arts (1996), the Real Member-Academician of the Informatization International Academy (1997).
The greatness of M.T. Kalashnikov personality is acknowledged by a number of the titles: the Professor of St. Petersburg University of the RF MVD, the Honorary Doctor of the Tula State University, Lt. General, the holder of the "Services for the Motherland" order, the deputy of the State Supreme Soviet, the Doctor of the technical sciences, the winner of Lenin and State prizes of Russia, the Honoured Worker of the USSR industry and many others. M.T. Kalashnikov is an owner of 35 inventor's certificates. In 2003 M.T. Kalashnikov, a person of world-wide significance, was awarded the higher State premium in the sphere of education in 2002.
M.T. Kalashnikov has been working at the "Izhevsk machine-building plant" and at the same time he is a consultant of the Director General of the "Rosoboronexport" FSUE. Today the small arms created by the Russian designer are still the symbol of reliability, perfect engineering and design.
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