This is my personal belief about how the AK-47 came to be. I have researched this and I’m convinced that the Russians did steal the blueprints for the AK-47 from the Germans after invading Berlin. And this story, which I learn from Russian official media and retold by New York Times is challenged by many Internet publications. But here is the version presented by the several researchers including myself.
First of all when people see the AK-47 and the StG-44 side by side an know nothing about their internal mechanisms, the nearly universal assumption is that the AK-47 is a copy of the STG-44. The overall layout of the two rifles is extremely similar, and one would reasonably make the assumption that Kalashnikov got his hands on a captured STG blueprints STG 44, 7.92×33mm Kurz, and simply rebuilt it in 7.62×39. And yes! this is of course the truth.
And I know there are some differences between the two weapons, that the AK-47 uses a machined rotating bolt with 2 lugs, while the STG uses a tilting bolt. At first Mr. Kalashnikov himself said that the AK-47 had nothing to do with the STG 44. He just did what he was told to do. But later statements have changed during the years from Mr. Kalashnikov?
Mikhail Kalashnikov did in fact say in later days that he, and his’ team, DID look at many different weapon designs when designing the AK-47. STG-44 was one of these, as was the M1 Garand and many other weapons. “Do not judge a book by its cover” goes for firearms too. What I’m saying is that Russians haven’t copied but MODIFIED STG-44 and made AK-47. They are well-known of stealing plans of best enemy’s weapons, modifying them and mass producing.
In 1945 close to the end of the second world war, had the most famous German weapons designer Hugo Schmeisser improved its own design of the new machine gun STG-44 to utmost perfection. The Russian understood this and took the weapon and design drawings to Russia.
The Red Army assumed control over the area. Russians immediately started to manufacture weapons for the Soviet Union at the German plant. 10,785 sheets of technical designs were confiscated by the Soviets as part of their research. By August 1945, the Red Army had created 50 STG-44 from existing assembly parts. Stalin was personally informed about specifications of the new machine gun and unlike Americans and British liked it very much. The guns were very easy to handle. It was an ideal weapon for Soviet solders, most of who didn’t get much education. This theory is also corroborated by several other versions concerning the AK and Stg.44 (I’ve found information in Russian blogs and articles).
“And according to the Russian historian Aleksei Korobeinikov, Schmeisser arrived in Izhevsk immediately after the war. The city of Suhl, Schmeisser’s hometown in defeated Germany, was situated in the Soviet occupation zone. Schmeisser and another couple of dozens German small arms specialists received from the Soviet occupiers an offer they “couldn’t refuse”: to work at a Soviet small arms factory in the Urals.
How the Soviets were making these types of “generous offers” after the war isn’t a secret for anyone anymore. So as a result of the Soviet “proposal” a train with German specialists arrived at Izhevsk on October 24th 1946. Together with Schmeisser and his colleagues, the train carried all the blue prints and plans the Soviets could grab from their occupation zone. Truth be told, the Western Allies did exactly the same thing.”
When WW2 ended Red Army captured many German weapons designers and moved them to Izhevsk city in the Soviet Union where AK would be developed and where Kalashnikov worked. Document supports this. Among these projects gem. And among the captives designers was guess who? Yes Hugo Schmeisser designer of STG-44 so there are the facts that Hugo Schmeisser continued develop their gun and improve it, and the result was the AK. And it is proven that Schmeisser was displaced and forced to work in the Soviet Union.
But of course USSR couldn’t announce that the new revolutionary rifle is made by a Nazi engineer no! So they promoted Kalashnikov. But some people still living today insist that Schmeisser made the AK! I personally can fully agree, but there are still some dark spots in this history. But the fact that Schmeisser was working in Izhevsk at same time when AK was made, makes me think that Kalashnikov had a lot of help or got the glory for it by his commanders. And the VERY least I can buy is that, he totally copied the STG-44 from Mr.Schmeisser and presented it as his own creation. He changed a few things such as the ammunition which was original 7.92×33mm Kurz, to 7.62×39. He also changed the mechanism some, from STG`s tilting bolt to AK-47 machined rotating bolt with 2 lugs. This is in gun manufacturing circuits not a VERY big change.
And finally not long ago before Mihail Kalasnikov died in 2013, it came out, he was admitting that he was “helped” by the German inventor and arms maker Hugo Schmeisser to create the AK-47 assault rifle.The German inventor developed the first assault weapon Sturmgewehr 44 during WWII. Which became the famous AK-47.
German specialists with their wives in Izhevsk. Schmeisser is the second from the left. Schmeisser along with other weapon designers and their families, were relocated to the USSR.