HBD Kalashnikov: The man who designed AK-47 wanted peace, not war

After hearing a conversation between Soviet soldiers about poor quality of rifles provided to them during World War II, Mikhail Kalashnikov designed the AK-47 rifle in 1947.

What comes to your mind on hearing the word AK-47? Violence, bloodbath, warfare etc.etc. The assault rifle is used by both the defence forces and terrorists across the world.

But do you know who was the brain behind this weapon? Mikhail Kalashnikov. A Russian army general and an arms designer whose innovation changed the course of warfare, was born on this day in 1919.

When German forces invaded Russia (then USSR) during the World War II in 1941, Kalashnikov, a young tank commander was wounded in the ambush. While recovering in the hospital, he overheard conversations of Soviet soldiers complaining about the poor quality of rifles provided to them. An idea came to his mind which led to the development of Avtomat Kalashnikova rifle in 1947, hence the name AK-47. The low manufacture and maintenance cost along with durability made this machine gun a popular weapon in days to come. Since it was easy to use, the Soviet forces also employed teens as soldiers to serve in war-hit Africa.

Since then more than 100 million Kalashnikov rifles have been sold across the world and widely used in the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and other parts of the world. Kalashnikov was hailed for his invention, and conferred with various military decorations. Russian president Vladimir Putin also praised him, calling him as a symbol of creative genius of the people’.

However, in the last days of his life, Kalashnikov regretted having designed the weapon, saying he never intended for the rifle to become one of the most widely preferred weapons across the world. In 2012, he wrote to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, asking whether he was to be blamed for several deaths occurred in the world due to the Kalashnikov rifles.

Kalashnikov died in December 13 at the age of 94. His funeral was attended by Putin and other topmost government officials of Kremlin.