independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Kalashnikov inventor of the AK-47 dies, aged 94

The Kremlin has paid tribute to Mikhail Kalashnikov, the inventor of the eponymous assault rifle that swept the 20th Century's war zones, after he died aged 94.

A gifted mechanic who served with the Red Army on the Eastern Front during World War II, Kalashnikov began his career as an arms designer while convalescing after being wounded in the 1941 battle of Bryansk.

The former soldier decided to invent a new assault rifle.

This process culminated in 1947 with the design of the AK-47. He was in his 20s when he invented the assault rifle which has killed more people than any other firearm in the world.

Kalashnikov once said he blamed the Nazis for making him a gun designer.

"In the 95th year of his life, after a long and serious illness, the outstanding small arms designer Mikhail Timofeevich Kalashnikov has died," the regional governor's press service said in a statement.

Vladimir Putin expressed "deep condolences to the family and friends of Mikhail Kalashnikov following his death".

The 1947 model Kalashnikov Automatic, universally known as AK-47, sold at least 70 million units.

The weapon is still standard issue for more than 100 countries' armies.

Kalashnikov, who continued to work at the Izhevsk arms factory almost up to his death, always said he was proud of his invention.

A Hero of the Russian Federation, twice Hero of Soviet Labour, a three-time recipient of the Order of Lenin, Kalashnikov was lionised at home both by the media and politicians, including Mr Putin, keen to cash in on what has been described as "Russia's most recognisable brand". (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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