The Man Behind the Gun...
I enjoy learning about the various gun designers, so I thought Id start a thread about it... :)
I gonna start with some weird ones..
Baron Arisaka Nariakira (April 5, 1852 – January 12, 1915) was a lieutenant general in the Imperial Japanese Army, and as the inventor of the Arisaka Rifle, is regarded as one of the leading arms designers in Japanese history.
Arisaka was born in Iwakuni, Suo province (currently part of Yamaguchi prefecture) as the 4th son of a samurai retainer of Chōshū Domain. At the age of 11, he was adopted by firearms craftsman Arisaka Nagayoshi, from whom he took his family name. After the Meiji Restoration, he enlisted in the Imperial Japanese Army. In 1891, he caught the attention of General Murata Tsuneyoshi, designer of the Murata Rifle, the standard Japanese Army rifle, and was appointed to a position in the Tokyo Arsenal.
In 1897, Arisaka completed work on the Type 30 Rifle, an improvement on the Murata Rifle, which was adopted by the Japanese Army as its standard weapon in time for the Boxer Rebellion. In 1898, he also completed design work on the Type 31 75mm Mountain Gun, and his name became known in the world of artillery as well as small arms. However, his earlier designs were not well received by combat troops. The Type 30 Rifle was regarded as underpowered and lacked lethality. The Type 31 guns lacked recoil buffers and had poor accuracy.
In 1903, Arisaka was appointed head of the Army Technical Bureau. He oversaw a committee charged with improving older models, including the Type 30 Rifle. The chief designer on the project was Captain Nambu Kijirō, who would later attain fame as a weapons designer on his own. The result of this project was the famous Type 38 Rifle, otherwise known as the “Arisaka Rifle”, which was issued to front line infantry troops just in time for the end of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905. The ruggedness of the Type 38 rifle was praised by combat troops, although the issue of its small caliber was not addressed until much later. The Type 38 Rifle, and its various modified versions, continued to be used by the Japanese military until the end of World War II.
Throughout the Russo-Japanese War, Arisaka continued to work on improvements and variations to his rifles, and at the request of Chief of the General Staff Yamagata Aritomo, he also worked on designs for large caliber siege weapons and fortress guns. In 1906, Arisaka was awarded with the Order of the Golden Kite (2nd Class) and promoted to lieutenant general. In 1907, he was further elevated to the kazoku peerage when he was made a baron. In 1910, he was awarded with the Order of the Sacred Treasure (1st class).
Arisaka died in 1915, and his grave is at the Yanaka Cemetery in Tokyo.
Kijirō Nambu (September 22, 1869 – May 1, 1949) was a career officer in the Imperial Japanese Army and the founder of Nambu Arms Manufacturing Company, manufacturer of many of the firearms the Japanese military would use in World War II. A prolific small arms designer, he was sometimes called the "John Browning of Japan".
Nambu was born as the younger son to a former samurai retainer of the Nabeshima clan, in Saga domain in 1869. His mother died soon after he was born, and as his father had financial difficulties, he was sent out to be raised by a local merchant. Through hard work and determination, he secured a place in the 2nd class of the Imperial Japanese Army Academy at the age of 20. At age 23, he was commissioned a lieutenant of artillery.
In 1897, Nambu was assigned to Tokyo Arsenal, where he was assigned to work under noted weapons designer Nariakira Arisaka on the Type 30 rifle project followed by the Type 26 revolver. He was then promoted to major and ordered to develop a semi automatic pistol for the Japanese military. This design, an 8mm pistol, was the ancestor of the famed Nambu pistol, and was completed in 1902. Nambu built a smaller and lighter 7mm version in 1907. The design was praised by then Army Minister Terauchi Masatake, but the Japanese army did not place it into production due to production costs. The larger version was eventually adopted by the Imperial Japanese Navy's Special Naval Landing Forces, and the smaller version was sold commercially to private customers.
The Type 14 pistol was an improved version of the 1902 version, similar in dimensions and performance. Although it was never officially adopted by the Japanese military, it became the most common sidearm in use. Most of the pistols were produced by the Tokyo Arsenal with a smaller number manufactured by the Tokio Gasu Denky. Production of Type 14s lasted until the end of World War II in 1945.
During Nambu's tour at the Army Rifle Manufacturing Plant (later renamed the Kokura Arsenal) he developed the Type 3 Heavy Machine Gun in 1914 and the Type 11 Light Machine Gun in 1922. In 1922, Nambu was promoted to lieutenant general and placed in charge of the Tokyo Artillery Arsenal. He reorganized the army arsenal system in 1923 and was named Commander of the Army Explosives Arsenal and Army Institute of Scientific research. In 1924, he retired from active military service.
Nambu founded the Nambu Arms Manufacturing Company in Tokyo in 1927, with financial backing from the Okura zaibatsu . Nambu received many contracts from both the Japanese army and navy for side arms, light machine guns and heavy machine guns, and also for testing and evaluation of many foreign designs. This included the Type 92 Heavy Machine Gun, Type 94 8 mm Pistol, Type II machine pistol, Type 100 submachine gun and licensed production of the Type 99 Light Machine Gun.
At the end of World War II, Nambu announced that his company would cease all weapons production; however, his facilities were sequestered under the American occupation authorities, and continued to produce equipment for the police and subsequently for the post-war Japanese National Safety Forces, the predecessor to the current Japanese Self-Defense Force. Nambu died in May 1949, and his company was absorbed into the Japanese precision equipment manufacturer Minebea Co.
Sergei Ivanovich Mosin (Apr 2 or 14, 1849 - February 8, 1902) was a Russian engineer and a designer of the Mosin-Nagant rifle.
Mosin was born in Ramon' Raion, Voronezh Oblast in 1849. He entered into a military academy at age 12 where he excelled as a soldier. In 1867, he entered the Alexandrovskoye Military High School in Moscow. Upon leaving Alexandrovskoye in 1870, he decided to go to the artillery branch and transferred to the Mikhailovskoye Artillery Academy. He graduated in 1875 and transferred to the Tula Arsenal where he became the head of the machining division.
It was at Tula where Mosin began his career as a weapons designer by first making improvements to the Berdan II and later the collaboration with Nagant to design the Rifle of Three Lines of the Year 1891. Mosin eventually rose to the rank of Colonel and was appointed as the director of the Sestroretsk arsenal. He died on February 8, 1902 and was buried in Tula.
Émile (born 1830) and Léon (born 1833) Nagant were brothers, started the firm Fabrique d'armes Émile et Léon Nagant was established in 1859 in Liège, Belgium, to manufacture firearms, and probably best known for their important contributions to the design of the Mosin-Nagant Russian service rifle, adopted in 1891. This introduction to the Tsar's military administration led to the adoption, in 1895, of the Nagant M1895 revolver as their standard-issue sidearm. By this time, Émile's progressive blindness had led to his withdrawal from the firm which had been renamed "L. Nagant & Cie, Liége."
Fedor Vasilievich Tokarev (1871–1968) was a Russian weapons designer and deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR from 1941 to 1950.
In 1888, at the age of 17 he was admitted to the Military Vocational School at Novocherkassk. In 1892 Graduated as Cossack noncommissioned officer and sent to the 12th Don Cossack Regiment as an armorer-artificer. At the age of 29, Graduated as a Cossack commissioned officer, and returned to his old unit, the 12th Don Cossack Regiment as Master Gunsmith in 1900. In 1910, at the age of 39, He submitted his version of a conversion of the bolt-action Model 1891 Mosin-Nagant rifle to semi-automatic fire, which merited official testing.
Outside the former Soviet Union he is best known as the designer of the Tokarev TT-30 and TT-33 self-loading pistol and the Tokarev SVT-38 and SVT-40 self-loading rifle, both of which were produced in large numbers during the German-Soviet War. Due to his contributions to Soviet arms design Tokarev received the Hero of Socialist Labor award in 1940.
He also designed the prototype of the FT-1 / ФТ-1 panoramic camera.
Sergei Gavrilovich Simonov (1894 - 1986) was a Soviet weapons designer; he is one of the fathers of the modern assault rifle.
Mostly known for the Samozaryadnyi karabin sistemi Simonova 1945 (Self-loading Carbine, Simonov's system, 1945), or SKS carbine, he also pioneered the assault and semi-automatic rifle field in the 1920s and 1930s, mostly under the supervision of both Vladimir Fyodorov and Fedor Tokarev. His early work preceded both the M1 Garand (of 1933), and the later M1 Carbine, AK-47, and M16 series.
Born in 1894 in Fedotov, Simonov began work in a foundry immediately after completing his elementary school studies. By the end of World War I, after completing a basic technician's course of instruction, he began working on a pioneering automatic rifle designed by Vladimir Grigoryevich Fyodorov, the Federov Avtomat. After the Russian Revolution, Simonov continued further at the Moscow Polytechnic Institute, graduating in 1924 to work at Russia's giant Tula Arsenal. By 1926 he had become a quality-control inspector at Tula, and by 1927, had been promoted into the Soviet Design and Development Department where he worked directly under Fyodorov. The Simonov AVS-36, which entered service in the 1930s would see service in the early part of World War II, up to about 1940 or so where it was replaced by other semi-automatic designs.
During World War II, Simonov designed some firearms of his own; a submachine gun which did not enter production, and a self-loading anti-tank rifle, the 14.5 x 114 mm PTRS, which went on to form the basis — in scaled-down form - of the SKS. An earlier semi-automatic rifle was hindered by official insistence on using the powerful 7.62 x 54 mm R, which was at that point standard amongst Russian rifles; unfortunately, as had been found the Fedor Tokarev's SVT-40 is a flawed design. The 7.62x54R's "rim" was detrimental to reliable, rapid function of a semi-automatic rifle. The design was proven with the 14.5 x 114 mm PTRS-41 ammo. The SKS could have been scaled to fire the 7.62x54R. The power just wasn't needed.
By 1943, advances in thinking - and confirmed data showed engagements took place between 100 meters to 300 meters — led to the adoption of a shorter, less powerful round, the 7.62 x 39 mm M1943 (also known as "7.62 Soviet" or "7.62 short" to differentiate it from several other rounds in 7.62 mm calibre). Field trials of the new rifle proved the weapon and, in 1944 a pre-production run of the SKS went to the Belorussian Offensive for battlefield trials. After some tweaking, it was officially adopted and designated the 7.62 Samozaryadnyi Karabin Sistemy Simonova Obrazets 1945, or SKS-45, and chosen as the ideal replacement for the SVT-40.
Lieutenant General Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov (born 10 November 1919) is a Russian small arms designer, most famous for designing the AK-47 assault rifle, the AKM and the AK-74.
Kalashnikov was born on 10 November 1919 in Kurya, Altai Krai, Russia, one of nineteen children to Timofey Aleksandrovich Kalashnikov and Aleksandra Frolovna Kalashnikova. Timofey Kalashnikov was deported when Mikhail was still a boy. In his youth, Kalashnikov wrote poetry, and his dream was to become a poet. He went on to write six books and has continued to write poetry all his life.
In 1938, Kalashnikov was conscripted into the Red Army, and became a tank driver and mechanic, achieving the rank of senior sergeant tank commander serving on the T-34s of the 24th Tank Regiment, 12th Tank Division stationed in Stryi before the regiment retreated after the Battle of Brody in June 1941. He was wounded in combat during the Battle of Bryansk in October 1941, and got released for six months recuperation due to illness. While in the hospital, he overheard some fellow soldiers complaining about the Soviet rifles of the time.
He also had difficulties with the standard infantry weapons at the time, and so he decided to construct a new rifle for the Soviet military. During this time Kalashnikov began designing a submachine gun.
Although his first submachine gun design was not accepted into service, his talent as a designer was noticed. From 1942 onwards Kalashnikov was assigned to the Central Scientific-developmental Firing Range for Rifle Firearms of the Chief Artillery Directorate of RKKA. Later in life he claimed that the priority of simplicity and dependability in his designs was influenced by principles he had gained from reading of Russian literature and the Bible.
In 1944, he designed a gas-operated carbine for the new 7.62x39 mm cartridge. This weapon, influenced by the M1 Garand rifle, lost out to the new Simonov carbine which would be eventually adopted as the SKS; but it became a basis for his entry in an assault rifle competition in 1946.
This process culminated in 1947, when he designed the AK-47 (standing for Avtomat Kalashnikova model 1947). In 1956, the AK-47 assault rifle became the standard issue rifle of the Soviet Army and went on to become Kalashnikov's most famous invention.
Since 1949, Mikhail Kalashnikov has lived and worked in Izhevsk, Udmurtia. He holds an advanced degree of Doctor of Technical Sciences.
After World War II, as General Designer of small arms for the Soviet Army, his design subordinates included the Germans Hugo Schmeisser, designer of the StG-44, and Werner Grüner (of MG 42 fame) who was a pioneer in sheet metal embossing technology in the 1950s.
Over the course of his career he evolved the basic design into a weapons family. The AKM (Automatic Kalashnikov Modernized) first appeared in 1963, which was lighter and cheaper to manufacture due to the use of a stamped steel receiver (in place of the AK47's milled steel receiver), and contained detail improvements such as a re-shaped stock and muzzle compensator. From the AKM he developed a squad automatic weapon variant, known as the RPK (Kalashnikov light machine gun), and also the PK (Kalashnikov machine gun), which used the more powerful 7.62×54R of the Mosin-Nagant rifle. The PK series is a general purpose machine gun, which is cartridge belt-fed, not magazine-fed, as it is intended to fill the heavy tripod-mounted sustained fire role as well as the light, bipod-mounted role. The common characteristics of his weapons are the simple, elegant engineering and their ruggedness and ease of maintenance in all operating conditions.
Despite estimates of some 100 million AK-47 assault rifles circulating, General Kalashnikov claims he has not profited and that he only receives a state pension. He does however own 30% of a German company Marken Marketing International (MMI), based in Solingen, that revamps trademarks and produces merchandise carrying the Kalashnikov name, such as vodka, umbrellas and knives.
The legacy of Kalashnikov's rifles as the most popular assault rifles has prompted him to state that:
"When I see Bin Laden with his AK-47, I got nervous. But what can I do, terrorists aren't fools: they too chose the most reliable guns." "I'm proud of my invention, but I'm sad that it is used by terrorists," he said on a visit to Germany, adding: "I would prefer to have invented a machine that people could use and that would help farmers with their work — for example a lawn mower."
Yevgeny Fyodorovich Dragunov (February 20, 1920, August 4, 1991) was a Russian weapons designer, best known for the semi-automatic rifle bearing his name, the Dragunov sniper rifle.
From a family of gunsmiths, Dragunov worked as a factory machinist before beginning military service in 1939. After 1941 he was a senior armourer, working on Soviet and also captured enemy weapons during wartime. After 1945 he returned to Izhevsk and joined the Arms Design Bureau, working as a project engineer on sporting and civilian target rifles through the 1950s. One of these, the Biathlon target rifle, went on to Olympic Gold. In 1959 Dragunov submitted his design for a military sniping rifle, the SVD (Snayperskaya Vintovka Dragunova), which was accepted into Soviet military service in 1963, and later became known as the Dragunov rifle.
The Dragunov was designed as a squad support weapon, since according to Soviet and Soviet-derived military doctrines the long-range engagement ability was lost to ordinary troops when submachine guns and assault rifles (which are optimized for close-range and medium-range, rapid-fire combat) were adopted.
Gennadiy Nikolayevich Nikonov (1950-2003) was a Russian gun engineer. His most famous accomplishments were probably as the designer of the AN-94 assault rifle, and the "straight-back bolt." Nikonov held 44 Copyright Certificates, and was awarded the titles of "The Best Designer of the Company" and "The Best Designer of the Ministry."
Nikonov was born in Izhevsk. His father and mother were employed at Izhmash, a Soviet arms factory. His father was a mechanic. Nikonov graduated from technical school in 1968 . At Izhmash, he took evening classes. In 1975 he graduated from the Izhevsk Mechanical Institute certified as a gun engineer.
He started work at Izhmash in the Department of the Chief Arms Designer. His first position was as a technician. In technical school, Nikonov became obsessed with underwater rifles. He won his first professional recognition by designing a trigger mechanism for an underwater rifle.
He designed various rifles, including air guns and sporting firearms. One of the most praised was the stylish, accurate "Izjubr" (Buck Deer) carbine - a limited edition luxury weapon. Nikonov was appointed as a senior project engineer to design single-shot bolt action rifles and fully automatic weapons. In this assignment he patented a number of mechanisms and components. One of the most significant was the "straight-pull bolt," first used in a winter biathlon target rifle.
Nikonov also worked on research projects. In the middle 1970s he entered a post-graduate Ph.D course. From 1980 to 1985 he worked on projects for the Soviet Ministry for Defense Industry. It is said that his high quality and quantity of work helped him advance to higher positions at work.
He was married with two sons, Nikolay and Yuri. Tatiana, Nikonov's wife, works as an arms designer in the same bureau.
I'm related to Mikhail Kalashnikov, he is my great grandfather.
Spetsnaz for Life
Which of your grandparents were his child?
Spetsnaz for Life
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