Oct 12, 2021
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Russian battlefield: Americans have listed the legends of Soviet weapons

In the photo: servicemen during firing from an RPG-7 hand-held anti-tank grenade launcher at the exercises of the Pacific Fleet Marine Corps battalion at the Bamburovo training ground, Primorsky Territory.

In the photo: servicemen during firing from an RPG-7 hand-held anti-tank grenade launcher at the exercises of the Pacific Fleet Marine Corps battalion at the Bamburovo training ground, Primorsky Territory. (Photo: Yuri Smityuk / TASS)

It is too early to write Russian hypersonic missiles “Dagger” and “Zircon” into the category of legends, although they are most often referred to now in foreign media as “the lightning weapon of the Russians.” They appeared relatively recently, and they did not manage to make a single launch at the enemy. Unlike Soviet still weapons, which literally shocked the world.

The American edition of the National Interest, which loves to compare weapons around the world and make ratings of different types of military systems, has now published TOP-5 of first-class weapons created in the USSR. It includes a legendary machine gun Kalashnikov AK-47, the T-34 tank, which fought in different countries after the Great Patriotic War, the legendary Katyusha rocket launcher, as well as the MiG-15 fighter that drove American pilots into a stupor in Korea and the world’s most massive RPG-7 grenade launcher. American analysts admitted that Soviet-era military developments were very successful and are still being effectively used by the armies of many countries.

We will not amend the American “short list” and supplement this short list, although it could be significantly expanded. Let’s dwell on what commands respect in the United States, and in Russia is a legendary weapon.

The Kalashnikov assault rifle, which was originally called the AK-47 (began to enter service with the Soviet army in 1949), is truly world-famous. Even in some godforsaken African village, you say the word “Kalashnikov” and it is immediately clear what it is about. Mikhail Timofeevich himself was cautious about the mass distribution of his “product”, as the gunsmiths call the submachine gun. “I created a machine gun to defend my Fatherland, and not so that it would shoot all over the world,” he said as if justifying himself. Indeed, for Russia, the Kalashnikov assault rifle, the famous AK and all these subsequent modifications are a symbol of military power and one of the guarantors of immunity. In our country alone, 70 million machines were produced under this brand.

In general, for many years abroad, there was a belief that Kalashnikov was not a surname, but a certain collective pseudonym of a group of designers, who took the name of the hero from the poem for the brand. Lermontov “Song about the merchant Kalashnikov”. Well, it did not fit into my head that one person, a simple sergeant, was able to come up with so many different types of automatic weapons. In some countries, they were convinced that the Kalashnikov was exclusively the name of the famous machine gun, and not the name of a person.

In the photo: the legendary Russian gunsmith MIKHAIL KALASHNIKOV at the ceremony to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the release of the AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifle.
In the photo: the legendary Russian gunsmith MIKHAIL KALASHNIKOV at the ceremony to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the release of the AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifle. (Photo: PhotoXpress / ZUMA Press / TASS)

– Somehow in Argentina, – recalls biographer of weapons designer Kalashnikov Alexander Yuzhanov, – the local customs officer took Mikhail Timofeevich’s passport in his hands, began to slowly read the surname in Latin by syllables. And then, amazed, he will shout: “Kalashnikov!” All the local guards came running to look at the machine gun and take a picture with him. They could not believe that the real inventor of the legendary AK was in front of them.

The popularity of the Kalashnikov assault rifle throughout the world was so high that in Mozambique, for example, the name Kalash became one of the most common names for boys at the end of the 20th century. Superstitious Africans believed that with this name, the spirit of freedom and the ability to stand up for it was infused into the newborn.

Mikhail Timofeevich himself once recalled that once in India he happened to be giving birth to a horse. Local residents, knowing who he was, asked the designer to give the foal the nickname “Mikhtim” – a derivative from Mikhail Timofeevich. Kalashnikov agreed with a smile – it sounds Indian.

But the American soldiers in Vietnam, the Soviet AK, with which the Vietnamese northerners fought against them, respectfully called “Hey-Kay” – almost like “Okay”. For invincibility and reliability. He could be dragged through the mud and drowned in a swamp, but he continued to shoot in the conditions when the American M16 “surrendered”. By the way, the special forces of the US Army still use the AK-47 7.62 mm, preferring it to other types of small arms.

The beginning of 2019 became the “year of the tank” T-34 in Russia. On January 1, the eponymous premiere of the film “T-34” took place, and on January 9, 30 T-34-85 tanks, previously in service with the Lao army, arrived in Vladivostok by steamer. However, before this tank, the serial production of which began in 1940, was not forgotten – it remained not only in the form of monuments (in the Moscow region on Dmitrovskoe highway near the village of Sholokhovo there is a whole museum “History of the T-34 tank”), but also is an indispensable participant in military parades on Red Square on Victory Day on May 9.

A total of 35,330 T-34 tanks were produced (this is without taking into account the T-34−85 tanks, which were produced since 1943), their production was carried out at seven factories, including in the besieged Leningrad at tank plant number 174. “Thirty-four” in everything the world is deservedly recognized as the most successful tank of the Great Patriotic War – they took Berlin.

In the photo: T-34-85 tanks.
In the photo: T-34-85 tanks. (Photo: Maria Moskvitsova / Press Service of the RF Ministry of Defense / TASS)

After the war, T-34-85 tanks entered service with the armies of North Korea and China. In subsequent years, the “thirty-four”, mainly of Czechoslovak and Polish production, was supplied to many states, including the armies of the Warsaw Pact countries, as well as Albania, Angola, Congo, Cuba, Vietnam, Mongolia, Laos, Egypt, Guinea, Iraq , Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Mali, Syria and even Finland. These tanks took an active part in many armed conflicts, and are still in service in a number of countries.

– Tanks in the Russian army in the coming years will not become an anachronism, moreover, they will only be improved and added with new developments of armored vehicles, – believes military expert Vladimir Popov… – And the point here is not even the historical experience, when the T-34 swept across Europe and took Berlin. The tank itself is universal – it is a long-term armored point capable of quickly changing its position and acting depending on the situation on the battlefield. It should be remembered here that none of the armed conflicts of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries did not manage without their use. Tanks successfully operated both in local conflicts and in large-scale military operations, and sometimes even without their direct offensive action.

“Katyusha came ashore” – these are the words from a famous song. Another legendary “Katyusha” is no less famous – the BM-13 rocket artillery combat vehicle. With her volleys, she brought fear and horror to the Nazis, who called it “Stalin’s organ” because of the characteristic “singing” of the rocket plumage. This “guards mortar” (this name was invented for secrecy) had a glorious military path – smashing the enemy, “Katyusha” (this is a popular popular name) went to Berlin. And today it is in the historical ranks. In July, the 80th anniversary of the baptism of fire of the Katyusha was celebrated, in honor of the combat march of the first experimental battery of the captain Ivana Flerova in July 1941 from Moscow near Orsha, Vitebsk region.

Photo: Soviet rocket artillery combat vehicle BM-13 "Katyusha".
Photo: Soviet rocket artillery combat vehicle BM-13 “Katyusha”. (Photo: Sergey Malgavko / TASS)

By the way, the Russian Ministry of Defense has preserved BM-13 installations – about 100 units are in storage. There are also enough missiles for them, which are in military arsenals.

In the skies over Korea in 1950-53, Soviet aviation proved air superiority over the American, largely thanks to the skill of the pilots and the new MiG-15 jet fighter. This aircraft became the best fighter in the world at that time. They had to prove this in a confrontation with the American jet F-80 “Shooting Star” and the new F-86 “Saber” fighters. It was the rivalry of the MiG-15 that became a classic of the air war in Korea.

On November 1, 1950, Soviet pilots were allowed to cross the Korean border for the first time to search for and destroy American aircraft. On the same day, the first battle of the MIGs took place – five of our aircraft flew to the Andun region and soon found three P-51 Mustangs. As a result of a fleeting battle, one enemy plane was shot down, and another was shot down. So the account of the victories of Soviet pilots in the Korean sky was opened. On the same day, the MiG-15s showed themselves for the first time in a battle with American jet aircraft. Three of our fighters met a dozen F-80 aircraft and suddenly attacked them from above. As a result, one “Shooting Star” was hit, the rest chose to retire.

Photo: Soviet MiG-15 fighter.
Photo: Soviet MiG-15 fighter. (Photo: TASS / Marina Lystseva)

In total, according to unofficial data, during the hostilities in the skies of Korea, Soviet pilots, mainly in MiG-15 fighters, conducted about two thousand air battles and shot down 1,097 American aircraft. Own losses are estimated at 319 MiG-15 and La-11 aircraft. In general, it is no coincidence that the Americans have now added this fighter to the list of the best examples of Soviet weapons – tested, as they say, on themselves.

The popularity of the Soviet-Russian hand-held anti-tank RPG-7 grenade launcher is evidenced by the fact that since the beginning of the 60s of the last century, more than 9 million units have been produced. This is the most massive and demanded grenade launcher in the world, which took part in all wars and major armed conflicts over the past half century, which, in terms of the number of products produced, is inferior only to the famous Kalashnikov.

By the way, the version of our RPG-7 was cloned by the Americans – a full-scale production of these reusable anti-tank grenade launchers, manufactured by AirTronic and known as Airtronic USA RPG-7 and Mk.777, has been created in the United States. Testing of these grenade launchers took place back in 2014 as part of the Spiral J program of the US Army, and at the same time the Aberdeen Proving Grounds (Maryland, also known for the largest museum of armored vehicles) certified the RPG-7 Made in USA and authorized their delivery to the American army. It’s funny, but KB “Basalt”, the developer of the RPG-7, has been included in the US sanctions list since 2014.

If we talk about the “foreign origin” of the Soviet-Russian grenade launcher, out of more than 40 countries where it is used, 8 countries, in addition to the United States, have established their own production. In Bulgaria RPG-7 is known as ATGL, in Georgia – RPG-7G, in Egypt – Sakr RPG-7, in Iraq – Al-Nassira, in Iran – DIO RPG 7 Saghegh, in China – Type 69 RPG, in Romania – AG -7, in Sudan – Sinar. The popularity of this grenade launcher, “simple as a stick and reliable as a Kalashnikov assault rifle”, is so great all over the world that other hand-held anti-tank systems, such as the American M67, the Swedish M2 Carl Gustaf, the French LRAG F1 or the Israeli B-300, are abandoned. …

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