We shared a post on Facebook a few days ago about a statue of gun designer Mikhail Kalashnikov, the creator of the AK-47, being recently unveiled in central Moscow, commissioned by Russia’s Culture Minister and representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church.
There’s just one problem, the sculptors carved the diagram of a German rifle into the monument to the Soviet arms designer, and now, some editing to the $538,000 piece is taking place, according to this story from themoscowtimes.com.
Maybe you can spot it in the photo above. It’s kind of hard to see, but easier to spot in the photo below.
There are a number of AK variants depicted on a metal plate affixed to the side of the monument with some exploded diagram drawings and notes as a backdrop. The problem is that the diagram behind the AKS-74U on the right is actually that of an StG 44, which stands for Sturmgewehr 44, a decidedly German rifle.
The StG 44 is a selective-fire rifle, often said to be the world’s first issued assault rifle (which is what the name literally means), that was developed during World War II.
In keeping with the design of modern assault rifles, the StG 44 used a shorter cartridge than battle rifles of the time, which permitted controllable automatic fire that was also more compact. It was made to address the fact that most aimed rifle fire in combat sutations did not exceed a few hundred meters…sound familiar?
The story says the monument’s general commissioner, Vladislav Kononov said the rifle is indeed a German StG 44, not some secret AK prototype, and that it will be removed. A statue of Kalashnikov holding the AK-47, which is the main focus of the monument.
“We have pointed this out to its sculptor Salavat Shcherbakov,” Kononov was quoted saying. “He is at the site and is going to dismantle the plate because indeed he and his assistant have confused something.”
Apparently it took a Moscow-based military historian to point out the mistake in a Facebook post on Thursday, saying that the rifle diagram on the plate is and exact replica of the diagram for the StG.
“Just don’t say that this was an accident,” Yuri Pasholok wrote. “One should be beaten, painfully and publicly, for something like this. These are boy-sculptors, dammit!”
Not too sure what that last part means, but he seems pretty angry about this. The sculptor’s response probably only infuriated Pasholok further.
“This is a very small background thing,” the sculptor was quoted saying by the RBC news outlet. “I even wonder how they noticed it. We took [the image] from a source where it was written ‘Kalashnikov assault rifle.'”
The folks over at thefirearmblog.com said they got the same image of the StG 44 diagram as a result for an image search for “ak 47 blueprint,” but we were unable to duplicate their search results.
Actually, it’s a pretty big screw up, tantamount to seeing a statue of John Moses Browning with an Enfield rifle blueprint as part of its embellishments, or say, in a century, a statue of Bill Gates with an exploded view of an iPhone on the side—though this real monument mix-up is a bit worse—considering the German Army used the StG to help rack up a staggering Soviet military death toll, during what they call the Great Patriotic War, which was only eclipsed by the number of civilian deaths in Russia during WWII.
Current estimates of military deaths for the Red Army are above 8.7 million for the entirety of the war, with the total Russian death toll during the war from all causes, including civilians, is estimated at more than 20 million.
But this isn’t even the first time the sculptor has made this kind of screw up. In 2014, he came under scrutiny for depicting a German Mauser 98 rifle on a monument of a Soviet soldier leaving for the front, the story says.
Hey, Salavat, Google image search is your friend. Or maybe it’s some form of right-under-their-nose political protest as the military historian suggested…
Kalashnikov developed the AK-47, officially known as Avtomat Kalashnikova, literally”Kalashnikov’s Automatic Rifle,” in the last year of WWII: 1945. In 1946 the AK-47 was presented for official military trials and in 1948, the fixed stock version was introduced into active service in the Soviet Army. The AKS soon followed, with an underfolding metal shoulder stock. The army officially accepted the AK in the summer of 1949 along with a majority of the member states of the Warsaw Pact.
After 70 years, the AK-47 and its may variants remain the most widely used assault rifles in the world, partly because of their reliability in adverse conditions and ease of use, but also because of the gun’s low production costs. It is available in virtually every geographic region and has been manufactured in many countries around the world.