soviet tankers

Preferred weapon of drug cartels, revolutionaries and child soldiers, the brain child of a wounded Soviet tanker and embroidered on the flags of Mozambique, terrorist forces across the world and former Brooklyn Nets player Andrei Kirilinko, the AK-47, Kalashnikov. Kalash or simply the AK is an icon of both Russia and the 3rd World. It’s the most iconic gun in existence and it’s one of simple design and simple construction.

To save on space, I will begin the talk of the AK with the 7.63 AK’s, so the AK series from the original AK to the AKM as well as most Combloc versions. The AK was a blend of different designs, comprising ideas from the German STG, Lend Lease M1 Carbines and many older rifles, like the Federov. This was compiled together by a Russian tanker wounded in battle in 1941.

Mikhail Kalashnikov.

A Russian Tanker hospitalized following the Battle of Bryansk in 1941, during his time, he heard his fellow troops complain about their weapons and began working on more soldier-centric designs. The first was a submachine gun design that went nowhere, but got him attention and had him sent to the absurdly long  Central Scientific-developmental Firing Range for Rifle Firearms of the Chief Artillery Directorate of the Red Army. There he worked on a carbine design that failed against the the Simonov SKS in 1946, but the carbine’s basic design led to the AK-47, which won a Russian weapon trial in 1949.

The AK-47 was very popular with the Communist Bloc, and became standard for most of the 2nd World during the Cold War. Many copies were made by the Communist Countries. The East German MPi series, the Yugoslavian M70, the Romanian AIM, the Hungarian AMD and the very common Chinese Type 56, the AK has a long history of mass production.

75-100 million AK rifles have been made in general, if one was to tally together every rifle in the world, one in 5 would be an AK model. And with a number of variants, Russian and other wise, it’s not hard to see why. The Russians had other models, including the paratrooper/tanker AKS-47 with under folding stock, modern versions like the AK-103 and the 1960′s era AKM, with compensator, palm swell handguard and other modernization features.

With this, the AK series became the USSR’s hottest commodity next to Lada cars. It’s appeared across the globe, in the arsenals of world powers and illegal cartels. It was reliable, reasonably accurate and very powerful, something everyone liked. It became a common weapon in the arsenal of revolutionary armies, as the 2nd World helped bolster them as much as the 1st World. It’s a rifle that appears today as much as any other rifle of it’s type.

Whether worn and grey or plated in gold, the AK series is a common sight in the media, both in the real world and in the consumer media. Ever since Vietnam, the US has always had a fascination with the AK. For almost every conflict we’ve been in since Korea, it’s been in the arsenal of the opposing force. With the rise of movies based on real events or the crazed action of blockbuster action movies, AK’s are forever present.

Almost every variety of AK has been pictured in film, from the 1980′s onward. From the Polytech AK’s and Chinese Type 56 rifles to the oddball varieties, it’s as common in a films armory as it is in real life. It fits any situation, from the jungle combat of Vietnam to the urban crime world. It’s made infamous by the news and music and the movies, and you know how this segways.

With video games taking cues from the media, movies and real life, the AK’s as common as the M16 in games. It’s use has ranged from the arsenal of USSR soldiers in everything from Metal Gear Solid 3 to Wargame:Red Dragon, the standard assault rifle for the nameless terrorist forces of most modern combat games, realistic or not. It’s always a common sight if criminal forces, such as in the Far Cry series as well as the action movie styled Max Payne series.

These extends to a number of AK variants, from the Russian series to other countries’s AK’s, like the AMD and Type 56′s. It’s first appearance dates all the way back to Goldeneye 007 on the N64 and as long as AK’s appear in the media, AK’s will appear in video games.

And that is the stories of the AK-47 rifle, the most common assault rifle in the world. It’s not the best rifle out there, but it has no need to be. It just works. It’s worked for over 70 years and shows no sign of stopping now. From the deserts of the Middle East to the Jungles of Central Africa to the streets of the US, it’s as common as ever. It’s the icon of rebellion, and whether it’s black or gold plated, it’s good enough for any situation. It’s simple, it’s reliable, it’s an AK.

And with a gun as iconic as this, we must end on a quote by a great man.

“Of all the weapons in the vast soviet arsenal, nothing was more profitable than Avtomat Kalashnikova model of 1947. More commonly known as the AK-47, or Kalashnikov. It’s the world’s most popular assault rifle. A weapon all fighters love. An elegantly simple 9 pound amalgamation of forged steel and plywood. It doesn’t break, jam, or overheat. It’ll shoot whether it’s covered in mud or filled with sand. It’s so easy, even a child can use it; and they do. The Soviets put the gun on a coin. Mozambique put it on their flag. Since the end of the Cold War, the Kalashnikov has become the Russian people’s greatest export. After that comes vodka, caviar, and suicidal novelists. One thing is for sure, no one was lining up to buy their cars.”


The Tupolev Tu-16Z tanker aircraft, a modified bomber aircraft that used the short lived wing-to-wing refueling system.

In this method, similar to the probe-and-drogue method but more complicated, the tanker aircraft released a flexible hose from its wingtip. An aircraft, flying beside it, had to catch the hose with a special lock under its wingtip. After the hose was locked, and the connection was established, the fuel was pumped.

Basically, a pseudo probe-and-drogue, with the probe part not completely figured out. 

For @thevickers

Allies on exercise – the man on the right is a Soviet tanker identifiable by his black overalls and yellow tank patch just visible embroidered on the right breast. The non-Soviet Warsaw Pact allies opted not to deploy the newer T-62 when it became available and instead relied on enormous fleets of T-54/55s seen here. When they did upgrade their tank divisions they selected the T-72.