By Larry Kahaner
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Extra resources for AK-47: The Weapon that Changed the Face of War
Others, who had tried to escape, lay in the dirt road. Some of them, seconds from death, screamed in agony as they expired. Kalashnikov vomited at the sight of the mutilated men. For the next few days, the two survivors traveled on foot, desperate to avoid the deadly German patrols. Tired, fearful, and wounded, they finally reached a hospital. Though Kalashnikov was now safe in his hospital bed, receiving treatment for his infected wounds, he couldn’t relax, especially at night. He endured nightmares about the truck and the Germans with their superior submachine guns slaughtering his comrades.
This made standardized training difficult. Again, the AK suited the Soviet army because it was easy to fire, did not require a written manual or training, and rarely broke down. S. military, which prided itself on having a pool of well-trained troops taught to make every shot count through intensive training and practice, the AK allowed the Soviets to put thousands of men into service quickly and with a respectable chance of killing the enemy. Because the AK employed an intermediate round, with less recoil than larger rounds, it allowed even inexperienced soldiers to control its accuracy during multiple bursts.
S. Army historians make no mention of GIs seeing the weapon, and many Soviet records from the time are unavailable. Certainly, the Chinese, who supported the North Koreans with weapons and funds, would have welcomed the gun. Stalin was pleased to see China turn Communist in 1949 under Mao Tse-tung, and Mao’s brutal vision of war was eerily made to order for the AK. The Maoist strategy called for massive numbers of citizen soldiers armed with simple weapons to engage a technologically superior army in guerrilla and large-scale attacks.