What if an AK-47 chambered for the .223 Remington had existed in 1933?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Solomonson, Jan 12, 2021.

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  1. Solomonson

    Solomonson Member

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    What if a brilliant and ultra-wealthy American (say someone like Edsel Ford I or Howard Hughes) had designed, tooled and produced in quantity (even if most were warehoused) what we now know as the AK-47 chambered for what we now know as the .223 Remington (including full lethality test data for the round, and a study of the average distance of lethal shots in WWI) by 1933? Let's say they did this outside and parallel to FoMoCo or Hughes Tool/Aircraft.

    The reason I wonder about this is because from a technology and manufacturing standpoint, the US certainly had the capability to mass-produce the AK-47 and the .223 Remington round in 1933. Neither requires esoteric materials. This isn't a ridiculous fantasy -- it's not as if the transistor would first need to be invented and then miniaturized for this to have been realized for instance. Any resistance would have come more through politics than anything else.

    The AK-47 would have been far easier and cheaper to produce than the Garand. Further, the M1 was still a few years away from being approved, although there was maneuvering going on between the existing 30-06 Springfield round, and the proposed .276 Pedersen.

    There’s other, deeper issues too. What if the Axis got hold of a cheap/easy to produce design like the AK-47 when Lend/Lease began, near the beginning of the war? What would have been the impact to Allied losses? What would have been the real impact to ammo consumption? Would such a rifle best be released as a semi-auto and not a select auto?

    This topic fascinates me. Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2021
  2. NIGHTLORD40K

    NIGHTLORD40K Member

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    Despite Pattons assessment of the Garand, infantry small arms contribute only a small percentage of overall casualties in ground warfare.

    Even if every WW2 belligerent was armed with modern "assault rifles" the outcome would have been the same. The Axis ran out of men, ammunition, and, most importantly, fuel.

    Dont forget Germany actually did have paradigm-shifting super weapons such as the ME262, King Tiger tank, and TypeXXI U-boat, but they sat immobile and useless in numbers too small to influence the outcome.

    Against these technological combat marvels, an infantry rifle, even one as good as the AK wouldnt have made a difference.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2021
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  3. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Member

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    Hitler was, in many ways, Das Dritte Reich's own worst enemy. He micromanaged just about everything from the design of the Me 262 to troop movements (not allowing retreat & regroup) and on D-Day, June 6, 1944, only he could issue orders to bring up tanks and other similar war machines...but he was asleep, not to be aroused.
    Some attribute much efficiency to the Nazi War Machine. No.....I think they had more horses than tanks.
    But America and our allies out produced the Nazis. Free enterprise works.;):)
     
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  4. CarJunkieLS1

    CarJunkieLS1 Member

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    At the end of the war the Germans had the grandfather of the AK-47. It was called the Strumgewhuer (storm rifle) or what we now call STG44. It was chambered in 7.92x33 aka 8mm Kurz and was the grandfather of all the intermediate rifle cartridges. The issue was that the rifle was "too little too late" and wasn't out in enough numbers to matter. But like already mentioned I too think that the Tanks, Planes, and Automobiles is what will win or lose wars.
     
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  5. Mosin Bubba

    Mosin Bubba Member

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    The Stg 44 offers a reasonable approximation, like CarJunkie said, and it didn't come close to swinging the war.

    I suspect that some Marines in the Pacific would have given their left nut for an AK, but the M1 Carbine offers up another decent approximation of what a lightweight automatic would do in WWII jungle warfare. It was useful but no game breaker.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2021
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  6. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Member

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    Why would an AK in .223 be desirable for WWII?
     
  7. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Member

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    The tactics would not have caught up with the technology.

    You are only 15 years removed from WWI where tacticians had JUST figured out that using Napoleonic tactics against entrenched machine gun positions and modern artillery fire annoyingly resulted in unsustainable casualty rates.

    The weight of fire from the average infantry unit wasn’t that big of a factor anyway. They had light machine guns available to them even then. As much praise as the garand gets it really wasn’t that much of an advantage. Things like the lowly proximity fuse played a far far more important role.
     
  8. fatboog

    fatboog Member

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    What a fascinating topic! I’ve often wondered they “why” of the question of cartridge and firearm design of the day.

    If the manufacturing capability and knowledge of small bore was available to them at the time I wonder what difference it would have made. Horses had something to do with the power behind cartridge design. An Infantrymans weapon had to be able to kill a horse, and while you and I know it now I’d imagine the old timers in charge of such things at the time no doubt thought anything under thirty caliber was useless.

    As far as manufacturing design and stamped and welded recievers, it just hadn’t been thought out at the time. They were obviously on the way tho.

    So, I’d imagine if in 1933 they’d have had a Kalashnikov in a five in a half millimeter, There would have been a lot more horses that lived through the war and a lot more brass lying on the ground.
     
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  9. 35 Whelen
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    35 Whelen Contributing Member

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    In 1933 our military was still training soldiers to be riflemen, that is soldiers who were required to learn to shoot at long range. The AK-47 is anything but a long range platform, and don't get me started on a .22 caliber;) bullet.

    35W
     
  10. derek45

    derek45 Member

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    MacArthur would have insisted it be chambered in 30-06 and have a 5-10 round enbloc clip.

    A conventional stock would be fitted to benefit the bayonet range, and probably ought to move the gas system under the barrel.

    Keep the trigger/hammer design, but move the safety close to the trigger.

    It might look something like this...

    La4m45q.jpg
     
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  11. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Member

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    Also bear in mind that the Japanese fielded what amounted to an intermediate rifle cartridge that even they decided wasn’t powerful enough for the conflict at hand.

    so much so that they attempted to switch mid war.
     
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  12. mjsdwash

    mjsdwash Member

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    its a major misconception that AK47's were cheap to make. They were not. There is a reason the US made AK's cost $800, and many took shortcuts. There is also a reason ALL AK magazines are plastic or surplus. Consider an AKM magazine's cost. I read back abound 2005 that a US made AKM mag would cost about $80 at retail... in 2005. I know everyone thinks plastic mags are good enough, but the AK didn't get its reputation from them. Also, the technology for decent plastic did not exist at that time.
    The big driver for the "low cost" illusion is straight slave and effective slave labor common throughout the Soviet Union. There is a major reason why only nations with legal slavery, or extreme military aid, or at the very least open licensing, and tooling assistance adopted the design. The Garand design was expensive, but mostly so because the funds were unlimited. Just look at the Thompson... when they were free to milk the government, it was $220... when it became strategic, and other companies got contracts, it was easy enough to profit at $50.... The M1 would have been the same. Look at the manufacturing methods that led to the Mini-14... it holds the same pressure, could be scaled up to the 30-06, and tuned to handle the ejection speed. Casting wasn't great then, but then again, only the receiver and bolt were critical. The idea of low cost two piece bolts was well established by then.

    As far as the .223... that would go nowhere. The US was still in the stages of The Great War way of thinking. WW1 saw some amount of body armor. WW1 saw the use of light, shoulder rifle penetrable/disableable tanks and trucks. WW1 saw the use of ranged mass infantry fire. We were not giving up our 1200 yard rounds at that time. I know a 223 will get there, but it won't kill an engine at that range.

    The logic of your approach is largely what drove the M1 carbine program. They didn't feel the need to make it a 800 yard rifle, so no 223, but few could shoot far enough to make a difference anyway.
     
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  13. NIGHTLORD40K

    NIGHTLORD40K Member

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    I read a first-hand account written by a German infantryman who was issued the StG44. His unit was excited to receive their shiny new wonder-guns, packed in straw-filled wooden crates with extra magazines and an initial loadout of ammunition.

    Unfortunately that first batch was the only 7.92X33 ammunition they ever received. Most of those shiny wonder guns were tossed, empty, into the nearest lake as they retreated........
     
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  14. NIGHTLORD40K

    NIGHTLORD40K Member

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    The new production, stamped steel Korean AK mags are quite nice, and function as well or better than my Combloc surplus examples. Get a few while you can!
     
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  15. Solomonson

    Solomonson Member

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    Do you happen to know for instance, how many Russians were killed by Nazis during WWII via small arms fire?

    Yeah, and perhaps if they would have had something like the AK from the beginning, they could have done more damage while expending fewer resources? What would the Pacific been like had the Japanese been outfitted with AK-47s from the beginning?

    Which means absolutely nothing unless they have the resources to produce/maintain such expensive/esoteric gear in quantity, which they did not. Having a cheap/easy to build design like the AK47 might well have allowed them to reallocate resources -- or at the very least, get far more bang for the buck.

    I'm certain it would have resulted in more combat deaths, across all theaters. That in itself is a profound difference.
     
  16. Solomonson

    Solomonson Member

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    Very different firearm in terms of maneuverability, cost, caliber, etc.
     
  17. Solomonson

    Solomonson Member

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    Very interesting insight...

    You don't think those that noodled-out the Blitzkrieg, would have been able to integrate the AK-223 to best effect? I guess probably not, if the design was captured from the Allies, once the war was already up and running.
     
  18. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Member

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    The war in the pacific would have not been one bit different.

    Pearl Harbor would have went down the same.

    The Japanese army would still have murdered millions of Chinese and Koreans

    b29’s would still have firebombed Japan to cinders

    American sub warfare would have still starved Japanese troops and prevented them from being supplied with anything but the bare minimum. This doesn’t deserve enough credit . The US navy actually accomplished in the Pacific what the kriegsmarine attempted to do in the Atlantic

    Japan would still have wasted their manpower’s lives like they had an infinite supply

    rifle design isn’t even as important as the K ration
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2021
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  19. Solomonson

    Solomonson Member

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    And what would have been the impact if the designer/manufacturer had an analysis showing that most hits by small arms during WWI were not at 600 yards? Or 500, or 400, or 300 or even 200? The data existed. All it needed was to be gathered/crunched/presented/sold.
     
  20. mjsdwash

    mjsdwash Member

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    guess I was wrong about that one. That is a good deal, I may take you up on it. I have some of the Glock mags, and like them.
     
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  21. Solomonson

    Solomonson Member

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    My personal interest is focused most on what would have inevitably been the clash between the entrenched US Military bureaucracy and someone (like a Ford or Hughes) with the resources/brains to sell a clearly superior/less expensive weapon and caliber, during such a poignant time in history.

    People like Army Chief of Staff MacArthur had a great deal of power, yet there were some -- the sort that typically hold elected office, that have even more. People like Hughes and Ford could likely have gotten the attention of such people too.

    Parallels existed with the M14/M16 succession much later, to some degree...
     
  22. NIGHTLORD40K

    NIGHTLORD40K Member

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    Well, ok.

    A) No, and neither does anyone else- including the Russians. Reliable records of such things from the Eastern Front simply dont exist. But likely not as many as died from starvation, disease, and the cold. US Army casualty studies, however, show that artillery is by far the largest contributor to overall COMBAT deaths across all the wars of the 20th Century.

    B)They did plenty of damage in the opening stages, conquering nearly all of Continental Europe and SE Asia. How much further do you really think they could have gotten simply by virtue of having an automatic infantry rifle? Would the Japanese have won at Midway? No. Would the supply lines stretching to Stalingrad have gotten any shorter? No. Would the U-boats have successfully starved Britain into capitulation? No.

    World War Two wasnt decided by the qualitative superiority of any one weapon, be it the Spitfire, the Gato class submarine, the T-34, and certainly not by a rifle. It was decided by economics and logistics.

    C)That was, in fact, my point. Having an advanced, resource-limited rifle design in production would not magically make up for the Axis lack of copper, crude oil, aluminum or iron ore- all things needed to build and fuel a 20th Century military.

    D)Yes, and the Axis would still have run out of men first- and they still would have lost.

    Im sorry, but the Infantry Rifle, while still necessary, is just not an outcome determinant in modern warfare.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2021
  23. NIGHTLORD40K

    NIGHTLORD40K Member

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    Good to know, I just picked up a couple of the 32round Glock-compatible ones too, for my next AR9 build.
     
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  24. 35 Whelen
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    35 Whelen Contributing Member

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    Where did the data exist (if it did) and why did it take 10+ years after WW2 for someone to get it? And since we handed two different countries on two different fronts their respective glutei maximi, what difference does it make?

    The M1 Carbine was used in WW2. On the battlefield, how was it that much different than the AK?

    35W
     
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  25. mcb

    mcb Member

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    Artillery was king of the WWII battlefield especial on both German fronts. Combine the artillery, with the large scale areal bombardment, and other less prolific indirect fire weapon systems like mortars and rockets and you can probably accounted for 70+ % of battlefield casualties. In the pacific navel bombardment and carrier based air support served as artillery until a beachhead could be made and allow the land based artillery a place to setup and then to move inland. Again this indirect fire accounts for the overwhelming majority of battlefield casualties.

    The infantryman rifle was there more to give the poor drafted soldier the courage to move towards the enemy and occupy territory and less about actually shooting the enemy. Given that WWII soldiers were overwhelming drafted (not volunteers and profession soldiers) and the type of training WWII soldiers were given led to minimal effectiveness of small arms. Some studies suggested that only ~15% of the US soldiers that saw an enemy soldier actually shot at the the enemy with their rifle. This would be change in the years after as we improved training (not without consequence as experience by many Vietnam soldiers) and as we switch from a drafted army to a more volunteer army with more professional soldiers.

    I am not saying the infantry rifle is not important but in the grand scheme of WWII infantry shooting infantry was in general of minimal impact on most (certainly not all) battles. The majority of WWII advances were done by good battlefield intelligent for proper maneuvering of artillery, lead by armor, supported by air cover and finally the infantry moving in to support and hold the territory that was gained by the mechanized advance.
     
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