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Sergei Gavrilovich Simonov : biography

1 January 1894 - 8 December 1986

Sergei Gavrilovich Simonov (Russian: Сергей Гаврилович Симонов; 4 October 1894 – 6 May 1986) was a Russian weapons designer; he is one of the fathers of the modern assault rifle.

Mostly known for the Samozaryadnyi karabin sistemi Simonova (Russian: Самозарядный карабин системы Симонова), 1945 (Self-loading Carbine, Simonov's system, 1945), or SKS carbine, he also pioneered the assault and semi-automatic rifle field in the 1920s and 1930s, mostly under the supervision of both Vladimir Fyodorov and Fedor Tokarev. His early work preceded both the M1 Garand (of 1933), and the later M1 Carbine, AK-47, and M16 series.

Born in 1894 in Fedotov, Simonov began work in a foundry immediately after completing his elementary school studies. By the end of World War I, after completing a basic technician's course of instruction, he began working on a pioneering automatic rifle designed by Vladimir Grigoryevich Fyodorov, the Federov Avtomat. After the Russian Revolution, Simonov continued further at the Moscow Polytechnic Institute, graduating in 1924 to work at Russia's giant Tula Arsenal. By 1926 he had become a quality-control inspector at Tula, and by 1927, had been promoted into the Soviet Design and Development Department where he worked directly under Fyodorov. The Simonov AVS-36, which entered service in the 1930s would see service in the early part of World War II, up to about 1940 or so where it was replaced by other semi-automatic designs.

During World War II, Simonov designed some firearms of his own; a submachine gun which did not enter production, and a self-loading anti-tank rifle, the 14.5 x 114 mm PTRS, which went on to form the basis — in scaled-down form - of the SKS. An earlier semi-automatic rifle was hindered by official insistence on using the powerful 7.62 x 54 mm R, which was at that point standard amongst Russian rifles; unfortunately, as had been found the Fedor Tokarev's SVT-40 is a flawed design. The 7.62x54R's "rim" was detrimental to reliable, rapid function of a semi-automatic rifle. The design was proven with the 14.5 x 114 mm PTRS-41 ammo. The SKS could have been scaled to fire the 7.62x54R. The power just wasn't needed.

By 1943, advances in thinking - and confirmed data showed engagements took place between 100 meters to 300 meters — led to the adoption of a shorter, less powerful round, the 7.62 x 39 mm M1943 (also known as "7.62 Soviet" or "7.62 short" to differentiate it from several other rounds in 7.62 mm calibre). Field trials of the new rifle proved the weapon and, in 1944 a pre-production run of the SKS went to the Belorussian Offensive for battlefield trials. After some tweaking, it was officially adopted and designated the 7.62 Samozaryadnyi Karabin Sistemy Simonova Obrazets 1945 g. (translated, "7.62 Self-loading Carbine System Simonov model year 1945" or SKS-45, and chosen as the ideal replacement for the SVT-40.

Honours and awards

  • Hero of Socialist Labour (1954)
  • Three Orders of Lenin
  • Order of the October Revolution
  • Order of Kutuzov, 2nd class
  • Order of the Red Star
  • Order of the Patriotic War, 1st class
  • Order of the Red Banner of Labour, twice
  • Honoured Inventor of the RSFSR (1964)
  • Medal "In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin"
  • Stalin Prize, twice (1942 and 1949)

Projects

  • AKS-53
  • AKS-91
  • AO-31
  • AO-35 assault rifle
  • AO-63 assault rifle
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