Mikhail Kalashnikov portrait

Mikhail Kalashnikov 1919-2013

News: the Russian designer of the AK-47 assault rifle Mikhail Kalashnikov has died aged 94.

A general in the Russian army and the designer of the widely used weapon that bears his name, Kalashnikov died in hospital yesterday after a long illness.

The AK-47, abbreviated from Avtomat Kalashnikova 1947, is a selective-fire, gas-operated assault rifle and one of the first to have been mass produced.

Kalashnikov and his team developed the gun at the end of the Second World War to function reliably in harsh conditions. Its success was put down to the simple design, compact size and cheap manufacturing cost.

AK-47 assault rifle
AK-47 assault rifle

The firearm was adopted as the standard issue assault rifle of the Soviet Army in 1949 and was later disseminated worldwide, undergoing a series of modifications until the present day.

Kalashnikov continued working as chief designer at the firm that first built the AK-47 in Izhevsk, Russia, into his late 80s.

He received many state honours and was twice lauded with the honorary title Hero of Socialist Labour by the Soviet Union.

The AK-47 was added to the collection at London's Design Museum in December 2011.