A U.S Marine wields an NVA AK-47 during the Battle of Hue City. Hue, South Vietnam, in February, 1968. Credit: FIle photo.

More than a hundred Russian schoolchildren were taught to assemble AK-47s in a Moscow park when the country celebrated the centenary of the birth of Mikhail Kalashnikov, inventor of the legendary rifle.

On that day in November of 2019, the 100th anniversary of Kalashinkov’s birth, a number of events took place in Russia, including museum displays, a biopic and, of course, the inevitable patriotic lessons, Times of Israel reported.

Such was the respect for the man born in a Siberian village, who created one of the greatest, most reliable and deadly attack rifles in history.

Kalashnikov, who died in 2013 at the age of 94, is seen in Russia as a national hero and symbol of the country’s proud military past.

Today, Russia manufactures fifth-generation Kalashnikov rifles — the AK-12 and the AK-15 — and there are an estimated 100 million AK-47s in circulation.

And now, they have a new entry.

Russia’s Kalashnikov Group (a subsidiary of Rostec state corporation) unveiled its new Lebedev PLK compact pistol at the IDEX 2021 defense show, held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last week, EDR Magazine reported.

The PLK is a striker-fired weapon that is built on an aluminum slide and features ambidextrous firing controls, including bolt catch, safety, and magazine release button.

Unlike the renowned Makarov PM pistol firing 9×18 ammunition, the Lebedev sidearm is chambered for 9×19 Parabellum cartridges, the report said.

Fitted with an ergonomic grip, the PLK pistol is 180 mm long and carries a 92 mm barrel.

The firearm is fed by a 14-round metal dual-column magazine with clear windows, allowing a shooter to control ammunition consumption, the report said.

Russia Mikhail Kalashnikov presents his legendary assault rifle to the media while opening the exhibition ‘Kalashnikov — legend and curse of a weapon’ at a museum in Suhl, Germany. Credit: Handout.

The Lebedev pistol weighs 0.71 kg with empty magazine. The lower part of the pistol slide is equipped with a Picatinny rail for tactical flashlights and target designators.

“This firearm has successfully completed its state trials in the Russian Federation and has already proven its reliability in harsh environments,” Dmitry Tarasov, the Kalashnikov Group CEO told EDR.

Born in a Siberian village on November 10, 1919, Kalashnikov had a tragic childhood during which his father was deported as a “kulak” (prosperous peasant) in 1930, TheHindu.com reported.

Wounded during a bloody battle with Nazi forces in 1941, Kalashnikov was given a leave during which he thought up the first versions of the rifle.

In 1945, a prototype was entered into a competition and the design was eventually recommended for use in the Soviet army.

It quickly became prized for its simplicity, cheapness and sturdy reliability.

AK-47’s name stands for “Kalashnikov’s Automatic” and the year its final version was designed, 1947.

Though it wasn’t especially accurate, its ruggedness and simplicity were exemplary: it performed well in sandy or wet conditions that jammed more sophisticated weapons such as the American M-16.

“During the Vietnam war, American soldiers would throw away their M-16s to grab AK-47s and bullets for it from dead Vietnamese soldiers,” Kalashnikov said in July 2007 at a ceremony marking the rifle’s 60th anniversary.

The weapon’s suitability for jungle and desert fighting made it nearly ideal for the Third World insurgents backed by the Soviet Union, and Moscow not only distributed the AK-47 widely but also licensed its production in some 30 other countries.

Some have even called it the “weapon of the century,” placing it as the deadliest and most game-changing weapon in the history of military warfare.

Russia’s Kalashnikov Group (a subsidiary of Rostec state corporation) has unveiled its new Lebedev PLK compact pistol at the IDEX 2021 defence show being held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Credit: Courtesy EDR Magazine Online.

The gun’s status among revolutionaries and national-liberation struggles is enshrined on the flag of Mozambique.

The moment that firmly set his course was in the 1941 battle of Bryansk against Nazi forces, when a shell hit his tank, Times of Israel reported.

Recovering from wounds in the hospital, Kalashnikov brooded about the superior automatic rifles he’d seen the Nazis deploy; his rough ideas and revisions bore fruit five years later.

“Blame the Nazi Germans for making me become a gun designer,” said Kalashnikov. “I always wanted to construct agricultural machinery.”

In 2007, President Vladimir Putin praised him, saying “The Kalashnikov rifle is a symbol of the creative genius of our people.”

Over his career, he was decorated with numerous honors, including the Hero of Socialist Labor and Order of Lenin and Stalin Prize. But because his invention was never patented, he didn’t get rich off royalties.