The Taubina AG-2 Automatic Grenade Launcher,
An interesting weapon lost to history, the Taubina Automatic Grenade Launcher was the creation of Soviet weapons designer Yakov Taubin. First developed in 1931 and perfected in 1937-1939, the Taubina Automatic Grenade Launcher was a weapon that was several generations ahead of its time. Invented at a time when most grenade launchers were single shot affairs, typically rifle grenades, the Taubina was the first of it’s kind and it’s concept would become a staple of modern militaries today. The Taubina Grenade Launcher was designed to fire 40.8mm grenades in either semi automatic or fully automatic modes. Recoil operated, most models utilized a magazine resulting in a rate of fire of 50-60 rounds a minute, however later prototypes utilized a belt feed system which resulted in a rate of 400-450 rounds a minute. It’s maximum range was around 1,200 meters The launcher could be used in both direct fire and indirect fire modes. It was typically mounted on a light wheeled carriage.
The Taubina was first tested in Soviet trials in 1938, where it performed admirably but had some flaws. First it had a weak extractor and extraction springs, resulting in a 7% failure rate. Secondly it was inaccurate at longer ranges. Taubin went to work fixing these problems, developing improved models which saw limited use during the Winter War against Finland in 1939. Despite rave reports on the Taubina’s performance and the potential whoopass the weapon offered the Red Army, the weapon was doomed by Soviet bureaucracy. Most Soviet officials did not see the need for automatic grenade launchers which could rain hundreds of rounds of high explosives on an enemy position. A shame considering that World War II was just around the corner. Much of the opposition to the weapon came from Chief of Main Artillery Directorate Grigory Kulik, who preferred more traditional light infantry mortars and saw no need for the weapon. In 1939 the Taubina project was ended.
Yakov Taubin abandoned the Taubina Grenade Launcher and began work on aircraft machine gun and cannon designs. In 1940 he developed a prototype for an aircraft cannon meant to be used on the IL-2 Sturmovik airplane. However he design was turned down in favor of a competing design, the VYa-23. Shortly afterward, on May 15th, 1941, shortly before the German invasion of the Soviet Union, Taubin was arrested by the NKVD on charges of “preserving samples of unfinished weapons and egregiously plotting production of technically unfinished and unsatisfactory weapons systems”. On October 17th, as German forces raced across the Soviet Union, he was executed and buried in a mass grave. The automatic grenade launcher wouldn’t be re-invented until 1966.