Kalashnikov Media has recently published a scanned copy of a quite an interesting drawing. It is said to be the hand sketch of a CIA agent who first saw the AK-47 rifle in 1953. It was a part of a report which told that during a demining operation in Leningrad and Novgorod oblasts (administrative division) the soldiers of Krasnoselsk infantry regiment were spotted with a new submachine gun. According to that report, the recruits of the mentioned regiment were equipped with PPSh submachine guns whereas the more experienced personnel was carrying a new gas operated firearm.
As Maxim Popenker, the author of Kalashnikov Media article says, in the Soviet Union the development of new armament was always a well-guarded secret. It is not something that was announced or teased. Needless to say that it must have been quite difficult (and dangerous) for the CIA agents to gather any defense-related intelligence in the Soviet Union.
Besides the secrecy, I think part of the reason that a rifle adopted in 1949 was only spotted in spring of 1953 is that it wasn’t yet widely in use by the armed forces of the Soviet Union. Making sufficient amount of rifles to arm a huge army like Soviet had would take some time.
Kalashnikov Media also posted arguably some of the first photographs of the AK-47 rifle and RPD LMG from another intelligence report. These images are taken in Poland in 1960. Of course, these documents are declassified long ago and you can view this report by clicking here.
These are amazingly interesting historical documents! If you want to find more similar reports and documents, visit the page of CIA Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room by clicking here. Searching on this page reveals a lot of interesting declassified documents.
Popenker M. “Как в ЦРУ рисовали Автомат Калашникова. По памяти”. (2018 March 2). Kalashnikov Media. Retrieved from: https://kalashnikov.media/blog/4522123