Just three days after the statue of Mikhail Kalashnikov was unveiled in Moscow, arms experts discovered that instead of showing an AK-47, a drawing on its base depicted a Sturmgewehr (StG 44) rifle.
The StG 44 was reportedly named by Adolf Hitler and used by Nazi forces during the invasion of the Soviet Union.
Workers used angle grinders to obliterate the drawing from the 7m (23ft) high statue.
Sculptor Salavat Shcherbakov said he did not know how the mistake was made, adding that he did not have “any saboteurs in my team who might have chosen a wrong sketch on purpose”.
He told Russian state media: “I didn’t do that either. There may have been a mistake, but we still need to find out if it is or it is not.”
A spokesperson for the Russian Military and Historical Society said the drawing had to be removed otherwise “a lot would need to be explained”.
Mikhail Kalashnikov became a national hero after the AK-47 entered service in 1949 and became a standard weapon for Soviet forces.
It also became one of the world’s most widely used assault rifles, with an estimated 100 million made across the globe.
General Kalashnikov, who insisted the rifle was “a weapon of defence… not a weapon for offence”, died in December 2013.
During the unveiling of the statue on Tuesday, Russian culture minister Vladimir Medinsky praised the inventor and said the AK-47 was a “cultural brand for Russia”.
He had added: “Mikhail Kalashnikov is in a way the craftsman of the 20th century.
“He’s the implementation of the best characteristics of a Russian man.
“He was incredibly talented, simple, honest and all these traits helped him design this line of weapons used to protect our motherland.”
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