Bulgarian ME-109G-6 In its nearly 100-year history the Bulgarian military aviation had at its disposal hundreds of. aircraft types. Some of them were single machines, others were supplied from abroad or manufactured in Bulgaria in hundreds of pieces. Some of them have flown only one or two years, but many remained in service for several decades. In the four wars from 1912 to 1945 in which Bulgaria has used its military aviation, more than 23 basic types of fighters, bombers, ground attack and reconnaissance aircraft have taken part in combat missions. But among then there is one aircraft, one fighter, that has unquestionably brought the greatest glory to the Bulgarian military aviation--this is undoubtedly the Messerschmitt Me 109. When the agreement of Salonika of 1938 put an end to the limitations on the Bulgarian aviation, imposed after the defeat in WWI by the peace treaty of Neuilly, the Bulgarian government took measures for strengthening the antiaircraft defense of the country. About 140 of the best young pilots of the Royal Military School and the Fighter Pilot School were sent to Germany for advanced training. There they took part in courses for fighter pilots and were trained on the then most modern Messerschmitt Bf 109D and Me 109E German fighters. Most of them returned home in the fall of 1940. In the first days of March 1940 a Bulgarian delegation led by Major General Russi Russev discussed with the representative of the Messerschmitt AG, Dr. Roderich Graf Thun, the delivery of ten Me 109E-3 fighters. It should be noted that in the publications in Bulgaria and Germany on the Me 109 it is alledged that these aircraft were of the E-4 version. The reason for this error is the fact, that the canopy of the delivered aircraft was that of the E-4 version. In the contract of April 4, and in the acceptance certificate the designation of the aircraft was simply Bf 109E. They were delivered with only two 7.92-mm MG 17 machine guns for the total price of 2,070,000 Reichsmarks. The two 20-mm MG FF cannons were paid for separately. The ten fighters were loaded onto railway cars in the Wiener Neustadt factory and arrived in Bulgaria in June 1940. They received in the Royal Bulgarian Air Force the code name Strela (Arrow). After their assembly in a hangar near the airfield Bozhuriste near Sofia under the direction of German factory mechanics, they were flight tested by the German test pilot Wacker and sent to the airfield Marno Pole near Karlovo. These airplanes could not be used adequately since they were not equipped with oxygen systems and, therefore, could not fly any higher than 5000 m (16,400 ft). Such systems and spare parts were delivered in the spring of the following year. A new contract for the delivery of nine overhauled used Me 109E-3 fighters with the E-4 canopy, for the total price of 1,355,520 Reichsmarks was signed in July 1941. These aircraft were designated in all documents as the Me 109E-3a. They arrived by rail in Karlovo on 23 August and were immediately assembled. After the invasion of German troops in the USSR in October 1941, Me 109s were sent to military airfields near the Black Sea. , In 1940 the Bulgarian Air Force received 19 Me-109E-4's. In 1943 there were further deliveries of G-2's, G-4's and G-6's. In 1944 Bulgaria switched sides and joined the Allies. The 109's of the Bulgarian Air Force fought against the Germans. After the war the Bulgarians received more than 100 G-10, G-12 and G-14 airframes found in Austria. A number of these were sent to Yugoslavia as war reparations. In Bulgaria the 109 was withdrawn from service in 1946. When the Bulgarian Air Force was formed in 1937 the aircraft carried an insignia based on the royal coat of arms. When Bulgaria joined the Axis powers in 1941 a black diagonal cross on a white square shield was selected. In 1944 when the Bulgarians switched sides and a white and red roundel with a green horizontal bar was carried.