Bulgarian Air Force

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Master Sergeant
Jan 1, 2010
November 27, 1919 the Treaty of Neuilly-sur-Seine was signed. In accordance with the treaty the Kingdom of Bulgaria was banned from operating military aircraft under any form for the next 20 years. For that reason all Bulgarian airplanes, balloons, aviation equipment, weaponry and ammunition were to be destroyed under Allied control. Under the terms of the treaty any aircraft, procured for civilian purposes, were to be bought from the countries on the winning side. The combined engine power for any airplane (including multiengined ones) was not to exceed 180 hp. In addition, the Bulgarian airspace was to be controlled by the allies and used according to the victorious countries' interests. In accordance with the treaty during 1920 no less than 70 airplanes, 110 aviation engines, 3 air balloons, 76 aviation machine guns, a number of photographic cameras and as well as other aviation equipment were destroyed at the military airfield of Bozhurishte. The seaplanes of the Bulgarian Navy were delivered by train to the same airfield and scrapped soon after that. On 5 July 1923 Bulgaria ratified the International Civil Aviation Treaty. From that moment on its air vehicles would carry a registration in the form B-Bxxx (the latter three signs being a combination of capital letters). In 1923 the first group of cadets, called "student-flyers" entered the Flying school at Vrazhdebna AF.The following year (1924) the first new airplanes were acquired. Those were machines of the Potez VIII, Caudron C.59, Henriot XD.14, Bristol 29 Tourer types; Avro 522 seaplanes (shown above) were also procured. Also in 1924 the Aeroplane Section was expanded to an Aeroflight Directorate still under the Ministry of Railways, Postal Service and Telegraph.

1925 saw the Potez XVII, Bristol Lucifer and the Macchi 2000/18 flying boats boosting the country's aircraft inventory. The Bulgarian government invited a group of German aircraft engineers, headed by the constructor Herr Hermann Winter to help establish an aviation factory.Named The State's Aeroconstruction Atelliér (more popular as DAR-Bozhurishte) the factory was initially managed by the first Bulgarian pilot to achieve an aerial victory - Mr. Marko Parvanov. The first aircraft types, produced by the plant were the "Uzounov-1" (an indigenous variant of the wartime German DFW C.V) and the DAR-2 (indigenous variant of the German Albatross C.III of the same era). Both types well-known and loved by the personnel of the former Air Troops and with Bulgarian combat service experience. A new type - the DAR-1, was also in a phase of development.

In 1928 the Ministry of War started the ambitious 10-year program for development of the military aviation (still banned by the peace treaty). Bulgaria started acquiring German, Czechoslovak and Polish airplanes.In 1934 the Aviation Regiment was renamed His Majesty's Air Troops, comprising a headquarters, with two army air groups (based at Bozhurishte and Plovdiv airfields), a training group (in Plovdiv), a maritime aquadron (at NAS Chaika, Varna) and additional operational support units. The first combat aircraft entered service in the reestablished air force in 1937 were 12 Arado Ar.65 fighters, 12 Heinkel He.51 fighters, 12 Dornier Do.11 bombers and 12 Heinkel He.45B recon planes. These machines are known as the Royal Gift, donated to the HMAT personally by Tsar (King) Boris III. In 1938 14 newly built Polish PZL.24B fighters (shown above) were acquired along with 12 PZL.43B light bombers. When the Third Reich occupied Czechoslovakia, absorbing her Czech Lands as the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, her air force ceased to exist. Bulgaria used the opportunity to acquire large numbers of relatively modern aircraft at a symbolic price. 78 Avia B.534 biplane fighters, 32 Avia B.71 bombers (a license version of the Soviet SB light bomber, shown above) and 60 Letov Š.328 recon were part of the reinforcements. In less than 3 years the Air Force inventory had grown up to 478 pieces of which 135 of Bulgarian construction.

The Kingdom of Bulgaria entered World War II on the 1 March 1941 as a German ally. Under the signed treaty Bulgaria allowed the use of its territory as a staging point for the invasion of Yugoslavia and Greece and some minor logistical support. Despite the impressive inventory, Bulgaria's fighter force at the time consisted of 91 machines, with just 10 of them being of the modern Bf 109E-4 type. Further 11 were of the outdated PZL.24B; the remaining numbers were of the Avia B.534 biplane types. At the end of 1941 the inventory of His Majesty's Air Troops consisted of 609 aircraft of 40 different types.
At the beginning of World War II, the combat air fleet comprised 374 machines in various roles. In addition orders were placed for 10 Messerschmitt Bf 109E-4 fighters, 11 Dornier Do 17M/P bombers, 6 Messerschmitt Bf 108 light liaison and utility aircraft, 24 Arado Ar 96B-2 and 14 Bücker-Bestmann Bü 131 trainers. The Air Force order of battle comprised the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Army Aviation Orlyaks (Army Air Groups or air regiments), each attached to the correspondingly-numbered field army. Each orlyak had a fighter, a line bomber and two reconnaissance yatos (Squadrons). There was also an Independent Aviation corps, which combined the 5th Bomber and 6th Fighter Regiments. The training units consisted of the "Junker" School Orlyak at Vrazhdebna airfield, the 2nd Training Orlyak at Telish airfield (called the Blind Flying Training School) and the 3rd Training Orlyak at Stara Zagora airfield. In 1940, the Bulgarian aviation industry provided the HMAT with 42 DAR-9, 45 KB-5 aircraft and the serial production of the KB-6 - Bulgaria's first twin-engined aircraft was scheduled to commence. At year's end the Air Force had 595 aircraft (258 combat) and 10 287 personnel.

The Kingdom of Bulgaria entered World War II on the 1 March 1941 as a German ally. Under the signed treaty Bulgaria allowed the use of its territory as a staging point for the invasion of Yugoslavia and Greece and some minor logistical support. Despite the impressive inventory, Bulgaria's fighter force at the time consisted of 91 machines, with just 10 of them being of the modern Bf 109E-4 type. Further 11 were of the outdated PZL.24B; the remaining numbers were of the Avia B.534 biplane types. The ground-based air defenses were made up of only 8 88 mm (3.5 in) and 6 20 mm (0.79 in) AA guns. To help its new ally the 12th Army of the Wehrmacht offered support with its air and air defense assets and 8 Freya-type radars dispersed throughout the country. A dispersed observation and reporting system was gradually developed.

The first air strike against Bulgarian targets was carried out by 4 Yugoslav Dornier Do.17Kb-1 on the 6th of April 1941 on the city of Kyustendil and its railway station killing 47 and injuring 95, mostly civilians. The air strikes intensifying following days; British Royal Air Force units based in Greece participated in the attacks as well. At the end of April 2 and 5th Bulgarian armies occupied Greek and Yugoslav territories according to an agreement with the Third Reich. As a part of the joint armed forces' effort on June 26, 1941 6 Avia B.71 and 9 Dornier Do 17M bombers were transferred to the Badem Chiflik airfield near Kavala (in modern Greece). They were tasked with ASW patrols and air support for Italian shipping over the adjacent area of the Aegean Sea. In addition 9 Letov Š.328s based in Badem Chiflik provided the ground troops with air reconnaissance. At the Black Sea shores the "Galata" Fighter Orlyak was established at NAS Chaika, Varna, with the 10 Bf 109E-4s and 6 Avia B.534s. The S.328s were also used for ASW patrols over the Black Sea, flying out of the Sarafovo and Balchik airfields. At the end of 1941 the inventory of His Majesty's Air Troops consisted of 609 aircraft of 40 different types.
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The all-metal PZL.23 Karaś ("Crucian Carp") light bombers were originally designed by Stanisław Prauss to replace older models employed by the Polish Air Force. The third prototype that flew in 1935, with a raised pilot's seat and lowered engines for better visibility, was accepted and entered production. The first variants, PZL.23A, were fitted with Bristol Pegasus IIM2 radial engines, but these engines soon proved to be unreliable. The production quickly shifted to using Pegasus VIII engines. 40 PZL.23A aircraft were built in 1936 and 210 PZL.23B aircraft were built between late 1936 and Feb 1938. An additional number was produced for export to Bulgaria with Gnome-Rhone 14N-01 engines because the Bristol engines were licensed for use in Poland only; that variant was dubbed PZL.43. Out of the 250 available to the Polish air force by the end of Aug 1939, 23 were lost in accidents and 110 were held in reserve or used by training squadron, making 117 available for combat squadrons when the European War began. The first combat mission for this design was on 2 Sep 1939 when a PZL.23B bomber of the 21st Squadron bombed a factory in Ohlau; it was also the first bombing attack on German territory. On 3 Sep, PZL.23 bombers attacked German columns, briefly disrupting German movement, but ultimately they were intercepted by German fighters and shot down easily due to low speed and lack of armor. At the end of the Polish campaign, 67 were destroyed in combat and about 60 were lost to other reasons. At least 21 PZL.23 bombers were withdrawn to Romania as the Polish retreated through that country; 19 of them were kept by the Romanian air force, and were used against Russia after the launch of Operation Barbarossa.


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The Ar 196 was designed primarily to replace the He 60 biplane then currently in service on all of Germany's capital ships. One of the few seaplanes to see service in the Atlantic and Mediterrenian, the Ar 196's primary duties consisted of reconnaissance and shadowing of service vessels. While in most respects the Ar 196 is not a formidable aircraft, for a seaplane it's performance exceeded it's Allied counterparts. After Germany's capital ships ceased active participation in the war, most Ar 196's were relegated to sea patrols from shore bases. About 50 planes served with Balkan air forces in the Adriatic and Black Sea.


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The DAR-10 was designed by Zvetan Lazarov in 1938 in the DAR (Darzhavna Aeroplanna Rabotilnica, meaning literally 'State Airplane Workshop') factory in Bozhurishte, near the capital Sofia. The Dar-10 was a single-engine two-seat (pilot and gunner) low-wing cantilever monoplane aircraft of conventional layout. Its two seats were in tandem under enclosed glazing. Its tailwheel undercarriage was fixed, and the main gears were spatted. the wings had wooden structure, covered with plywood. Flaps were not used. The fuselage was comparatively wide and deep, to accommodate the nose-mounted radial engine. It was constructed of steel-tube framework and wood formers, covered with fabric.

Two prototypes were built, powered by different engines: DAR-10A Bekas (Bulgarian: "snipe"), powered by an Alfa Romeo 128 R.C.21 9-cylinder radial engine rated at 950 hp (709 kW). This was the first DAR-10 to fly, on 2 July 1941. It was designed to carry four machine guns (2 fixed forward-firing and 2 in rear gunner position). It could carry five 100-kg bombs, mounted under the wings. There was also the possibility of a fixed 20 mm forward-firing cannon installation in the forward fuselage. This aircraft crashed in October 1942. In spite of good flight reviews, the type was not chosen for production. The high-wing KB-11 Fazan was selected for production instead.

Dar-10F (the "F" to indicate its Fiat engine), powered by a Fiat A 74 R.C.38 14-cylinder radial engine rated at 870 hp (649 kW). This aircraft first flew in March 1945. It was slightly heavier and longer than the DAR-10A. Its top speed was 454 km/h (282 mph). Thanks to a stronger construction and dive flaps, it could serve also as a dive bomber. It could be equipped with two fixed fuselage-mounted 20 mm cannons firing forward, two fixed wing-mounted machine guns, and two machine guns for the gunner. It could carry one 500 kg (1,100 lb) bomb or 1 x 250 kg (551 lb) and 4 x 100 kg (110 lb). The bombs would be mounted under the fuselage and wings. The DAR-10 was not selected for production. Some sources suggest that it was passed over in favor of the German Junkers Ju-87 Stuka dive bomber, while the improved DAR-10F was not selected as World War II had ended and Bulgaria had access to ample supplies of modern Soviet aircraft such as the Ilyushin Il-2 and Il-10.


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Another bulgarian kites.


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Our czechoslovak planes in the bulgarian service.


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Another czechoslovak and polish planes in the bulgarian service.


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Bulgarian construction planes.


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The Heinkel He 51 was a German single-seat biplane which was produced in a number of different versions. It was initially developed as a fighter, and a seaplane variant and a ground-attack version were also developed. It was a development of the earlier He 49. At least 12 of these fighters were acquired by Bulgaria.


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The Focke-Wulf Fw 58 Weihe (Kite) was a twin-engined aircraft that was used as a light transport, air-ambulance and navigational trainer by the Luftwaffe. The Fw 58 was designed to the same specification as the less successful Arado Ar 77. It was powered by two 240hp Argus As 10C eight-cylinder inverted V engines, carried in nacelles mounted below the low-mounted wings. The wings were semi-cantilevered, with most of their support structured carried within the wings, but with struts linking the top of the engine nacelles to the fuselage. The high-mounted tail was braced from below. The aircraft has a welded steel-tube fuselage, with a mix of fabric and metal covering. The wings had a metal frame with fabric covering behind the main spar. The main undercarriage wheels retracted into the nacelles.

The first prototype, the Fw 58 V1, made its maiden flight in the summer of 1935. It was a six-seat transport aircraft with a smooth streamlined nose. The second prototype, Fw 58 V2, was to have been the precursor to the military A-series. It had two open gun positions, one in the nose and one just behind the cabin, each carrying a single MG 15 7.9mm machine gun. The fourth prototype, Fw 58 V3, was the precursor to the first production series, the Fw 58B. The V3 had a glazed nose capable of carrying an MG 15 machine gun, and retained the open dorsal gun position. The Fw 58 B-1 was the first version to be produced for the Luftwaffe. It could carry the same guns as the V3, as well as a number of bombs on racks under the wings.

The most numerous version of the aircraft was the Fw 58C. This was a six-seat light transport aircraft with a faired-in nose, and no guns. It was based on the eleventh prototype and served in large numbers with the Luftwaffe and small numbers with Lufthansa. Around 1,350 Fw 58s were produced. Some were exported to Argentina, Bulgaria, China, Hungary, the Netherlands, Romania and Sweden and the type was produced under licence in Brazil. In German service the Fw 58 was used as a crew trainer, particularly in navigation, as a communications aircraft, an air-ambulance and as a light transport. It was also used to spray infected areas of the Eastern Front in an attempt to protect the German troops fighting below.


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German kites in the bulgarian service. Nice shots.:confused:


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DAR Aircraft (DAR Aeroplanes) is a Bulgarian aircraft manufacturer, founded in 1912 in Sofia - Boujuriste. Their first aircraft was the DAR-1 designed by Hermann Winter in 1925. His other models are the DAR-2, DAR-3 and DAR-4, a trimotor aircraft. After leaving DAR, Hermann Winter worked at Fieseler, where he designed the aerodynamic properties of the Fieseler Fi 156 Storch. Prof. Cvetan Lazarov replaced Hermann Winter at DAR. DAR continued production with the DAR-5, DAR-6, DAR-7cc, DAR-8, DAR-9 and DAR-10A until 1944. In 1995, a new company continued the tradition with project series DAR-11/13 and the all metal DAR-21. The DAR-21 was started in 2000, winning a best product award for 2000 in the Republic of Bulgaria. Other models are the DAR-21S, DAR-23 and DAR Speedster. The DAR Aircraft manager is engineer Tony Ilieff. Chief designers are Prof. Atanas Hasamsky and Prof. Georgi Anestev.

Six DAR-3 series 1 aircraft were delivered from manufacturer in winter 1936. It has an open cockpit and Wright Cylone engine in a Townsend ring. Used for reconnaissance in late 1930s, then for liaison and continuation training. Withdrawn from service early 1940s. Six DAR-3 series 2 aircraft were delivered from manufacturerin 1937. It has an open cockpit, wheel spats, Siemens Jupiter VI engine. Later retrofitted with Alfa Romeo 126 RC 34 engine and hooded cockpit. Used for reconnaissance. Date withdrawn from service not known. Twelve DAR-3 series 3 aircraft delivered from manufacturer 1939. Alfa Romeo 126 RC 34 engine in longer cowling, cockpit canopy for pilot but not gunner, lengthened fuselage. Used for reconnaissance and army co-operation. Withdrawn from service in 1945.


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The Dewoitine D.520 was a French fighter aircraft that entered service in early 1940, shortly after the opening of World War II. Unlike the Morane-Saulnier M.S.406, which was at that time the Armée de l'Air's most numerous fighter, the Dewoitine D.520 came close to being a match for the latest German types, such as the Messerschmitt Bf 109. It was slower than the Bf 109E but superior in manoeuvrability. Because of a delayed production cycle, only a small number were available for combat with the Luftwaffe.

The D.520 was designed in response to a 1936 requirement from the Armée de l'Air for a fast, modern fighter with a good climbing speed and an armament centred around a 20 mm cannon. At the time the most powerful V 12 liquid cooled engine available in France was the Hispano-Suiza 12Y, which was less powerful, but lighter, than contemporary engines such as the Rolls-Royce Merlin and Daimler-Benz DB 601. Other fighters were designed to meet the specifications but none of them entered service, or entered service in small numbers and too late to play a significant role during the Battle of France.

As German forces invaded Vichy's so-called "free zone" in November 1942, they captured 246 D.520s; additionally, a batch of 62 was completed under German occupation. Some were used by the Luftwaffe for training purposes. The Germans also transferred 120 D.520s to Bulgaria.


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The Bulgarian government had evinced interest in the fighter and development of the aircraft continued, a further prototype, the B.135-l (D-IBPP) being completed, this differing from the B.35-3 only in having the curved wing leading edges supplanted by straight leading edges. The B.135 retained the HS l2Ydrs engine as plans to produce the HS t2Y-37 had been abandoned, and the Bulgarian government placed an order for 12 fighters of this type, simultaneously acquiring a manufacturing licence. The Bulgarian order for 12 B.135s was fulfilled in 1941 but the manufacturing licence was never taken up. The B.135 attained a maximum speed of 535 km/h and a cruising speed of 460 km/h Initial climb rate was 13,5 m/sec and range was 550 km Empty and loaded weights were 1 924 kg and 2 462 kg.


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