Military Review

Construction of the armored forces of Bulgaria: import and cooperation

28

Parade with the participation of Wedge-heels CV-33 from the 1st tank companies, early 1930s. In the frame, almost the entire fleet of such cars


Almost all European states in the interwar period began to build their own armored forces. Not all of them had the necessary production capacity, which is why they had to seek the help of third countries. For example, due to imports, Bulgaria modernized its army.

First order


The Bulgarian army for the first time began to develop armored cars during the First World War. In 1917, its representatives in Germany met with captured tanks of the Entente. However, attempts to obtain and master such equipment were not made, and later became impossible due to the signing of the Neuisk Peace Treaty.

The situation began to change only in the early thirties. Sofia began rapprochement with Berlin and Rome, which eventually led to the emergence of agreements on the construction of new enterprises and the supply of finished military products. The most important events in the context of the construction of armored forces took place in 1934. Then a Bulgarian-Italian contract was signed for the supply of a variety of land combat and auxiliary vehicles.

The first transport with the ordered equipment arrived at the port of Varna on March 1, 1935, and from that day on история Bulgarian armored forces. Several steamboats from Italy delivered 14 CV-33 tankettes with Rada tank cars, artillery tractors, guns, etc. CV-33 was delivered with non-standard weapons: regular Italian machine guns were replaced by Schwarzlose products, which were in service with Bulgaria.


Bulgarian soldiers, officers and tank Vickers Mk E, late 1930s

New wedges were transferred to the 1st tank company, formed as part of the 1st engineering regiment (Sofia). The first company commander was Major B. Slavov. In addition to him, the unit had three officers and 86 soldiers. For several months, the tankers mastered the new materiel, and by the end of the year were able to participate in maneuvers.

Second unit


Everyone understood that one company on imported wedges, despite its positive qualities, would not give the army real advantages. In this regard, already in 1936, measures were taken to create a 2nd tank company. A unit of 167 soldiers and officers was formed as part of the 1st Engineering Regiment. It is curious that for a long time the company was a tank only in name and did not have tanks.

After the company was established, in early September, the Bulgarian army and Vickers Armstrong signed a contract for eight Vickers Mk E single-turret tanks with British-made weapons. A month later, the Bulgarian government approved the agreement. The production of equipment took some time, and the customer was able to start its development only in the first months of 1938.
Soon the company received all the ordered equipment and divided it equally between its two platoons.

At the beginning of 1939, two separate companies were brought into the 1st tank battalion. Combat companies were supplemented by battalion headquarters and support units. Despite belonging to the same battalion, companies were deployed in different parts of the country. The 1st tank company went south, and the 2nd moved north to the Romanian border.


Tank LT vz. 35, now owned by the Bulgarian National Army, December 1944

Two tank companies of the 1st battalion actively participated in training events and regularly worked “in the field”. In particular, the interaction of tanks and tankettes with motorized artillery and infantry was worked out. The results of such events showed the need for further construction and development of tank troops. Soon, appropriate measures were taken.

German trophies


In the years 1936-37. the Bulgarian army drew attention to the Czechoslovak light tank LT vz.35 and planned to acquire such equipment. However, procurement was delayed due to limited financial opportunities. While Bulgaria was looking for money for the purchase of imported tanks, the situation in Europe changed - a contract for the desired tanks was signed with another country.

In the fall of 1938, Czechoslovakia lost a number of its territories, and in March 1939, Germany completely occupied it. Together with the territories, the Nazis received developed industry and its finished products. A few months later, the first German-Bulgarian agreement on the supply of tanks appeared. In early 1940, the parties began its implementation.

In February 1940, the Bulgarian army took 26 light tanks LT vz. 35. A few months later (according to other sources, only in 1941) another 10 tanks were transferred to Bulgaria. These were cars of the T-11 version, built for Afghanistan and not transferred to the customer.

36 tanks received the 3rd tank company consisting of several platoons; its commander was captain A. Bosilkov. The development of equipment began, and soon a new order arrived. In the summer of that year, the 2nd and 3rd tank companies of the 1st battalion were sent to the Turkish border.

New conversions


Together with tanks, Germany sold Bulgaria a lot of other materiel, both captured and its own production. In addition, another rapprochement was outlined during this period. Its result was the accession of Sofia to the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo pact, issued on March 1, 1941.


The surviving LT vz. 35 in one of the Bulgarian museums

Against the backdrop of these events, the Bulgarian army decided to strengthen the tank troops. The 2nd battalion was formed. The issue of technology was again resolved with the help of foreign partners and with the help of trophies. At the end of April, a new agreement with Germany appeared. This time she was supposed to deliver 40 French tanks Renault R-35.

In June, two battalions were brought into the 1st Tank Regiment, which became the basis of the tank brigade. The commander of the regiment was Major T. Popov; total number - 1800 people. Together with a tank regiment, the brigade included units of motorized infantry and artillery, reconnaissance, support, etc.

In the fall, large-scale exercises took place, to which a tank regiment was also attracted. In the context of tanks, events began with a lot of problems and almost ended in failure. It turned out that the crews of the armored vehicles have insufficient training and do not always cope with the tasks.

In addition, there were problems with the equipment. So, tanks LT vz.35 / T-11 and Mk E had the desired equipment and demonstrated the necessary reliability. The French R-35 performed extremely poorly. Some of these tanks literally did not reach the landfill due to breakdowns. The actions of other cars were complicated by the complete absence of radio equipment.

To the beginning of the war


Despite the active economic, political and military cooperation with Germany and Italy, as well as the official accession to the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo pact, Bulgaria did not formally participate in the Second World War. Only on December 13, 1941, Sofia declared war on Great Britain and the USA. At the same time, the Bulgarian authorities did not enter into direct confrontation with the USSR.

Construction of the armored forces of Bulgaria: import and cooperation
The German PzKpfw IV medium tank, now used against Germany. October 1944

By the time of the official entry into the war, the armored forces of Bulgaria consisted of only one brigade, to the headquarters of which were assigned three tanks LT vz. 35 (one radium). The only tank regiment had two such vehicles at headquarters, including one with a radio station.

The 1st tank battalion of the regiment used two LT vz.35 at the headquarters, the same equipment was operated by two companies. The 3rd tank company received all the Vickers tanks and 5 Italian CV-33 wedges. The 2nd battalion was equipped with the rest of the equipment. The headquarters had one R-35 tank and three CV-33 tankettes. Between the three companies of the battalion distributed all the rest of the Renault, 13 units. The reconnaissance squad of the regiment exploited five Italian tankettes.

Power and weakness


Thus, according to the results of the construction of 1934-41. the armored “power” of Bulgaria left much to be desired. In service there were a little more than a hundred armored vehicles, and a significant part of the fleet was obsolete samples. Modern tanks, in turn, had limited combat effectiveness due to breakdowns or lack of radio stations.

The Bulgarian military and political leadership prudently decided not to throw such “troops” into battle against a well-developed and equipped enemy. In addition, at the first opportunity - again with the help of the Allies from the Axis - rearmament was carried out. With its help, the payroll number of equipment has grown by 140%, and modern models with high characteristics have come into service. However, even after that, the Bulgarian army remained not too strong and developed.
Author:
Photos used:
Lostbulgaria.com, Wikimedia Commons
28 comments
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  1. Comrade
    Comrade April 26 2020 05: 07 New
    -1
    At the same time, the Bulgarian authorities did not enter into direct confrontation with the USSR.

    It’s understandable, you can’t get much on Vickers tanks (6 tons) with their 47 mm bullets against the T-34 and KV - our tank will simply run over and crush like a nut.
    It’s better to shoot yourself right away.
    1. Stalllker
      Stalllker April 26 2020 07: 00 New
      -1
      Lambs and Americans over the river, and the USSR over the fence. Therefore, the tail and pressed. Europeans and now they do not knock on the chest, against Russia
    2. IL-18
      IL-18 April 26 2020 17: 19 New
      +2
      Quote: Comrade
      Vickers (6 tons) with their 47 mm bundles

      37-mm hi
      1. Sniper Amateur
        Sniper Amateur April 27 2020 23: 38 New
        -2
        Taki 47 mm.
        1. IL-18
          IL-18 April 28 2020 00: 26 New
          0
          This is for the LT-35 and LT-38
          1. Sniper Amateur
            Sniper Amateur April 28 2020 01: 20 New
            -2
            But on Czech tanks - the gun was just 37 mm.
  2. svp67
    svp67 April 26 2020 06: 12 New
    +5
    In addition, at the first opportunity - again with the help of the Allies from the Axis - rearmament was carried out. With its help, the payroll number of equipment increased by 140%, and modern models with high characteristics came into service.
    Questions, questions ... what kind of "modern samples" and how much ... ??? Why hasn't the most interesting part been told?
  3. lopuhan2006
    lopuhan2006 April 26 2020 06: 53 New
    0
    And ba baam! The article stopped at the little brother’s war with the Soviet Union without declaring war ..... we look forward to continuing!
  4. Vladimir_2U
    Vladimir_2U April 26 2020 07: 55 New
    +3
    It’s not that I directly adore the Bulgarians, Kirkorov can guarantee it))) but I want to note that all German equipment in the Bulgarian army did not fight the USSR, so for us there were no at least 50 tanks in the German, Romanian or Hungarian troops, albeit small, but help.
    1. Lionnvrsk
      Lionnvrsk April 26 2020 09: 10 New
      +4
      It really is. Until August 44, the Germans delivered tanks to Bulgaria despite the difficult situation on the eastern front. And only on August 25th they stopped the convoy loaded with tanks for Bulgaria and sent it to their units.
      1. stoqn477
        stoqn477 April 26 2020 09: 54 New
        +2
        They delivered, but not as much as they wanted from our army. For example, our requests for Me-109 are not fully completed. Maybe in 1/3. But tanks and planes need more Germans than us. Especially when they realized that we have no idea, we are going to the Eastern Front to fight.
  5. bandabas
    bandabas April 26 2020 08: 21 New
    0
    According to the old Soviet proverb, "Chicken is not a bird, Bulgaria is not abroad."
  6. The leader of the Redskins
    The leader of the Redskins April 26 2020 08: 50 New
    0
    Thanks to the author for the work.
  7. Lionnvrsk
    Lionnvrsk April 26 2020 09: 05 New
    +3
    Here is more extensive information:
    http://alternathistory.com/bronetankovye-vojska-bolgarii-vo-vtoroj-mirovoj-vojne/
  8. Lionnvrsk
    Lionnvrsk April 26 2020 09: 21 New
    +2
    The second photo is taken from the site Lostbulgaria / Izgubenata Bulgaria/
    Yes, there was something to lose. winked


  9. Ros 56
    Ros 56 April 26 2020 11: 11 New
    -2
    It is better for the Bulgarians to engage in agriculture and tourism, it is they who know how to fight better.
    1. gsev
      gsev April 26 2020 19: 17 New
      +2
      Quote: Ros 56
      It is better for the Bulgarians to engage in agriculture and tourism, they know how to do it better than to fight

      In the 1980s, Bulgarians made engines and electronics for machine tools and robots. At one time it was a rather highly developed industrial country. Until now, the Bulgarians in the market in Russia occupy a large share of handling equipment.
  10. Pvi1206
    Pvi1206 April 26 2020 11: 57 New
    +1
    The population of Bulgaria is less than 8 million people ... It will not be able to defend itself against anyone ... history testifies to this ... could find a better use of money ...
    1. gsev
      gsev April 26 2020 19: 26 New
      +6
      Quote: Pvi1206
      . History testifies to this.

      As far as I know, in the 19th and 20th centuries, the Bulgarian army demonstrated quite high combat qualities. Another thing is that the pro-German orientation of the Bulgarian kings threw the Bulgarian army into hopeless wars. Perhaps the fighting efficiency of the Bulgarian army in 1940 forced Hitler to seek an alliance with Bulgaria to the detriment of an alliance with Turkey. It seems that Turkey declared its readiness to declare war on Germany, subject to the transfer of part of the Bulgarian lands to it.
  11. vladcub
    vladcub April 26 2020 17: 06 New
    +1
    "French R-35s performed extremely poorly" in fact, the Czechs have high-quality equipment.
    We speak of French cars as capricious ladies, and "Skoda" is more reliable
    1. IL-18
      IL-18 April 26 2020 17: 23 New
      0
      Are you alluding to the Saudis? They do not use Leclerc against Yemen.
      1. vladcub
        vladcub April 26 2020 17: 33 New
        0
        I'm talking about cars Renault and Skoda Octavia
  12. Sniper Amateur
    Sniper Amateur April 27 2020 23: 44 New
    -2
    36 tanks received the 3rd tank company

    Nifigase is a "company"! wassat
  13. Kostadinov
    Kostadinov April 28 2020 13: 57 New
    +1
    Quote: Ros 56
    It is better for the Bulgarians to engage in agriculture and tourism, it is they who know how to fight better.

    1. I don’t think we know how to do tourism. So what remains is agriculture, but there is no people in the world who do not know how to engage in agriculture. This is able to all.
    2. The Bulgarian army in 1944 beat technically very backward. One tank division (named brigade) with a hundred tanks (of which the best T-4), one regiment of modern Me-109G fighters, 6 good Lyursen torpedo boats, that's all modern technology. The supply of ammunition is enough for several months and then it is necessary to purchase abroad. But it cannot be underestimated either - 500 thousand after mobilization are very decent ground forces and if they have real motivation (for example against the Turkish invasion) they can fight well. In the Second World War, the Bulgarian army waged a real war only against the Germans in 1944-45. There are examples of successful actions - the attack on the defeat of the 7th SS Division Prince Eugen in 1944, and the defense of the fighting on the Drava River in March 1945.
    1. Diverter
      Diverter April 28 2020 22: 19 New
      0
      But what then is with Turkey in one military bloc?
  14. Diverter
    Diverter April 28 2020 22: 17 New
    0
    Bulgaria after Shipka in two world wars was against the Rus. Now it also consists in a military bloc hostile to the Rus. Question! Why send our ancestors to protect against the Turks of this Bulgaria with low social responsibility?
  15. Kostadinov
    Kostadinov April 29 2020 11: 37 New
    0
    Quote: Saboteur
    But what then is with Turkey in one military bloc?

    Not only now, but also in World War I, they were beaten together with the Turks in one military alliance. But I wrote about the motivation of the troops. Persistent troops only when they have real motivation. For the Bulgarian soldiers, as much as the beat for the Armenian, the biggest motivation can be beaten only with Turkish invasion. This is the result of history, and not a bad attitude towards the Turkish people.
  16. Kostadinov
    Kostadinov April 29 2020 11: 50 New
    0
    Quote: Saboteur
    Bulgaria after Shipka in two world wars was against the Rus. Now it also consists in a military bloc hostile to the Rus. Question! Why send our ancestors to protect against the Turks of this Bulgaria with low social responsibility?

    In the First World War, and now it was also against Russia. In World War II, she fought only a few days in September 44 in the "war" with the USSR, and then fought for a few months with Germany.