History aviation Bulgaria began in August 1892, when the first international industrial exhibition in Bulgaria was held in Plovdiv. One of the pioneers of aeronautics, the Frenchman Eugene Godard, who made several flights on August 19 in his balloon "La France" ("France"), was a participant in the show. To help him, the "host" sent 12 sappers from the Sofia garrison under the command of Lieutenant Basil Zlatarov. In gratitude for the assistance, the balloonist took the young officer with him on one of the flights. Together with them, another Bulgarian soldier, Lieutenant Kostadin Kenchev, took the place in the La France basket.
Impressions of the flight and the awareness of the undoubted suitability of aeronautics for military purposes forced Zlatarov to "knock down the thresholds" of headquarters with the aim of using balloons in military affairs, which he eventually managed. By the highest decree No. 28 of 20 on April 1906, an aeronautic department was created under the command of captain Vasil Zlatarov as part of the railway squad (battalion) [iron squad] of the Bulgarian army. By this time, the detachment already existed for at least a month and was fully staffed with two officers, three sergeants and 32 privates. Initially, the subdivision had one spherical aerostat of 360 м3 volume, which made it possible to observe from a height of 400 — 500 m. This was a copy of "Godard", which allowed to rise to a height of 1912 m.
The development of flying cars is heavier than air in Bulgaria is not left without attention In 1912, a group of Bulgarian soldiers was sent to France to train pilots and aircraft technicians.
The first use of Bulgarian aviation for reconnaissance of enemy forces took place during the First Balkan War. In 9: 30 in the morning of 29 in October 1912, Lieutenant Radul Milkov took off on the Albatross and conducted an 50-minute reconnaissance flight in the area of Adrianople. The observer was Lieutenant Sold Sold Tarakchiev. During the first-ever combat sortie on European territory, the crew conducted reconnaissance of enemy positions, discovered the location of reserves, and also dropped two improvised bombs at the railway station of Karaagach railway station.
Special aviation munitions did not exist yet, therefore bombardment was aimed at exclusively moral influence on the enemy.
By the end of January, 1913, Bulgaria already had 29 airplanes and 13 certified pilots (8 of which are foreigners).
Bulgarian aircraft of the First Balkan War
In 1914, the flight school [aeroplano school] opened in Sofia, transferred in October of the following year to the airfield of Bozhurishche (in 10 km west of the capital). Of the ten cadets of the first set of seven allowed to training flights.
During the first year of the First World War, the Bulgarian Kingdom remained aloof from the great war, but then decided to join the seemingly invincible alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey.
Before the outbreak of hostilities in the Bulgarian army was only one detachment of airplanes, which was headed by Captain Radul Milkov. In his command were six pilots, eight observers and 109 people of ground personnel with five airplanes: 2 Albatross and 3 Blerio (single and two 2 local).
In total, during the war, three dozen Bulgarian pilots made 1272 combat sorties, conducted 67 air battles, in which they won three victories. Own combat losses amounted to 11 aircraft, including 6 in air battles (four shot down, two damaged so much that could not be recovered).
Bulgarian aircraft of the First World War
24 September 1918, the Bulgarian government appealed to the Entente countries to cease hostilities, and on September 29, a peace treaty was signed in the city of Thessaloniki. In accordance with the treaty, the number of the Bulgarian army was significantly reduced, and the air force disbanded. Prior to Bulgaria's 1918, only civilian aircraft were allowed.
Nevertheless, the Bulgarians continued to develop their aviation industry. So, 1925-1926's. In Bozhurishte, the first aircraft factory was built - DAR (Dzharzhna Aeroplanna Worker), where the production of aircraft began. The first serial Bulgarian aircraft was the training and training GIF U-1, developed by German engineer Herman Winter based on the same German intelligence officer DFW CV, during the First World War. The plane had a German Benz IV engine, which allowed it to reach speeds of up to 170 km / h. and was released in a small series.
Bulgarian training aircraft DAR U-1
Following the DAR Y-1, a series of DAR-2 aircraft was launched. This is a copy of the German aircraft "Albatros C.III". DAR-2 had a wooden structure and was not worse than the German original.
A series of training aircraft DAR-2
While DAR U-1 and DAR-2 were produced, the design office prepared the original design - DAR-1.
So the plane appeared, which was destined to become a "study desk" for hundreds of Bulgarian aviators. DAR-1 and its improved version DAR-1А with the German Walter-Vega engine flew up to the 1942 year, although much more modern training machines appeared at that time. The quality of the machine is well illustrated by such a fact. In 1932, the pilot Petanichev performed 18 dead loops on it within 127 minutes.
The success of this design was the impetus for the creation of the next DAR-3 aircraft, conceived as a scout and light bomber. In 1929, the prototype was ready. DAR-3, known as "Garvan" ("The Crow"), was a two-seat, straight-line biplane with trapezoid wings of a thick profile. The aircraft was produced with three types of engines and had three modifications: "Garvan I" had an American Wright-Cyclone engine; "Garvan II" German "Siemens-Jupiter"; The most widely used version of the Garvan III is the Italian Alfa-Romeo R126RP34 with 750 horsepower, which allowed it to reach a maximum speed of 265 km / h. The aircraft served until the Second World War, and some of them took part in it as a communications aircraft.
DAR-3 Garvan III
When the first series of aircraft began to be produced in Bozhurishte in 1926, in the vicinity of Kazanlak, the Czechoslovak firm AERO - Prague began the construction of an aircraft factory. But while the factory was being built, it turned out that the machines offered by Aero, did not meet the Bulgarian requirements. An auction was announced, in which the Italian firm "Caproni di Milano" won. For ten years she has pledged to produce airplanes approved by the competent Bulgarian services, with maximum use of local materials and labor. After this period, the company became the property of the Bulgarian state. The chief designer of "Kaproni-Bulgarian" was Calligaris engineer, and his deputy - engineer Abbati.
The first aircraft built at the factory was the training series of the Peperuda (Butterfly) training and training KB-1, reproduced almost unchanged, by the Italian aircraft Caproni Ca.100, which is popular all over the world.
KB-1 won the training biplane DAR-6 - the first independent development of a prominent Bulgarian aircraft builder Professor Lazarov: a lightweight and highly technological aircraft.
DAR-6 with Walter Mars engine
In the 1930-ies began the convergence of government circles in Bulgaria, Germany and Italy, including in the field of military cooperation, which intensified after the military coup 19 in May 1934 year.
The second KB-2UT aircraft, launched in a small series in the spring of 1934, was an analogue of the Italian Caproni Ka.113 fighter with increased dimensions of 10% and a double cabin. The Bulgarian pilots didn’t like the series of airplanes because of the poor view from the pilot’s cabin, the nesting tendency and the uncomfortable navigator’s cabin.
The unsuccessful debut of KB-1 and KB-2UT prompted to send a group of Bulgarian aviation engineers from the DAR factory, led by the already mentioned Tsvetan Lazarov, to the Kaproni-Bulgarian plant. In 1936, they created a practically new KB-2А aircraft from KB-2UT called the Chuchuliga (Lark) with the star-shaped German air-cooled engine Walter-Castor, which allowed it to reach a maximum speed of 212 km / h.
However, in addition to its own design and production of training aircraft, Bulgaria began to receive combat aircraft from abroad. So, in 1936, Germany presented the Bulgarian Air Force 12 fighters Heinkel He 51 and 12 Arado Ar 65, as well as 12 bomber Dornier Do 11. Of course, both fighters and bombers were obsolete and were replaced in the Luftwaffe with more modern cars, but as you know, they don’t look at the "gift fighter ..." German fighters and bombers were the first combat aircraft of the reconstructed Bulgarian Air Force.
Fighter Heinkel He-51B Bulgarian Air Force
Fighter Arado Ar 65 Bulgarian Air Force
Engine repair for Do 11D Bulgarian Air Force
Eleven Heinkel He-51 survived to the 1942 year and continued to operate for some time as training aircraft. Arado Ar 65, entered service in 1937 year under the name 7027 "Eagle" aircraft, in 1939 year were transferred to the flight school, as the training machines were used until the end of 1943, the last car was removed from service in 1944 year. Dornier Do 11 under the name of the aircraft 7028 "Prilep", used until the end of 1943, removed from service with an order from 24 December 1943 g.
In 1936, Germany also donated 12 light reconnaissance bomber Heinkel He 45 with a maximum speed of 270 km / h, armed with 2 machine guns of 7,92-mm synchronous MG-17 and
MG-15 on a mobile unit in the rear of the cab, capable of carrying up to 300 kg bombs.
Light reconnaissance bomber He.45c Bulgarian Air Force
Then the Bulgarians ordered another 18 Heinkel He 46 light reconnaissance bomber, which featured the more powerful Panther 14 air-cooled air-cooled engine, as well as some reinforcement of the structure and movement of equipment to compensate for the weight of the heavier engine built on Gotaer Wagonfabrik under with the designation He.46ЕВu (Bulgarian) in 1936.
Light reconnaissance bomber He.46
Together with the combat aircraft, 6 Heinkel He.72 KADETT, Fw.44 Steiglitz and Fw.58 Weihe arrived to Germany from Bulgaria from Germany.
Also in 1938, two transport vehicles Junkers Ju 52 / 3mg4e were received from Germany for the Bulgarian Air Force. In Bulgaria, the Ju 52 / 3m operated until the middle of the 1950-ies.
Junkers Ju 52 / 3mg4e transport aircraft
However, the delivery of outdated German combat aircraft did not satisfy the Bulgarians and they began to look for another supplier. Britain and France disappeared immediately, because they supported the so-called. the countries of the “Little Entente”: Yugoslavia, Greece and Romania, with whom the Bulgarians had territorial disputes, therefore their choice fell on Poland. Few people know, but in the 30 of the last century, Poland not only fully satisfied the needs of its air force, but also actively supplied aircraft for export. Therefore, in the 1937, the PZL P-14В fighter jets were purchased from the Poles, which was a good version of the "budget" fighter for poor countries and was already in service with its neighbors Bulgaria: Greece, Romania and Turkey, and in the latter two were produced under license. Thanks to a more powerful engine, it was superior in speed to the R.XNXX planes built for the Polish Air Force. The fighter was equipped with a French Gnome-Rhone 24N.11 engine with an 14 horsepower, which allowed it to reach speeds of up to 07 km / h, armed with 970 414-mm machine gun "Colt-Browning" in the wing. The Bulgarian P.4B entered service with the 7,92 th fighter eagle (regiment), 24 were transferred to training units, and in 2, returned to the 1940 th eagle. Most of them were destroyed in 1942 due to the American bombardment.
PZL P-24 Fighter
Fighter PZL P-24 Greek Air Force
At the same time, in Poland, PZL P-43 light bombers were ordered. They were a version of the PZL P-23 KARAS light bomber of the Polish Air Force, with a more powerful engine. By the end of 1937, the Bulgarian Air Force received the first 12 PZL P-43А aircraft, equipped with the French Gnome-Rhone (930 hp) aircraft, known as the Chaika in the Bulgarian Air Force. Unlike the P-23, on this plane were installed in front of two machine guns and a hood of a simpler form.
Light bomber PZL P-43A Bulgarian Air Force
The operation confirmed their high flight performance, and the Bulgarians ordered another X-NUMX P-36, but with a Gnome-Rhone 43N-14 XHUMX hp engine. This modification received the designation P-01B. The bomber had a 980 man’s crew, developed a maximum speed of 43 km / h at ground, 3 km / h at altitude, and carried the following armament: one 298-mm front machine gun and two 365-mm Vickers machine guns in the rear ventral and under-fuselage positions; 7,9 kg bomb load on external bomb racks
Light bomber PZL P-43В Bulgarian Air Force
Subsequently, the order was increased to 42 units with a delivery date for the summer of 1939. But in March, after the occupation of Czechoslovakia by Nazi troops X-NUMX, the P-1939, ready for dispatch, was temporarily requisitioned for the Polish Air Force. The Bulgarians were unhappy and demanded that the Poles immediately return the planes to them. In the end, after much persuasion, the 43 aircraft was sent to the Bulgarians, and the remaining 33 units were ready for shipment and loaded into September 9 wagons. The Germans who captured Poland also did not return the planes to the Bulgarians, and at the end of 1 they repaired all the captured aircraft and made them training bombers.
PZL P-43B light bomber at Rechlin Training Center, Germany
The Bulgarian bombers did not participate in the war, but played a positive role, forming the backbone of attack aircraft for some time. At the end of 1939, these bombers became part of the 1 army group of a three-squadron squadron, which also included 11 training aircraft. For some time they were in reserve, and from 1942, the Polish P.43 was transferred to aviation schools, replacing them with German dive bombers Ju.87D-5.
In addition to combat, Poland also delivered 5 training aircraft PWS-16bis.
In 1937, all these purchases allowed Bulgarian Tsar Boris III to officially restore the Bulgarian military aviation as an independent type of troops, giving it the name "His Majesty's Air Force". In July, the 1938 of the year 2011 went to Germany at the fighter school “Vernoykhen”, located in 25 km northeast of Berlin, for the training of 7 Bulgarian pilots. There they had to go through three courses at once - fighters, instructors and commanders of fighter units. In this case, their training was conducted by the same rules as the training of fighter pilots and instructors for the Luftwaffe. In March, the 1939 of Bulgarian pilots arrived in Germany 5 of the year. Despite the fact that during the training two Bulgarian pilots were killed, the pilots mastered the newest German fighter Messerschmitt Bf.109, and in July 1939 left Germany. In total, 15 Bulgarian pilots were trained in Germany. Soon, they were all assigned to a fighter aviation school at the airfield of Marnopol, 118 km east of Sofia. There they were engaged in the training of young pilots, who subsequently formed the backbone of the Bulgarian fighter aircraft.
Bulgarian pilots on training in Germany
At the same time, the construction of own Bulgarian aircraft continued. In 1936, engineer Kiril Petkov created the double training plane DAR-8 “Glory” (“Nightingale”) - the most beautiful Bulgarian biplane.
On the basis of the one who did not go into the DAR-6 series, he developed the DAR-6А, which after additional improvement turned into the DAR-9 "Siniger" ("Tit"). It successfully combined the positive aspects of the German training aircraft "Heinkel 72", "Focke-Wulf 44" and "Avia-122", and in such a way as not to cause patent claims in Germany. For Bulgaria, this gave 2 a million gold leva savings. Such an amount would be required for the purchase of a license for Focke-Wulf in the case of the organization of production of XFUMN FW production in DAR-Bojurishte. In addition, for each aircraft released an additional payment in the amount of 44 thousand gold levs was required. On the other hand, one Stieglitz FW-15 purchased in Germany cost as much as two DAR-44s made in Bulgaria. "Tits" served until the middle of 9-ies as training aircraft in military aviation and flying clubs. After World War II, 50 airplanes of this type were transferred to the re-created Yugoslav Air Force. And today in the Zagreb Technical Museum you can see the DAR-10 with signs of the Yugoslav Air Force.
DAR-9 "Siniger" with Siemens Sh-14A engine
The development of aircraft continued at the Kaproni-Bulgarian plant. On the basis of KB-2A "Chuchuliga" ("Lark"), modifications of "Chuchuliga" -I, II and III were created, of which 20, 28 and 45 machines were released, respectively.
Training aircraft KB-3 "Chuchuliga I"
Light scout and training aircraft KB-4 "Chuchuliga II"
Light scout and training aircraft KB-4 "Chuchuliga II" at the field airfield
Moreover, KB-5 "Chuchuliga-III" was created already as a scout and light attack aircraft. He was armed with two 7,71-mm Vickers K machine guns and could carry 8 bombs weighing 25 kg. As a training machine, the KB-5 flew in the air force units before the start of the 50s.
In 1939, the company Kaproni Bulgarian began the development of the light multipurpose aircraft KB-6, which later received the designation KB-309 Papagal (Parrot). It was created on the basis of the Italian Caproni - Ca 309 Ghibli and was used as a transport plane, with the possibility of carrying 10 passengers or 6 injured on stretchers; a training bomber, for which two pneumatic bombers were installed on it, each on 16 light (12 kg) bombs; as well as for the training of radio operators, for which radio equipment was mounted on them and four workplaces were created for training. In total, 10 machines were produced that flew in parts of the Bulgarian Air Force to 1946. Bulgarian cars differed from their ancestor by more powerful engines, tail shape, chassis design and glazing scheme. The flight characteristics of the Parrot were higher than the Italian ones, since it installed two 8-cylinder in-line V-engines with air-cooled Argus As 10C. The maximum power of this engine - HP 176,4 / 240. vs 143 kW / 195 hp Italian aircraft with engine Alfa-Romeo 115.
KB-11 "Pheasant" - the last aircraft, developed and produced serially in Kazanlak. It appeared as a result of the 1939 competition of the year for a light attack aircraft for front-line aviation, which was to replace the Polish PZL P-43. "Pheasants" were originally equipped with an Italian engine Alfa-Romeo 126RC34 with power 770 hp (total 6 machines released). Immediately before the start of the Second World War, Bulgaria and Poland signed a contract for the construction of PZL-37 LOS bombers and delivered the Bristol-Pegasus XXI engines, 930 hp power. for them. However, in connection with the beginning of the Second World War, the contract was terminated and it was decided to install the engines supplied to KB-11. The aircraft equipped with the new engine received the designation KB-11А, developed a maximum speed of 394 km / h and had two synchronous machine guns and one dual machine gun to protect the rear hemisphere. They carried 400 kg bombs. Total released 40 units KB-11. The aircraft was in service with the Bulgarian Air Force from the end of 1941. It was used in the fight against the Bulgarian and Yugoslav partisans. The planes took part in the first phase of the Patriotic War 1944 — 1945 of the year (as the Bulgarian military operations against Germany at the end of the Second World War are called in Bulgaria). But because of the similarity with the enemy "Hensheliy-126", attacking the Bulgarian positions, ground troops fired at them, and the command of the Air Force brought these vehicles out of active combat activity. After the war, 30 "Fazanov" were transferred to the Air Force of Yugoslavia.
Light Bulgarian bomber and reconnaissance aircraft KB-11А
Bulgarian and Soviet officers on the background of the aircraft KB-11 "Pheasant", autumn 1944,
KB-11 "Pheasant" was adopted by the Bulgarian Air Force under pressure from the wife of Tsar Boris, Queen Yoanna - the former princess Giovanna of Savoy, daughter of the King of Italy, instead of the much better aircraft DAR-10 engineer Tsvetana Lazarov, who was created exactly as a ground attack aircraft. DAR-10 was a single-engine, cantilever monoplane with a low wing and non-retractable landing gear, completely covered with aerodynamic fairings (lugs). It was equipped with the Italian Alfa Romeo 126 RC34 engine, power 780 hp, which allowed to reach a maximum speed of 410 km / h. Armed with 20-millimeter synchronized cannon, two 7,92-mm machine guns in the wings and one 7,92-mm machine gun to protect the tail. There was a possibility for bombing both from level flight and diving with 100 kg caliber bombs (4 pcs.) And 250 kg bombs (1 bomb under the fuselage).
Bulgarian attack aircraft DAR-10A
In 1941, the Caproni di Milano contract with the Bulgarian state expired. The plant in the vicinity of Kazanlak was renamed into a state-owned aircraft factory, which existed until 1954.
As I wrote above, the Bulgarians planned to establish licensed production of Polish medium-sized bombers PZL-37 LOS ("Elk"), in addition, 15 bombers were ordered.
Bomber PZL-37В LOS Polish Air Force
Also at the plant they planned to expand the licensed production of Polish fighter PZL P-24. Before 1 September 1939, a group of Polish engineers arrived in Bulgaria with plans from the factory ordered. Polish specialists were greeted fraternally, they were awarded Bulgarian military orders and sent through Bulgarian intelligence to Cairo, because it was dangerous for them to remain in Bulgaria, where Gestapo agents began to appear more often. After the documentation delivered by the Poles, a plant was built, where the equipment of the first Bulgarian aircraft factory, DAR (Dzharzhna aeroplanna Worker) from Bozhurishte, was subsequently transferred due to the outbreak of World War II and the threat of enemy bombardment. But about this - more ...
To be continued ...
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