German tank Pz.Kpfw. V Ausf. G "Panther" in the Bulgarian army (as he was with the Bulgarians, I do not know). The soldiers are characterized by typical Italian-style Bulgarian bushes, and the officer (standing under the gun, arms akimbo) has a no less characteristic Bulgarian cap. This picture can be dated even 1945 — 1946 over the years (it all depends on how long the Bulgarians had German equipment in service after the war ended). At the end of the 1940-s Bulgarian army (as well as the armies of other countries of the socialist camp), dressed in the form of the Soviet sample.
Immediately after the end of the war, completely worn-out Italian tankettes CV 33 / 35 and French light tanks Renault R35, Czechoslovak LT vz.35 / Т-11 and LT vz.38 lasted until the beginning of 50-s, the last order for spare parts for Škoda received them in 1948.
By 1950, in the 1 Tank Brigade, only 11 Pz.IV tanks remained, and the main part consisted of 65 T-34, which had been received in 1945 year. Then 75 German tanks and assault guns were used as dots on the Bulgarian-Turkish border.
The tanks buried in the ground were almost forgotten when in December 2007 of the year Bulgarian police arrested the thieves who stole a rare model of the tank and tried to take it to Germany.
In total, the Bulgarians managed to restore the 55 units of German equipment, which they put up for auction in May 2008. The price of each tank was several million euros, and a collector from Russia who wished to remain anonymous offered to buy a German tank Panzer IV for 3,2 million dollars.
The total number of T-34-85 in the Bulgarian army is estimated at 398 units, apparently taking into account the 120 tanks built in Czechoslovakia and transferred to 1952-1954. After the start of supplies of T-55 tanks, the obsolete T-34s were partially dismantled. Towers from them, as well as towers of German tanks Pz.III and Pz.IV, were used in the construction of fortifications on the Bulgarian-Turkish border. It is stated that during the crisis in Cyprus, 1974, of such tower installations, on the second line of defense, about 100-170 units were delivered.
Total 1946 — 1947 USSR transferred to Bulgaria 398 tanks, 726 guns and mortars, 31 aircraft, 2 torpedo boats, 6 sea hunters, 1 destroyer, three small submarines, 799 vehicles, 360 motorcycles, as well as small weapon, ammunition, communications equipment and fuel
The T-34-85 served for a long time in Bulgaria, so in 1968, during the entry of the Warsaw Pact troops into Czechoslovakia, a tank battalion of 26 T-34-85 was part of a group of Bulgarian troops.
Bulgarian T-34-85 during the entry of troops in Czechoslovakia in 1968
The T-34-85 was finally retired in 1992 — 1995.
T-34-85 at the Bulgarian National Military Museum in Sofia
In 1947, self-propelled SU-76М units were supplied to Bulgaria, which served until 1956.
SU-76M at the Bulgarian National Military Museum in Sofia
It should be noted that Bulgaria was considered the most reliable ally of the USSR and held a special place in the Warsaw Pact Organization. In Bulgaria, there were no Soviet troops, and she had her own tasks. In the event of war, Bulgaria had to act independently on the southern flank against Turkey and Greece.
In 1955, the first armored personnel carriers BTR-40 entered service with the Bulgarian army; in total, 1957 units were delivered before 150.
In 1956, 100 units of anti-tank guns SU-100 were delivered to Bulgaria.
SU-100 at the Bulgarian National Military Museum in Sofia
From the middle of the 50s, Soviet T-54 tanks began to be supplied to Bulgaria, and from 1960, the T-55, which became the main tanks of the Bulgarian Popular Army (BNA).
T-55 at the Bulgarian National Military Museum in Sofia
A total of X-NUMX T-1800 / T-54 units were supplied to Bulgaria from the USSR, of which 55 T-1145 units. All of them were written off in 55 — 2004.
T-55AM (Bulgarian designation M 1983) (in service with 1985) in the Bulgarian National Military Museum in Sofia
From the 1957 of the year, the BTR-152 wheeled vehicles were delivered to Bulgaria, but I could not find out how much.
Bulgarian BTR-152 during a joint Bulgarian-Soviet exercise held in May 1967 on the territory of Bulgaria
KSHM BTR-152U at the Bulgarian National Military Museum in Sofia
From 1960 to 1963. tracked BTR-50 were delivered to Bulgaria, in total 700 units were delivered. Currently decommissioned.
command and control vehicle BTR-50PU in the Bulgarian National Military Museum in Sofia
In the period from 1965 to 1967, 150 was delivered to Bulgaria by reconnaissance and sentinel BRDM-1.
BRDM-1 intelligence unit of the Bulgarian contingent during the deployment of troops in Czechoslovakia in 1968
BRDM-1 during the solemn meeting of the Bulgarian troops who returned from Czechoslovakia
Then, from the 1962 of the year, the BRDM-2 was replaced. In total, 420 BRDM-1 / 2 was delivered to Bulgaria. In addition, the BRDM-2 of the former National People's Army of the GDR was distributed between Poland and Bulgaria.
BRDM-2 at the Bulgarian National Military Museum in Sofia
The Bulgarian Army still has 12 BRDM-2 (still 50 units in warehouses), which were in service with the Bulgarian contingent in Iraq.
unloading of the BRDM-2 Bulgarian contingent in the port of Umm Qasr, in Iraq
Supplied to Bulgaria and self-propelled ATGM 9P133 with ATGM "Competition" based on the BRDM-2, 24 of them are still in service with the Bulgarian army
From 1962, Soviet armored personnel carriers BTR-60, which became the main vehicle of the Bulgarian infantry, began to be supplied to Bulgaria. Deliveries continued until 1972, with a total of around 700 machines delivered. The first modification was the BTR-60P with the case open at the top.
BTR-60P in the Bulgarian National Military Museum in Sofia
It was followed by the BTR-60PA - a modification with a fully enclosed sealed body. At this BTR Bulgarian troops participated in the introduction of troops in Czechoslovakia in 1968 year.
BTR-60PA during the solemn meeting of the Bulgarian troops who returned from Czechoslovakia
This was followed by a modification of the BTR-60PB with reinforced armament from the 14,5-mm KPVT machine gun and the 7,62-mm PCT in the turret, which became for many years the main Bulgarian BTR.
The BTR-60PB Bulgarian contingent also participated in the Czechoslovak events.
The 100-150 BTR-60PB is still in service with the Bulgarian army (still from 100 to 600 in reserve). About 30 upgraded by Bulgarian experts. The combat engine completely redesigns the engine compartment. At the request of the customer, you can install a Russian engine produced by the Kama Automobile Plant. This BTR receives the designation BTR-60PB MD3. Also, there is an option with the engine from CUMMINS. He is already referred to as the BNR 60 PB-MD1. On the turret with machine guns are installed 8 smoke grenade launchers. Instead of the old sight installed more modern, with improved performance. For convenience, the entrance and exit of the landing in the sides of the door is cut.
From the beginning of the 70-s, infantry fighting vehicles BMP-1 were supplied to Bulgaria, in total 560 units were supplied, incl. 100 BMP-1P with a more powerful launcher ATGM 9K111 "Fagot", and six sets of "smoke screening" 902В, already received from Russia in 1996 g. Currently 20-75 BMP-1P is in service with the Bulgarian army 80-100 BMP-XNUMXP -XNUMX in reserve).
BMP-1P of the Bulgarian Army at the parade in Sofia
Unlike other allies of the USSR, who from T-54 / 55 switched immediately to T-72, the Bulgarians from 1970 to 1974. The 250 T-62 was delivered with a powerful 115-mm gun.
When the X-NUMX T-90 were decommissioned and some tanks were converted into armored recovery vehicles, they received the designation TV-62. Towers were removed from the tanks, and in their place they were welded backwards in half shortened by half to the towers from the T-62 and T-55А with the DShKM anti-aircraft machine gun. The cars also received winches, and equipment for underwater driving was left on them.
Another interesting example is the conversion of the T-62 into a fire tank. For the first time this option was shown in 2008 year. An 10-ton tank and a remotely controlled water supply unit, as well as a dozer blade, were mounted on the tank chassis.
From 1972 in Bulgaria at the machine-building plant BETA (now Beta Industry Corp. JSC) in Cherven Bryag, production of the MT-LB light armored tractor was launched. Production continued until 1995. According to some reports, 2350 MT-LB has been released. In the bulk, they practically do not differ from the original. But still, some of the cars were released with their own modifications, which made the wide range of the family even more diverse.
MT-LB in the Bulgarian National Military Museum in Sofia
Also, in Bulgaria the following machines were developed based on MT-LB
- MT-LB AT-I - tracked mine layer
- MT-LB MRHR - radiochemical reconnaissance machine
- MT-LB CE - medical combat vehicle
- MT-LB TMH - self-propelled mortar with 82-mm mortar M-37M
- SMM B1.10 "Tundzha" - Bulgarian version with 120-mm mortar arr. 1943 of the year, developed in 1981, under the leadership of chief designer Georgi Imsheriyev.
- SMM 74 B1.10 "Tundzha-Sani" is a Bulgarian version, developed in 1981 under the supervision of Chief Designer Georgi Imsheriev, distinguished by the use of the 2B11 mortar from the 2XXNNXX "Sani" mortar complex as the main armament. 12 units 50S2 produced under the Soviet license in the period from 11 to 1986 years. In total, the Bulgarian Army currently has 1987 Tundzha self-propelled mortars
6 May 2006. Bulgarian self-propelled mortar "Tundzha" at a military parade in honor of St. George
KSHM-R-81 "Dolphin" - command and staff vehicle
P-80 - ground artillery reconnaissance station
Bulgarian MT-LB was actively exported. So, in the eighties, 800 machines of Bulgarian production MT-LB were delivered to Iraq.
Currently, the Bulgarian army has 100-150 (from 600 to 800 in reserve) light armored MT-LB tractors.
With 1979, the 122-mm self-propelled howitzer 2C1 "Carnation" based on MT-LB began to be produced in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian-made 2C1 ACUs went into service with the Soviet Army and, apart from the worst workmanship, were no different from the Soviet-style 2C1. A total of 506 self-propelled howitzers 2C1 "Gvozdika" were produced in Bulgaria, and together with Soviet deliveries their number was 686 units.
self-propelled howitzer 2C1 "Gvozdika" in the Bulgarian National Military Museum in Sofia
48 2С1 "Gvozdika" is still in service with the Bulgarian army (150 is still in reserve)
6 May 2006. 2С1 "Carnation" at a military parade in honor of St. George's Day in Sofia
Armament BMP-1, consisting of 73-millimeter cannon, machine guns and anti-tank missiles in some cases did not meet the requirements of the time, so it was decided to develop based on the MT-LB new BMP, which became the only independently developed Bulgarian combat vehicle. Created by BMP, it received the BMP-23 index and was first shown at the parade in 1984 year. The BMP-23 differs significantly from the BMP-1 and is more similar to the BMP-2. The body of the BMP is welded, sealed, allowing to overcome water obstacles by swimming without additional training. The control compartment is located in the front, and in front of it are transmission units. Behind the compartment of the control behind the hermetic partition there is an engine compartment isolated from other rooms. In the middle part - combat, and in the stern - troop compartment. The Carnation is a bigger vehicle than the BMP-1, and therefore inside it, not as closely as the BMP-1. As on the ACS, the control department is located in the entire width of the hull, so the driver and one of the shooters are not one behind the other, but, respectively, left and right. Both places are equipped with hatches and surveillance devices. For the driver, the front periscope can be replaced with a passive-type night vision device. The welded twin turret has an 23-mm automatic cannon, based on the ZU-23 anti-aircraft gun ballistic system. The gun has a two-plane stabilizer, the ammunition is 450 shots (according to other data - 600 shots.), Equipped with ribbons. The gun is paired with a 7,62-mm PKT machine gun, for which 2 000 cartridges are stored in the fighting compartment. On the roof of the turret there is a launcher for the 9М14М ATGM Baby with semi-automatic wire guiding. The body is designed based on the body of the Gvozdika 2 – 1 machine, but with thicker armor and a more powerful diesel engine. Armor of cast steel, which is able to withstand the fire of heavy machine guns.
An upgraded version of the BMP with smoke grenade launchers on the sides of the turret and the replacement of the ATGM with the 9М111 "Fagot" received the BMP-23А index.
On the basis of the BMP-23 was created combat reconnaissance machine BRM-23 "Owl", with additional means of observation and a crew of five people.
BRM-23 has three versions:
"Owl-1" - with radio station Р-130М and telescopic mast
"Owl-2" - with radio station P-143
"Owl-3" - with 1RL133 ground reconnaissance radar of the Credo PSNR-5 portable observation and reconnaissance station.
A further development of the BMP-23 was the BMP-30 variant, which differs in installing a tower from the Soviet BMP-2 with the 30-mm 2-42 cannon and the Phagot 9М111 ATGM.
Total released 115 BMP-23, of which about 100 is in service with the Bulgarian army. The BMP-23, like the BRDM-2, was also in service with the Bulgarian military contingent in Iraq.
In 1989, the 20 152-mm self-propelled howitzer 2C3 "Acacia" was supplied to Bulgaria.
2С3 "Acacia" in the Bulgarian National Military Museum in Sofia
In 1978, the first T-72 tanks entered Bulgaria from the USSR.
T-72 at the Bulgarian National Military Museum in Sofia
At 1992, Bulgaria had 334 T-72, in 1999, Russia purchased 100 T-72A and T-72AK, which were stored on Bulgarian territory from Soviet times. Currently, the 160 T-72 remains in service with the Bulgarian army (150-250 is still in warehouses).
Bulgarian tanks T-72 on exercises
Thus, on November 19 1990, that is, at the time of signing the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe in Paris, the BNA was armed with: 2 145 tanks (for comparison Turkey-2 795, Greece-1735), 2 204 BBM, 2 116 artillery systems caliber 100 mm and more, 243 combat aircraft, 44 attack helicopter. The same treaty of Bulgaria established the following quota: 1 475 tanks, 2 000 BBM, 1 750 artillery systems of caliber 100 mm and more, 235 combat aircraft, 67 attack helicopters. February 25 The military structures of the Warsaw Pact Organization were abolished on 1991, and then the USSR collapsed in December 1991.
The Bulgarian rulers who came to power, first of all, at dumping prices began to sell the weapons and military equipment they inherited. So 1993 Bulgaria exported to Angola 29 BMP-1 and 24 T-62 tank, then to 1999 18 2-3 self-propelled howitzer "Acacia". In 1992, 210 Tundzha self-propelled mortars were delivered to Syria. In 1998, X-NUMX T-150 tanks were delivered to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, which took part in battles with Albanian gangs in 55, in 2001, 1999 MT-LB and 12 ADMS Strela-9. In 10, the Ethiopians purchased the X-NUMX T-1998 from the Bulgarians. In the 140 year in Latvia was delivered worldwide 55 self-propelled mortar "Tundzha" In September 1999, Cambodia had purchased in Bulgaria, a large shipment of armored vehicles, including tanks T-20 2010 (re-exported from Serbia), BTR-50 and 55 40PB BRDM -60 from the presence of the Bulgarian army. 4 On May 2, a contract was signed for the supply of 31 armored vehicles MT-LB to the armed forces of Iraq 2012.
Thus, today the Bulgarian army is armed with 160 T-72, the number of which they plan to reduce to 120; around 200 BMP-1 and BMP-23, of which they plan to leave half; 100-150 BTR-60PB and BTR-60PB-MD-1, 12 BRDM-2, 100-150 MT-LB.
However, new NATO allies for the Bulgarian military contingent in Afghanistan from the United States were supplied with 17 wheeled armored personnel carriers M-1117 and 50 Hummers.
For the military police from Israel 25 armored vehicles Caracal.
And that is all, although over time, I think, the NATO members will force the Bulgarians with their decommissioned weapons. Well, as they say: "We will see ..."
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