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BULGARIAN Army in 1920s-1930s (organization, equipment)

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Order of battle of Bulgarian Air Force (end1939 - beg1940)

Postby BIGpanzer on 06 Jan 2005 17:00

What I could find - order of battle of Bulgarian Air Force in the end of 1939
Dibo kindly sent me many materials about the organization of Bulgarian Air Force in 1930s and I wrote here a little bit, too. But this is a small abstract with the names of main military airfields in Bulgaria before WWII and numbers of Bulgarian air-units.



Air Force Headquarters - Sofia

Front-line Units:

1st Battle Orlyak (regiment) (113th Yato (squadron) with PZL P.43B x 12 in Bojourishte, 123rd Yato with PZL P.43B x 12 in Bojourishte, 133rd Yato with PZL P.43B x 12 in Bojourishte, 142nd Yato (training) with DAR-3 x 3 and KB-4 x 6 in Bojourishte);

2nd Fighter (Iztrebitelen) Orlyak (212th Yato with Avia B.534 x 15 in Karlovo, 222nd Yato with Avia B.534 x 15 in Karlovo, 232nd Yato with Avia B.534 x 15 in Karlovo, 242nd Yato with Avia B.534 x 15 in Karlovo, 253rd Yato (training) with Avia B.122 x 10 and Avia B.534 x 10 in Karlovo, Aerobatics School with B.122 x 19, Ar 65 x 12, He 51 x 12, Bu 131 x 6 and Fw 56 x 6 in Karlovo);

3rd Reconnaissance (Rasusnavane) Orlyak (313rd Yato with Letov S-328 x 12 in Yambol, 323rd Yato with Letov S-328 x 12 in Yambol, 333rd Yato with Letov S-328 x 12 in Yambol, 343rd Yato with Letov S-328 x 12 in Yambol, 373rd Yato (training) with DAR-3 x 3 and KB-4 x 6 in Yambol);

5th Bomber (Bombandirovochen) Polk (515th Yato with Avia B.71 x 12 in Plovdiv, 525th Yato with Avia B.71 x 12 in Plovdiv, 535th Yato with Dornier Do 11D x 12 in Plovdiv, 545th Yato (training) with Aero MB.200 x 12 in Plovdiv, Instrument Flying School with Fw 58 x 8 and Ju 52 x 2 in Plovdiv);

Training Units:

Cadet Training Orlyak (1st Yato with Fw 44 x 20 in Vrazhdebna, 2nd Yato with Fw 44 x 20 in Vrazhdebna, 3rd Yato with He 72, KB-3, KB-4, and Fw 56 in Vrazhdebna);

3rd Training (Exemplary) Orlyak (1st Army Yato with He 45 x 11 in Stara Zagora, 2nd Battle Yato with P.23 x 9 in Stara Zagora, 3rd Fighter Yato with P.24 x 11 in Stara Zagora);

Air School (1st Training Yato with DAR-1A, DAR-6, Bu 131 and Fw 44 in Kasanlak, 2nd Training Yato with DAR-8, KB-2A and KB-4 in Kasanlak, 3rd Training Yato with KB-5 and DAR-3 in Kasanlak).



But I also need your help, Dear Friends!
Dibo and other forum-members!

I couldn't find some info about Bulgarian Air and Air Defense Forces of interwar period, may be you could help me.....

1. What were the types of anti-aircrafts guns and MGs in the Bulgarian Army during 1930s? You wrote me about 75-mm (which type?) and 88-mm Krupp. Were some AA guns produced in Bulgaria or all were bought?
2. How many AA guns and AA MGs (total and in battery) were in Bulgarian Army between WWI-WWII?
3. As for organization of AA defense - I understand from your letter that there were one AA company (75-mm guns), covering 1 Army Orlak and in March 1936 a 88-mm battery were deployed. What did the second one cover, also 1 Army Orlak?
Did another AA units exist in Bulgarian Army of interwar period? If so, where did they locate in Bulgaria? Were some special units, covering Sofia, for example?
4. What about such things as AA balloons, searchlights, sound-locators and communications units in the Bulgarian Army before WWII?

Sorry for many questions, but I hope that you could help me at least with some words of useful information :) :)

Thanks in advance
With respect, BIGpanzer
Last edited by BIGpanzer on 23 Jan 2005 08:22, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Bulgarian military aircrafts of interwar period - part I

Postby Woj on 06 Jan 2005 21:04

Hello!
I'm from Poland. I found some wrong data in your post. Correct information should be as I wrote below. Do you need any additional data?

BIGpanzer wrote: Notes:
a) Polish light bomber PZL P-43A, B "Karas" or "Tchaika" - an export version, was produced in Poland for Bulgaria, 12 + 42 were delivered in late 1937 - March 1939 (engine Gnome-Rhone 14Ks, 920 hp or Gnome-Rhone 14N 01, 970 hp, correspondingly; elongated fuselage; modified cockpit; armament - 2 x 7.9mm Wz in the bow, 1 x 7.7mm Vickers F in the upper weapon emplacement; 1 x 7.7mm Vickers F in the lower weapon emplacement; up to 600 kg bombs).


Light bomber P.43 (without "A"). 12 purchased 9 April 1936, delivered from 24 April 1937 to 12 May 1937. Engine: GR14 Kirs - not GR N 01!
Armament: Polish-made machine guns wz. 33 (PWU; 7,92 mm)
42 P.43A purchased 31 of March 1938, to the outbreak of WW2 delivered 36, the last 2 repaired and delivered by Germans in the autumn 1940. 4 probably destroyed during Polish Campaign (September 1939; at least 2 were used by Polish AF). Engine: GR 14N 01 (this time!)

BIGpanzer wrote: Fighter PZL P-24B "Yastreb" was an export version for Bulgaria (with modified cowls of landing gear, 50 kg of bombs), 14 were delivered since 1938. Also PZL P-24C, F were delivered in 1938-1939 (20 + 24).
Reconnaissance LWS-3 "Mewa" B (engine Fiat A.74 - 860 hp, three-blade propeller with variable pitch, modified equipment) - 60 aircrafts were ordered by Bulgaria (1938?), not belonging to a compete set. Some LWS-3 were evacuated from Poland to Bulgaria in September 1939 after beginning of WWII.


PZL P.24B - 12 (not 14!) purchased 9 April 1936, deliveries probably from December 1936. Information about orders for P.24C and F are just a myth.
LWS-3 "Mewa": contract signed 3 June 1939 for 48 aircraft. Never realized.

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AIR DEFENSE

Postby dibo on 06 Jan 2005 21:35

There were AD troops in the Bulgarian army during WW1. After the Neuilly treaty, these were disbanded.

In 1928 at the Ministry of War, an Air Defense Department is formed. Each of the newly formed infantry divisions should have a AA battery. In practice there are virtually no AA guns.
1935 - at the 1st Army Orliak - an AD company is formed (should comprise an HQ and 2 batteries - 225 men altoghether (12 officers); in practice due to lack of AA guns on 1 march 1936 - only one battery with 3 88mm 45 caliber Krupp guns (1916 mod, remaining from WW1) with commander Captain Groziyu Grigorov.
1936-1939 - Intensive deliveries of AA guns from Germany. Mostly 20mm to provide divisional AD.
1937 - Two AD Otdeleniya (Battalions) - One in Kazanlyk (HQ, communication and EW platoon, 2 88mm batteries, 1 20mm battery, 1 motorized (transport?) platoon, attached 3 20mm platoons at 3rd artillery regiment, the Artillery school and 23rd artillery regiment) and one in Sofia (HQ, 2 88mm motorized batteries, 1 20mm motorized battery, 1 searchlight battery, 1 motorized (transport?) platoon). The one in Kazanlyk is 1st, the Sofia is 2nd. All in all - 1075 men (52 officers incl.).
1938 - Agian the two AD Otdeleniya, but this time the one in the Sofia is 1st, in Kazanlyk is 2nd. Ths First one has now a communication and EW platoon and additionally attached 4 20 mm platoons (Artillery school, 3rd Division Arty regiment, 29th infantry regiment, 30th infantry regiment). The 2nd one has now no 20 mm platoons attached, but includes now a searchlight battery.

Each infantry and fast (cavalry) division by 1939 should have a battery of 15 20mm guns.

By 09.1939 - 412 20mm 55 caliber AA guns (250 Rheinmetal Model 1936; 88 Rheinmetal Model 1939; 24 Rheinmetal M-30; 50 Oerlikon); 20 88mm 56 caliber "Krupp" Model 1937 with 5 artillery direction units; 3 88mm 45 caliber Krupp guns (1916 mod, remaining from WW1) with 1 artillery direction unit; 6 150mm searchlights "Siemens-Shuker" mod 1937 with 2 sound locators.


Commanders:
1936-193? - Colonel Asen Nikolov;
193?-1940? - Colonel (later MG) Dimitar Stanchev;
1940-28.02.1941 - Colonel Ivan Abadjiev;
1941 - AD HQ formed at the Air Force HQ.
1941-1946 - Lieutenant-Colonel (by 1941) Velichko Velichkov

Here you can see some photos:
http://www.krile.net/viewtopic.php?t=2369
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Polish aircrafts in Bulgarian Air Force (1930s)

Postby BIGpanzer on 07 Jan 2005 18:57

Hello, Woj!
Welcome to the forum and to our discussion about Bulgarian Army of interwar period!
Thank you for your letter. Really, it was quite hard to summarize (even briefly) the info about Bulgarian aircrafts of interwar period. Even in a very detailed books and articles about WWII Air Forces there are many contradictory data, concerning the amount and modifications of airplanes.
So every new information is very welcome here!

As for your letter I just want to make clear the situation....
1. It is written in almost all sources, that there were two modifications of PZL-P43: PZL P-43A and PZL P-43B, no simple PZL P-43..... As for engines: I wrote in my post - Gnome-Rhone 14Kfs and Gnome-Rhone 14N 01, correspondingly for A and B modifications. Modifications for Bulgaria had 2 x 7.92 mm wz.33 and 2 x 7.7mm Vickers F (instead of 3 x 7.92mm wz.33 in PZL P-43B, for example). Some sources reported that 54 PZL P-43A,B were built in Poland for Bulgaria, but 5 used in Polish Air Forces during September 1939. Another sources: 12 PZL P-43A and 33 PZL P-43B (instead 42 according to the Bulgarian order) delivered to Bulgaria. Or what I found later and wrote in my post here (see my post from 05.01.): 21 aircrafts delivered in March-April 1939, 12 more delivered May-August 1939, remaining 9 aircrafts were planned for delivery in late August 1939 but taken over by Polish Air Force for use against the German attack. One of these nine aircraft was later evaluated by the Luftwaffe and then delivered to Bulgaria after overhaul. The other 8 had been delivered in the meantime.....So a little bit differ data again!

Also Bulgaria ordered unknown amount of PZL P-37 Los bombers with Gnome-Rhone engines, but because of beginning of WWII this order was cancelled.

As for fighter PZL P-24B (was adopted by Bulgarian Air force in December 1937) - unclear situation, some sources really reported about 12 aircrafts, some - about 14, ordered by Bulgaria. As for PZL P-24C, F - again some (and quite good!) sources reported about their delivery to Bulgaria, but I think, you are completely right - these modifications were the orders of Turkey and Greece, correspondingly. So, how and why did they deliver to Bulgaria (and in quite big amounts 20(24) + 26, correspondingly)? And, according to the order of battle of Bulgarian Air Force in 1939, there were only 11 PZL P-24, so only P-24B for sure!
But :) another sources report (see my post from 05.01.): P.24F ordered in 1938. 22 aircrafts delivered by July 1939. Remaining 4 aircrafts delayed at factory awaiting French propellers and damaged in Luftwaffe attacks on Poland in early September 1939 - not delivered? Had 970 hp Gnome-Rhone 14N07 engine. Used for the fighter role. Majority of aircraft reportedly grounded for lack of spares by mid-1940. Withdrawn from service in 1942) So what is this - great mistake of the author (but why he wrote that?) or real thing? Very unclear.......

LWS-3 Mewa B - 48 or 60 (different sources?!) were ordered by Bulgaria. I wrote that they were "not belonging to a complete set",sorry, they never delivered. There is an info (only in one source!) that 7 such aircrafts were built at SFKB in Bulgaria as "predecessors" of KB-11 (with engine Fiat A.74 - 860 hp, new fuselage and enlarge glazing of a cockpit).

So, Woj, you see - many different data, so thank you again for the info you provided.

Do you know something about 1) P.W.S.16bis (Poland, obtained in 1939, used as training aircraft) – what was the amount in Bulgarian Air Force? and 2) P.W.S.26 "Yunak" (Poland, 1 biplane trainer obtained in September 1939 when a Polish Air Force example fled to Bulgaria following the collapse of the Polish Government) - is it a real information, how do you think?

Thanks, BIGpanzer
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Postby BIGpanzer on 07 Jan 2005 19:21

Hello, Dibo!

Excellent info about Bulgarian Air Defense units of interwar period 8O :D . Thanks, Dibo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I just have several small questions to finish the topic about Air Force:

1. Did Bulgaria use 7.5 cm Flak L/60 Krupp gun before or during WWII?
2. What does abbreviation "EW platoon" mean in your letter (seems to be very simple, but I have no idea :) )
3. Were Air Force officers also trained at Military of H.M. School in Sofia during 1930s? What was the Reserve Officers School in Bulgaria? Where did it locate? Some sources report that Fighter school at Dolna Mitropolya was founded in the summer of 1942 not in late 1930s. Is it right or not?
4. I almost finished the list of the aircrafts of Bulgaria in 1920-1939 (please, see above). But in addition to some contradictory information in different sources there are some gaps...I need short info about Aero A.304 and Caudron C.440 in Bulgarian service (amount, data of delivery) and the data of exact amount of Junkers K 23, Heinkel He 42, Caudron C.59, Letov-Smolik S-18, Macchi 18/2000 and Potez VIII in Bulgarian aviation of 1920s-1930s. Probably, some of them were only single in Bulgaria. Could you help, Dibo?

Thank you in advance!
BIGpanzer

P.S. The photos at the Bulgarian site link you gave me are very interesting - 20mm light AA guns on tactical exercises!
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Re: Polish aircrafts in Bulgarian Air Force (1930s)

Postby Woj on 07 Jan 2005 21:05

BIGpanzer wrote:Hello, Woj!
As for your letter I just want to make clear the situation....
1. It is written in almost all sources, that there were two modifications of PZL-P43: PZL P-43A and PZL P-43B, no simple PZL P-43..... As for engines: I wrote in my post - Gnome-Rhone 14Kfs and Gnome-Rhone 14N 01, correspondingly for A and B modifications. Modifications for Bulgaria had 2 x 7.92 mm wz.33 and 2 x 7.7mm Vickers F (instead of 3 x 7.92mm wz.33 in PZL P-43B, for example). Some sources reported that 54 PZL P-43A,B were built in Poland for Bulgaria, but 5 used in Polish Air Forces during September 1939. Another sources: 12 PZL P-43A and 33 PZL P-43B (instead 42 according to the Bulgarian order) delivered to Bulgaria. Or what I found later and wrote in my post here (see my post from 05.01.): 21 aircrafts delivered in March-April 1939, 12 more delivered May-August 1939, remaining 9 aircrafts were planned for delivery in late August 1939 but taken over by Polish Air Force for use against the German attack. One of these nine aircraft was later evaluated by the Luftwaffe and then delivered to Bulgaria after overhaul. The other 8 had been delivered in the meantime.....So a little bit differ data again!

Also Bulgaria ordered unknown amount of PZL P-37 Los bombers with Gnome-Rhone engines, but because of beginning of WWII this order was cancelled.

As for fighter PZL P-24B (was adopted by Bulgarian Air force in December 1937) - unclear situation, some sources really reported about 12 aircrafts, some - about 14, ordered by Bulgaria. As for PZL P-24C, F - again some (and quite good!) sources reported about their delivery to Bulgaria, but I think, you are completely right - these modifications were the orders of Turkey and Greece, correspondingly. So, how and why did they deliver to Bulgaria (and in quite big amounts 20(24) + 26, correspondingly)? And, according to the order of battle of Bulgarian Air Force in 1939, there were only 11 PZL P-24, so only P-24B for sure!
But :) another sources report (see my post from 05.01.): P.24F ordered in 1938. 22 aircrafts delivered by July 1939. Remaining 4 aircrafts delayed at factory awaiting French propellers and damaged in Luftwaffe attacks on Poland in early September 1939 - not delivered? Had 970 hp Gnome-Rhone 14N07 engine. Used for the fighter role. Majority of aircraft reportedly grounded for lack of spares by mid-1940. Withdrawn from service in 1942) So what is this - great mistake of the author (but why he wrote that?) or real thing? Very unclear.......

LWS-3 Mewa B - 48 or 60 (different sources?!) were ordered by Bulgaria. I wrote that they were "not belonging to a complete set",sorry, they never delivered. There is an info (only in one source!) that 7 such aircrafts were built at SFKB in Bulgaria as "predecessors" of KB-11 (with engine Fiat A.74 - 860 hp, new fuselage and enlarge glazing of a cockpit).

So, Woj, you see - many different data, so thank you again for the info you provided.

Do you know something about 1) P.W.S.16bis (Poland, obtained in 1939, used as training aircraft) – what was the amount in Bulgarian Air Force? and 2) P.W.S.26 "Yunak" (Poland, 1 biplane trainer obtained in September 1939 when a Polish Air Force example fled to Bulgaria following the collapse of the Polish Government) - is it a real information, how do you think?

Thanks, BIGpanzer


Hello BIGpanzer!

I know that a lot of different data exists. But, unfortunately, some your information was a bit obsolete. If you are interested in, I could write "why the author wrote that" - but, please, not this time. I have some problems writing longer English texts. :oops:
But I am a historian. Some years ago I completed doctoral thesis entitled "Export of Polish military equipment to the Balkans, 1926-1939". I researched a lot of documents in Polish archives. So - believe me - I have documents for every word written. :)
You have had two questions...
The first problem - PWS-16bis. Are you really sure that this aircraft was used in Bulgaria? I found information about Polish-Bulgarian talks concerning PWS.16, but these talks took place in 1936. And I found nothing about final. I suppose that information about "Bulgarian" PWS.16bis might be mistake.
The second question - PWS-26 ("Yunak"? - why?). You are probably right. According to some Polish authors one aircraft of this type was evacuated to Bulgaria in September 1939. I will try to find more detailed information.

Woj
Last edited by Woj on 23 Jan 2005 21:26, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby BIGpanzer on 07 Jan 2005 23:00

Hello, Woj!
I believe you, that's for sure, of course! Just I am trying to analyse the information, I've read. I also try to write correct data, that is why I am using many sources and asking your advises on this forum. You know, there is not so many information about Bulgarian Army of 1920-1939 and some sources have quite superficial data.
About PWS-16bis - of course, I am not shure, that it was delivered to Bulgaria, but read about this recently...And asked you :)
As for PWS-26 - in some articles it was written that "Yunak" was a Bulgarian codename for Polish PWS-26, I don't know the Bulgarian language, so I don't know what does it mean.
Is it truth that some (how many if so?) Polish LWS-3 were evacuated from Poland to Bulgaria in September 1939?


By the way, could you provide me with info about other Polish armaments (MGs, guns etc.), were used (if used) by Bulgarian Army in 1920-1939?

Kind regards, BIGpanzer
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Postby dibo on 08 Jan 2005 10:29

EW - Early Warning;

One PWS 26 was indeed in Bulgarian service. In September 1939 two polish pilots flew it through Romania to Bulgaria to avoid capture (we were still neutral by that time). It was used by the Bulgarian air force as a trainer. Below a photo is attached.


I would be quite interested in this info about the polish supplies to Bulgaria. Regarding the planes I know of 12 PZL in 1938, 36 in 1939 and 2 more in 1941 (some sources claim all in all 45) ; 12 (or 14) PZL-24 in 1937; 1 PWS-26 in 1939.

No PZL-24C, no PWS-16bis AFAIK.
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Postby Woj on 08 Jan 2005 15:02

BIGpanzer wrote:
Is it truth that some (how many if so?) Polish LWS-3 were evacuated from Poland to Bulgaria in September 1939?
By the way, could you provide me with info about other Polish armaments (MGs, guns etc.), were used (if used) by Bulgarian Army in 1920-1939?


Of course, I have information (including documents about Polish aircraft armaments delivered to Bulgaria in the 30's (in fact - from 1936). But you can read an interesting text about this subject here: http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/Polish%20Guns.htm.
If you ask about LWS-3... Just 2 LWS-3 aircraft were ready for service in September 1939 (more was nearly comleted, but without French propellers....). First LWS-3 was crushed during landing in the evening, 12th September, near Przemysl. The second - destroyed near Stanislawow in the south-east Poland because fuel shortage, 17th September.
There was two prototypes too. First was shot down by German fire (from the ground), 17 September, in south Poland. It was not clear what what happened with second prototype. There were mentions about evacuation to Romania - but not confirmed.
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Postby dibo on 08 Jan 2005 15:20

Of course, I have information (including documents about Polish aircraft armaments delivered to Bulgaria in the 30's (in fact - from 1936). But you can read an interesting text about this subject here: http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/Polish%20Guns.htm.


Link is unaccessible. I tried to search the site itself, but no such article appeared...
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Postby Woj on 08 Jan 2005 15:26

dibo wrote:
Of course, I have information (including documents about Polish aircraft armaments delivered to Bulgaria in the 30's (in fact - from 1936). But you can read an interesting text about this subject here: http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/Polish%20Guns.htm.


Link is unaccessible. I tried to search the site itself, but no such article appeared...


Hmmm... Try again the same, please: http://tiny.pl/8pl. In my Opera it works!
Woj

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Postby dibo on 08 Jan 2005 18:38

Woj wrote:
dibo wrote:
Of course, I have information (including documents about Polish aircraft armaments delivered to Bulgaria in the 30's (in fact - from 1936). But you can read an interesting text about this subject here: http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/Polish%20Guns.htm.


Link is unaccessible. I tried to search the site itself, but no such article appeared...


Hmmm... Try again the same, please: http://tiny.pl/8pl. In my Opera it works!
Woj

PS: Don't click! Write!


Found the mistake - there is a . at the end of your link
Correct link is:
http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/Polish%20Guns.htm
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Postby Woj on 08 Jan 2005 18:55

dibo wrote:
Found the mistake - there is a . at the end of your link
Correct link is:
http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/Polish%20Guns.htm


Oh - very sorry!!! I have just copied this link to my text. I have no idea what happened. Next time I will check better. :oops:
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Postby BIGpanzer on 10 Jan 2005 13:24

Hi, Woj!
Thanks for the info about LWS-3. So as I understand the info in many sources that some LWS-3 were evacuated from Poland to Bulgaria in September 1939 is a myth!!!

Also the site about Polish AF guns is quite interesting! I found many new information there. Thanks again!!!
Just one question - according to this site PZL-43B (export variant for Bulgaria) had 4 Browning wz.36s - two fixed and two wz.36Rs in rear gunners positions. Many other sources give the information about 2 x 7.9mm wz.36 in the bow (fixed), 1 x 7.7mm Vickers F in the upper weapon emplacement; 1 x 7.7mm Vickers F in the lower weapon emplacement. So did such PZL-43s with Vickers MGs really exist?
Last edited by BIGpanzer on 10 Jan 2005 18:55, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby BIGpanzer on 10 Jan 2005 17:43

Hi, Dibo!
Thanks for the photo of Polish PWS 26 with Bulgarian national insignia marking of 1938-1941. Seems to be a very rear photo!!!

I am working still on the full list of Bulgarian aircrafts in 1920-1939 above (+ their amount, date of delivery and so on), hope to finish it in several days. Also I found info about some foreign aircrafts in Bulgarian service I asked you recently about (but, unfortunately, you couldn't answer me). So let you know soon (tomorrow, probably)!!! But I still need your kindly help about Bulgarian aircrafts :) :) :)

By the way as for the national insignia, I have one question - what was the official flag of the Kingdom of Bulgaria in 1920-1939?
I thought that No.1 (as at present time), but many sources give the images of the following Bulgarian flags (No.2, No.3)...
Last edited by BIGpanzer on 19 Sep 2005 18:10, edited 1 time in total.
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