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Bulgaria's flag

Bulgaria's Vehicle History


King Boris III hoped to keep Bulgaria neutral during the war. When the German-Soviet Pact was announced in August 1939 he was able to not commit to either side.

Build Up

Early Armor

The Bulgarian's started the war with 14 Italian CV 33 tankettes acquired in 1934, 8 Vickers 6-ton tanks purchased in 1938, and 36 PzKpfw 35(t)s in February 1940.



On September 7, 1940, the treaty of Craiova was signed, which stated that Romania would give up Southern Dobruja. After this the pressure to join the Tripartite Pact increased.

Germany needed to go through Bulgaria to invade the Balkans, and as a result on March 1, 1941, Minister President Bogdan Filov signed an agreement to join the Tripartite Pact. The next day the German forces crossed the Danube on its way to invade Greece.

New Mechanized Forces

In June 1941 the 1st Armored Brigade was formed which was made up of the 1st Tank Regiment and 1st Mechanized Infantry Regiment. The tank regiment had a reconnaissance company of the CV 33 tankettes. The 2 tank battalions were made up of the PzKpfw 35(t)s and Vickers 6-ton in one, and 40 French R-35s donated by the Germans. The regiment never saw much action.

In July 1943, the Germans updated the regiment with 46 PzKpfw IVs, 10 PzKpfw IIIs, 25 StuG IIIs, and SdKfz 222, 223s.

Declares War

On March 5th Britain severed diplomatic relations. It wasn't until December 13, 1941, that Bulgaria declared war on Britain and the United States. However, Bulgaria never declared war against Russia.

King Boris tried to insist that his army wasn’t mechanized and couldn't fight well outside of the Balkans. He tried to persuade the Germans that they would act as a buffer against the Turks and any Balkan invasion by the Allies.

Into Yugoslavia

Bulgarian forces did invade Yugoslavia and administered large parts of Yugoslav Macedonia. After Greece was conquered, Bulgaria administered eastern Macedonia and western Thrace.

Bulgaria was constantly pressured to help the Germans in Russia, but the king always refused. In the summer of 1943 Bulgaria refused to fight the partisans any further in Yugoslavia and Albania.

The King Dies

The king died on August 28, 1943, and a regency took over. Filov was replaced by Dobri Bozhilov on September 14, 1943. He started to try and negotiate with the Allies.

Switching Sides


In the spring of 1944 there were approximately 18,000 partisans in Bulgaria. They were organized into 11 brigades of the Otechestuen (fatherland) Front, which comprised of communists, Agrarians, Zvenari, and Social Democrats.

Change of Leadership

In July 1944, Ivan Bagrianov became Prime Minister. He tried to get Bulgaria out of the war, but his plans were ruined by the Romanian coup on August 23, 1944.

Russia was using extreme pressure on the Bulgarians to declare war on the Germans.

On September 8, 1944, Konstantin Muraviev (the new prime minister) declared war on Germany. Soviet forces crossed into Bulgaria the same day.

The Otechestven Front staged a bloodless coup in Sofia on September 9. The communists secured the ministries of interior and justice.

Fighting the Germans

About 339,000 troops of the 1st, 2nd, and 4th Bulgarian Armies were attached to the 3rd Ukrainian Front, commanded by Tolbukhin. They fought into the Balkans, Hungary, and Austria.

About 32,000 were killed. Most of them in the battles around Budapest.

The 1st Armored Brigade took part in the fighting in Hungary during 1945.


6,300,000, 6,370,000

1940: 6,341,000, 6,500,000

Foreign Tanks




Number of tanks bought from Germany
Year Model #
1940 PzKpfw 35(t) 36
  PzKpfw IV 46
  StuG III 25
  PzKpfw III 10
  SdKfz 222,223 20

Great Britain



  1. The Oxford Companion To World War II, by I.C.B. Dear, M.R.D. Foot, 2001
  2. World War II in Numbers, Peter Doyle, 2013
  3. German Tanks of World War II, Dr. S. Hart & Dr. R. Hart, 1998
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site