Bulgarian Panthers


Panther and PzKpfw IV at Poduene Rail Station near Sofia, November of 1945
Panther and PzKpfw IV at Poduene Rail Station near Sofia, November of 1945

Panther and PzKpfw IV at Poduene Rail Station near Sofia, November of 1945
In early 1945, single Tank Battalion with three brigades (two medium tanks and single heavy tank brigade) was formed and was to be part of the 1st Bulgarian Army (part of the 3rd Ukrainian Front). All the vehicles to equip those units were captured German vehicles delivered by the Soviet Union.On March 17th of 1945, first Panther was delivered.The crews of the First Tank Battalion arrived from Sofia to the frontline in Hungary on April 11th of 1945.Three days later at Pana Deveger they received their Panthers from the Soviet forces – total of 15 tanks (including the single one delivered in March).Crew training started immediately under the supervision of Soviet instructor. Crews liked their tanks but complained about Soviet radio equipment and requestedthat the German radios were to be delivered.The end of the war came before Bulgarian crews finished their training so they never entered active service.At the end of May of 1945, Bulgarian Panthers were taken by train to Sofia and transferred to the First Tank Brigade. On March 1st of 1946, there were 15 Panthers in service including 14 functional and one in need of repairs.

Panthers in Sofia
Panthers in Sofia
Panthers in Sofia
Panthers in Sofia

Bulgarian Panzerkampfwagen V Panthers in Sofia, late May of 1945.
From 1945 to 1948, Soviet Union supplied Bulgaria with 738 armored fighting vehicles – 398 T-34/85 tanks and 340 SU-76M self-propelled guns.Further use of 15 Panthers became pointless. Panthers were then burried along the Bulgarian-Turkish border as pillboxes, while their Maybach engineswere removed. It was planned to mount them in locomotives but it was not realized.

The total of Panthers delivered to Bulgaria is well known – 15 vehicles including early and late Ausf Ds, Ausf A and Ausf G.Bulgarian Panthers were painted in the standard "Russian grass green" as they were repaired and repainted before being delivered to Bulgarians..In addition to Panthers, Bulgarians also used other German armored fighting vehicles including PzKpfw IVs.

Article by Theodor Muchowski based on article "Medium Tank Panther in the Bulgarian Army" by Kaloyan Matev, "Model" Magazine, No.3/99.


Related Articles




Weider History Network:  Achtung Panzer! | HistoryNet | Armchair General
Today in History | Picture of the Day | Daily History Quiz | Military History Forums

Copyright © 1996-2012. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Contact Us | Advertise With Us | Subscription Help