Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Bulgaria, Navy

Bulgaria has never maintained a large navy, but the diminutive size of its naval force by the late 1930s was also the product of treaty restrictions stemming from the country's defeat in World War I and the difficult economic conditions Bulgaria faced during the interwar years. The core of the navy consisted of four obsolete Drski-class torpedo boats. Launched in 1907, they displaced 98 tons, were capable of 26 knots, and mounted 3 x 17.7-inch torpedo tubes. The remaining naval unit, the torpedo gunboat Nadiejda, was built in 1898 and displaced 715 tons. She was armed with 2 x 3.9-inch guns and two torpedo tubes and had a maximum speed of 17 knots.

This force was augmented after 1937 when Bulgaria entered into a military assistance agreement with Germany, which eventually yielded five motor torpedo boats of the 1939 Lurssen design. These vessels displaced 57.6 tons at full load and were armed with two torpedo tubes and a 20 mm antiaircraft gun. Their engines could produce a maximum speed of 37.1 knots. On Bulgaria's entry into World War II in March 1941, Germany also supplied three formerly Dutch motor torpedo boats.

The Bulgarian navy saw little action in World War II. Its principal action came in October 1941, when it and the Romanian navy mined Bulgarian coastal waters. Up until the time Bulgaria was driven from the war and occupied by the Soviet army in September 1944, the navy's chief duties were escorting coastal vessels in the Black Sea and patrolling the Danube River.

Eric W. Osborne


Further Reading
Chesneau, Roger, ed. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1922–1946. London: Conway Maritime Press, 1980.; Tarnstrom, Ronald L. Handbooks of Armed Forces: Balkans, Part II. Lindsborg, KS: Trogen Publications, 1984.
 

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