Examination of Bulgarian Ammunition Production/Inventory
Bulgaria is believed incapable of manufacturing the large quantities of ammunition that would be required by its army in order to wage war, but does have facilities for making the various conventional types of ammunition.
The bulk of the native production probably is devoted to ammunition of Soviet World War II types, inasmuch as the Bulgarian Army is largely equipped with Soviet World War II weapons. There may also be limited manufacture of munitions for other foreign weapons, notably those of German origin, although such weapons are held in reserve or used for training purposes and are not currently significant as items of issue to troops.
The USSR, and perhaps certain of the Satellites, would have to supply Bulgaria with any large quantities of ammunition and may already have shipped considerable amounts along with the using weapons.
Bulgaria is assumed to have ammunition for Soviet field artillery weapons (including field/AT guns) ranging from 76mm through 152mm caliber, Soviet mortars from 82mm through 160mm caliber, coast artillery pieces up to 280mm, as well as for the Soviet 82mm and 132mm rocket launchers. Ammunition for Soviet 14.5mm antitank rifles also is on hand, but whether other infantry antitank weapons and ammunition may be found is uncertain. Information on pyrotechnic ammunition is not available, but pyrotechnics doubtless exist in the Bulgarian Army, probably in the form of Soviet World War II materiel.
Glossary of Bulgarian Terms
Bomba - Bomb
Materialna chast - Materiel; equipment matters
Mina - Mine; mortar shell
Samokhodna artileriya - Self-Propelled artillery
Tezhka artileriya - Heavy artillery
Tezhka kartechnitsa - Heavy machinegun
Fugas - Land mine
Shpagin - Soviet PPSh-41
Shmayzer - Schmeisser submachinegun
A. Small Arms Ammunition
Bulgaria has small arms ammunition production facilities which are adequate to supply the country's peacetime needs. It is doubtful, however, that these facilities could manufacture enough small arms ammunition to meet the demands of war. Bulgarian factories can, and probably do, manufacture ammunition of Soviet design, as well as 7.92mm, 9mm parabellum, and various other "standard" European cartridges; however, no positive identification of individual rounds in current production is available at this time. Since the standard Bulgarian Army small arms are of Soviet origin, the standard ammunition, too, will be of Soviet design. German, Czech, and British rounds also may be stockpiled and in some cases manufactured, but the corresponding foreign using weapons apparently are in service with quasi-military organizations or are held in reserve.
B. Mortar Ammunition
The standard mortar ammunition of the Bulgarian Army is believed to comprise the Soviet 82mm, 107mm, 120mm, and 160mm, types of World War II. These rounds may possibly be manufactured locally to some extent, but major quantities are probably received from the USSR or from other Satellites. Some stocks of foreign origin other than Soviet may well be on hand, but their importance would be relatively minor.
C. Artillery Ammunition
Factories and arsenals in Bulgaria are capable of supplying limited quantities of artillery ammunition, but would find it impossible to satisfy the needs of the Bulgarian Army in time of war. Kazanluk is the principal government arsenal and, in addition to repairing and assembling weapons, it produces ammunition of all kinds. As Bulgaria is receiving most of its military weapons from the USSR, the probabilities are that a large percentage of the ammunition comes from the USSR also.
The Bulgarian munitions plant at Gara Kostenets, Karlovo, and Kolarovgrad assemble shells up to 155mm caliber. Major ammunition dumps are believed to be located throughout the country in the three army regions of Bulgaria.
The Soviet 82mm and 132mm rockets of World War II are thought to be standard in the Bulgarian Army. In view of the emphasis placed on rockets by the Soviets, and the close adherence of the Bulgarian Army to Soviet military patterns, the existence of other types of Soviet rockets in the Bulgarian Army would not be surprising. Some German World War II rockets conceivably may be held also. Whether this Balkan Satellite manufactures rocket ammunition is not known.
Information on pyrotechnics is not available. It may be expected, however, that this category of ammunition will conform to the general rule of standardization on Soviet materiel, with some holdings of non-Soviet World War II items.
8mm Ball Cartridge, Model 1890
This cartridge is of Austrian design and has been used extensively by Italy, Hungary, and Yugoslavia, in addition to Bulgaria. Weapons most commonly encountered which use this round are: 8mm Mannlicher M1895 rifles and carbines, and 8mm Schwarzlose M07/12 machinegun. The round has no color markings of any kind. Bullet jackets are usually steel or nickel-plated steel.
I believe the ammunition above is the 8x50mmR Mannlicher
Next Time: Communist China