Hot Skies of the Cold War

The Bulgarian Air Force in the 1950s

Alexander Mladenov, Evgeni Andonov

After the end of the Second World War, Bulgaria fell in total dependency upon the Soviet Union as a direct result of the 1944 Yalta agreement on the 'spheres of influence' division of Europe. The Bulgarian Air Force was radically reformed in the Soviet style and rapidly re-equipped with huge numbers of front-line aircraft.

The strengthening of the
Date Published :
February 2020
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Language:
English
Series :
Europe@War
Illustration :
180 b/w ills, 3 color maps, 21 color profiles
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Paperback
ISBN : 9781912866915
Pages : 72
Dimensions : 11.75 X 8.25 inches
-
+
Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-Order
$24.95

Overview
-

After the end of the Second World War, Bulgaria fell in total dependency upon the Soviet Union as a direct result of the 1944 Yalta agreement on the 'spheres of influence' division of Europe. The Bulgarian Air Force was radically reformed in the Soviet style and rapidly re-equipped with huge numbers of front-line aircraft.

The strengthening of the Bulgarian air arm became a high priority as the Cold War in the Balkans gathered speed, and small incidents near the southern and western borders of the country began to occur with increasing frequency. The extensive ‘Sovietisation’ of the Bulgarian air arm led to the eventual change of its official title in late 1949, becoming identical to its Soviet counterpart, the Voennovazdushni Sily (VVS), featuring a structure identical to that of a Soviet front-line air army.

In April 1951, the Bulgarian Air Force entered the jet era with the delivery of the first batch of Yak-23 fighters, followed not after long by the MiG-15.

The hot period of the Cold War in the early and mid-1950s saw frequent night overflights by US aircraft ferrying CIA teams to be delivered by parachute to Bulgarian territory, and often to Romania and the southern parts of the Soviet Union.

This tense situation required a constant high alert state, but the Bulgarian jet fighters and anti-aircraft artillery proved largely unsuccessful in countering the night intrusions. They were more successful, however, in countering the flights of high-altitude balloons with photo reconnaissance equipment launched by the US intelligence in an effort to gather information on the countries behind the Iron Curtain.

The only occasion of a foreign aircraft being shot down was El Al Flight 402, a Super Constellation on a regular passenger flight between London to Tel Aviv via Vienna and Istanbul. The ill-fated airliner, known as one of the greatest victims of the Cold War tensions, nervousness and distrust, was attacked by Bulgarian MiG-15 fighters on 27 June 1955 after it erroneously strayed off course into Bulgarian territory, killing all 58 people onboard.

The formation of the Soviet Union-dominated Warsaw Pact Treaty Organisation on May 14, 1956 heralded the beginning of a new era in the VVS’ development. As one of the most enthusiastic Warsaw Pact members, Bulgaria was readily supplied with huge numbers of combat jets, anti-aircraft artillery, surface-to-air missile systems and early warning radars in an effort to boost up the pact’s southern flank defence.

About The Author
-

Alexander Mladenov is an aerospace & defence author, journalist and photographer, based in Sofia, Bulgaria. A graduate of the Technical University of Sofia, he is also the author of a series of books on Soviet/Russian modern military aircraft and this is his third book for Helion.

Evgeni Andonov is an aviation journalist and historian, based in Sofia, Bulgaria. He is a graduate of the Technical University of Sofia and his special interests include deep research into little-known moments in the history and operations of the Bulgarian Air Force, mostly between the 1920s to the 1980s. This is his second book for Helion.

More from this publisher