David Lehmann wrote:Hello,
Thanks for your very kind "smileys" but according to the Docavia book about the Dewoitine D.520 by Raymond Danel and Jean Cuny the Dewoitine was indeed used by the Bulgarians.
In 1942, the Bulgarian government took contact with Vichy to buy Bloch MB.151 planes. The contract was signed but the Germans blocked the delivery of the planes.
The attack of the Ploesti oil facilities launched by US bombers which crossed Bulgaria to reach Rumania without concern leads them to change their mind.
In 1943 therefore, the few Bf.109E and Avia B.354 from 6th Bulgarian Regiment (Orliak) are at first reinforced by 29 Bf.109 G2 and 24 Czech Avia B.315. The delivery of the last ones had also been blocked by the Germans previously.
In March 1943, the Germans promised to deliver 150 D.520s to Bulgaria - a first batch of 96 is planned for May 1943.
During Summer 1943, 100 D.520s are starting to be received in Nancy-Tromblaine (France) by Bulgarian pilots who had previously been trained on D.520 aircraft.
In August 1943, 166 B-24s from 9th US Air Force attacked Ploesti for the 2nd time. This time 3 of them had been down by the Bf.109 of 6th Orliak.
The first D.520s arrived in Karlovo in September 1943.
In November, B-25s from 12th US Air Force and B-24s from 15th US Air Force, escorted by P-38 fighters, attacked the Bulgarian air bases and air facilities.
In December, 31 B-24s escorted by P-38s attacked communication lines near Sofia. They were intercepted by 30 Bulgarian fighters, mostly D.520s. 11 Bulgarian fighters were lost against apparently only 2 P-38s.
On January 10, 1944, the crews of the B-17s and their P-38 escort claim 28 victories against the 40 Bulgarian fighters which were engaged against them. The authors indicate that they are doubtful about these information but I don't know if it is about the claim or about the number of Bulgarian fighter that could have been engaged.
Between January and April 1944, the D.520s were replaced as frontline fighters by Me.109 G6s (80 given by the Luftwaffe).
Several D.520s fighters remained nonetheless in service until the arrival of the Soviet Army. The Bulgarian Air Force was reorganized and equipped with Yak fighters. The few D.520s still operational were then used for training until the beginning of the 1950's.
That is what is in the book, I cannot be more precise ... despite the fact that the Bulgarian D.520s fought perhaps an other unit that the 9th Air Force (what I said when writing this simple line in my previous mail) I see at the moment no reason to doubt from this source unlike you give us more elements. It's not like websites talking mistakenly about D.520s in Rumania; it seems to be documented.
OK. Fair enough....American sources
Here is the story of Dewoitine - 520 from the Bulgarian side.
By late 1942 the Bulgarian Air Force was quite outdated. As fighters it had 19 BF 109E, 72 Avia B-534, 12 to 20 PZL P.24, 12 He-51 and 12 Ar-65. Apart from the Messerschmitts none of these represented any real threat to the Allied bombers that started to show up above Bulgaria.
So in the beginning of 1943 the Bulgarian Minister of War presented a demand to Germany for supply of 157 new planes, incl. 54 fighters (BF 109G). Bulgaria actually received 23 BF109G. Instead of the remaining 31 BF 109G, the Germans offered 100 De-520. Bulgaria agreed and requested to receive as well the 20 Bloch MB.152C, that were contracted before the French capitulation in May 1940. However Germany refused the latter and Bulgaria received only 98 De-520 (some sources claim even 89 DE-520 supplied), as well as 12 Avia B-135.
The Dewoitines started to arrive in the summer of 1943. These were flown by German and French pilots to Bulgarian airfield at Karlovo. At least 3 of the planes during these flights escaped with French pilots to Switzerland. The remaining planes were supplied to 2/6 Fighter Orliak (Wing). The 3/6 was armed with BF 109Gs and 1/6 was still armed with Avia B-534s.
On 1 August 1943 the infamous operation Tidal Wave took place. Bulgarian fighters from 1/6 and 3/6 (2/6 was still not operational with the De-520) engaged the American bombers and downed 4 of them.
2/6 was meanwhile training hard. It had a number of flight incidents, where a number of planes were lost. Some of the incidents were suspected to have been caused by sabotages (both by French manufacturers and Bulgarian communist groups within the technical staff).
The Bulgarian pilots opinions about the DE-520 were mixed. Many liked the excellent maneurability and the 20mm gun. Some were critical about the speed which was insufficient by the 1943 standards and the 4 Low-Calibre Machine Guns, which were next to useless against the heavily armoured Allied bombers. Anyway in capable hands the plane proved to be more than a match to the P-38.
In October 1943 the 2/6 was declared operational. It had 3 squadrons and a staff wing with about 30 to 45 pilots and 50 De-520 and was based in Karlovo. Later one of the squadrons (662nd) was transfered to Vrazhdebna, near Sofia and was attached to 3/6.
The first combat engagement was on 10.12.1943. The American 15th Air Army raided Sofia with 50-60 B-24s and 60 P-38s. The Royal Bulgarian Air Force engaged with 17 Me-109s from 3/6 and 24 De-520s. The 2/6 was late to respond and had a meagre result - 1 suspected bomber claim and 1 De-520 lost.
Second combat engagement - 20.12.1943. This time 50 B-24 and 50-60 P-38 against 16 Me-109s and 24 De-520s. This time 2/6 was more successful - 1 bomber was downed, 1 was heavily damaged and 3 P-38 were downed. 1 De-520 was damaged. 3/6 downed 3 P-38s and 2 B-24s and heavily damaged 4 B-24s and 1 P-38s, losing 2 Me-109s (one as a result of ramming a B-24).A number of ME-109 were damaged.
Third combat engagement - 10.01.1944. 180 B-17 and B-24 and 100 P-38 were intercepted over Sofia by 16 Me-109s from 3/6, 23 De-520s from 2/6, 30 German Bf-109s and unknown number of DE-520s from 1/6 and 4/6. 2/6 downed 6 bombers and damaged a P-38 and lost 2 De-520s. 4/6 lost 1 De-520 and downed a bomber. 3/6 downed three P-38 and damaged several others without own losses. The Germans lost 4 Me-109. Their victoires are unknown.
Starting from January 1944 started to transfer to Me-109G. Nevertheless DE-520s are still flown until April 1944. 2 DE-520s were lost on 17 April 1944, fighting P-51s. After that De-520s were used only for training.
All in all DE-520 from 2/6 had 9 bombers and 3 fighters as confirmed kills. 5 De-520s were lost.
1/6 was rearmed with De-520s in late 1943. In January 1944 it had only 14 De-520. On 04.01.1944 there is a unconfirmed claim for a bomber downed. On 10.01.1944 it lost a fighter a downed a bomber. On 30.03.1944 it participated in the fight with 28 De-520 (There were also 6 DE-520 from 2/6, 39 BF-109 from 3/6 and 2/6 and 4 Avia B-135 from the Flight School). The confirmed total Bulgarian kills were 4 B-24 and 3 P-38 with no own losses.
4/6 was formed in January-February 1944. It did not had any notable success during the bombings - all in all - only 3 bombers were damaged. It lost 1 De-520.
In June 1944 1/6 and 4/6 were in practice destroyed by two massive American bomber strikes against their Karlovo airfield. Several dozens of planes (mostly old trainers, but also many De-520s) were lost on the ground. 1/6 receved all remaining planes and the pilots from 4/6 (which was disbanded) and by 30.08.1944 it had 62 De-520s. De-520s from 1/6 participated in the war against the Germans in 09-11.1944 over Macedonia and Serbia acting as reconnaissance, fighter escort and ground attack plane. 7 De-520s were lost from flak, 4 were heavily damaged and 13 were lightly damaged. 1/6 claimed destroying 2 railway stations, 1 train, 21 cars and trucks, 6 arty batteries, 1 tank and 1 bus.
N.B. - Confirmed kills means the plane wreckage has been found.
Milanov Yordan, The Aviation of Bulgaria during the Wars 1912-1945 Vol. 2 Sofia 1997
Aero Sviat Magazine - Vol. 7 and 8 - The Dewoitine D.520 Fighter ISSN 1311-3046