Republic of Bulgaria
Bulgarian units employed a variation of the German Wehrmacht splittertarn (splinter) pattern during or immediately following the Second World War. This in turn led to adoption of a number of variations of the pattern over the next 55 years, which ultimately became the standard uniform of the Bulgarian soldier. With the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union, Bulgaria rapidly became interested in shedding her ties to the old regimes and adopted several camouflage patterns based on the British DPM modelub the early part of the 21st century. These remain in regular service today.
Bulgarian Camouflage Patterns
The earliest Bulgarian camouflage pattern was a splinter pattern highly derivative of the Splittermuster pattern of the German Wehrmacht. The pattern is thought to have been used during WW2 or shortly thereafter, as some details of the uniform and the high-quality printing suggest that it was pre-Communist era. The pattern features green and brown or russet geometric splinter shapes on a khaki background.
A variation of the three-color splinter pattern utilizing different screens is known to have emerged between 1951 and 1952. Bulgarian uniforms in this pattern conformed to the Soviet "reconnaissance" uniform design introduced during the Second World War, and the fabric was equally lightweight.
A more faithful, but much less-defined version of the wartime German Splittermuster (splinter) pattern was introduced circa 1953. The design incorporated very crudely printed green and brown splinter shapes on a light olive green field with wavy rain straits. This pattern was worn as a coverall by primarily by Bulgarian airborne troops.
Circa 1959 another Bulgarian variation of the splinter pattern emerged. Produced until approximately 1968, this variation was essentially the same as the previous one, with the exception that the edges of the splinter patches were much more well-defined than those of the 1953 pattern. Like its predecessor, the printing technique was fairly crude. There is some speculation as to the extent of this pattern's issue, but it still was primarily intended for wear by airborne and reconnaisance personnel.
A completely different camouflage pattern emerged and was issued alongside the "splinter" pattern circa 1968, known by the Bulgarians as жабежка кожа or Zhabezhka kozha (frogskin) pattern. The design, featuring bright green spots & blotches, and brown rain straits on a grey background, was printed on the same style coveralls for issue to airborne personnel and chemical troops (possibly to confuse NATO forces). The coveralls were later issued to Border Patrols or Federal Border Guards (sources conflict as to which is correct).
Circa 1979 yet another version of the Bulgarian splinter design emerged, now featuring more densely-aligned dark green and dark brown splinter shapes on a grey-green field with wavy rain straits. Another interesting feature of this version is that the splinter shapes themselves no longer touched each other. Both summer and winter issue uniforms were now being produced, although issue was still limited primarily to airborne, intelligence, and special forces personnel. The pattern was also exported to Afghanistan in the 1980s.
Common among most Warsaw Pact nations at one time or another, Bulgaria also adopted a "rain drop" pattern between the 1960s and 1970s. The design, quite similar to that adopted by East Germany, consisted of thick brown "rain straits" on a pale grey-green background, with a light contrasting pattern of purple/brown splotches or spots. This pattern has only been doucmented on the special operations coveralls that were issued to paratroops, reconnaissance personnel, artillery spotters and some engineer personnel. Based on limited documentation, it is likely these coveralls saw distribution for an extremely short period of time.
The fifth and last version of the Bulgarian splinter pattern was introduced around 1991. This version, dark green and dark brown splinter shapes on an olive green background with slightly thinner rain straits, saw universal distribution within the Bulgarian Armed Forces and remained in service until around 2002. A wide variety of uniform styles and field equipment were produced in this pattern.
Little is known about the camouflage pattern seen here, except that it appears to have been worn by Bulgarian military advisors serving in desert or semi-arid regions at some point. The design itself seems to be a re-coloration of a pattern also produced in Bulgaria for export to insurgent organizations such as the People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) in South West Africa.
At some point in the 1990s, Bulgarian military advisors were issued an interesting lizard camouflage pattern uniform. Featuring green and brown horizontal stripes on a sandy background, the design was probably intended to blend into desert or semi-arid regions such as those in Africa or the Middle East where these advisors were serving.
Another Bulgarian lizard camouflage design to emerge during this time period (circa 1999) was a green tiger stripe pattern. It is unknown if the pattern was simply a trial design, but some sources suggest it was worn by Bulgarian special forces for a short time. The pattern has brown & dark green horizontal stripes on olive green background.
Introduced when Bulgaria became member of NATO in 2003, the five-color Disruptive Pattern Material or DPM is the current issue camouflage pattern of the Bulgarian Armed Forces. The design features black, russet, medium olive & light olive green disruptive shapes on pale green or khaki background.
A three-color Disruptive Pattern desert variation was also issued at the same time. Employing russet & khaki disruptive shapes on a sandy background, the pattern has been worn by Bulgarian troops deployed to Iraq and on other missions with the United Nations.
Bulgarian four colour urban disruptive pattern. Used by Bulgarian Air Force and Gendarmerie serving in ISAF (Afghanistan). In use since 2004.
Other Camouflage Patterns worn by Bulgaria
Bulgarian Rangers deployed to Afghanistan (2009) have been photographed wearing US style 3 colour desert uniforms.
Comparision of the early splinter pattern with the 1953 pattern. The 1953 pattern is only a subset of the early splinter pattern. The area outlined in red is repeated on the 1953 pattern.
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