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Bulgarian Fighter Colours 1919-1948 (Vol 1)

Bulgarian Fighter Colours 1919-1948 (Vol 1) Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review March 2019 Title Bulgarian Fighter Colours 1919-1948 (Vol 1)
Author Dénes Bernád Publisher Mushroom Model Publications
Published 2018 ISBN 9788365958181
Format 296 pages, hardbound MSRP (GBP) £40.00

Review

East-Front Axis aircraft enthusiast? Buy, beg or borrow this brilliant book. Then prepare to alter your ideas of Bulgarian fighter warpaint.

MMP's Bulgarian Fighter Colours 1919-1948 Vol. 1 – available in North America from Casemate – offers the first authoritative, English-language study of this fascinating topic.

After illuminating introductory remarks on Bulgarian and German paints and colors, author Dénes Bernád courses, chapter-by-chapter, through ten fighters and fighter-trainers:

  • Fokker D.VII
  • DAR-5 Brambar
  • Heinkel He 51 Sokol
  • PZL P.24 Yastreb
  • Arado Ar 65 Orel
  • Focke-Wulf Fw 56 Komar
  • Avia B.534 Dogan
  • Avia Bs.122 Osa
  • Arado Ar 96B Soyka
  • Messerschmitt Bf 109E Strela

Hundreds of illustrations season this superb study. Photos. Drawings. Color profile and plan views. Archival illustrations. Official drawings. Even intelligence sketches.

Admirably annotated, Bernád's splendid survey also sports sidebars, tables, combat accounts, contemporary commentary, command structures, orders-of-battle, intelligence reports, and extended, explanatory captions.

Illuminating information peppers every page. And not all is "color".

Bernád freely admits the paucity "concrete information" on precise Bulgarian warplane warpaint. But he leverages decades of archival and field research – including, in some cases, actual excavated evidence – to make reliable, educated assumptions. And he usefully includes all likely options in analyses and conclusions.

Ditto for serial and coding practices. Ever note small triangles with stenciled numbers on Bulgarian fighter fins? Bernád helpfully decodes them, including both official dimensions and patterns for five late-style numerals.

He naturally devotes considerable coverage to all Bulgarian insignia designs, too. Crosses. Roundels. Even an elaborate triangle motif. I was surprised that, although "not officially sanctioned", a WWI antecedent for WWII's familiar "St. Andrew's Cross" insigne actually existed.

Not everything, however, appears here in print. Some chapters include QR codes to access PDFs with additional subject details on mmpbook.biz. Just connect with a QR reader app on your smartphone or tablet – or manually retype MMP's addresses into your browser.

But I couldn't find that "comprehensive, but still incomplete, list" of nomenklaturen nomer. Will it appear in Volume 2? Was that mysterious "yellowish brown" (page 12) intended for Bulgaria's Avia B.71s?

Additionally, that's "maize", not "maze". What was that "Chinese deal" for Avia B.534s? For absolute accuracy, carefully check corresponding reference photos when fact-checking details of "Pannon Pixels" Avia B.534 profiles and insets. I spotted discrepancies.

Finally, with a centrally located chin scoop, cut-down rear fuselage decking, and two machine-gun troughs per side, Dogan 61/7037 on page 204 bears the hallmarks of a modified Series III B.534 – not a Series II machine.

None of these quibbles diminishes Bernád's hefty hardback. Grab this terrific tome. Then line up behind me for Volume 2!

Rabidly recommended!

With thanks to MMP for the review copy.

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