Restoration of German Tanks from World War II
Photographer: Vassil Donev
A total of 15 German tanks of the types Panzer T3 and T4 are being restored in the repair facilities of the Bulgarian Army. All the tanks were manufactured by 1943. One of the most valuable exhibits is a Jagdpanzer T4 L 48, which is unique in Bulgaria and is one of seven in the world. Bulgaria became a German ally in 1941 and the tanks were donated to the Bulgarian army of the Third Ukrainian Front during World War II, to increase its firepower. After the war Bulgaria became a people’s republic with a communist regime under the Soviet sphere of influence. Hundreds of German and Soviet tanks were entrenched along Bulgaria’s southeastern border with Turkey. This Cold War line of defense was known as the Krali Marko Line. As a Warsaw Pact member, Bulgaria sought to deter an invasion by NATO forces (of which Turkey was a member).
Following the end of the Cold War and Bulgaria’s transition to democracy after 1990, these tanks were finally forgotten by the army. However, many of the armaments were looted for scrap metal. Recently, there has been a renewed interest in the German tanks from enthusiasts and collectors. According to reports, some tanks have even been dug up and stolen. This is why the defense ministry is now trying to recover and restore the tanks which are seen as valuable historical artifacts.
The tanks are being restored only externally: the engines were removed in the 1950s and have since gone missing. Once the restoration work is complete the tanks are due to go on display in the new Museum of Battle Glory in Yambol, Bulgaria.