On December 13, 1941, Bulgarian government declares war on the US and Great Britain, hopeful it would remain purely symbolic. Measures implemented to raise Air Force combat readiness are dictated by the tangible threat of air raids against targets within the state’s territory. These measures, however, are no match to the might of the British – American aviation formations in the North African bases.
From November 14, 1943, through April 17, 1944, the Western Allies employ an airborne offensive operation against Bulgaria, with primary target the capital Sofia and primary objective – to force the government to break from the Axis. A total of 2000 planes exact 7 day time and 5 night time attacks with 8800 destructive and several hundred incendiary bombs. Released chiefly on civil targets, these kill 931 and wound 1025 residents of the capital. 12 567 residential, industrial and public buildings are partially or completely destroyed or burnt, including the Council of Ministers; the National Assembly; the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences; the Holy Synod; the Archaeological Museum; the State Printing House; the “St. Josef” Catholic cathedral; the National Theatre; the Municipal Library – where 40 000 books perish in the fire; the Ethnography Museum; the Sofia Synagogue; the “St. Spas” church; the Vrana Residential Palace, etc. The aviators of the 6th Fighter Regiment carry out 273 sorties against the many times superior enemy strength and bring down 30 of its planes. On December 20, 1943, Lieutenant Dimitar Spisarevski implements the first in the history of Bulgarian aviation aerial ramming. For the first time in global aviation, on March 30, 1944, Lieutenant Hristo Kostakev brings down two bombers in one attack. On April 17, 1944, Lieutenant Nedelcho Bonchev undertakes second aerial ramming. Outstanding bravery demonstrate Lieutenant Stoyan Stoyanov, Lieutenant Petar Bochev and Captain Chudomir Toplodolski, who log most aerial victories. Forever in the skies above Sofia remain 16 Bulgarian pilots, posthumously promoted to a higher rank and awarded the military order “For Bravery”.
Even after the conclusion of the aerial offensive, bombing on isolated targets situated on the state’s territory continue until August 26, 1944. On this date ends the “symbolic war”, incited injudiciously by the Bulgarian politicians and borne with valour by the Bulgarian fighter pilots. Over Bulgaria, ensuing accession into the Tripartite Pact, soar 23 000 foreign aircrafts; 168 settlements within the new borders are bombed with 50 000 blast and incendiary aerial bombs. Bulgarian fighter aviation brings down 56 and damages 83 American planes. In the 100 enemy aircrafts fallen on Bulgarian territory perish 256 men; further 337 are captured. Bulgaria pays for this Allied campaign with the lives of 1828 of her citizens. 2372 more are wounded. Material loss is estimated at 24 billion LEVA. Incurred losses include 27 airplanes and 23 pilots.