Direction for firing in field and mountain artillery
replacement of the first Bulgarian firing rules, the Red booklet, was a long
and complex matter. A preliminary text was published in 1897. Some little
imperfections and inaccuracies were emended two years later, when a new
improved version was issued. It constituted a remarkable improvement on
firing discipline, giving also a detailed account of the main novelties
introduced by the foreign armies, especially in the fire regulations
The direction included five sections :
I. Ballistic data on guns and projectiles.
II. Preparation of fire.
III. Measuring and determination of the range.
IV. Firing rules.
V. Firing practice and its accountancy.
Guns and projectiles. At the end of 19th
Century the Bulgarian artillery was equipped with Krupp guns, having all the
same system, cylindro-pneumatic wedge breech mechanism, and uniform calibre,
87mm for field and 75mm for mountain artillery. Old 75mm field guns, regarded
as too light and not powerful enough, had been assigned to the reserve. The
only exception was a little number of 75mm Schneider-Canet mountain guns with
swinging block breech mechanism purchased in 1897. All these guns used three
kinds of projectiles: common shells against animate and inanimate targets,
shrapnel against animate targets and case shots against close attacks at a range of
of fire. The adjustment was based
on the calculus of the probabilities, while
numerical quantities and measuring depended on the extent of the dispersion
and the law of probability. The
first condition to adjust guns quickly was an accurate determination of the
distance of the target. As a rule the distance was estimated by eye, but it
could be also measured on a map, obtained by means of a rangefinder, or
calculated by the sound. The determination of the distance was obtained by
the different effect that well-known objects (men, horses, carts, and so on)
put at various distances had on the eyes, or by halving a given distance to
reduce it to a distance that anybody was accustomed to estimate accurately
Fire for adjustment (пристрелка). It was usually carried out with percussion
shells, since the dense smoke produced by their burst was more easily
observed than the smaller and more quickly dissipated smoke of the shrapnel.
If there were not data about the range and the deviation of the shots with
respect to the target could not be determined, the corrections should not be
Shrapnel fire. Shrapnel time fire as a
rule was employed for the attack of animate objects, such as troops moving or
staying in position. It did not require a full adjustment, but only to
correct the distance in order to overspread the area of the target with the
shrapnel bullets. In order to shorten the time for adjustment, as son as the
Common shell fire. Percussion fire was
principally employed for the destruction of material objects, such as walls,
buildings, obstacles, artillery materiel, etc. (стрелба
for demolition). At mid ranges it could pierce an earthwork
employed also against animate objects, where it worked by means of the
splinters of the explosion. The 87mm common shell scattered around 120
splinters in a cone-shaped crater, with an angle of dispersion of 50°-60°, 1½
2 greater than the angle of descent.
They were lethal up to
Case shot fire. It was employed only
against standing targets at close ranges.
The case shot was a cylindrical zinc case filled with round balls. When fired, the
case disintegrated already in the barrel and its splinters and the balls
spread out in a conical form, causing a wide swath of destruction. The cone
of dispersion of the balls had an angle of opening of 6° with an axis of
dispersion of 1/10 of the length and a range of only 400
Fire for effect (стрелба на поражение). It comprised three different methods of fire :
fire by gun
(огън по оръдейно) : at an order of the battery commander each gun
fired independently after loading and being laid. It was employed as a rule
with case shot, at close range (less than
fire in succession (огън по редове) : at an order of the battery commander, each gun of the battery, beginning from leeward, fired a single discharge in regular order from one flank to the other, with a set interval; it could be ordinary (обикновен), rapid (бърз) or cursory (бегъл). The speed depended on the easiness of the observation of fire and on the fighting situations. Ordinary fire was employed when the battle dragged on, the ammunition were scarce, the observation was difficult or against a moving target, after the determination of the bracket. Cursory fire was employed for very brief period only when the battery commander could not direct fire by person and the observation was unnecessary, especially in close combat or against moving target entered into the shelled area (i.e. to repel an attack). Rapid fire was employed in the same situations, but in this case the fire was directed by the section commanders.
fire by salvos (залпов огън) : at an order of the battery commander all the guns of the battery simultaneously fired a single discharge. It was often employed in adjustment in order to increase the smoke produced by the explosion of the shells and facilitate the observation when the smoke ball of a single shell could not be seen with sufficient clearness or in fire for effect to produce a great simultaneous effect on the target. It could be carried also by section, at an order of the section commander.
Firing practice. As for the instruction of the personnel, the direction considered the demonstrative, training, fighting (by battery, artillery division or artillery mass) and inspection fire.
Preliminary or demonstrative fire (подготвителна or показна стрелба) took place at the beginning of the school year to show to the recruits the different artillery shots and their effects. It was employed a gun of every artillery division. Every gun shot 11 rounds, and changing in sequence projectile, sight, deflection, elevation, fuze and so on, the recruits could see how the shot change. Actually this practice was a legacy of the old rules, when the gunner should not only serve at the gun, but also have a little knowledge of the firing theory.
With training fire (учебна стрелба), officers and men were trained in firing, got accustomed to the shots, learnt how to measure angle of site and deflection, to estimate the effect of wind and so on, seeing how to apply the firing rules in the different situations. The training fire was carried out near the quarters of the regiment, to allow all the personnel to take part in it. The Artillery Inspection estimated the number of rounds required according with the number of the officers who should be trained.
Fighting fire (бойна стрелба)
was executed in an unknown place in strict connection with tactical tasks.
Inspection fire (прегледна стрелба) was carried out at the presence of the higher ranks officers. The Direction did not manoeuvre fire with the three branches of the Army.
After every day of firing practice a report was written both by the gunners and the observing officer, along with a journal of firing and lists for processing the effects of the fire. The examination covered both the tactical action and the technical aspects (estimate of firing data, ways of sighting and firing to the target, fuze-setting, observation). The results obtained were of great use in discovering defects of materiel and bad lying. With the journals collected from the drill of the whole artillery the Artillery Inspection made a statistical analysis and made its conclusions from it. These documents were read and examined by the officers during their winter tactical lessons.