Part 1 - TECHNIQUE
Picture at right:
The inventor in his Colonel's
uniform of the Polish Army
(1905) existed both with a wooden case (consistent with the
patent) and a metallic case. The divisions were printed on
cardboard or engraved on the aluminum case bottom.
Technical Data (Small Model)
- Dia.: 45mm
- Case width: 52mm
- Divisions: 5° on paper / 2° on metallic case
In the metallic version, the figures were also engraved inverted (click on pict. above right for detail view) so that they could be read in a mirror which was not installed on all items. See a descr. published in the 1907 catalog of the French retailer for metallic products ('fire arms and bikes') MANUFRANCE.
- Arrow system: see further below
- Weight: 37gr / 62 gr
|The lids of the original
model with the patent no. and a very small arrow beside the
word DIREKTION (resp. MARSCHDIREKTION on the one with
The next development was the Armeemodel 1910
|In its 1907 catalogue,
the French company Société
Lunetiers (S-L) already displayed the two versions: a
plain one with wooden case and one with mirror and aluminum
See also the Auricoste version without any patent mention - probably because of the specific WW1 situation.
Technical Data (Large Model)
Dia.: ... mm*
Case width: ... mm*
Weight: 75 gr
* Dim. are probably identical to later models
|The first design (wooden case) was also produced by Otto A. GANSER (Vienna) in an upgraded version. The square-shaped case was made of mahogany and larger, the ruler longer (60mm) and made of ivory. Moreover, it featured two lateral recesses allowing a better grip of the bezel. The marching course brass arrow pointed in the opposite direction. Markings on the magnetic needle's frame: Pat. Hauptmann Bézard (Patent captain Bézard)|
A LUFFT logo featured a barometer pressure capsule (see example further below, Czechoslovakia)
|The logo currently used by this
company depicts its name written in gothic letters.
The inscription on the compass rose also changed during the course of manufacture: Thus one sees PATENT-BÉZARD and ORIGINAL-BÉZARD in several languages (see below). The inscription BÉZARD-KOMPASS also appeared on the obverse of the casing.
(Click on picture for enlarged view)
The arrow-shaped pointer was glued onto a magnetic needle with wax. needle was made of luminous paper (Balmain)
The letter N is partly covered by a radium paint line.
The dial had a cut-out corresponding exactly to the shape of the arrow. There were also two lines of radium paint on both sides of the opening (right). This device allowed a good visibility when superimposing them using the mirror in relative darkness.
|An early model's cardboard arrow attached with two screws in
the lid indicating the marching direction. Note the two thin
lines made of radium compound paint. This one has a different
shape without the disk in the centre.
||The last model's phosphorescent arrow in the lid (Fluid
|On the military model (Armeemodell) 1910 II, the declination
was set and could not be adapted (9 deg. West). This value
corresponded to the center of Germany at the turn of the
It became adjustable on later models (see below).
On the large Armeemodell II, the course index was a red dash painted on a celluloid tab inserted between the mirror hinge and the bakelite case.
This device was later replaced with a metal tongue placed vertically in a slot in the hinge and across the mirror’s rotational axis.
|From the 1930's on (approximately), the arrow-shaped paper
pointer was replaced with a more conventional but specific
system. The south mark on the celluloid disk comprised a
luminous circle within which the observer had to place the
needle's disk-shaped luminous south end
(click on image for detail view).
The marching course marker on Model I was a sharp metal pointer.
|Corroded aluminium lid marked
||Stainless steel lid marked
Note: the apparent dots on each side of the word RICHTUNG are actually fixing screws for the card arrow.
|Stainless steel marked DIRECTION (small model,
French export version, 1930s)
Sliding pin located at the zero reference of the ruler to measure precisely distances on maps.
||The slots on the UBK (see
further below) featured in addition two horizontal
wires used to aim at elevated objects and measure their
elevation angle together with the clinometer.
The offset between the sight line (through the slots) and the apparent position of the needle's point in relation to the divisions was a drawback because of the resulting parallax which Capt. Franz Winterer described thouroughly in a chap. of his book (see pic. at right) in which he compares the Bézard compass with his own.
Picture : drawings in the margins in Der Militärische Gebrauch der Winterer Bussolen, 1936)
Model II also had two clips used to fix a 10cm graduated ruler.
|Walking in the dark was easy thanks to
the 10cm graduated ruler bearing two lines of
self-luminous Radium-compound paint. This device was parallel
to the marching course set on the compass dial. I was mounted
in the support at the base of the lid (pic.
left). After World War II, the rulers no longer had
Radium paint but either a long line of non radioactive
luminous paint or no paint at all (pic.
The shape of the supports changed over time: at first they were flat on the first models with a Bakelite casing, they were followed by two levels and with larger screws on the aluminum casing.
|Large model II
||Small model I S
|Small model with provisional MILS divisions
||The marching course index was a tiny celluloid tab with
a red line. It was replaced later by a metallic tab.
A degrees-mils conversion table (also a photograph) was placed In the lid
The signature on the table (also a photograph) seems to be a joke: the name "fohrrab" is not a normal German person's name and sounds like the word vorab i.e. "provisional" !! Moreover, a normal name should be written with upper-case letters.
|Large model with provisional MILS
||Several years later, in
its second manual, Gallinger (1933, p. 8, Fig. 3) stated by
way of addended (red label) that the graduation was also
available with the zero mark to North, due to numerous
||The dial featured in the
1930's Radium-paint dots at 45 und 90 deg on both sides
of the N-S line (see also Winterer).
Dial with additional luminous marking at 45 and 90 deg.
|The declination could be adjusted for
local requirements. Under the capsule glass two superimposed
celluloid disks could be moved in relation to each other. One
bore the graduations and the other (situated underneath the
first) the luminous marks for the cardinal points, i.e. a line
for magnetic North and a circle for South. One placed the line
opposite the local value for magnetic North. However, this
procedure was rather difficult: One had to remove and then
replace three tiny screws and a 10mm long, tiny flexible pin
in a groove, acting as a spring (not shown on the picture st
Right: One of the three screw:
|Bézard Compass dismantled: in the lower section, the two celluloid discs.||On the UBK III model realized from the 1930’s
correction for magnetic declination was easier and did not
require the dismantling of the compass: a small pin attached
to a cord allowed the locking of the lower disc by means of a
hole situated on the mirror hinge and then it was only
necessary to turn the capsule in order to set the rose to the
Simplified adjustment for magnetic declination on compass UBK III
A system for locking the adaption of the magnetic declination was developed in 1933 by Olgierd Jakubowski (Warsaw, patent no. 20963*). A disk with a sliding ruler at the capsule's base could be rotated by the declination's angular figure and locked with three screws. The sliding ruler would be then used like the East-West-line of the original Bézard compass. This ruler also pushed the needle upwards when closing (transit lock).
* Translation in German available
|Compare with the Mod. 1922 made by DOIGNON
|The early models had a round or oval loop fixed to a stem as on pocket watches. After World War II, this was replaced by a riveted loop, less aesthetic, but cheaper and more resistant. Many lids still had the hole for the loop fitting.||
BGS = Bundesgrenzschutz = former West-German border police, since the reunification: Bundespolizei
The UBK is based on the system which Erich Wolf patented in September 1917 (patent no. 80134) for an artillery compass.
The UBK III (1930s, pic. courtesy S. Gerhards) and the post WWII modell with the folding MILS/cm slide.
|Below left: The conversion table and
the level insert on the back of the casing.
Right: The reticule in the lid slot to measure elevation angles together with the clinometer.
In the early 1950s, a model was produced featuring a rounded table and no level:
The UBK also existed in a fluid-damped version (see further down)
|The UBK's dial with
the bubble level
Aiming a machine gun using the Universal Bézard compass
(Click on image to see detail)
|The folding Mils/cm slide
The UBK was supplied with an accessory allowing rapid estimation of target distance, a slide graduated in MILS and centimeters. It comprised two articulated branches each of 80 mm.
The divisions corresponded with centimetres but they were graduated in MILS for the first 100mm, the remainder was graduated in mm. This gave:
|The folding slide was attached to the
compass by a thin cord and had to be kept at approximately
50 cm from the eye. The procedure (for a right-handed
person) was as follows: hold the slide still in the right hand
with the end bearing the divisions to the left. Place the zero
aligned with the left side of the observed object and read the
corresponding value on the right side with the thumb nail (see
sketch top right). A prior condition for all measurements was
that one of the parameters must be known or easily estimated:
if the observer wishes to know the distance to the target he
has to estimate its size (house, vehicle, etc.) for example
depending on the average size of a person. If, for a house
approximately 20 metres wide, you measure 20 units, then it is
at 1km distance given that 1 unit equals 1m as seen 1km away.
Same method applies for vertical measurements (hold the ruler vertical) (bottom illustration).
|Illustrations taken from the Manual by
R. GALLINGER "Der Bézard-Kompass" (1933):
|View of the older issue of the
first FLUID DAMPENED Bézard dismantled: the case bottom
was cut away and a thn aluminum disk protected the capsule.
The mirror was chromated.
The 360° graduation (s. image below)was covered with a paper stripe printed with (64oo) mills divisions. The cardinal points NW, N and NO were marked with a luminous material (paper?). There was no letter for North but only a small arrow located 5° W which is consistent with the declination in the 1950's.
|Adjustable distance measuring device in the lid
instead of the usual arrow: the calibrated distance for a
short number of steps was used to calculate longer distances.
(Click on the images for enlarged views)
View from below of the transparent capsule
|The first version of the liquid damped Bézard's
with the classical stripe (ORIGINAL BÉZARD in black letters on
white ground) and a new red-and-white WILKIE-type needle
(Pictures sent by a priv. collector)
Simple civil version: The metallic case and lid were coated with verdigris enamel.
In the FLUID UBK (pic on the right), the words FLUID BEZARD and the lines were white.
Wrist Fluid-Bézard model "Bw"
(Bundeswehr / Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Germany). This one also existed in a version with red lines and an arrow on the capsule's bottom.
(Picture: courtesy Ted Brink -
see LINKS, Military compasses)
|A small plastic version was produced
apparently in small quantities probably in the 1950's or 60's.
The compass capsule was identical to the metallic version but
the words DIRECTION over the arrow and Original-Bézard were
written in the die cast. The lanyard loop was integral
part of the lid.
|The oldest: Black, ribbed, edge-to-edge stitching
||The finest: Brown, smooth leather, corner stitching
||The last but one version: Brown lacquer|
- In West Germany,
the lid bore the wording BUND (Federation) in the
BUNDESWEHR (German Federal Republican Army) and BGS in
the border surveillance units (BUNDESGRENZSCHUTZ) now renamed
the Federal Police (Bundespolizei).
||Graduation of the Army (BUND) and the
BGS compass: 6400 mils.
The Bundeswehr had FLUID BEZARD models. The declination (3° W) was taken into account but not adjustable!
The German Army's new shaped pouches were made of leather lined with red felt. The Fluid Bézard no longer had fittings for the ruler.
See also the user instructions and training material
We have no precise information concerning the period during which the Army and the BGS had these compasses. Your help is needed.
(Armée Française, AF / French Army)
|The AF Bézard compass was issued with 360 degrees and 6400 mils divisions.||Equipment for the French troops in Indo-China and Algeria
(1946-1954 and 1957–1962 conflicts)
COMMENT : It would be interesting to know if France sourced these compasses from LUFFT under extremely advantageous commercial conditions after the Second World War (as a payment for destructions during the War ?). That would have been the final blow to the compass industry in France. On the other side, a comparison of the 1922 model with the Bézard shows that technologically it was obviously no match.
The compass and the cardinals are identical to the French civilian version.
Two issues of the manual are known: 1930s and 1950s (photocopies of the latter are available).
Brazil's armed forces were issued a UBK model with 360 deg. divisions but w/o level. Abbrev. under the coat of arms: M. G. = Ministerio de Guerra (War Department). Brazil's coat-of-arms punched in the lid (compare with the official drawing at right)
Pic. left courtesy I. R. Ferreiro Pinto / right: small Model, 6400 mils. counter clockwise
(Click on images for enlarged views)
|The serial no. punched on
The letter L stands for the manufacturer's name.
|EXPORT VERSION of the UBK model
(Pictures transmitted by a contributor who discovered this instrument in Mexico)
This item probably belonged to a very small series. The UBK apparently didn't sell abroad and this particular compass features several errors. Engraved on the lid is the usual DIRECTION marking.
Fotos R. Regaruva - For description go to UBK above
in Spanish) ist is abbreviated OE
(click on images for enlarged views)
Note: the table is written in French but with several errors (s. pic at r.). The two words "Tableau comparative" should read Tableau comparatif (wrong ending) but it would be false all the same. Such table are called in French Table de conversion or d'équivalence. Furthermore, the German word for MILS Strich (right column, compare to the German version: Str.) was translated with "gr" (for grade) instead of mill. (milličmes) which is a totally different unit!
|Engraving on the mirror's
"Made in Germany"
Below: the table with the translation errors
There were two different models: one engraved "Original-Bézard" on the case underside, the other one "Busola-Bézard":
Both versions featured a military graduation (6400 Mils). The cardinals are indicated in Romanian language:
(Click for enlarged view)
Interesting note about the language: See Miscellaneous/ Cardinals/ Turkey
This item was donated to Compassipedia by Doug Carter
Picture courtesy McCaughan
Divisions: 63oo Mils, counter clockwise, card. in German (read in menue / Miscell. / Divisions MILS - 63oo)
On the case: LUFFT's two logos (see next row Czechosl.)
The word ORIGINAL was written in Polish language: ORYGINALNY
Version with several logos:
Picture at left : Czechoslovakia's coat-of-arms (heraldic lion in a square standing on one corner) between military units' numbers (P.18.7 ... 23)
Picture below at right: LUFFT's logo above a flat cylinder (barometer capsule)
Old army models were marked either D.v.O. (Dept. van Oorlog = War Dept.) until 1928 when the name was changed to DvD (Dept. van Defensie).
|The German word RICHTUNG (DIRECTION) was
translated into Dutch RICHTING:
(Click on images for enlarged views)
WWII issue (1960?):
ORIGINEEL instead of Original Bézard
Manufacturer: O. Ganser
Manufacturer: Cornelius Knudsen - Kiřbenhavn (Copenhagen)
Famous Danish marine optician.
Compare with the Dutch item (bottom)
|DESCRIPTION - Dimensions: same as
small model I (no mirror). Graduations: 6400 mils,
counterclockwise. Full figures are written with 4 digits
(1000, 2000 etc.). Cardinal points in German. No. 1323. No
ruler at the lid's basis. Other markings: a royal crown above
the initials HV (Army Administration in Danish ?). The word RETNING (direction) is
written with the same fonts than on the original German Bézard
The manufacturer's name indicated on the case underside encompasses a coat-of-arms topped by a crown and displaying a pair of drawing compasses and a drawing square.
The label on the West-East axis reads: FELTK. / M. 1928 (field compass / Model 1928).
(East, former GDR)
Manufacturer: FPM (Freiberger Präzisionsmechanik)
(Read more details in the category Marching compasses)
Manufacturer: J. Auricoste
(Read more details in the category Marching Compasses)
(Read more details in the category Survey Compasses)
One civilan model (360 deg.) in two different versions signed by ŠP and MEOPTA (for full description pls. follow the links).
There was also a military version (64oo MILS) on which the word SMĚR (direction) was engraved inside and outside the lid.
(Click on the image for a view of both faces)
|CZECHOSLOVAKIA - 2
No maker's name, SMĚR means DIRECTION. Compass equipped with a mirror that could be pivoted over 180 degrees:
(Click on the picture for viewing a movie showing the mirror's rotation)
|(Click on the picture
below for an enlarged view)
||The outside of the lid bears declination values for cities
to the East and to the West, from the German border (Cheb /
Eger) to the Ukrainian border (JASINA) passing through Prague
(PRAHA) valid for the year 1938.
The ruler allowed the direct reading of distances on military maps to 1:75 000 - one division measures 1,33 mm equivalent to 100 metres on the ground.
The lid is also equipped with a metal support undoubtedly for use on field guns.
- Divisions : 6400 mils
- Diameter: 45 mm
- Weight: 145 g
- Dial (for picture, click on link): 6400 mils., clockwise
Read in the category Marching Compasses details concerning this company.
The case ist almost identical with the Danish version above.
LUFFT probably exported unsigned instruments.
Picture by courtesy of Snyder's Treasures
The oldest small version that we know of was built by GAMMA. The large military version (from 1930 on until post WWII) was made by SÜSS - MOM / Süss Nándor also called Plant No. 41 for reasons of secrecy.
(Click on the links to jump to these entries)
|Pictures (left and center): MOM / 41 -