Part 1 - TECHNIQUE
Picture at right:
The inventor in his Colonel's
uniform of the Polish Army
version (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
lids of the original
with the patent no. and a very small arrow beside the
word DIREKTION (resp. MARSCHDIREKTION on the one with aluminum
The next development was the Armeemodel 1910
its 1907 catalogue, the French company Société
des Lunetiers (S-L) already
displayed the two versions: a
with wooden case and one with mirror and aluminum case:
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
A LUFFT logo featured a barometer pressure capsule (see example further below, Czechoslovakia)
logo currently used by
this company depicts its
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
lid indicating the marching direction. Note the two thin lines made of
compound paint. This one has a different shape without the disk in the
||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 century.
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
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.
aluminium lid marked DIREKTION
steel lid marked RICHTUNG
Note: the apparent dots on each side of the word RICHTUNG are actually fixing screws for the card arrow.
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
featured in addition two horizontal wires used to aim at elevated
objects and measure their elevation angle together with the
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.
in the dark was
to the 10cm
graduated ruler bearing two lines of self-luminous
This device was parallel to the marching course set on the compass
was mounted in
the support at the base of the lid (pic.
at 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. below)
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.
|Small model with
provisional MILS divisions
||The marching course
index was a
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.
provisional MILS divisions
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 requests...
dial featured in the 1930's Radium-paint dots at 45
und 90 deg on both sides of the N-S line (see
Dial with additional luminous marking at 45 and 90 deg.
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
as a spring (not shown on the picture st r.).
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
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 correct value.
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 II and its folding MILS/cm slide
The conversion table
and the level insert on the back of
Right: The reticule in the lid slot to measure elevation angles together with the clinometer.
The UBK also existed in a fluid-dampened version (see further down)
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:
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):
first FLUID DAMPENED Bézard dismantled: the case
cut away and a thn aluminum disk protected the capsule. The mirror was
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.
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
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)
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
integral part of the lid.
|The oldest: Black,
ribbed, edge-to-edge stitching
||The finest: Brown,
leather, corner stitching
||The last but one version: Brown lacquer|
- In West
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).
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.
Brazil's armed forces used a UBK model with 360 degrees divisions and w/o level. Abbrev. under the coat of arms: M. G. = Ministerio de Guerra (War Department).
Pictures courtesy I. R. Ferreiro Pinto
(Click on images for enlarged views)
|The serial no. on the base:
The letter L stands for the manufacturer's name.
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
Old army models were marked either DvO (Dept. van Oorlog = War Dept.) until 1928 when the name was changed to DvD (Dept. van Defensie).
Modern civilian version (360 deg.):
Old version (lid):
Foto: Ted Brink - see more examples of Dutch compasses on his website www.collectingmilitarycompasses.tr.
The word ORIGINAL
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)
Manufacturer: Cornelius Knudsen - Kiøbenhavn (Copenhagen)
Famous Danish marine optician.
Compare with the Dutch item (bottom)
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
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)
One model in two different versions signed by ŠP and MEOPTA (for full description pls. activate the links)
SP's version, open
(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)
on the picture 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 version that we know of was built by GAMMA. It was identical with the small Bézard without mirror. A larger military version (at right) was apparently built later called MOM / Süss Nándor (click on the links to read the full entry) also called Plant No. 41 for reasons of secrecy.
center): MOM / 41 - (right): GAMMA