Part 1 - TECHNIQUE
Picture at right:
The inventor in his Colonel's
uniform of the Polish Army
first design (rectangular wooden case) was produced by Otto
A. GANSER (Vienna,
Austria) approximately in 1903. It was consistent with an
early manual (see Part
2 Documentation). The case was made of mahogany and larger than later
versions, the 60mm ruler was made of ivory. Moreover, it featured two
lateral recesses allowing a better grip of the bezel. The
marching course brass arrow pointed to the right.
||Markings on the magnetic needle's cut-out frame: Pat. Hauptmann Bézard (Patent captain Bézard)|
version (1905) existed both with a wooden case (consistent with the
patent but round on one side) 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 model with the patent no. and a very small arrow
beside the word DIREKTION (resp. MARSCHDIREKTION on the one with
Pessler & Sohn (P.&S.) also built a version of the wooden case model
See also further below: Imitations / Austria / Ganser
1907 catalogue, the French company Société
des Lunetiers (S-L) displayed two versions: plain wooden case
and aluminum case with a real glass mirror (!)
See also the Auricoste version without any patent mention - probably because of the specific WW1 situation.
At r.: The compass with a pendulum (P) for measuring elevation angles
Technical Data (Large Model)
Dia.: ... mm*
Case width: ... mm*
Weight: 75 gr
* Dim. are probably identical to later models
|The next development was
the Armeemodell 1910:
|The transition from Bakelite to
On the Bakelite casing the compass capsule is attached to the bottom via 3 screws (Ř 2 mm) and the rotating bezel supporting the arrow's frame and the divisions is secured to the capsule via 3 screws (Ř 1 mm) protruding in its groove. On the metallic casing the attachment to the bottom is no longer necessary because the bezel screws also go through the casing side.
(s. more details below)
A transitional metallic version of the Armeemodell type II
probably made in the 1920s still features
paper needle and the paper disc (needle frame and divisions) and the
mirror is attached to the casing via an hinge.
The Bakelite casing and the 3 screws (Ř 2 mm). On the right side: the two screw holes for the mirror's hinge (Ř 1,5 mm).
|Bakelite version: view of
a bezel securing screw (Ř 1 mm) and of the brass friction pin
(in the groove).
|A LUFFT logo featured a
barometer pressure capsule
|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 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 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.
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.
|Nickeled brass 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
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.
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.
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
|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 divisions
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 requests...
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.
Between the 1913 version (above) and the simplified post WWI design (s. below: Clients BW / BGS) the graduation has evolved through several different designs.
The graduation could be counter clockwise and the 6 numbers (multiple of 1000) indicated with 4 digits!
The number facing north could be doubled (6400 and zero). This compass featured on its lid the totally unusual drawing of a bow and arrow (link to picture).
|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 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 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 correct value.
Simplified adjustment for magnetic declination on compass UBK III
Version (made by GERLACH)
A system allowing a precise setting of the magnetic declination was developed in 1933 by Olgierd Jakubowski (Warsaw, Polish 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 two screws. The sliding ruler would be then used like the East-West-bar of the original Bézard compass. This ruler also pushed the needle upwards when closing (transit lock).
* German version available
Pic. by courtesy of M. Ivanov
(Click on image above for full descr. in GERLACH entry)
|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)
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
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
(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
Type 1910 in golden letters or imprinted
Pictures by courtesy of SWGR-O.P.Lang
Pouch made of the typical "grey" linen (three-colour thread) used by the Imperial Austrian Army with a collar sign of the machine gun sections sewn on top.
Picture by courtesy Salzburger Wehrgeschichtliche Rainerforschung
|Brown, smooth leather, corner stitching
||Probably the last but one version: brown lacquer
||Luxurious velvet-lined version made for the Bundeswehr (BUND)
- 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 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 UBK Export model was also used but unpainted. See box label below.
Bézard compass was
issued with 360 degrees and 6400 mils divisions (pic r.:
||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 (FORÇA EXPEDICIONÁRIA BRASILEIRA) 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 / Pic. right: small model, 6400 mils. counter clockwise, Portugal
(Click on images for enlarged views)
serial no. punched on the base:
The letter L stands for the manufacturer's name.
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
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!
on the mirror's reverse:
"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.)
After a first version marked PATENT, the word ORIGINAL was written in Polish language: ORYGINALNY
(Serbo-Croatian. - see menue Miscell. / card. points):
Armeemodell I, 360 deg. counter clockwise
cardinal points are identical to the ones in Yugoslavian language
Pictures at right: Version with several logos
Left: Czechoslovakia's coat-of-arms (heraldic lion in a square standing on one corner) between military units' numbers (P.18.7 ... 23)
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: 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. The word RETNING
(direction) is written with the same fonts than on the original German
Bézard compasses. 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).
The crown and the letters HV (Hćrens Vĺbenarsenal) mean Royal army weapon arsenal. Between 1928 and 1932, this abbrev. can have been changed to HT (Hćrens Třjhus = army arsenal) but today no compass is known bearing this designation.
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)
Maker: Stefan Józefowicz, located in Milanówek
The words NAPIS NA MAPIE mean : Inscription on map
Ruler: 6 cm / Width: 8 cm.
The capsule's bezel is located below the casing. An additional rear sight and two holes in the mirror make the sighting more precise.
UBK model made by ФИЗЭЛЕКРОПРИБОР (fizelektropribor) of Moscow (link to pic. of the maker's logo imprinted on the glass) probably made in the 1930s or later, after Hitler and Stalin signed a non-agression pact. It features cardinals in cyrillic letters (C = north) and is divided in 6000 mills according to the system of the former Warsow Pact. Additional luminous dots at 45° left and right of north as on the German Wehrmacht compasses. No marking on the lid like DIRECTION.The very tiny original screws securing the capsule in the casing from the side have been replaced by larger screws accessible from above which hold tabs protruding into the groove in the capsule which can be oiled via a dedicated grease hole without dismantling. The case has an opening for the level but it is closed by a blind plate.
The clinometer scale
Logo of ФИЗЭЛЕКРОПРИБОР
Civilan models (360 deg.) in different versions signed Optikotechna (logo: a T in a circle, German markings), SŠP 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)
Logos of Optikotechna and MEOPTA
Maker is Optikotechna - see logo "T in a circle. The word "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 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 - (right): GAMMA