Normandy, Pegasus Bridge, Iwo Jima, Stalingrad, El Alamein, and...well I could go on and on. These are all famous battles we play or base our forces on. We have seen the movies, documentaries, and painted up the models to reenact scenes from Band of Brothers a dozen times. Looking at my Bolt Action armies I saw USMC, Germans, Soviets, lots of Soviets, DAK, and more Soviets. These were all armies I had played dozens of times and knew them like Patton knew his 2nd Armored Division. I realized I needed and wanted to step out of my comfort zone. I wanted to start from scratch, no models, no color plates, no preconceived notions of the army I was going to build. What started as a whisper from good friend Bryan Cook soon turned into a spark... Armata Romana...The Romanian Army in World War II.
When it was suggested I build a Romanian army from the guys at Bolt Action Alliance, I knew it was exactly what I was looking for, why? I knew absolutely nothing about Romania in WWII. I vaguely recall them getting steamrolled at Stalingrad and that was it. So now what? I looked up the Romanian Army in Warlord's Armies of Italy and the Axis and let out a whimper. Four infantry units? I am primarily an infantry player so my concern level just went to Defcon 2. Well maybe they have some good vehicles, right? Romania is given few options for armor as well. Taking a step back I remembered to look at their National Rules. One free artillery piece or AT gun up to medium and "Axis Support" of any German unit that can be a part of your platoon, not counting against the total number allowed in a reinforced platoon. So the French rule and one similar to the Hungarians. I can do this...
Quick disclaimer, I am going to make some mistakes on this Crimean journey and will take certain liberties where needed but will try to adhere to historical accuracy as much as possible.
Armed with a vague outline of the Bolt Action reinforced platoon for Romania I started researching the actual history of Romania and their armed forces. For this, I came across what is considered the definitive resource on all things WW2 Romania Third Axis Fourth Ally: Romanian Armed Forces in World War 2 by Mark Axworthy. I found this book to be a gold mine of pictures, charts, graphs, accounts, and overviews of the Romanian army. As the title of the novel states, many do not realize that Romania was the third largest Axis force and fourth largest Allied force in WW2, only coming after Germany and Italy.
Now there is much much more that we will touch on in later articles regarding the operational history of Romania's armed forces, but I now know that I wanted to base my Bolt Action army around the defense of Romania against the Soviets in the Spring/Summer of 1944. This will allow me as well to...much like Romania...to play as the Allies in any events with just a few minor conversions.
With the arrival of my Wife and I's first child any day now, another obstacle is trying to do this army as cheap as possible with any kits and boxes I have laying around the house. The rest of this article will be part guide part how I started the first of my soon to be Glorious Romanian Army.
That one time you took AT grenades and your dice cooperated..
InfantryRomanian infantry like most armies are the backbone of their forces. These men were mainly peasants who were extremely hardy, brave, and prepared to give all to defend their homeland. Unfortunately, they were poorly armed and often very poorly led. There are a few companies located in Europe that produce metal sculpts of Romanians but the cost of nearly 50-60 infantry and the shipping would be more than I am willing to pay at the moment. Armed with a box of Warlord Games plastic Japanese infantry I set about converting them to Romanians. Now as I said with my previous disclaimer, these are not exact matches for a Romanian uniform but in my opinion, they are perfectly acceptable and turned out quite well. Romanian's used the Vz.24 carbine which is a near copy of the German 98k, and the majority of their other small arms were German so using German grenadier weapon sprues solved that problem.
There is one weapon that is unique to Romania and that is the Orita 1941 SMG. Considering each Romanian squad comes with an SMG armed NCO I felt like having some variety besides just German MP40 (In hindsight I can use Soviet SMGs as well). I created the Orita with some guidance from the Conversion Master Jakob Lotz. It is just a plastic MP40 cut down right before the barrel lug and attached to half of a Mauser rifle. Works for me!
My first NCO, armed with the Orita 1941
The ubiquitous Romanian (copied from the Dutch) was the hardest part to locate. I was able to locate some 3d printed helmets on Shapeways that took a little bit of Dremel work. Luckily I was pointed towards Gothic Line Miniatures who I will speak more of in the future but they produce Romanian heads in every variety imaginable. I was able to procure ones in helmets, caps, berets, and fur caps. These arrived safely from Portugal and are very impressive.
German helmets were used by some Romanian units till their switch to the Allied side in August of '44. This LMG gunner is carrying the Zb.30 lmg, it is more closely related to the Bren then the Type 99 which I have used, but at tabletop distance will work.
Standard Romanian riflemen
An idea of how the completed infantry will look
Color GuideUniforms: German Camo Medium Brown
Helmet: Olive Grey
Boots: Flat Brown
Webbing/leather: Saddle Brown
With the Warlord Games plastic Japanese being my Regular infantry, I recalled that I had some Winter Soviet sprues that would be ideal to represent Romania's Elite Mountain Division troops. Once again using Gothic Line Miniatures heads with berets and furcaps, these turned out great and I cannot wait to get them painted up and finished.
A very early wip of my Vet Mountain Troops
Armor Part I:
This is one of the best parts of building a Bolt Action army for myself. I am much more confident painting vehicles then I am infantry. Besides who does not love tanks!? Romania was equipped with about half a dozen different armored vehicles through 1941-1945. The French R35 was in their inventory and fought from Barbarossa against BT7s and T-28s to the Invasion of Romania up against IS2s and ISU assault guns. These were men day in and day out knew how obsolete their tanks were but continued to fight.
Germany supplied Romania with Panzer III-Ns, Panzer IVs of various models, and Stug assault guns. The majority of these were in pitiful condition and were unfit for service with German Panzer Divisions. The first tanks I set about assembling were actually a diecast Pz.38t and Panzer IV F. I purchased these off of eBay some years ago and they had just been collecting dust. They are more a 1/50 scale instead of 1/56 but look perfect next to Warlord Games infantry. The majority of armor that Romania received from Germany were kept in whatever color the Germans had painted them in the factory. Since these were early war vehicles I went with German panzer gray. Using Bryan Cook's "Panzer Grey Painting Guide" I went about turning them into Romanian armor. The Panzer IV switched to the Romanian designation of T-4 and the 38t to T-38.
If I recall correctly they were New Millennium Diecasts
Getting a new coat of primer!
Finished Romanian T-4
Always more work to do!
As much as time allows I will continue to build up this army in the hopes of having it completed for an event I would like to play in that is in August. With work and a newborn baby due any minute, we will see how that turns out. I want to thank all of the guys at Bolt Action Alliance for their constant motivation in progressing through this hobby. Also to Sean Vilmont of Wahoo Warrior fame for his advice on modeling and listing with the Romanians. If you have a Romanian army then I would love to hear from you on how you handled the Axis support option and also how the army plays.
I promise Sir to get this army done!
Part II will go into more detail of Romanian armor and a look at the artillery and anti-tank guns available in their respective list.
As always, may your drinks be cold and your dice hot!
Romania will not be invaded without a fight