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May 29, 2013

Romanian armor - part II (Bucharest to Stalingrad)

First part can be found here.

The war begins

The first part of the article dealt with Romanian armor history up until cca 1939. By that time, the 1935 rearm plan was still being kept and weapons were (despite some problems) flowing to Romania. However, the French doctrine was still practically in effect and very little was going on on the field of tank tactics. That was to change soon.

The Romanians weren't blind. They saw the success of the German panzers during the blitzkrieg in Poland and decided finally they would put more emphasis on armor. The first step was proper education. A specialized tank training center was estabilished near Targovisti and the tanks were to be organized within one big brigade (1st motomechanized brigade - Brigada 1 motomecanizata). Within this brigade, 1st Tank Regiment was formed. It was armed with the 126 R-2 light tanks Romania obtained. 2nd Tank Regiment was also formed and armed with the 75 French and Polish R-35's. It was a step forward, but not a big step enough, as most of the units from these regiments remained stationed with infantry formations and the crews were still only trained to accompany the infantry.

In order to modernize the tactics further (to advance their own goals that is), a German delegation was sent to Romania in October 1940 to teach the Romanians the basics of the blitzkrieg and operations of larger armored units. This however had two catches. First: while initially successful, German ideas never reached the high command and the infantry units (to which the smaller tanks units were attached) themselves, effectively negating whatever the Germans taught the tankers. Second problem was that at that point, the Romanians thought that with these instructors, Romania would also recieve German tanks. That proved to be a false hope (Germans had no interest or spare capacities to arm the Romanian army at that point) and created additional friction between Germans and Romanians. This was also one of the main reasons of later Romanian failures between 1941 and 1943. The initial training with German instructors continued between February and May 1941.

In the meanwhile (on 17.4.1941), the main (and only) Romanian armored force, the 1st motomechanized brigade was renamed to 1st tank division (Divizia 1 blindata). While on paper it was a strong armored unit, it lacked a lot of both combat and support vehicles. In reality, it had only 109 operational R-2 tanks in early June 1941 - Germans considered the division a reinforced regiment and Soviets assessed its effectivity as a brigade. Furthermore, the division was plagued by poor repair skills (very few repairs could be performed in the field, resulting in more "total losses" than usual), poor supply chain, relying heavily on horses and very poor radio connection between units (the radiomen recieved no training whatsoever). Cooperation between various arm branches was also quite bad - infantry and tanks could cooperate actions on platoon levels only and the division as a whole never conducted any training whatsoever. Despite the fact the morale wasn't bad, it was a prelude to disaster.

R-1 tankettes and armored cars were located in the recon units of Romanian cavalry and were spread all over the place (not very effective either). Furthermore, a special FT tank batallion (Batalionul Carelor de Lupta FT) was also formed and equipped with the ancient Renault FT tanks. On paper it had 75 of these, but in reality, only 20 were operational. And such was the state of Romanian armor by the time the Germans pushed Romania into war with Soviet Union.

From Bucharest to Odessa

A lot has been written of the assault on the Soviet Union, so I will focus only on certain aspects of it. Dear readers, who want to read the complete history of Romanian army in Russia can do so in one of many publications, written on this topic. Either way, 1st Division took part in the initial operations.On 3rd of July 1941, Romanian army crossed the river Prut and started pushing towards Mogilev Podolski in Ukraine. First tank vs tank combat happened near Brynzjena - a platoon of R-2 tanks fought 12 Soviet tanks. One R-2 was knocked out, but the Soviets lost 2 T-28 tanks.
While the initial push was successful, the Romanian offensive lost its momentum within days and the assault ground to a halt in series of Soviet counterattacks on Dnestr river. The division was forced to change its direction and went for easier targets instead, capturing Kishinev on 16.7.1941. By that time however, only half of all the division vehicles were operational because of mechanical failures and human errors (for example when advancing, the division had literally no recon units, because the scout motorcyclists drowned their vehicles in mud), the issue was so bad that the division had to be taken out of the orders of battle for 10 days to rearm and repair - even the most routine maintenance proved to be difficult, because Romania lacked mobile repair vehicles and many tanks had to be transported back to Bucharest or to Ploesti for refit.

When the division returned back to operational status in early August, an order came for the Romanians to capture the strategic Russian port of Odessa. Basically, the assault was a disaster. Odessa (unlike Kishinev) was well protected by fortifications and Soviet engineers blew up a few dams and flooded several access directions from which Odessa was vulnerable. Furthermore, Romanian heavy weapons got stuck in mud and so the 15th infantry division and the tank division attacked without any support and without proper recon. What was even worse, radio connection was notoriously bad and the attack was practically uncoordinated. Despite the fact they had a number advantage, Romanian forces were stopped by mere 2 Soviet infantry regiments, one of which was composed of sailors without any infantry training. Within 3 days of fighting, 1st division lost 47 R-2 tanks, before being withdrawn. What was worse: Romanian command decided to attack Odessa from another direction, but a combination of blunders (bad recon, no radio silence, ridiculous splitting of armored forces to platoon levels) caused another disaster - Soviets spotted this "surprising attack" hours in advance, moved their artillery and infantry units to counter it and in the following brutal battle, 1st division assault was practically wiped out. When the smoke cleared, the whole division was left with 20 operational vehicles out of more than a hundred it started with. Several dozen were salvaged and sent for repairs to Romania.

After this debacle, the division forces were reinforced by the R-35 light tanks and attempted a second attack against Odessa, which also failed (due to Soviet reinforcements arriving just in time). By that time, what was left of the division was organized into a special detachement (with 10 tanks left). Attack on Odessa continued and on 17th of September, the remaining Romanian forces, along with German reinforcements assaulted the 2nd defense ring of Odessa near Dalnik. This too was foiled by the Soviets - Soviet marines and paratroopers secretly infiltrated into Romanian rear positions and attacked several repair camps. This caused a panic, which in turn caused the entire assault to stall. Needless to say, Germans were pissed. In the end, Odessa fell because Soviets (despite gaining some time) felt they can't hold on to it anymore and evacuated it. The decimated Romanian forces then simply entered the unprotected city and captured it on 16.10.1941.

All in all, in 1941, the 1st tank regiment (the armored part of the 1st division) lost 26 R-2 tanks completely, 60 were heavily damaged and the rest was damaged lightly. 2nd tank regiment lost 15 R-35's completely and 25 were heavily damaged. All in all however, while tactically the Romanian armored force performance was a complete disaster, one cannot say the individual crews performed badly. Despite the setbacks, the soldiers fought on bravely and with no less skill than their Soviet and German counterparts, their efforts were however marred by the issues mentioned above, specifically by the recon failure, wrong doctrine and terribly supply chain.

Rearm attempt

By the end of October 1941, the 1st tank division was barely functional and was pulled back to Romania for some rest and refit. Naturally, the need for new tanks was greater than ever, therefore the Romanians asked the Škoda company (with German blessing) to supply them with 26 PzKpfw.35(t) (formerly LT-35, largely similiar to R-2's) from Germany reserves (vehicles withdrawn from 1st line). Their repairs however took time and they were ready only in May 1942 (they arrived in Romania in June and July). By that time, Romania (specifically colonel Constantin Ghiulai) led negotiations with Czechoslovakia with the intent to purchase license for the T-23M (the ultimate development of T-21) and TNH tanks to replace the R-1 tankettes, attached to Romanian cavalry formations (those fared especially poorly, by October 1941 all the vehicles assigned to combat units were knocked out, but most were salvaged and repaired in order to see action during the summer 1942 operations). But again, nothing came of it. Eventually, the Romanian armored forces were put back in shape with what little tanks they had left and they moved east again towards the river Don and towards what would prove to be their undoing: Stalingrad.


Stalingrad, the city on river Don, proved to be something the Germans were totally unprepared for. This goes double for the brave, yet poorly equipped and undersupplied Romanian units. The 1st tank division (now re-armed with fresh LT-35's) was transferred to the Stalingrad theater after some training with German troops, conducted near Doneck. On 9.10.1942, it joined the 6th German Army near Chernychevska in order to commence its assault on Stalingrad itself. During the transfer alone, 12 R-2 tanks were lost to defects, a sign of things to come.

Around that time, the Romanians conducted series of firing tests of R-2 tanks versus a captured T-34. The result stunned the axis soldiers: T-34 was practically invulnerable to the 37mm guns, while it could knock out the R-2's on practically any distance. As a result, Romanians asked the Germans for more modern technology. This time, even the Germans agreed that going up against late 1942 T-34's in light tanks from 1937 might not be the best idea ever and promised to provide some spare tanks. Those came in shortly - specifically, 11 Panzer III Ausf.N and 11 Panzer IV Ausf.G tanks. The Panzer III's in Romanian service were referred to as T-3, Panzer IV's (of any type) as T-4. One of each was also transferred to Romania for training. The crews however had little time to adapt to new vehicles, because in mid November the Soviet counteroffensive did hit them hard. The 1st division was by that time operating with German XLVI corps around Perelazovskij and Petrovka, crossing the river Chir. It had 84 operational R-2 tanks, 19 T-3 and T-4 tanks and two captured Soviet vehicles (apparently one T-60 and one BT-7).

The Soviet counteroffensive was meticulously planned and designed to hit the German lines where their defense was weakest - by attacking the Romanian units. The Romanian units on river Don were completely unprepared for the sheer ferocity of the unleashed steel fury. On the first day of the offensive (19.11.1942), the line was broken by the Soviet 5th Army near Serafimovich. The Germans counterattacked, but it was too late - the counterattack itself was ripped in two and the Romanian 1st Division was fighting on its own in chaos, because its command post was overrun by Soviets.

The fighting was brutal. Both sides suffered heavy losses (Romanians claimed 62 enemy tanks while losing 25 the first day alone), after 3 days of fighting, the 1st division had only 19 R-2 tanks and 11 T-3 and T-4 tanks left, most were damaged and many ran out of fuel and had to be towed by other vehicles (luckily, the Romanians reached a supply column and were able to refuel). Even so decimated, the division was tasked on 22.11.1942 to attempt to break the 22nd German tank division out of encirclement, but it was thrown back - the division lost 2 tanks, but also 59 cars. Retreat followed with constant skirmishes with the Soviets - eventually, the 1st division practically ceased to exist. Out of more than 100 tanks and 12000 men it started the battle with, 2 tanks and 944 men were left by 2.12.1942. Practically all the vehicle losses were unsalvageable (they were captured by Soviets).

On 4.12.1942, the remnants of the division were reformed into a special Detachment of colonel Nistor (Detasamentul colonel Nistor), which recieved 4 more tanks and 700 men on short notice, along with some German light armored cars and halftracks. This detachment continued to fight on river Chir, keeping the Soviets from crossing the river, but eventually lost all its tanks in fights with 22nd Guard Motorized Brigade. By that time (January 1943), the devastated Romanians units were once again ordered home. They reached Romania in March 1943. Out of all the tanks the division had, only 40 were salvaged for repairs - mostly those R-2's that were located behind the lines in repair shops or in Romania. Please notice that by that time, in 1943, when the battlefield was swarming with Panzer IV's and T-34's, the Romanians were still fighting on pre-war light tanks. That takes special kind of courage. Practically all R-1 tankettes were lost too, at one point the situation was so bad for the Romanian cavalry that the soldiers started to use captured Soviet lend-lease Stuarts, but only for a short time.

Part 3 will include the end of the war and the Romanian designs such as TACAM TD's, R-35 (transformat) and the Maresal.


- the reason why the new XL spall liner will be changed from large to XL only after it gets removed from a tank and put to your depot is that the XL one will be heavier and under certain circumstances (stock tank for example), by leaving it on the vehicle it could actually overload the suspension (eg. the vehicle weight would be bigger than suspension allowance)
- spall liner will be removed from tanks even if the suspension has enough capacity to allow it
- all the tanks of all the nations have the same shell distribution within the aim circle (SS: well, apart from arties in 0.8.6 that is)
- France has a superheavy tank candidate, China doesn't
- French "monster" tanks á la TOG II will be implemented (SS: Char FCM etc.)
- SerB sees the possibility of tanks with twin-linked D-25T on tier 9 - as for the issue that the pen is too low for such a tier, he states it's possible for such a tank to fire HE, or to fight medium tanks
- additional equipment and consumables? "If there is such a thing planned, I will tell you"
- the MTLS tankette twin-linked 37mm doesn't work with a twin-linked gun mechanism in game, it simply acts as a single gun firing very fast, in the case of autocannons it doesn't matter according to SerB, but two big guns would have to work differently
- the twin-linked guns are just an option at this point, there is no guarantee such tanks will come, the main issue is to develop the recoil mechanism, how the guns will fire (one at a time?) etc.
- the 0.8.6 shell velocity nerf doesn't mean the range will be nerfed too, devs will simply change the gravity acceleration
- crew skills for gold won't come
- tests will show, whether the E-25 will be on tier 7 or 6
- 0.8.6 test will last at least a few weeks
- balance weight of vehicle doesn't depend on its configuration (stock/elite)
- apparently, there are some references to GAZ-74b in the game files. According to SerB, it's a Soviet self-propelled gun (tank destroyer), basically not yet implemented, a predecessor (first version) of SU-85B, its model was not yet implemented
- the tank damage model (client-side physics) will possibly include equipment such as boxes, machineguns or logs getting ripped off by enemy fire from the tank, devs are working on that
- Q: "Will we see realistic simulated environment like destructible bridges?" A: "Yea, how about a 25kg heavy Wii joystick to simulate reloading the IS-2 shells?"
- change of MM weight won't be displayed in official patchnotes
- Caernarvon won't recieve the Centurion 105mm, it would be too OP
- the system for more reward for potential damage will be implemented

Romanian armor - part I (pre-WW2)

SS: please note that I omitted some special characters in the Romanian names. The reason is that on certain systems, they don't display properly. Sorry for that.

Romania, as one of the Axis powers, is often underestimated by people interested in WW2 history. The general feeling is that the Romanian soldiers were not skilled, not motivated and incompetent, their weapons were obsolete and their armor a laughing stock. 
This is not true - at least not to the extent believed on various forums. Generally it can be said that Romanian soldiers were not any less brave or skilled than their counterparts from other nations. While the Romanian armor was quite obsolete indeed by the middle of the war (moreso than that of Hungary for example), one can only admire the courage it took to fight on such vehicles with enemies such as the Soviet T-34, that completely outclassed everthing the Romanians had, apart from several Panzer IV's. Romanian army however suffered a lot from outdated doctrines, terrible troop supply (partially caused by the lack of motor vehicles - a lot of the cargo had to be towed by horses) and low quality of Romanian steel industry

Historical background

After World War I, in which Romania fought on the Allies' side against the Central powers, it was clear to Romanian officers that the tanks are the weapon of the future, because their role in breaking thru the trench nightmare of WW1 battlefields is invaluable. Therefore, in Spring 1919, it was decided to arm the Romanian army with armor, especially with tanks.

Ever since WW1, Romania had 34 armored cars in its posession. They were mostly various types of Soviet origin, built on various suspensions (Austin, Garford, Peugeot, Fiat) and they were very worn from the war. Two companies were made of them in 1919, but there was no unification of equipment whatsoever and combined with their poor shape, their combat effectiveness was very low (and the Romanians knew that).

Therefore, to do things properly, the Romanians basically decided to start from scratch, by founding a new tank combat school. They asked their allies - the French - and the French happily obliged. The school, named "Scoli de Care de asalt" (Assault vehicle school), situated in Giorgiu started to teach new vehicle officers on 21.7.1919 and a week later (1.8.1919), a new Combat vehicle batallion (batalionul de care de lupta) was formed. Along with that, Romania bought 76 FT-17 light tanks from France (45 of which had the 37mm Puteaux gun, the rest was armed with machineguns), assigning them to the bataillion. The batallion itself was divided into 4 companies and fell under artillery command (later in 1922, it was reassigned to the infantry command). While the crews practiced on the vehicles dilligently, the tanks suffered from the intensive training and by 1925 they were quite worn out. By 1930, only 34 tanks and armored cars were still operational, but often in very bad condition.

In general it can be said that the Romanian army was large, but not modern. It was equipped with various foreign weapons of various calibers, making the logistics a nightmare. There were wide quality differences between various units. Plus, what was even worse, the army was very poorly motorized and mechanized and relied on horses for most of the heavy lifting, which was something the Romanian army never got rid of, at least not until WW2 was over.
Vehicle repair and manufacture possibilities were also extremely limited - Romania was an agricultural army, there was no large heavy industry, that could produce tanks on its own. The only vehicle plant in the country was Ford Romania, which was completing automobiles from imported parts. Repairs of acquired vehicles were often made "ad hoc" in small garages, belonging to the Leonida company and to Central army repair workshops. In 1934, after an inspection, Romanian command came to conclusion that Romania is in no state to produce any complicated armored vehicles on its own and in the light of that fact, Romanian armor will never become a dominant force in the army.

Furthermore, cooperation with France had one more nasty side-effect: the French officers and instructors, who taught the Romanian tankers, brought the French doctrine with them. The French tank doctrine of that time basically did put emphasis on infantry combat. According to it, it is the infantry that wins or loses the battles and therefore, the role of the tank is to support infantry, not to act on its own (as the Germans later practiced during the blitzkrieg). Therefore, Romanian tank units were from the start built as infantry support units and the vehicles they employed reflected that fact. And so the Romanian tank forces were broken down to smaller units - and served under infantry and artillery command. Under such circumstances, no tank tactics were developed.

Such was the state of the Romanian armor in 1934 anyway - but things were to change. In 1935, a new ambitious 10-year re-arm program for the army was approved. Financed by the Ploesti oil exports, its main goal was to re-arm the army with unified weapons, better motorisation and mechanisation of infantry and artillery units and also (not as a main goal though) improvement of Romanian armored units. Interestingly enough, the program (unlike those of many other countries) was realistic and its goals were met every year up until like 1940, when the war intervened. It is worth noting that practically all the weapons acquired in this program were either imported or licensed, mostly from Czechoslovakia (in infantry and artillery weapons, 70 percent of everything was of Czechoslovak origin, due to strong ties within the Petite Entente (an alliance between Czechoslovakia, Romania and Yugoslavia, supported heavily by France)).

When it came to armor, Romanian officers visited several companies, including Vickers, Renault, Polish Ursus and ČKD plus Škoda. In the end (for both quality, but also political reasons), Czechoslovak ČKD and Škoda were asked to make an offer for rearming the Romanian tanks with Czechoslovak vehicles on 8.1.1936. On 30.5.1936, vehicles from both companies were approved and on 14.8.1936, preliminary contracts were signed in Prague (under very strict conditions for the Czechoslovak companies). In the end, ČKD recieved a contract for 35 Praga AH-IV tankettes (redesignated R-1 by the Romanians and AH-IV-R by the company) and Škoda recieved a contract for 126 modified light tanks LT-35 (redesignated R-2 by the Romanians and Š-IIa-R by the company).


R-1 was basically a modified AH-IV tankette. Its designation (tankette/light tank) varies, the vehicle itself is kinda borderline (it weighted 3,5 tons). It is armed with a heavy 7,92mm ZB-37 machinegun and a light ZB-30 machinegun of the same caliber. It's a very light vehicle, the armor is only 12mm thick in the front (original AH-IV had 15mm, this was a demand from the Romanians to make the vehicle as light as possible in order to improve its reliability even further). The vehicle was also equipped with a different engine (Praga RHR V6, 60hp, 45km/h on the road, 20km/h offroad) and improved transmission (Praga-Wilson). Some sources claim that the Romanians detuned the engine locally to cca 50hp in order to improve its durability even further. Furthermore, Romanian vehicles generally didn't have commander's copula.
The first vehicles reached Romania in the beginning of 1937 and the whole series was completed by the end of the year. The vehicles arrived in Romania in April 1938, but for various (mostly political) reasons, they were officially transferred to Romanian ownership in August 1938.
By 1939 however, since the French couldn't supply Romania with enough tanks, Romanians returned to Czechoslovakia to strike a deal for license production of the AH-IV. On 22.2.1939, a license agreement was closed for production of 380 AH-IV tanks by the company called Malaxa (see further) under the designation of R-1-a. These vehicles also used the Praga RHR engine (standardized for Romania, because Praga AV and RV trucks, exported to Romania, used it too). In the end however, the R-1-a's didn't get to be license produced, because the Romanians basically changed their minds after seeing the German tankettes perform poorly in Poland. One prototype was made by Czechoslovaks, but it was never sent to Romania, while the Romanians themselves built a prototype (from earlier R-1 spare parts).

These vehicles served in the Romanian army actively until Stalingrad, after which the surviving tanks were returned to Romania for training. The picture shows a typical Romanian olive colour scheme with Romanian tricolor.


R-2 was a development of the famous Czechoslovak LT-35 light tank (Czechoslovak factory designation was Š-IIa-R, but there are more versions of this transcription, as the Czechoslovak designation was basically a huge mess, it was simplified only after 1938, after which several LT-35 variants were renamed to T-11, including this one).
Compared to the original LT-35, R-2's had slightly modified armor and turret shapes, but the armor remained the same. It was armed with the 37mm A-3 gun and propelled with the same 118hp Škoda T-11/0 engine, allowing it to go as fast as 35 km/h. The armor was only cca 25mm thick, with 16mm on the sides.

The R-2 development was in the beginning plagued by problems, caused by two factors. First one was the fact that in the Czechoslovak army, Škoda tended to fix the initially not-so-reliable vehicles "on the move", with many improvements being made over the years (this is why they were considered to be fine by the time the Germans took them over from the disbanded Czechoslovak army). By 1937 however, they still had reliability problems and the prototype didn't perform too well reliability-wise during the trials. Second reason was that several Romanian officers, interested in the program for "prestige reasons", tended to make additional (and sometimes ridiculous) demands, which caused the development to be delayed several times.

In the end, the vehicles manufactured for Romania came in 2 different versions: the common R-2 with homogenous armor and the R-2c with cemented armor (a half of the vehicles belonged to one and the other half to the other version). Visually, they can be distinguished only by different shapes in rear turret and rear hull armor.

Because the Romanians wanted to train on these tanks as soon as possible, Czechoslovakia lent 15 (standard) LT-35 tanks to Romania in May 1937. They served as training and parade vehicles until July 1938, when they returned to Škoda factory for additional refit and R-2 modifications.  In the meanwhile, 3 other vehicles (this time in the R-2 version) were transported to Romania for testing near Suditi on the steppes of Baragan.

However, the in 1938/39, the tanks were supplied only irregularily because of the turbulent political situation. 27 were finished by mid-September 1938, but they were seized during the Czechoslovak mobilization as defense assets (same fate awaited all the tanks intended for export at that time), by mid-October the production of R-2's was renewed, but it was again paused because of the explosive situation on Czechoslovak-Hungarian borders (the transports to Romania went over Hungary). After that it was again renewed (this time over Poland) in December 1938 and the last transport of 32 tanks left Pilsen on 22.2.1939 (this time under completely different political conditions however). As for the vehicles performance in battle... we'll get to that.

Additional armor

Considering the fact that Romania had only very few resources to manufacture armor with, it is no surprise the Romanians went for simple and cheap vehicles (they were generally interested in Czechoslovak heavier designs too, but in the end, refused them because they were too complicated). One of the very few license-produced vehicles in Romania was the Renault UE.

In 1937, Romanians acquired the license for the Renault Chenillette d'Infanterie Type UE (Renault UE) armored artillery tractors (intended to tow the 47mm Schneider AT guns). Some were imported as early as 1931, but the license production itself was started in September 1939 by the company Malaxa in Bucharest. As a result, these vehicles were generally called "Malaxa" by the Romanians (the official designation was Senileta Malaxa Tipul UE - tracked vehicle Malaxa type UE). The production was never self sufficient - Renault itself provided the parts from (later occupied) France. In 1941, the production was stopped, because the Renault company stopped supplying Romania with parts (by that time, 126 were already made by Malaxa). Additional vehicles were however given (or sold) to Romania by the Germans from the captured stock left by the French army.

Another French vehicle in Romanian service was the Renault R-35 infantry tank. At first (in the beginning of 1938), the Romanians wanted to license-complete 200 R-35's from parts supplied by the French, but this plan failed because the French didn't have the capacity to produce parts for Romania by that time (other contracts for Yugoslavia, Poland and Turkey were already closed). In order to appease the Romanians however, French government decided to sell 41 R-35's to Romania from the French army stock - it would be redesigned to Care de Lupta Tip R-35 (combat vehicle type R-35).
This tanks was hated by the Romanians - it was well armored for its time, but very slow and unreliable. It didn't even have a radio set. It was used only for training the crews. Later on, these vehicles were partially modified (by for example removing the original 7,5mm Chatellerault MG and replacing it with the Czechoslovak ZB-30). Suspension was also improved and the roadwheels recieved steel bandages for better survivability.

As mentioned earlier, by 1938/39, Romania still needed more tanks. After the failure of the French to deliver enough of their tanks, Romanian turned back to Czechoslovakia with medium tanks on their mind. ČKD showed the Romanian delegation the new improved AH-IV-S, TNH-S light tank and also the V-8-H, while the Škoda company tried to catch their attention with Š-I-D and Š-I-j light self-propelled guns and with the Š-IIc medium tank. Nothing came of it - the only thing that was somewhat followed was the AH-IV-a deal, mentioned earlier. The main reason was that most of these vehicles were simply too complicated for Romanian industry.

The Romanians were mostly interested in R-2a (improved R-2 with better engine, radio and improved armor) light tank, V-8-H and T-21 medium tanks (T-21 was licensed to Hungary and later fought under the Turán I designation) and in May 1939, these tanks were sent to the test polygon near Suditi, where they passed the Romanian tests with flying colours. However, at this point, Germans intervened. Germans were interested in "divide and conquer" tactics in the Balkans. Basically, they sort of pushed Romania, Hungary and Slovakia against each other. The Romanians ordered 216 T-21 medium tanks from Škoda (seeing as the Hungarians went for them too), they also ordered 395 TNHPS light tanks from ČKD, but the Germans intervened and didn't approve any exports.

Captured tanks

Third way how to improve their armor for the Romanians was the use of various captured armor. Naturally, this by itself was a logistics problem, as captured tanks had little to do with each other and spare parts could be obtained only by cannibalizing other vehicles, but in 1939/1940 the Romanians took whatever they could get their hands on.

The first vehicles they recieved this way would be several Czechoslovak armored cars from the Czechoslovak 7th light tank batallion, that crossed Romanian borders in order to avoid letting the Germans have their tanks after Czechoslovakia became a part of the Reich. These vehicles included one LT-35 and several OA vz.27 and OA vz.30 armored cars.

Romania also gained 34 R-35 tank from Poland, because some Polish units crossed the Romanian borders to escape the Germans and were interned. Their tanks were incorporated into the Romanian army. More captured tanks came from Soviet Union, but that will be in the second part.

I.Pejčoch - Obrněná Technika

Francev, Kliment - Škoda LT vz.35
Francev, Kliment - Československá obrněná vozidla
P.Pilař - Lehké tanky Škoda T-11, T-12 a T-13M