Eastern Front:Romanian Forces
By Mike Bennighof, Ph.D.
December 2014

Romania began the Second World War looking to France as its military mentor. French doctrine informed training, and French equipment (such as it was) armed the troops. Throughout the war, the Romanian army lacked sufficient artillery, communications gear, vehicles of all types, and especially anti-tank weapons.


Infantry formed the backbone of the Armata Romana, and several types make an appearance in Panzer Grenadier: Eastern Front. The Romanian army’s line infantry is equal to the Soviets in fighting power, but not so good as the German. The machine gun platoons have the Czech-made ZB.37 machine gun, a well-made weapon also widely used by the Germans. These units are better than the Red Army’s equivalent, but again, less capable than the Germans.


Specialist infantry include border guards, tough long-service professionals who saw considerable combat in the war’s opening campaign in Bessarabia. Formed into an elite division, they suffered terribly in the assault on Odessa in 1941. There are also mountain troops. Romania’s mountain establishment fielded four divisions of elite troops which fought across southern Ukraine, in the Crimea and in the Caucasus. These pieces get considerable use in the game. They’re as good as German line infantry, but have just a hair less firepower than the German mountain troops shown in our Edelweiss module.


But we know why gamers play Panzer Grenadier: It’s all about the tanks. The backbone of the Romanian armored forces in 1941 is the R2, an export version of the Czech S-IIa used by the Germans as the Pz35t. The Romanian pieces are actually slightly faster than the German ones, as the Romanian machines were returned to the factory just before the war to receive new engines.

Romanian tankers liked their rebuilt machines, now that they engine was less prone to break down, but needed more firepower. Romania coveted another Czech design, the T-22, which they would have named the R3. This tank had a 47 mm gun and better performance all around, but the German occupiers of Czechoslovakia quashed the deal.


Romania also bought tanks from France, and fields the Renault R35. Its low speed made it less useful than the R2 in combat. In 1941 Romania still had a battalion of Renault FT-17 tanks from the First World War in service; as they’d been refurbished only in 1937, no one wanted to scrap them just yet but the generals knew to keep them away from combat.


An army depends on its leadership, though, and here Romania is quite deficient. Romanian tanks must have leaders to operate, like the Soviets but unlike the Germans. Romania’s officer corps showed stolid bravery, but their generally low level of education made it hard to find technically proficient officers. This is reflected in the counter ratings, as Romanian leaders rarely have a combat modifier (the one used to improve the chances to hit enemy units) but have reasonable morale modifiers and personal morale.

Cavalry regiments held the army’s prestige position, and the Romanian cavalry usually receives better morale ratings than their German or Soviet counterparts. Their movement rate is higher than either, thanks to good horses and superb training, but their firepower suffers from inadequate weapons.


Romania’s artillery park is pitiful, by contrast. The Austrian-made 47 mm anti-tank guns are good for 1941, when they’re available. Field artillery is usually a few French-made 75 mm pieces, compared to 105 mm for the Germans. And off-map artillery, the titan of the Panzer Grenadier battlefield, is lightweight when it’s available at all.

Romanian troops are featured in over two dozen scenarios, including attacks, defenses, cavalry charges and tank battles. It’s a wide variety of interesting situations and the yellow peril should provide hundreds of hours of gaming fun all by itself.

Izbanda sau moarte! Order Panzer Grenadier: Eastern Front right now!

Mike Bennighof is president of Avalanche Press and holds a doctorate in history from Emory University. A Fulbright Scholar and award-winning journalist, he has published over 100 books, games and articles on historical subjects. He lives in Birmingham, Alabama with his wife, three children and his dog, Leopold.