Friday, February 27, 2015

Bolt Action: Slovak Army Research

One of the coolest parts of Bolt Action is how many different armies, regiments, countries, etc. took part in the fighting. Britain and France had so many different colonial forces. Germany had many different allies (many of them unwilling). Soviet Russia covered so much land that the variety of forces was huge. Just when you get tired of painting German Fieldgrey or playing with American special rules you can find something new to do!

I've worked on German panzergrenadiers, fallschirmjager, United States Marines, and now I'm working on my Slovak Rapid Division for Bolt Action. I draw my heritage to Slovakia before the war, so this is a pretty personal project for me.

Slovakia doesn't actually have a list in Bolt Action. The Minor Forces book has Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Finland, and Italy, but not Slovakia. Slovakia was a very minor power, so I can understand them being overlooked.

I'll stick to a short 'gamer history' for this article: Czechoslovakia was part of Austro-Hungary prior to WW1. During WW1 they broke off and formed their own independent state. The history of this area is super interesting - there are a dozen different ethnicity and back then (and today) people heavily identified themselves with their ethnicity. Czechs and Slovaks felt they needed to represent themselves so they broke off.

At the very start of possible hostilities Hungary actually started messing around with Czechoslovakia. They wanted part of their land back, Poland wanted land, Germany wanted to annex the Sudetenland, and at that time the Slovaks in Czechoslovakia didn't feel represented at all. The Sudetenland was basically an area of Czechoslovakia that many Germans lived in (remember the ethnicities we talked about) and they identified more as Germans than as Czechoslovakians.

Father Tiso, a Catholic priest and leader of the Slovak political party, met with Hitler and his cronies and Hitler basically pressured him into declaring Slovakia an independent state and then joining with Hitler as their first ally. If they didn't do this, Hitler would let Hungary and Poland invade and then likely clean up with Sudetenland. Their only choice was to become a German puppet.

After Slovakia became their own state the Czech Republic became a government in exile in Britain, as they did not join Germany (and actually fielded a few allied brigades during the war). The first few months were tough because Slovaks had never really been an aristocratic type; they were mostly farmers, although educated, from what I've read. They were not high political leaders or even officers in the military for the most part. Czechs held that distinction almost universally. This led to a tough time when the military hit the eastern front with a lack of leadership.

They did manage to acquire quite a bit of Czech produced war materiel. Light tanks VZ35, 38, and 40s were used on the drive to Rostov. The OA VZ 30 armored car was used in support as well. The Slovak artillery used Skoda vz 14/19 medium artillery as well. The light tanks are all available as models in 1/56 and the vz 14/19 was used by Italians, so it is available from Warlord as well. The VZ30 is not produced in 1/56 that I can find, so I am creating one using another armored car.

The Slovak army participated in the invasion of Poland, albeit very lightly. From there they were shipped to the eastern front to fight the Soviets. They fought heavily with Army Group South on the push to the Caucasus. They moved through Ukrained and in 1942 they helped take Rostov. After Stalingrad fell they were air-lifted out as Army Group South was almost cutoff from the rest of the front. After that they were relegated to security positions, fighting partisans behind German lines.

In late 1944 the Slovak people decided to rise against Germany. The military elements in the country (besides the Hlinka Guard, which were basically SS troopers in Slovakia) engaged in a number of clashes with German forces inside Slovakia. It did not go very well - the Slovaks were put down in a matter of months. This does make a Slovak force able to be both Axis or Allies in Bolt Action.

One of my favorite aspects of Bolt Action is doing the research to learn all about the uniforms, battles, and people who fought. The Slovak army during WW2 is not a very well-researched topic, much of the information that actually is available being in Slovak language. I have acquired two amazing books at a reasonable price that are very thorough; Osprey has published a few books that have a one or two pages on the Slovaks as well. I have also found quite a few internet sources that are great for Slovak army information.

Books - full of uniform, vehicle, order of battle, and engagement information:

Axis Slovakia: Hitler's Slavic Wedge by Mark Axworthy

Germany's First Ally by Charles K Kliment and Bretislav Nakladal

Both books above are what I would consider must-haves. They go through the entire history of Slovak armed forces during WW2 including the uprising. They have vehicle profiles and uniform guidelines as well as tons of photos. These are two of my favorite books I've ever purchased, period.

Panzers 35(t) and 38(t) by Walter J. Spielberger

Germany's Eastern Front Allies by Peter Abbot and Nigel Thomas

This tumblr account has an amazing amount of Slovak photos from WW2.

Axis Slovakia

Check back soon for more information on sourcing and painting models for this force. Thanks for reading!


  1. Hi, Im from Czech, so if you would need some help with references (or translating) feel free to write me at ;)

  2. Looking forward to this!

    Two other good sources for uniform colour plates are Jan Vogeltanz's "Československá armáda 1939-1992" and the Funckens' "Arms and Uniforms: The Second World War" (can't remember which volume though).

    1. Thanks! I have the second but not the first. I'll check it out.

  3. Michael, were you the one who had the Slovaks in the game at Flintcon? I didn't play it, but saw it and was surprised I am not the only one who has started painting up Slovaks! I actually ordered some minis from a guy in the Czech Republic if you have seen those, and they came out great. Intro post on my blog at

    I painted up one squad so far, I need to get some pics. I also picked up Italians to use as command from Perry.

    As for why, for me it's more a case of always looking for something unusual. I don't have a drop of Slovak blood in me, as far as I know!

    1. Hi, sorry about the delay! Yeah I definitely ordered dudes from Emil and they came out great. I'll be posting some pics soon as I've almost finished the army. I used them at FlintCon for sure!

  4. Excellent, I didn't notice those, but I was looking pretty quickly. I did notice your cavalry, though, what did you use to make those?

    I also got in on the Hungarian tanks Kickstarter and hope to use some of the 35(t) tanks as Slovakian.