By Jack Green
The Vz24 is a Czechoslovakian Bolt action rifle based loosely off of the German Gewehr 98 Mauser rifle, it features a similiar bolt design and look to its German counterpart bar a few small differences. After the dismantling of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918 one of the new states to emerge was Czechoslovakia, the new state received control of the Skoda Factory in Brno. The Factory was renamed to the “Brno Arms Works” in November of 1918 and the following year started producing short rifles based on the Gewehr 98. In 1923, Brno started to develop a rifle based on the German Karabiner 98AZ, a shortened version of the Gewehr 98 with a 23.23 inch barrel, This resulted in the Vz23. The Vz23 had a 21.5 inch barrel and was built using cannibalised parts from other rifles, this led to the development of the Vz 23A which consisted of newly manufactured components. Further refinements led to the Vz 24 which would enter production in 1924 becoming the standard issue rifle of the Czechoslovakian Army. It was also in 1924 that the Brno Arms Works would become privatised to encourage export sales. Nations such as; Romania, China and even Iran purchased the rifles in varying amounts during the interwar period.
In the late 1920’s and early 1930’s, the Romanian army chose to adopt the Vz24 rifle. By the time Romania had entered World War 2 in 1941, the Military had not acquired enough Rifles to fully arm all of its Troops. The first orders for the Vz24 had been placed in 1938 following the German invasion of Czechoslovakia. By 1943 Romania had received around 445,640 Vz24’s although these numbers are disputed. Production of the Vz 24 ceased in 1942 due to the Germans prioritising the production of the K98 from the Czech Factories, sources claim that Romania received between 450,000 – 750,000 Vz24’s by the end of its production. Romania was a part of the Axis for a greater majority of World War 2 and saw action entirely on the eastern front against the Soviet Union, in August of 1944 this would change when the now King Michael I of Romania led a successful coup against the Facist leader and the Axis as a whole. From that point on the Soviet push from the East gained greater momentum, Romania would help the Soviets push through Hungary and Czechslovakia helping pave the way to Germany.
Romanian Contract Vz 24 Rifles: Romanian Contract Vz Rifles have a two letter prefix at the start of the serial number, the first letter is Variable and the second being an “R”to designate “Romania”. Each intial letter designates a manufacturing block of 25,000 rifles but not all letters in the alphabet were used. for example:
Letter prefixes used: A B C D E F G H L O P R S T U W X Y
Letter prefixes not reported: I J K M N Q Z
Two Members of the 39th own Romanian contract Vz 24 Rifles which can be seen pictured, two noticable differences between the rifles are the Batch Blocks and the Markings. The first example is batch RR rifle No. 3843 with a 1940 date mark, this rifle is one of roughly 75,000 produced with the 1940 date mark. The 3 batches OR, PR and RR are reported to be the only batches with the 1940 date mark which is speculated to be around the time that King Carol was overthrown in September 1940. The second example is Batch SR rifle No. 1116 which happens to be the batch after the first example, You can see that the second example does not have a Date stamp on the upper part of the Receiver along with the Name of the Factory on the left side being Shorter due to the Company changing its name around this time.
Sources: Wikipedia- Vz. 24
World War Two Database- ZB vz. 24 Rifle
Pictures: Provided by Members of the 39th Infantry Regiment