The story of the Hungarian Army’s involvement in World War Two is an intriguing one. Largely unwilling to go to war initially, the Hungarian Honved (soldier) would find himself fighting alongside the Germans in desperate combat on the Eastern Front. While the core of the army was well-trained and equipped, the rapid wartime mobilisation meant that, by necessity, the majority of troops did not receive anywhere near as much training and initially lacked anti-tank weaponry. While many fought bravely none could really be considered ‘crack’ troops. Suffering awful casualties at Stalingrad, and with the Eastern Front beginning to fall back before the Soviet onslaught, the Hungarian government began to seek an armistice with Britain and the USA. Upon discovering this, Germany occupied Hungary, and Hungarian troops continued to fight under German control until the end of the war. Soviet forces eventually captured Budapest after a brutal struggle, and remaining Hungarian forces largely fell back west to surrender to the Americans. For wargamers wanting to represent these soldiers on the Bolt Action battlefield (as well as find out far more about Hungarian participation in the war!), Armies of Italy and the Axis and Fortress Budapest are ideal companions, as will be the upcoming Campaign Case Blue.
On the tabletop, a Hungarian force is an interesting beast. While not boasting the most powerful infantry, they have plenty of useful and characterful units and are more than capable of holding their own in battle. As they were partially equipped from German stocks, and often closely supported by German units, they have the useful Axis Support special rule, allowing them to bring a single German unit (with certain limitations) as part of their army list. Fortress Budapest also vastly expands the number of infantry units available, bringing them closer on par with better-known nations, and a Hungarian army can be played in a number of different ways – I’d personally recommend leveraging some of the more cost-effective options to bring a surprising number of Order Dice without compromising troop quality too much!
As one would expect, the Hungarian range is well-supplied with models for your HQ units, MMG and Medium mortar teams, and artillery (with the ubiquitous Skoda-designed medium howitzer appearing alongside the tried and tested German PaK-36 and -40 in that capacity), and of course there’s the new Warlord Resin Weapons Teams boxed set which provides very useful support in the form of anti-tank rifle, Panzerschreck, and flamethrower units. There’s also the weird and wonderful 44M ‘Mace Thrower’ rocket launcher, which is a weapon unique to Hungarian forces. Found within the pages of Fortress Budapest, it has a really cool (and unusual) salvo-firing mechanic, and with both anti-tank and high explosive rockets on hand, it’s a fun and versatile weapon.
In terms of armour, while the Hungarians can bring various Panzers to the table courtesy of the Axis Support special rule, they’re also well-supplied with locally developed armour… with more on the way! The 41M Turan II is an up-gunned version of the early-war Turan I, mounting a 75mm medium anti-tank gun in an enlarged turret, providing an effective Medium Tank for Hungarian forces looking to steer clear of too much German involvement. The Csaba 39M armoured car is also a fun option for Hungarian players, providing a low-cost Recce vehicle mounting an anti-tank rifle and co-axial MMG. While lacking the raw punch of larger armoured cars, at 85 points for Regular it can be a real nuisance on the tabletop. Similarly low-cost but effective is the 40M Nimrod self-propelled anti-aircraft gun. Mounting a heavy autocannon in the open turret, it’s capable of blasting Veteran infantry and menacing enemy armour with ease – provided you can look after it, as it only has a 7+ Damage Value!
Finally, we come to the infantry. With three boxed sets available… for now… The standard Honvéd miniatures are suitable for a wide range of units. Available both in summer and winter uniforms (the latter featuring the unique padded jackets and trousers issued to Hungarian forces), they are of course perfect for the Regular, Inexperienced, and Light or Mountain Infantry sections found in Armies of Italy and the Axis, as well as the Replacement, Experienced, University Assault Battalion, and Danube Flotilla sections from Fortress Budapest. With the addition of a flamethrower, they also serve well as Assault Pioneers! These figures are doing some heavy lifting, but they’re well up to the task! Also found in Fortress Budapest is the Parachute Assault Section, represented with their own boxed set. Clad in their distinctive camouflage smocks, these tough veterans are deadly in close-quarters fighting, and very difficult to Pin out of the game, courtesy of their Motivated Elite special rule, making them a great lynchpin to anchor your force on.
The keen-eyed may have noticed we’ve made no mention of the splendidly hatted Border Guards or Gendarmerie… we’ll address these when their models are released… We’ll also be taking a more in-depth look at some of the new toys found in the upcoming Case Blue once that book hits the shelves – we don’t want to spoil the surprise! With plenty on the horizon, there’s no better time to conjure up a bit of Magyar spirit and start a Hungarian force of your own!