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The National Revolutionary Army (NRA) ( , sometimes shortened to 國軍 or National Army) was the Military Arm of the Kuomintang (KMT) from 1925 until 1947, as well as the national army of the Republic of Chinamarker during the KMT's period of party rule beginning in 1928. Originally organized with Sovietmarker aid as a means for the KMT to unify China against warlordism, the National Revolutionary Army fought major engagements in the Northern Expedition against the Chinese Beiyang Army warlord, in the Second Sino-Japanese War against the Imperial Japanese Army, and in the Chinese Civil War against the People's Liberation Army. During the Second Sino-Japanese War, the armed forces of the Communist Party of China were nominally incorporated into the National Revolutionary Army (while retaining separate commands), but broke away to form the People's Liberation Army shortly after the end of the war. With the promulgation of the Constitution of the Republic of China in 1947 and the formal end of the KMT party-state, the National Revolutionary Army was renamed the Military of the Republic of China (中華民國國軍), with the bulk of its forces forming the Republic of China Army, which fled to Taiwan in 1949.


The NRA was founded by the Kuomintang in 1925 as the military force destined to unite Chinamarker in the Northern Expedition. Organized with the help of the Comintern and guided under the doctrine of the Three Principles of the People, the distinction among party, state, and army was often blurred. A large number of the Army's officers passed through the Whampoa Military Academymarker, and the first commandant, Chiang Kai-shek, became commander-in-chief of the Army in 1925 before launching the successful Northern Expedition. Aside from Chiang Kai-shek himself, other prominent commanders in the National Revolutionary Army included Du Yuming and Chen Cheng.

For a time, during the Second Sino-Japanese War, Communist forces fought as a nominal part of the National Revolutionary Army, forming the Eighth Route Army and the New Fourth Army units, but this co-operation later fell apart. Throughout the Chinese Civil War, the National Revolutionary Army experienced problems with desertion, with many troops switching sides to fight for the Communists. After the drafting and implementation of the Constitution of the Republic of China in 1947, the National Revolutionary Army was renamed as the Republic of China Armed Forces.


The NRA throughout its lifespan recruited approximately 4,300,000 regulars, in 370 Standard Divisions (正式師), 46 New Divisions (新編師), 12 Cavalry Divisions (騎兵師), eight New Cavalry Divisions (新編騎兵師), 66 Temporary Divisions (暫編師), and 13 Reserve Divisions (預備師), for a grand total of 515 division. However, many divisions were formed from two or more other divisions, and were not active at the same time. Also, New Divisions were created to replace Standard Divisions lost early in the war and were issued the old division's number. Therefore the number of divisions in active service at any given time is much smaller than this. The average NRA division had 5,000–6,000 troops; an average army had 10,000–15,000 troops, the equivalent of a Japanese division. The German-trained divisions were not even on par in terms of manpower with a western or Japanese division, having only 10,000 troops.
The NRA only had small number of armoured vehicles and mechanised troops. At the beginning of the war in 1937 the armour were organized in three Armoured Battalions, equipped with tanks and armoured cars from various countries. After these battalions were mostly destroyed in the Battle of Shanghai and Battle of Nanjing new tanks, armoured cars and trucks from the Soviet Unionmarker and Italymarker made it possible to create the only mechanized division in the army, the 200th Division. This Division eventually ceased to be a mechanized unit after the June 1938 reorganization of Divisions. The armoured and artillery Regiments were placed under direct command of 5th Corps and the 200th Division became a motorized Infantry Division within the same Corps. This Corps fought battles in Guangxi in 1939–1940 and in Burma in 1942 reducing the armored units due to losses and mechanical breakdown of the vehicles.

On paper China had 3.8 million men under arms in 1941. They were organized into 246 "front-line" divisions, with another 70 divisions assigned to rear areas. Perhaps as many as forty Chinese divisions had been equipped with European-manufactured weapons and trained by foreign, particularly German and Soviet, advisers. The rest of the units were under strength and generally untrained. Overall, the Nationalist Army impressed most Western military observers as more reminiscent of a nineteenth- than a twentieth-century army.
Late in the Burma Campaign the NRA Army there had an armoured battalion equipped with Sherman tanks.

The unit organisation of the NRA is as follows: (Note that a unit is not necessarily subordinate to one immediately above it; several army regiments can be found under an army group, for example.)

National Military Council



Major Chinese Arsenals:
  • Arsenal Name..........Province/Region
  • Guangdong Arsenal....Kwangtung......
  • Kung Hsien Arsenal....Honan .........
  • Mukden Arsenal.........Manchuria .....
  • Hangyang Arsenal......Hupei .........
  • Taiyuan Arsenal.........Shansi ........
  • Chengtu Arsenal........Szechwan ......

Chinese weapons were mainly produced for the National Revolutionary Army in the Hanyang, Guangdong and Taiyuan Arsenals.

For regular Chinese divisions their standard rifles were the Hanyang 88 (copy of Gewehr 88) and Chiang Kai-Shek rifle (copy of Mauser Standard Model). However, for most of the German-trained divisions, the standard firearms were German-made 7.92 mm Gewehr 98 and Karabiner 98k. The standard light machine gun was a local copy of the Czech 7.92 mm Brno ZB26. There were also Belgian and French light machine guns. Surprisingly, the NRA did not purchase any Maschinengewehr 34 from Germanymarker, but did produce their own copies of them. On average in these divisions, there was one light machine gun set for each platoon. Heavy machine guns were mainly locally-made Type 24 water-cooled Maxim guns, derived from German blueprints. On average every battalion would get one heavy machine gun (about a third to half of what actual German divisions got during World War II). The standard sidearm was the 7.63 mm Mauser C96 semi-automatic pistol, or full-automatic Mauser M1932/M712 machine pistol. These full-automatic versions were used as substitutes for submachine guns (such as the MP18) and rifles that were in short supply within the Chinese army prior to the end of World War II. During the Second Sino-Japanese War, the NRA also extensively used captured Japanese weapons and equipment as their own were in short supply and/or poor quality.

Some divisions were equipped with 37 mm PaK 35/36 anti-tank guns, and/or mortar from Oerlikon, Madsen, and Solothurnmarker. Each infantry division had 6 Frenchmarker Brandt 81 mm mortars and 6 Solothurnmarker 20 mm autocannons. Some independent brigades and artillery regiments were equipped with Bofors 72 mm L/14, or Krupp 72 mm L/29 mountain guns and there were 24 Rheinmetall 150 mm L/32 sFH 18 howitzers (bought in 1934) and 24 Krupp 150 mm L/30 sFH 18 howitzers (bought in 1936).

Infantry uniforms were basically redesigned Zhongshan suits. Puttees were standard for soldiers and officers alike since the primary mode of movement for NRA troops was by foot. The helmets were the most distinguishing characteristic of these divisions. From the moment German M35 helmets (standard issue for the Wehrmacht until late in the European theatre) rolled off the production lines in 1935, and until 1936, the NRA imported 315,000 of these helmets, each with the Blue Sky with a White Sun emblem of the ROC on the sides. Other helmets include the Adrian helmet, Brodie helmet and later M1 helmet. Other equipment included cloth shoes for soldiers, leather shoes for officers and leather boots for high-ranking officers. Every soldier was issued ammunition, ammunition pouch or harness, a water flask, combat knives, food bag, and a gas mask.


Image:NRA cavalry.jpg|The cavalry of the National Revolutionary Army.Image:Menggukangriyoujidui.jpg|The cavalry of the National Revolutionary Army charging with Dao sword. One of them has what appears to be a pistol.Image:NRA gas mask and Mauser.jpg|An NRA soldier with a gas mask and a Mauser M1932.File:NRA machinegunners.jpg|National Revolutionary Army soldiers manning a Czech ZB vz. 26 Light Machine Gun. Note the Blue-Sky White Sun insignia on the Brodie helmets.

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