This topic is based on @Lew’s own research on the topic Strange headstamps from 1949-1950. The only thing I did was just to complete it with @historian’s and @Liviu’s writings and some of my findings. I hope they’ll be useful from now on. You may find some errors or inconveniences. Feel free to comment anything misleading or wrong.
Note that I do NOT own the cartridges from the pictures, so do not PM me for an actual trade :). They were sent from a friend of mine working in a Romanian military warehouse. The cartridges have been kept for a lot of time in that old depot and in the following period they were going to be destroyed.
Before, during, and after WWI, “PA” (“Pirotehnia Armatei” or “Army Pyrotechny”) was the main Romanian ammunition maker until 1950 (https://www.rumaniamilitary.ro/inca-o-istorie-aproape-nestiuta-2) when its production changed to machinery and spare parts for the industry of construction materials. It was established in 1880 in Bucharest, Ilfov county, Cotroceni district. Many variations can be found regarding the “PA” headstamp such as “PAB”, “PAF”, “PAH”, “PAM”, “PAR”. I’m not going to enter into details regarding those. Also, there was another plant manufacturing ammunition, the “Dumitru Voina” one from Brașov county. Not much is know regarding this one.
During WWII, “Pirotehnia Armatei” Sadu was established in 1939 by a royal decree and from 1945 it was renamed to “Uzina mecanică Sadu” (U.M. Sadu). Not just that, but also “CMC” (Uzinele Metalurgice Copșa Mică și Cugir, the actual Cugir plant) started its infantry cartridges production. The “CMC” headstamps were used for a short period of time up until 1944 when Romania changed sides, joining the Allies in the war. They were manufacturing mostly 9x19 mm Parabellum cartridges for the MP40 (Schmeisser) and Orița sub-machine guns used when Romania was fighting the war alongside Nazi Germany.
Starting with 1944, the Red Army occupied Romania and since that moment, Romania started using soviet-based armament and ammunition. The headstamps we may find dating that period may include different letters or numbers such as G, H, US, 111, 121, 128, 611, 621, 625. This period was the shortest and the most difficult to identify cartridges. In the picture below, four 7.62x54 mmR cartridges are shown. The left one - 269 48 - isn’t a Romanian cartridge, I think… The other three are all the same.
Becoming a member of the Warsaw Pact in 1955, USSR’s Red Army withdraw from Romania and autonomous headstamps started to appear, 21 RPR for Cugir plant and 22 RPR for Sadu plant. Below, I have a photo containing 3 variants of these two headstamps. Yet again for 7.62x54 mmR cartridges: 21 RPR 52 (twice), 22 RPR 52 and 22 RPR 53.
RPR, Republica Populară Română or People’s Republic of Romania in English, changed its name into RSR in 1965, Republica Socialistă România or Socialist Republic of Romania, but the headstamps were NOT changed into something containing “RSR”. In fact, since the “RPR” became obsolete, the new headstamps simply did not contain it anymore. Therefore, 21 was denoting Cugir plant and 22 Sadu and the first year they started doing this was 1966. My proof is a picture with six 7.62x39 inert cartridges with headstamps varying from 1963 to 1968. 1965 was the last year when “RPR” was used and 1966 the first year when it wasn’t used any more. Also, a 14.5x114 mm is shown in one of the pictures.
To compare the two variations of cartridges from Cugir and Sadu, I got two pictures, with the 7.62x54 mmR cartridges mentioned above. In the first one, the two cartridges stab crimped are headsteamped 21 RPR 52 and the other two cartridges are those headstamped 22 RPR 52 and 53 which are crimped by compressing the case’s mouth. In the second picture, the four cartridges using the post-war system are shown. All of these four are crimped the same, by compressing the case’s mouth.
- Nowadays, from what we know, Cugir can be identified with headstamps varying from 310 to 319, while Sadu with headstamps from 321 up to 325. The common rule with the last year’s digit: in Cugir’s case, headstamp’s last digit corresponds to the year’s last digit; in Sadu’s case, 321 corresponds to years ending with either 1 or 6, 322 for 2 or 7, 323 for 3 or 8, 324 for 4 or 9 and 325 for 5 or 0. The major problem here is when this system started to be first applied. It was after the revolution in 1989 or after Romania joined NATO in 2004?