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Armour of the Adeptus Astartes
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Old 29 Apr 2006, 20:41   #1 (permalink)
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Default Armour of the Adeptus Astartes

This topic was inspired largely by conversations that took place at the Halton Daemons... and from reading Horus Rising. This is based partly on fluff, partly on my interpretation of fluff, and the 40K Universe's History. However, all Mks and Names listed are both official and correct.

There are eight versions of Power Armour used by the Adeptus Astartes. Some we are all familiar with. Others, you may never have heard of.


Mk I Power Armour: Thunder Armour.

Thunder Armour is extremely primitive, essentially a simplified version of modern Scout Armour. It was used by the Emperor and his forces during the conquest of Terra, worn by the genetically engineered infantry, the proto-Marines if you will.

It is likely the subject pictured is not an Astartes at all, rather a geno-soldier. On the other hand, he may represent one of the Astartes created and equipped prior to the launch of the Crusade. No record of Marines using Thunder Armour in battle.

Mk II Power Armour: Crusade Armour.

As the name suggests, Crusade Armour was built for the Great Crusade. It is the first true Power Armour, incorporating many of the elements now taken as standard (though often more primitive versions). Crusade Armour was purpose-built for the Astartes, though it was clear that, as the Crusade pressed on, even this was not always enough to defend the Astartes against the horrors of the galaxy.

Mk III Power Armour: Iron Armour.

Sometimes called "Siege Armour", due to the predisposition of the Iron Warriors and Imperial Fists to use it.

Iron Armour is, in many ways, primitive Tactical Dreadnought Armour. It is built for sheer protection, though at a cost of agility and speed. These traits are the reason it became so favoured by the Siege-Experts of the Crusade; agility is not needed in a trench war.

A few suits of Iron Armour still exist in service, though they have undergone significant alterations, specifically in regards to replacing and upgrading the ferro-fibrus sinew and joint-aculators.

Mk IV Power Armour: Maximus Armour.

Maximus Armour is the most widely-implimented Mk prior to the Heresy. Improvements over Crusade armour is significant, including improvements to power-flow circuitry, auto-reaction interlinks and life-support. Many Chapters, most noticeably the Red Scorpions, still make large use of Maximus Armour.

Mk V Power Armour: Heresy Armour.

So called because of the Horus Heresy, Mk V Power Armour was just entering service when the Great Betrayal occured. Whilst both sides used Heresy Armour, it was the Traitor Legions who favoured it most. No specific reason for this is known, but it is believed that most of the Forgeworlds producing Heresy Armour sided with the Traitors. As such, the Loyalists retained the use of Maximus Armour until the Corvus became standard issue.

Those Loyalists who did retain suits of Heresy Armour replaced them almost exclusively. Its exact specifications are unknown, though some Chapters claimed that the Mk is cursed, and that the mark of Chaos rests upon the variant.

Mk VI Power Armour: Corvus Armour.

Following the Horus Heresy, Corvus Armour entered service as the mainstay Armour.

Whilst some reports seem to indicate the Mk VI was used Pre-Heresy, there is some doubt and confusion as to confirming this. It is known the Ultramarines possessed enough Corvus Armour just prior to the Heresy to equip a single Company, if not more, and so it is probable Corvus was still being battlefield tested. As it bears many similarities to Heresy Armour, it is also possible that scholars have simply confused the two Mks.

The Corvus Armour was used for many centuries prior to the Heresy, and it has left its mark on the Imperial Annals. Orks still refer to the Astartes as "Beeky Boyz".

Mk VII Power Armour: Eagle Armour.

The Marines above, with the exception of the Sergeant, are equipped with Eagle Armour.

Eagle Armour entered use some time around the Age of Apostacy, though it may have been deployed before that. There are some sources which claim that the Mk VII was used during the Horus Heresy by the Dark Angels Legion. However, this is as of yet unconfirmed. Other sources claim that Eagle Armour was built solely for the Emperor's Children Legion. However, historical vid-archives lean towards the Legion using modified Heresy Armour.

One of the key features of Eagle Armour is the improved protective elements. Though the benefits are minor compared to Corvus Armour, Eagle Armour easily outstrips the Mk IV and earlier models.

It is widely believed, though again unconfirmed, that Eagle Armour was the first Armour to incorporate the Ablative Ceramite layering. It is also the only Armour, save Mk VIII, where the Imperial Eagle is included as standard on most units. Research within Chapters indicate that many of the suits without the chest-Eagle are truly ancient, amongst the first examples of such armour.

Mk VIII Power Armour: Errant Armour.

The Sergeant of the Squad is pictured in Errant Armour. This is a modification of Eagle Armour, incorporating a larger neck-guard. Another common feature is a superior vox-system, and refined syntho-ligament aculation.

All Chapters retain suits of Errant Armour. They are marvels of personal defence, and only Artificer Armour can rival the defence it gives.


Also known as “Terminator Armour”, Tactical Dreadnought Armour is the ultimate protection Mankind can offer its warriors. Composed of alternating layers of Armourplas and Ceramite, Tactical Dreadnought Armour turns an already super-human Astartes into an unstoppable warrior. The name “Terminator” no doubt comes from the Adeptus Mechanicus Terminus Environmental: Radioactive Matter IN Activity, Tactical Operations Rig. These TERMINATOR suits were built to operate in the most hostile environments, such as inside a plasma reactors shield-casing, or the holds of chemical bulk-carriers.

Terminator Armour is a refinement of these suits.

Variant ‘A’: Mk I Tactical Dreadnought Armour: TERMINATOR.

TERMINATORs such as those pictured above are simply retrofitted Adeptus Mechancius rigs. Fitted with additional armour plating, auspex and targetters, the TERMINATOR was equipped with a Twin-Bolter and a Power Glove. It is presumed to have entered service shortly after Crusade Armour, though was never widely used. Indeed, no records of any Legion fielding the suits exist. However, combat records indicate the suit disregarded as “unable to perform its designated role”. The standing theory is that the Legions who used it were the “Missing Legions” created by the Emperor, and the legacy of the TERMINATOR died with them. No TERMINATORs exist today.

Variant ‘B’: Mk II Tactical Dreadnought Armour.

The first “true” Terminator Armour, the Mk II was purpose-built, incorporating many prototype elements. Included amongst these were ablative armour plating (a feature that would later appear in Power Armour) and a micro-grenade launcher built onto the top of the suit. It is from this design the Cyclone was born.

The weapon systems, though refined, changed little from the Mk I. Only the Ultramarines ever made use of the Mk II, and it was due to their isolated location during the Heresy that they were the last legion to be equipped with the superior Mk III.

A few examples of Mk II Tactical Dreadnought Armour have survived the millennia, but they no longer see service. They are relics of a former time, unfit for modern warfare.

Variant ‘C’: Mk III Tactical Dreadnought Armour: Terminator Armour.

Terminator Armour as we know it today, the Mk III suit was widely regarded as the first “proper” Tactical Dreadnought Armour, its predecessors more akin to prototypes.

The main innovations of Terminator Armour were the refinement, if not perfection, of the suspensor-targetter interlinks. This allowed the user to bring to bear the heaviest weapons with ease, something the earlier models could not. The Power Fist was perfected and included, making them brutally deadly in close-combat, and the Combi-Bolter became standard ranged armament.

Terminator Armour, thanks to the inclusion of adamantium-based compounds, now truly could grant the user near-invincibility. Mk III Terminator Armour could (and indeed, still can) sustain direct hits from anti-tank weaponry and continue to function at 90% efficiency. Even the pressure of a Warhound Titan standing upon the suit is not enough to destroy it… though it will suffer significant damage!

Prior to and during the Heresy, many refinements to weaponry occurred. Specialist armaments, purpose-built for the Terminators, began to appear. Amongst them were Combi-Flamers, Combi-Meltas, Chainfists, Lightning Claws, Heavy-Flamers and the Reaper Autocannon. Towards the end of the Heresy, Loyalist forces also began to employ the Cyclone Missile Launcher. No record of Traitor forces employing this weapon exist.

Mk IV Terminator Armour.

Following the Heresy, Terminator Armour underwent further modification by the Loyalists. Both sides had used Terminators to deadly effect, and many feared further division. To ensure against it, all suits of Terminator Armour were provided with a tiny shard of the Emperor’s Armour, forged into their Crux Terminatus, to ensure purity.

Mk IV continued to build upon the Mk III. The Storm Bolter was finally developed and included as part of the standard Terminator armament, and the Imperium further modified the Reaper Autocannon, emphasising rate of fire over power, giving birth to the Assault Cannon.

Unfortunately, Mk IV Terminator Armour led a somewhat cursed existence. Assault Cannons and Storm Bolters both proved prone to jamming, despite attempts to correct the problem.

The final solution emerged when Tech-Adepts uncovered an ancient STC, believed lost at the outbreak of the Heresy. This STC contained the original Mk III templates, and design schematics for further refinement. This was the true future of Tactical Dreadnought Armour, compared to which the Mk IV was little better than a bastardised attempt at progress. However, even with this discovery, Mk IV had become part of almost every Chapter in the Imperium. As such, the tech-adepts resigned themselves to attempting to retro-fit existing suits.

During the deployment and use of the Mk IV Terminator, designs for the Thunder Hammer were born (supposedly from the Salamanders Chapter), and these weapons became part of the ever-growing Terminator Armoury.

Mk V Terminator Armour.

The perfection of Tactical Dreadnought Armour, Mk V is the finest personal defence in the galaxy. Problems with weapon-malfunctions were solved, and the internal systems of the suits were greatly improved. Perhaps the biggest improvement was the discovery of a “Auto-Locator” interface, which allowed the Terminator Suit to “lock on” to a location prior to teleportation, thus increasing the accuracy of such an endeavour.

Mk V is slowly becoming standard across all Chapters. Fortunately, the alterations from Mk IV are possible (and often the only way to achieve Mk V status). Few Forgeworlds are able to produce Terminator Armour at all, and even those that can do so in minute numbers. However, all suits currently produced are Mk V Terminator Armour.

Mk VI Terminator Armour.

Image of a Mk VI Terminator Armour suit taken from a crippled STC data-bank. Hypothetical unit only. No known suits exist. No Mk VI suits ever constructed. No means to do so exist.
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Old 29 Apr 2006, 21:07   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Armour of the Adeptus Astartes

Wow! Nice work!
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Old 29 Apr 2006, 21:16   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Armour of the Adeptus Astartes

Very nice and informintive. Good Job.

One thing i would like would be bigger pictures.
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Old 29 Apr 2006, 21:22   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Armour of the Adeptus Astartes

There is a diagram containing each of the different types of armor on the inside cover of the How to Paint Space Marines guide. The pictures are more detailed than the ones seen here, but the fluff for them is not provided.
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Old 29 Apr 2006, 22:03   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Armour of the Adeptus Astartes

i read something really close to this somewhere........
can't remember.
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Old 29 Apr 2006, 22:42   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Armour of the Adeptus Astartes

Great article Wargamer!
I really learned a lot about the different types of power armor! I didn't know there were so many versions!
I never knew there was history about the "beakie" helmets.

Good job man
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Old 30 Apr 2006, 01:06   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Armour of the Adeptus Astartes

Very nice... but where does artificer armor fit in on this and has the Termie suit ever evolved?
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Old 30 Apr 2006, 01:09   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Armour of the Adeptus Astartes

Artificer armor is just very well made (if Im getting my fluff right) and can probably be any type listed above, though probably just the later types as those are what are still in great use. Tactical dread armor also probably fits into a different catagory of development and so doesnt make an appearance in wargamers list. Would be nice to see how that evolved though.

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Old 30 Apr 2006, 03:54   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Armour of the Adeptus Astartes

Terminator armour is based on Dreads, not Marines, so it's diffrent.
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Old 30 Apr 2006, 12:10   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Armour of the Adeptus Astartes

Terminators added.
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