40K Retro: 30 Years of Land Speeders


Take a look back at one of the most venerable units in Warhammer 40,000 – the Land Speeder.

We are starting with today’s Land Speeders and rolling the clock back with each earlier version.

Land Speeder Basics

Land Speeders are light anti-gravity vehicles, serving as the primary reconnaissance, scouting, resupply and fast attack vehicles of the Imperial Space Marine Chapters.


Land Speeders are based on STC data recovered in M31 by the famous Techno-archaeologist Arkhan Land, and afterwards became widely produced and used throughout the Imperium. Land Speeders were also originally used by the Imperial Guard, but since then the plasma and anti-gravity technologies required to produce them have become increasingly rare and hard to maintain. Only extremely resource rich planets like Ryza or organisations such as the Space Marines can afford to create them. There are 50 plus Land Speeders in a typical Chapter.


The anti-gravitic plates which give the Land Speeder its ability to fly remains a mystery restricted mostly to the Tech-Magos of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Placed around the nose and cockpit of the vehicle they create an inverse gravity field which, in combination with afterburning ramjets, allows it to climb to a height of one hundred meters but the official doctrine dictated that Land Speeders should use the ground as cover and don’t climb up to high height. Though its anti-gravitic plates won’t function at higher altitudes, they can be used to perform a control descent at these heights, allowing their deployment from an overflying Thunderhawk for rapid assaults.

The Land Speeder is lightly armoured – indeed the power armour of its Space Marine crew provides them with more protection – instead relying on its speed and maneuverability to avoid enemy fire. Its primary armament is a Heavy Bolter, although this is replaced in some Land Speeders with a Multi-Melta for anti-armour firepower.

The Current Version

Land Speeders are everywhere! These days it seems everyone has a version of the old classic.


The classic- littering battlefields across the galaxy with wreckage from failed jink saves.landspeederstorm

Scouts get in on the action – meet the short-bus version of the Land Speeder – the Storm!


Forge World’s Tempest (invented by the White Scars) adds the armor.

Pimp My Ride: Unforgiven Edition


Heretical Aside

Now a quick stop at the “new-ancient” Javelin Speeder from the Horus Heresy.  It is a Forge World 30K beauty that harkens back to the original inspiration for the entire Land Speeder concept (see below).



Welcome to the 90s!

Rogue Trader was behind us and GW wanted to refresh the antiquated speeder with something a bit more modern and enclosed.  I personally think this is the most fitting of the models combining a compact frame, decent armor protection, and a slabsided yet powerful looking vehicle. this model looks like it can move when it needs to.


Kicking butt during the Heresy

blood-angel-land-speeder landspeeder-2nded-squad

Tell the Mechanicus thank you for the front armor!

Rogue Trader

Welcome to the 80s! Here we see the original metal mini for the Land Speeder which came in both Marine and Imperial Army versions.  The Army’s days of accessing Speeders were numbered.  The miniature was extremely small as were most of GW’s early metal vehicles and seemed more like a deathtrap than a viable fighting platform.

landspeeder-rogue-trader landspeeder-rt1

Make sure your seatbelts are fastened and your chair is in the upright position.


Not just for Marines (tick tock)


Trust me, the parts and the fit and finish weren’t this crisp.


Who still throws these babies on the tabletop?


The Primogenitor

We complete our journey with the origin of the concept – the Deodorant Speeder featured in White Dwarf, during Rogue Trader’s very early days, back in 1987. This was back in the era of pure creativity for GW as they pushed out into the earliest incarnation of the Grimdark, with crazed ideas, enthusiasm and not much else.  You can see that 30 years on, Forge World’s Javelin (above), is an homage to the great-granddaddy of the entire concept.



~Which is your favorite model?

  • JayBiga

    I do enjoy these trips down memory lane, as I’ve playing since the early days of Rogue Trader. There is an error in the article though. The deo stick grav tank wasn’t in the Rogue Trader book, it was in the Compendium and before that in a White Dwarf article. I think the original Land Speeder was in the Rogue Trader book, but since I’m away from home at the moment, I can’t confirm.
    Also, the Javelin isn’t a throwback to the deo stick tank either, it’s an hommage to the “second edition” Speeder, to which it bears much more resemblance than the deo stick tank.

    Still, I enjoyed the article. Even if it brought back many feelings of frustration at having to constantly re-glue those old speeders, as the engine pods and riders had a tendency to break off.

    And yes, I am old.

    • euansmith

      Colour me with GW’s new Technical Paint, “Impressed”.

      I’m one of those folks, a Rogue Trader vetran who was convinced the Deodertank was in the big book.

      I thought it was in the section on making your own terrain and stuff; but, nope!

      A quick look through the book reveals the IG Skimmer illustration on p112, but no home made tank.

    • Hedwerx

      Can confirm it’s in the Compendium. Along with the Zoids crawler and the *not Aliens* dropship.

    • Thanks JayBiga, we fixed it.

  • Ross Allan

    I feel the new Custodes Tank (gorgeous kit. Would recommend, 10/10, £85/£85. Yes, I’ve got one. No, you can’t have it) is the more obvious homage to the Stinky Speeder from Rogue Trader.
    Also, I think BoLS may have missed that Rogue Trader is back….and will be available from Warhammer World as of next week. It’s a reprint based on scans of the original – so quite what the quality would be I don’t know – and likely won’t know until June when I’m next planning to head to Nottinghams.

    • Deacon Ix

      Toying with the idea of getting the ‘Hi res Scan’ on the 2nd

      • Ross Allan

        If you’re going, it’s probably worth it. Sadly, binding in the olden days wasn’t great, so finding an original in a condition where reading it won’t cause all the pages to fall out is damned difficult.
        It may not be original, but should be much better suited to casual reading and enjoyment.

        • euansmith

          The pages are still in place in mine; but I have managed to rip out the top of the spin getting it out of overcrowded books shelves of the decades.

          I still find it quite amazing going through it and just looking at all the crazy options (pages and pages of grenades alone), and the mission and subplot generation tables.

        • Deacon Ix

          I started at the beginning of 2nd so there where a lot of hangovers from RT, would be nice for nostalgia to get a copy.

        • Severius_Tolluck

          I dunno I replaced mine from amazon for dirt cheap and its practically mint. I don’t think the seller knew what they had! It was such a great book!

    • Chet Atkinson

      Just popped to Fw site – that looks awesome! Agree with you about the homage bit

  • Deacon Ix

    The 2nd Ed (the 90s in your write up) is still IMO the best, I can’t get over the ‘shoe’ form of the modern one.

    Also slightly bitter that as I have always played CSM I have never got one.

    • vlad78

      Can’t agree more.

  • DaveWeston

    Arkhan Land having discovered it became known as ‘Land’s Speeder’ as did Land’s Raider but over time the ‘s was dropped to the Land Speeder and Land Raider we know them as today.

    I think I’m right in thinking the first BW image is a Gary Harrod pic, my favourite Illustrator from that time. 🙂

  • euansmith

    Those Space Marine Pilot Helmets on the old metal landspeeder are really cool.

  • Luca Lacchini

    I have a few of the old metal kits, both the 2nd ed and an IG Rogue Trader era one.
    The amount of mandatory filing, sanding and green stuff filling was astounding. And the so much need pinning too, unless you drowned the kits in superglue.

    I recently converted the IG speeder as a forward observer for the artillery detachment (40K version of a OH-58 Kiowa), with a couple hunter seeker missiles and the forward heavy bolter.
    The little fella brings a helluva character to the field.

  • Hedwerx

    Never owned one of these, I think by the time I had a big enough force to warrant one I already had a couple of squadrons of bikes with sidecar.

  • Rainthezangoose

    My only desire for a landspeeder is a storm with six seats, and the ability to take a captain with scout Armour. I think the idea of running entirely “lightly” armored space marines in fast skimmers with all round Armour 10 doing a pseudo dark eldar would be great fun on the table top.

  • OldHat

    Oddly enough, the original design, to me, is most logical. These guys are in power armor (well, not those poor Guardsman!) and this is mostly to give them speed, not protection (which their armor already affords).

    Great article. Hope we see more like it.

  • krisbrowne42

    IMHO – The Javelin speeder is one of the prettiest models GW or FW makes…

    • Stormxlr

      so true, its just so… I dont know… representative of the golden age of Imperium.

  • Zev Goldstein

    I had 2 IG LandSpeeders off of Ebay, they were pretty awesome but I never got around to painting them up before I sold my army, and couldn’t figure out a use for them on the tabletop. Would love to see some painted ones if anyone has any pics