40K Retro: All the Land Raiders

For 30 years the mighty Land Raider has been rolling over the competition. Take a look at it’s history.

The Land Raider

The Land Raider (originally known as Land’s Raider) is a heavy tank and transport used primarily by the Space Marines and Chaos Space Marines, but also by the Adeptus Mechanicus, Inquisition and even especially influential Rogue Traders. It is capable of operating in virtually any kind of planetary environment. Its hull fully isolates its occupants from the environment and provides life support functions, allowing operation on inhospitable and airless planets from complete vacuum to on ocean floor.


The Land Raider has its origins in the Dark Age of Technology, when humankind expanded out of its home system. Its construction method was incorporated into the great STC system, allowing it to be built locally by colonists even if they lacked any great technical knowledge. With the widespread breakdown of human civilization during the Age of Strife, production of the vehicle ceased.

During the Great Crusade the Land Raider STC design was rediscovered, allowing their manufacture. The discoverer is commonly believed to be the Techno-archaeologist Magos Arkhan Land who, at the very birth of the Imperium, is said to have rediscovered the STC designs hidden beneath the surface of Mars. These vehicles were incorporated into the arsenals of the Imperium’s forces, used by both the Space Marine Legions and the Imperial Army. Such was the demand for the Land Raider that an entire Forge World, Anvilus 9, was devoted entirely to Land Raider production, supplying thousands upon thousands of Land Raiders to the Emperor‘s holy forces.

However, at the outset of the Horus Heresy, Anvilus 9 along with other Forge Worlds were seized by the Dark Mechanicum aligned with Horus, while others chose to secede from the Imperium and remain neutral. This would prove to be a terrible blow to the Loyalists as their supply of Land Raiders began to dry up, especially since, in sufficient numbers, Land Raiders can take on and destroy even Titans. With the dark clouds of the rebellion drawing closer to Terra, the Emperor ordered that all Land Raiders still in loyalist service were to be transferred and used exclusively by the Legiones Astartes, who were at the forefront of the fighting. The Emperor was never able to annul the order, and consequently, even after the Heresy, the use of the Land Raider remained exclusive to the Space Marines.


Land Raider Phobos


The Land Raider is armed with a hull-mounted twin-linked heavy bolter and two side sponsons each with twin-linked lascannons. It may also be fitted with a pintle mounted storm bolter. Sponson weapons are controlled through a slaved remote targeting system, and aimed through multi-spectral optic periscopes located around the turret rings. The lascannons are of the Godhammer Kz9.76 design, requiring replacement barrels after 2000 shots.


The Land Raider uses a composite armour created by bonding layers in huge, high-pressure cookers, giving it a level of protection incomparable to most other Imperial vehicles. The first armour layer, in addition to structural supports, is constructed of adamantine. The second is a titanium/plasteel composite used to reinforce strategic locations, such as the assault ramp, front glacis and hatch doors. The next is a thermo-plas fibre mesh to absorb and dissipate high-energy laser weapons, followed by the first of two ceramite layers, designed to ablate against extreme heat and melta weapons. When combined, this armouring makes the Land Raider virtually immune to heavy artillery like Battle Cannons.


Power for the Land Raider is provided for by a Mars pattern adaptable thermic combustor reaction engine, situated in the rear of the vehicle. It is kept cool by a nitro-ammonium cooling system, and protected from malfunction and Daemonic possession by Adeptus Mechanicus manufacturing sigils and purity seals. The engine provides power for all of the Land Raider’s systems and can propel it up to an on-road speed of 55km/h

The first GW plastic Land Raider kit is represented by the Land Raider Proteus. Note the upper row in pre-heresy Imperial Army markings.

Land Raider Proteus

The Proteus was first forged sometime during the Dark Age of Technology, but rediscovered during the Great Crusade. It contains extraordinarily powerful augury systems, allowing it to scan battlefield conditions with extreme precision. Due to this improvement, it has been thought that this tank is the origin of all modern Land Raider designs, intended to explore and conquer new worlds. Its sensor systems make it useful as both a command tank and the leader of an armored spearhead; however, due to the fact that it lacks a forward assault ramp and has a lower troop capacity, as well as being harder to reproduce, makes it a rare sight in the 41st Millennium. Despite this, it is still valued as a rare war relic by the Space Marine Chapters lucky enough to own them.


Note: the Hellfire Land Raider represents the original scratch built model that appeared in the 1987 Rogue Trader book.

Hellfire Land Raider

The Hellfire Land Raider is an early variant of the Land Raider Its standard armament was two sponson-mounted lascannons and a pintle-mounted bolter.  The Hellfire was the first version of the Land Raider in Warhammer 40,000, available to Space Marine, Imperial Guard and Rogue Trader armies. The standard Land Raider was later upgraded to mount a twin-linked lascannon on each sponson and two pintle-mounted heavy bolters.


Land Raider Achilles

According to the Liber Armorum, work on the Achilles was begun as a joint venture between Imperial Fist Techmarines and the Archmagos of Xan-Ebon in response to a pocket xeno-empire that used fearsomely potent energy weapon and was located far to the galactic south. Though their name has since been forgotten to the sands of time, the xenos had nevertheless managed the impressive feat of bogging down an entire Crusade, necessitating the design of the Achilles. However the ancient mysteries used in the Achilles’ final construction prevented any sort of mass production, such that by the Horus Heresy its use had not extended beyond the spearhead units of the Imperial Fists themselves, along with certain gifts delivered to the Dark Angels, Thousand Sons and Salamanders. By the time of the 41st Millenium the Land Raider Achilles exists in small numbers throughout a number of Space Marine Chapters, though fittingly only the Imperial Fists and their successors field them in significant quantities, while outside the Adeptus Astartes it is said only the Ordo Reductor of the Adeptus Mechanicus maintains access to the design. The inability to mass produce the tank means each individual machine has its own idiosyncrasies, while even the rumour of a nearby wrecked or abandoned Achillies is enough to divert an entire Space Marine strike force to reclaim it.

Land Raider Ares

The Land Raider Ares is a Land Raider variant created by the Dark Angels Chapter. It was first used in the Siege of Ares when it was discovered by the Dark Angels that some of their chaotic brethren had taken control of the local forces. The Dark Angels found that their Vindicator siege tanks could not withstand the great cannons of the city and so created a Land Raider that could mount the Vindicator’s Demolisher Cannon.

Land Raider Crusader

The Land Raider Crusader is an assault-based version of the Land Raider used by the Space Marines. It has several modifications to allow it to assist warriors assaulting out of the front hatch. It also has a much greater transport capacity due to the removal of many of the large energy generators needed to power the Lascannons, and special frag charges to fill the air before it with lethal shrapnel and cover the disembarking Marines. The Land Raider Crusader design originated from the Jerulas Crusade in 645.M39 when Artificer Simagus used ancient techno-arcana, recovered from the long-forgotten depths of a captured Hive City, to develop what would become one of the most feared tanks in the Imperium. As tales of the Crusader’s successes spread, many other Chapters began to request information regarding its remodeling. Eventually the Adeptus Mechanicus of Mars officially recognized the Crusader pattern in 763.M39, although by this point it was a mere formality since the design had already spread to hundreds of Chapters.

Land Raider Helios

he Land Raider Helios is a variant of the Space MarinesLand Raider, designed as a stop-gap measure for long range artillery support. The Hyperios variant is used as an air defense vehicle. Since its first introduction, it has been adopted by a number of Chapters, though it still remains an uncommon sight on the battlefield.

In 857.M38, the Red Scorpions were embroiled in the legendary “Siege of Helios“, where they found themselves lacking in sufficient artillery to breach the walls or suppress the defenders in their sector. The Red Scorpions, being an especially insular and independent Chapter, refused to call upon the local Imperial Guard for assistance, and instead the Chapter Master directed his Master of the Forge to produce a solution. In response, they converted all twelve of their Land Raiders into what became known as the “Helios” pattern. The new Land Raider Helios, in combination with the Chapter’s Whirlwinds, proceeded to knock down the offending walls and assaulted the defenders with success.

Later this pattern of Land Raider was borrowed by other Chapters and Land Raiders Helios where deployed when there was armoured artillery support needed. The Helios Land Raiders has proved themselves useful in traversing through the especially dangerous and difficult terrain impassable for less armoured Whirlwinds. Such dangerous war zones include those set within magma seas, fractal crystal forests and carnivorous jungles.

Land Raider Prometheus

The exact origins of the ‘Prometheus’ pattern Land Raider remains a mystery. Some Tech-adepts believe it to be a variant of the ‘Tartarus’ pattern Land Raider, due to the striking similarities between the two. Although no clear evidence has been found to support this claim there is at least one archival report depicts the vehicle, or else one that closely resembling it, that fight on the side of Loyalists during the early period of the Horus Heresy. Others believe that it was the Salamanders which first produced it as they retain more Prometheus models, than any other Chapter(however, the Salamanders deny this claim). In any case, the number of Chapters which do have a Prometheus within their Armouries is unknown. For example, the White Scars only have four of this Land Laiders. There is even version that the origins of ‘Prometheus’ where founded by the Landites – followers of the famous Arkhan Land.

The primary differences between the Prometheus and normal Land Raiders is its armament and equipment. The lascannons normally mounted in the side sponsons are replaced with two twin-linked heavy bolters, with a pintle-mounted storm bolterreplacing the hull-mounted heavy bolters. These changes are necessary to make room for the additional command and control equipment.

Supplementing the Land Raider’s tactical holosphere and squad status displays is a set of gear very similar to that found in a Damocles Command Rhino; though not as extensive, it still allows the Prometheus to coordinate between the battlegroup and allied forces, intercept and decrypt enemy communications, and track their movements with multi-spectral auspex gear. The trade-off comes at the fact that the Prometheus still functions as a front-line combat vehicle, allowing the Space Marine Commander to lead from the front.

Land Raider Redeemer

The Land Raider Redeemer is an assault version of the Land Raider used by the Space Marines. Like the Land Raider Crusader from which it evolved, the Redeemer variant has several modifications which, while decreasing the transport capacity, assist warriors assaulting from within it. Unlike the Crusader, this variant supports assaulting Astartes with a Flamestorm Cannon rather than bolt weapons. The first Land Raider Redeemer was created by the Fire Lords chapter, under the command of Jaric Phoros, on the planet of Grissen. Finding themselves in the midst of a planet-wide civil war, the Space Marines made little progress against the natives. The rebels were so entrenched that even the most devastating orbital bombardments made scant impact on their positions. Since Exterminatus was not an option, Phoros bit back his mounting frustration and directed his Techmarines to construct a weapon that would win the war. Within a month of the first Land Raider modifications, the largest planetary faction was suing for peace and Grissen was part of the Imperium once more. In the wake of the Grissen campaign, Phoros disseminated his new design’s schematics.

Land Raider Terminus Ultra

The Terminus Ultra pattern of the Land Raider is the ultimate Space Marine anti-armour vehicle. It is equipped with three twin linked lascannons and two individual lascannons. The amount of energy these weapons require means the Terminus must forego the ability to carry troops in order to power them. The Terminus pattern is deployed almost exclusively to counter enemy super heavies where its immense firepower can be used to destroy all but the largest and most powerful war engines the Space Marines may encounter, e.g. Titans.

Learn More of Land Raiders 

~What’s your favorite Land Raider?


  • Nesred22 .

    Maybe the next version can incorporate some kind of suspension 😀

  • Karru

    I love my Crusaders. I noticed how effective they were the moment I used Hurricane Bolters on my Storm Raven against Guard. Wiped out an entire Command Squad with just the Bolters.

    I like all the “regular” variants and have found them relatively useful. The only one that I have a hard time justifying to take is the regular Land Raider with the Lascannons. Since they got hit with the nerf bat and reduced to 10 models, instead of 12, I stopped using them. If I take them as an Assault Transport, Redeemer or the Crusader are much better alternatives. If I want Fire Support, I have Predators or the Storm Raven to use.

    • Derek Lee

      Regular LR’s are going to get double the shots from it’s weapons and new rules may let you overload it for a speed penalty. For me, a loss of 1-2″ of speed will be worth putting a librarian and chappy in a 5 man cusodes squad.

    • ieyke

      The Land Raider Phobos has been a 10 man transport pretty much always….. >_>
      What was there, like 1 edition where they got lost and decided it was 12?

      • Karru

        I believe so, in 5th it had 12 model capacity, something I always preferred since as I pointed out, I like to use them alongside Terminators + a Character. It wasn’t possible any more once they reduced it back to 10 models. In 4th edition at least I could take a 4-man Terminator Command Squad for my Commander to accompany him.

        • ieyke

          *shrug* Crusader has always been the best Command tank.

  • Majere613

    Ah, the Terminus Ultra. Proof if it were needed that just because you can do a thing, you shouldn’t necessarily do it.

    • Shinnentai

      Yeah I remember how half-assed it looked when it was released for Apocalypse compared to the Imperial Guard’s Baneblade and the Ork Stompa (and the rest of the races had to make do with Forgeworld…).

      • AircoolUK

        Man, I remember the old Adeptus Titanicus metal Baneblade. That thing weighed a ton 🙂

  • orionburn

    Would love to see the Ares make a comeback.

  • AircoolUK

    New 40K. New Marines. I dug out an old Land Raider Redeemer which had been built, but never painted. Gave it an undercoat yesterday and gonna Crimson Fist it (steady now) today.

    New 40K has certainly boosted my enthusiasm for gaming which has generally been limited to X-Wing/STAW for the last couple of years.

    (oh, btw, anyone know any tips for removing satin varnish from a metal model. I’ve a few old metal dreadnought, but the usual paint removal process didn’t work and I realised it’s because there’s a layer of old GW satin varnish covering it).

    Oh, and that satin varnish if bulletproof… like seriously bulletproof. No wonder there hasn’t been a scratch on it even after decades of abuse.

    • GreyPanthers

      Remove all plastic bits, dunk into acetone overnight. The paint should flow right off when you pull it out and rinse it down. Might have to use an old stiff brush to get all the nooks and crannies. I’ve used this method on about 2k points of sisters. Make sure you wear gloves for this process, that stuff can burn and irritate the skin.

      • memitchell

        Fresh Weasel Urine. I swear by the stuff! Just make sure to wear steel mesh gloves when collecting it.

        OR, screw stripping and paint over the metal Dread, like I did.

      • Keith Wilson

        acetone will melt plastic

    • Severius_Tolluck

      Due to it being plastic there are a few things that may work, like industrial degreasers, or certain brake fluids. (check for the brand that comes in a purple bottle)