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40K Lore: Know Your Missiles & Rockets of the Grimdark

5 Minute Read
Oct 21 2014

From the crude Ork Rokkit to the sophisticated Tau SMS, death rains down across the Dark Millennium.

via Lexicanum

Portable Missile Launchers

Imperial Missile Launchers

Astartes Missile Launcher (Soundstrike-Pattern)

Astartes Missile Launcher Proteus-Pattern

Missile Launcher

The standard Locke-pattern Imperial missile launcher has a built in targeting device and is fired from the shoulder. It is a single round weapon and cannot be fired on the move. Standard Imperial Guard doctrine is for one man to carry aim and fire the missile launcher, whilst a second man carries the ammunition and re-loads the weapons. A well-drilled fire team can maintain a formidable rate of fire, enough to daunt the bravest of tank commanders. Amongst the Imperial Guard, missile launchers are crew-served weapons, while Space Marines are strong enough to use and reload missile launchers alone.
The ancient Retobi-pattern missile launcher loads from a five-round clip. While it has a faster rate of fire, Retobi-pattern launchers are less precise and much more awkward to handle and fire.

Soundstrike Missile Launcher

The Soundstrike-pattern missile launcher is an alternative to the standard single-tube missile launcher used by Space Marines. The Soundstrike attaches a special missile rack and auto-loader to a backpack power unit. As the Space Marine fires his missiles, the auto-loader’s gripping claw works rapidly to refill the launcher from the back-mounted missile rack. In effect, the Space Marine can fire his choice of missile without interruption until the missile rack is empty.

Cyclone Missile Launcher

The Cyclone Missile Launcher (also known as Terminator Support Missile-Launcher) is a variant specially designed to be fitted to Terminator Armour. Loaded with krak and frag missiles, the Cyclone consists of two cube shaped missile boxes twin-linked by a targeter and sensor array, with the missile and sensor unit fixed on the shoulders of Terminator armour. This allows the Space Marine to use a Storm Bolter andPower Fist with the missile launcher simultaneously. Older designs of the Cyclone missile launcher had the sensor array hand-carried by the Terminator, thus taking away the option of a power fist but making it more accurate.

Armourbane Missile Launcher

The armourbane missile launcher is a launcher unique to the Deathwatch in the Jericho Reach. A squat, wide-barrelled launcher half as tall as a Space Marine, specializing in dealing with heavily-armoured ground units, this launcher is typically loaded with hunter-killer krak missiles and fitted with an array of augurs and special cogitators to guide its missiles to their targets, and is more efficient than a Soundstrike missile launcher. The mounted special augur array combines the benefits of a preysense sight and a red-dot laser sight.

Imperial Munitions Types

Frag, Krak, and Flakk Missiles

  • Frag Missiles are designed to explode on impact with any surface, raking the immediate area with lethal shrapnel. Primarily an anti-infantry weapon, it can be used against light vehicles with some success. Frag missiles are often ineffective against heavy infantry.
  • Krak Missiles are primarily designed as anti-vehicle weapons, but are also very effective against heavy infantry, bunkers and other armored targets. Krak missiles contain a high strength, low blast shaped charge, causing massive damage to anything it hits with minimal collateral damage.
  • Astartes Anti-Plant Missiles are a stronger variant of anti-plant missiles. They release a vicious cocktail of toxins, viral agents, defoliants, and anti-fungal agents on detonation that reduce even the heartiest flora to a foul-smelling muck in minutes. They are typically used to deny cover and to clear landing zones and fortification sites.
  • Concussion Missiles are very effective at breaking up fortifications and are much beloved by the Battle-Brothers of the Imperial Fists garrisoned at Watch Station Erioch.
  • Flakk Missiles are surface-to-air warheads designed to engage enemy air support.
  • Other Types: missiles are extremely versatile and can potentially carry any conceivable type of payload. Examples include Anti-Plant, Virus, Vortex, Smoke, Gas, Tanglefoot, Haywire, Stasis, Plasma and Photon Flash.


An Ork Rokkit Launcha.

Rokkit Launcha

Rokkit Launcha is a very simple weapon often used by Orks against armoured vehicles.


Eldar Missile Launcher.

Eldar Missile Launcher

The Eldar Missile Launcher is the standard missile weapon for Eldar ground forces. Instead of the primitive launching-tubes favoured by the Imperium, they use complex chambered pods designed to contain several types of ammo such as krak and plasma warheads, greatly decreasing the need to reload. While portable, they are most commonly mounted on Grav Platforms and Eldar vehicles.

Reaper Launcher

The Eldar Aspect Warriors known as Dark Reapers carry missile launchers known as Reaper Launchers capable of rapidly firing armoured-piercing missiles.

Tempest Launcher

The Tempest Launcher is a multiple missile launcher that has indirect fire capability. It is fielded by Dark Reaper Exarchs.

Chaos Space Marines Missile Launchers

Chaos Space Marines carry a mix of issued pre-Heresy and modern Imperial missile launchers taken from defeated foes. All Chaos missile launchers operate the same as the Imperial launchers.


Tau ranged weapon technology is more advanced than that of the Imperium. This includes Missile Launcher technology, however the Tau army is organized such that standard troopers do not carry Missile Launchers like other races. Instead the two varieties of missile launchers available to the Tau are carried on Battlesuits.

Missile Pods

Missile Pods are mounted on the XV8 Crisis Battlesuits and come as standard on the XV-81 and the XV-84. Missile pods are medium range, rapid-fire missiles slightly less powerful than Imperial krak missiles. A combination of their size and the Battlesuits they are mounted on, a missile pod can be fired on the move.

Smart Missile System

Smart Missile Systems are the pinnacle of battlesuit missile technology. Medium strength and capable of very rapid fire (twice as fast as missile pods), the Smart Missile System is so high tech it does not require a line of sight to its target. Instead each missile fired contains a sophisticated guidance system allowing it to maneuver around obstacles and terrain and hit and impact upon a target without risk to the firer. Due to its size, the Smart Missile System can only be mounted on the bulky Broadside Battlesuit and cannot be fired on the move (without an additional stabilizing upgrade).

What’s your favorite and most feared Missile system on the tabletop?

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