Today Loremasters we step back 10,000 years to before the Horus Heresy with a detailed look at Mk. I Thunder Armor. The suits that won Terran Unity.
Power Armor Overview
Power armour is fully sealed, isolating the wearer from the outside environment and protecting him from gas weapons and harsh atmospheres. It also commonly includes numerous auxiliary systems such as communicators and auto-senses. The backpack contains the main power plant, environmental system and additional stabilizers. Whilst power armour is most commonly associated with the Adeptus Astartes, the Sisters of Battle and many Inquisitors also use powered armour of one sort or another. Typically however these armours may not contain the same strength-enhancing properties or life-support functions of Space Marine power armour, nor do they provide the same amount of protection. All armour may further be augmented by various artifacts, relics and enhancements such as pauldrons and greaves.
Power armour has been in use since before the Age of the Imperium, from the techno-barbarians of Earth to the original Space Marines created by the Emperor. Over the history of the Imperium, power armour has developed into many different forms. Need, circumstances and recovery of new materials and technology has shaped the armour’s evolution.
Space Marine Power Armour
Space Marine Power Armour is an extraordinarily sophisticated defensive system which combines huge resistance to physical damage with a sensory array and sealed environment which protects its wearer from the ravages of the void and alien atmospheres. Integrated with the armour are networks of electro-motivated fibre bundles which mimic and augment the muscular strength of the wearer. The true genius of the design, however, lies in its close integration with the already superhuman physiology, senses and reflexes of the Space Marine within. Working in concert, armour and Astartes together become a weapon without equal.
Each suit of Space Marine Power Armour is a work of supreme artisanship, and although it may be one of many, each is a unique artifact whose spirit and history is of deep spiritual significance to both the Chapter to which it belongs and the Space Marine who wears it. It can take decades to complete just one of the new Mk VII power armour, so it is often easier to make spare part for an existing suit than it is to make a completely new one.
There are numerous different Marks of Power Armour, most of which date back in terms of design and application many thousands of years ago to the time of the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy. Each has its own lore and genesis in place and time. Even in the 41st Millennium some intact suits from this near-mythical age survive in active service as war-relics of the Space Marines. Countless others have been produced or reacquired since, and different Chapters often have entirely different panoplies they can call upon to armour their forces. It is also far from uncommon for more recently fashioned armour to incorporate slivers or whole components from far older suits as revered connections to the past.
Space Marines go through an arduous process where they receive various implants culminating with the implantation of the Black Carapace, which allows the Marine a direct and instinctual interface with the armour, making it in effect a second skin. The advanced systems of Space Marine power armour also monitor the Marine’s biological functions, feeding the medical information to the Marine.
Thunder Warrior – Mk.I Power Armor
While Space Marine Armour has evolved and changed over the Millennia, key components remain the same.
- Auto-senses: Contained in the helmet, these systems include thought-activated communication arrays and audio filters, targeting reticules and range finders, tactical displays and auspex-links, and a host of other features.
- Photolenses: Protect the Space Marine from light bursts and allow him to see in the infrared and ultraviolet spectrum’s as well as enable vision in low-light conditions.
- Respirator Vox Grill: This thought-activated device amplifies a Marine’s battlecry to deafening volumes and contains a respirator to filter out toxins and draw upon an internal oxygen supply.
- Auto Responsive Shoulder Plates: Shaped to deflect and absorb incoming blows, they usually display heraldry including Chapter, Company, and Squad symbols.
- Chestpiece: Designed to protect armored power cables.
- Backpack Power Unit: This houses the primary power core for the armour, as well as reserve cells and an emergency solar collector.
- Life Signs Monitor: Regulate a suite of life support functions, including an injection system that can regulate painkillers, anti-toxins, and combat stimulants.
- Nutrient Reservoir: A self-replenishing high-energy food store that can sustain a Space Marine’s metabolism. Thus during battle, there is no need for a Space Marine to eat or drink.
- Reinforced Greaves: These incorporate gyroscopic stabilizers and power units that can magnetize the soles of the armour’s boots, allowing Space Marines to walk on metal surfaces in the void of space or zero gravity environments.
Mark I “Thunder Armor”
Mark I plate was developed by the techno-barbarian factions that dominated Terra prior to the Emperor‘s ascendancy. When the Emperor began his conquest of Earth, the “Thunder Warriors“, the proto-Space Marines which formed part of his retinue, were armoured in the same way as the soldiers of the other warlords. A thunderbolt and lightning symbol was displayed on the breastplate of warriors loyal to the Emperor – this was the personal badge of the Emperor in those days, predating the Imperial Aquila which only became the symbol of the Imperium much later. The emblem gives the suit its common name – “Thunder Armour.”
Thunder Armour was not an enclosing suit and offered no life support functions, being unnecessary while the fighting was confined to Terra and the similar environments of Luna and Mars. This early armour was produced on a completely local basis and as such individual suits varied heavily and their exact designs were often a matter of personal taste.
The main part of the armour is the massive powered torso which encloses the chest and arms. Coiled energy cables beneath the armour plating transmit power from the power pack on the back to the arms, greatly increasing physical strength by a factor of between 3 and 4 times. Since fighting on Terra during this period was primarily close-quarters, the strength of a warrior’s chest and arms was of paramount importance. The legs of this armour Mark are typically not power-armoured at all, but are enclosed in tough padded breeches. The best-equipped warriors sometimes wore armoured greaves and armoured boots, and such additional protection was common amongst the Thunder Warriors.
As with all powered armour, the power supply is contained with a notably bulky back-mounted unit, most of which is taken up by cooling systems designed to prevent the entire armour design from overheating.
Although it is very rarely used in the 41st Millennium, some suits of Thunder Armour are maintained for ceremonial purposes.
This ancient style of armour is noticeably noisier than later Marks.
Which mark of power armor is your favorite?