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Warhammer 40K: Contemptors – The REALLY Venerable Dreadnoughts

5 Minute Read
Aug 19 2022

Today, we examine a dread relic of war from a forgotten age… the ancient and feared Astartes Contemptor Dreadnoughts.

The Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought is a Space Marine Dreadnought developed prior to the Horus Heresy.

The Contemptor is larger and more powerful than standard Dreadnought patterns. It features systems similar to those used by the automatons of the Adeptus Mechanicus Legio Cybernetica branch. These include Atomantic Shielding field generator technology that would be later implemented into the Storm Shields of Space Marine Terminators.

The Contemptor comes equipped with a twin-linked Heavy Bolter, a Dreadnought Close Combat Weapon with inbuilt Storm Bolter, and Smoke launchers. The Contemptor can replace its standard equipment with a variety of weaponry, including: a Multi-melta, twin-linked Heavy Flamers, Plasma Cannon, heavy Conversion Beamer, or twin-linked Lascannons. The Contemptor can also replace its inbuilt storm bolter with a heavy flamer. The Contemptor can also be upgraded with Extra armor and a Searchlight.

Once the standard pattern of Dreadnought in the Great Crusade-era, the ability to create new Contemptors is now beyond the Adeptus Mechanicus or perhaps a closely guarded secret by certain Tech-Priest factions. Some believe that the design may share systems with the dreaded, near-mythical battle-automata of the Legio Cybernetica. If this is the case, it may explain why so few Contemptors remain in service as of M41. Those few that still remain in service are relics of the Great Crusade, Horus Heresy, and The Scouring. In the 41st Millennium, the Castaferrum Pattern and newly introduced Redemptor Pattern Dreadnought have become the most common.

Contemptor-Cortus Class Dreadnought


First created during the Ullanor Crusade, the Contemptor-Cortus was a variant of the highly successful ‘Prime’ Contemptor pattern. Utilizing many base components, the most sophisticated systems were replaced with robust – if less potent – systems which could be more readily fabricated in the field by the Legiones Astartes. The result was a war machine with its own unique strengths and combat characteristics, but also with a not-undeserved reputation for instability. However as the Horus Heresy broke out, this more easily produced variant of Contemptor Dreadnought was returned to widespread service.

Contemptor-Galatus Class Dreadnought

Similar in aspect to the Contemptor Dreadnoughts of the Legiones Astartes, the Contemptor-Galatus is a markedly superior war machine. The unrivaled skills of the warrior entombed within its sarcophagus notwithstanding, the Contemptor-Galatus is stronger, faster and better armored.

Designed to provide an anchor for a Legio Custodes battleline, the Contemptor-Galatus is armed in a similar fashion to the Custodes themselves – wielding a huge Galatus Warblade with its inbuilt twin-linked infernus incinerator, and equipped with a vastly enlarged version of the Custodes Praesidium shield. Already able to withstand heavy assaults with its armour and refractor field, the Praesidium shield allows the Contemptor-Galatus to stand nigh on impregnable, enduring the enemy onslaught and reaping a murderous toll with its immense power blade.

Contemptor-Achillus Class Dreadnought

The Contemptor Achillus Dreadnought is another model used by the Custodian Guard. In those isolated cases where the body has been all but irrevocably destroyed but the Custodian’s mind remains intact and their will to survive undimmed, internment within the cold and unyielding body of a Dreadnought is the next step. To this purpose, the few Dreadnoughts of the Legio Custodes are as singularly advanced as their other wargear, outfitted with weapons and systems artificer-made by the servants of the Imperial Court. At the time of the outbreak of the Horus Heresy, the most widely employed was the Contemptor-Achillus, a general battle unit which combined phenomenal strength and speed with the echoes of the interned Custodes’ own unmatched martial skill.

The primary weapon of the Contemptor-Achillus was the mighty Dreadspear, a weapon modeled closely on the Custodes Guardian Spear but larger and equipped with a Corve Las-Pulser. It was also equipped with two wrist-mounted storm bolters, incinerators or Adrathic destructors.


Contemptor-Mortis Class Dreadnought


Instead of standard twin-linked heavy bolters, this class armed with two weapons of the same type – Multi-Meltas, twin-linked Autocannons, Kheres pattern Assault Cannon or twin-linked Lascannons.

Osiron Class Dreadnought

The Osiron Class Dreadnought was a type of Contemptor used by the Thousand Sons. These dreadnoughts were created by Magnus himself, and consisted of a mortally wounded psyker Space Marine laced with a psychometric barrier for his brain. This allowed the Dreadnought to perform psychic abilities that was far safer to the user and its allies. As such, these Dreadnoughts were equipped with Force Weapons.

Incaendius Class Dreadnought

The Contemptor-Incaendius Class Dreadnought was a variant of Contemptor used by the Blood Angels Legion. Classified as a “fast attack” Dreadnought, the chassis was equipped with a Incaendius Booster Pack which allowed for the Dreadnought to fall from low orbit or make small jumps despite its bulk. This class of Dreadnought was only built within Mechanicum enclaves located on Baal‘s first moon as per an agreement between the Blood Angels homeworld and the Forge World of Anvillus. Armed with twin Power Claws with built-in Heavy Flamers, the Incaendius served as a shock assault unit of unparalleled ferocity.

Learn more about Dreadnoughts Here



Which of these Contemptors is your favorite?

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