Tactical Dreadnought Armour

There are few instances where Space Marine power armour is not enough protection for a warrior. But when battle calls for durability and protection over agility, it is to the revered suits of Terminator armour that the Space Marines turn. Massively thick armour plates and powerful servo-muscles drive these defensive shells, and only the best and bravest of a Space Marine chapter may have this ancient, holy battle-harness. This is an in-depth look at the origins and history of Terminators.


Each Terminator bears a badge upon his left shoulder guard that is made from stone and is said to incorporate fragments of the Emperor's armour. At the climax of the Horus Heresy the Emperor personally led an attack upon the Warmaster's batte barge alongside his most trusted warriors. During the fierce fighting, the Emperor came face to face with Horus, who, in the battle that resulted, grievously wounded him. Following Horus' defeat, it is said that the Emperor decreed that his armour be taken off and melted down, and that the pieces be made into badges that all Terminators could wear in recognition of the service performed in the defeat of Horus. However, if this is true, then each suit of Terminator armour must only contain the most minuscule of fragments.

Space Marine power armour has a long and glorious history, hawing its origins in the long-forgotten time before the Emperor's unification of Mankind on Terra. Nothing is now known of this time. but it is speculated that the first suits of powered armour were worn by the techno-barbarians that fought alongside the Emperor as he battled to bring Terra under his rule. Over time, these suits were refined and improved, becoming the earliest incarnations of fully enclosed power armour.

The first suits of Space Marine power armour were developed from this armour and were said to have been worn by the first Space Marines as they fought to unite the planets of the solar system under the Emperor's control. Legend tells that once the Terran system was secure, and the process of rebuilding firmly in hand, the galactic conquest began. Faded techno-arcana of the Adeptus Mechanicus tell that even before the Age of Strife ended, the Emperor started to make provisions for his Great Crusade.

Part of these plans Included the re-equipping of the Space Marine armies with a far more sophisticated fighting suit that historians have dubbed Crusade or Crusader armour. Alongside these developments, the Emperor initiated a program to develop a system o! armour that would provide even greater protection than that offered by power armour for Space Marines on the battlefield.

Ancient Armour

Combining the technology of power armour and exo-armour developed for sealed environment suits used by starship crews forced to work in extremely hazardous environments, the development of Tactical Dreadnought armour was begun in order to provide the best protection possible for the Space Marines.

Exo-armour is constructed from heavy gauge plasteel plating, forming an armoured shell that can withstand even the colossal impact of high-speed orbital micro-debris. It is the only armour suitable for working inside the high-pressure casings of plasma reactor shields, or the extremely corrosive invironments inside the holds of bulk chemical carriers. These same qualities, suitably enhanced, make Tactical Dreadnought armour virtually invulnerable to most weapons.

The development of Terminator armour, as Tactical Dreadnought armour soon became known, was well underway by the time the Horus Heresy erupted, and these heavily armoured suits had become widely available by the time the traitor Warmaster struck.

According to fragmented records of the Adeptus Mechanicus, Terminator armour was originally designed to be the ultimate Space Marine power armour, and was envisioned to replace the older suits. However, as the Horus Heresy sucked the resources from the Imperium, Terminator suits became increasingly rare, for they were exceptionally difficult to create and maintain. In addition, during most battles their bulk became a disadvantage against the lighter power-armoured warriors who easily outmanoeuvred them.

The suits were highly sought after, and they were used to great effect in the countless bloody and short-ranged battles waged in cramped conditions, such as boarding actions in ship-to-ship engagements, hive cities and tunnel fighting, it is in these areas that Terminator armour excels, as it is under these conditions that their bulk and sturdy frame serves nest. Utilising heavy sheets of plasteel and ceramite. Terminator armour contains a full exo-skeleton and a complex arrangement of fibre-bundle muscles that allow a warrior to fight with deadly skill in close quarters, where agility is not of paramount importance.

In the same manner as power armour. Terminator armour contains its own independent power supply and fully enclosed life-support functions, though those incorporated in Terminator armour are more powerful and longer lasting. Various augers and auspex enable the Space Marine to be fully aware of his environment. Both externally and internally and to monitor such things as radiation levels, proximity of biological entities and the life signals of the body. These operate in the same way as the support systems in power armour, although several other devices have been added to improve the protective aspects even further Teleport homers enable the bearers to teleport into the midst of battle with a good degree of accuracy. Meanwhile, threat detectors and motion sensors aid the Space Marine in avoiding enemy weapon emplacements and other situational dangers.


The Dark Angels, though one of the First Founding chapters, differs from the Codex Astartes in a number of ways, most notably in the composition of the First and Second Companies. The First Company of the Dark Angels, known and feared as the Deathwing, is unique in that its veterans never take to the field of battle in power armour, but instead fight in bone-white Terminator armour. Originally the armour was black, but after a single squad of Terminators freed one of the Chapter's major recruiting worlds - the squad's homeworld - from Genestealer infestation it was forever decreed that their armour would be white to honour their valour.

In addition, the suit is fully equipped with a range of auto-senses and targeters, allowing the tracking of targets with the utmost accuracy. Terminators are linked to-each other with pict-display units, allowing the Space Marines to see what their brother warriors see. All suits are capable of this, but to avoid confusion, it is usual for only the Sergeant's armour to broadcast pict-signals.

Veteran Space Marines

A chapter's First Company is known as the Veteran Company and contains its bravest and most heroic battle brothers. Many of these soldiers will have risen to the rank of Veteran Sergeant before being inducted, though less experienced Space Marines are often accepted into its ranks for performing acts of exceptional courage. These Space Marines are mighty heroes whose legendary actions have become part of the chapter's history, and it is every warrior's ambition to become one of their chapter's elite.

The First Company is invariably the most powerful company in the chapter, as many of its warriors are trained to take the field of battle wearing Terminator armour. All Space Marine chapters maintain a number of suits of the revered and rightly feared Terminator armour and these are amongst a chapter's most prized relics.

Suits of Terminator armour are rare and highly sought after, and as such, each chapter carefully maintains the suits that it has. Incredibly ancient, the secrets of much construction have long since been lost and each one is revered by the Space Marines and lovingly maintained by the chapter's Techmarines. The armour is often ancient, many of the older suits having been produced before the Horus Heresy. Although new suits are produced by the Adeptus Mechanicus, the production rate is so slow, and the demand for them so great, that each chapter takes the utmost care of its precious remaining suits. Each suit has a special place of honour within the First Company's Chapel and only warriors of the First Company and selected senior commanders may enter the armoury and don these holy artefacts. It requires rigorous training to be able to fight in Terminator armour and, once trained in its use, a Space Marine will be expected to perform above and beyond his brethren, acting as an example to the rest of the chapter.


Squads of Terminators are most often employed in boarding actions or where the fighting is certain to be close and bloody. Although they can also be equipped with weaponry that allows them to fight at longer ranges, it is brutal assaults that they are primarily designed for.

Terminator armour is designed to carry a variety of weapon fits, but the most common armament is a storm bolter and power fist. This configuration allows a Terminator to engage the enemy at long range while advancing and then to deliver a devastating assault with the deadly energies of a power fist - a weapon capable of tearing through the hull of a battle tank. Many Space Marines opt to carry a chain fist, similar in effect to a power fist, though equipped with a massively powerful chainblade attachment that can carve through the armoured bulkheads of a mighty starship.

Within each squad, one Space Marine is often designated a fire support role. The massive, fibre-bundle muscles and suspensor fields allow a Terminator to carry a much heavier array of weaponry than his power-armoured brethren. Such warriors may carry the dreaded assault cannon to lay down a hail of heavy shells, a heavy flamer when the fighting is certain to be at extreme close quarters and the enemy closely packed, or the Cyclone missile launcher to engage heavily armoured targets at long range.


Elements of the Crux Terminators on the shoulder pad of a Terminator, can be adorned with additional ornamentation in recognition of acts of supreme valour. One such adornment is the Crux Argentum, a shoulder badge of silver and encrusted with gems, that is awarded to Space Marines who perform acts of valour above and beyond the call of duty.

Certain squads of Terminators are also configured specifically for close combat, with no ranged weaponry whatsoever. These squads are most often teleported into battle, where the enemy cannot engage them with long-range firepower before the Terminators attack. The most favoured configuration for these squads is either a pair of lightning claws - multiple, fist-mounted blades sheathed in lethal energy that can cut through armour and flesh with equal ease - or thunder hammer and storm shield. This latter configuration is usually employed when the enemy is likely to employ weaponry that may defeat even the formidable armour of a Terminator. A storm shield contains a small power field generator that can protect a warrior in melee and is proof against even the most lethal close combat weapons. The thunder hammer is a deadly weapon that releases a terrific blast of energy upon impact and those it does not kill, vehicles and the living alike, are rendered incapacitated.


Unlike Space Marines in power armour Terminators are bulky and slow moving. As a result, methods have been developed to allow the squads to reach the enemy in enough strength to prevail. Terminator armour is designed to allow its wearer to utilise the technology of teleportation and through this sometimes treacherous method of transport, Terminators may teleport right into the heart of the enemy battle lines. Although teleportation can be far from accurate, it is often the best way to get Terminators into the thick of the fighting quickly. Teleporiation is a barely understood science and the technology is far from perfected. Many chapters of Space Marines - such as the Space Wolves - have a healthy distrust of such things and refuse to use it. For chapters like this, the more common method of deployment for battle remains the more straightforward Land Raider battle tank. In this way Space Marines in Terminator armour can reach the heart of the battle.

The Land Raider is one of the most, if not the most, powerful tank in the Imperium's arsenal, able to withstand the impact of a battle cannon with little or no effect. These tanks were designed primarily to enable Terminator squads to travel in safety through the very worst warzones. They are equipped with frontal assault ramps that deliver the warriors within straight into the thick of the fighting. In addition, the Land Raider is armed with powerful lascannons and can act as mobile fire support for the Terminators once they have disembarked.

There are several Land Raider variants, but one of the most common is the Land Raider Crusader, a pattern developed by Marine-Artificer Simagus during the Jerulas Crusade of the Black Templars chapter. This crusade involved the besiegement of many heavily fortified bastions of a hive world and enabled the Sword Brethren Terminators of the Black Templars to penetrate the enemy with relative ease. With an increased transport capacity and weaponry designed to inflict maximum casualties amongst nearby infantry, many other chapters quickly adopted this Land Raider pattern.

The Battle For Macragge

A great and terrible day for the Ultramarines came with the battle for their homeworld, when the Tyranid hive fleet, Behemoth, smashed through Ultima Segmentum. The final battle against Behemoth was fought on the surface of Macragge itself, while the Ultramarines fleet battled the massive bio-ships of the Tyranids in orbit. The key to the defence of Macragge was the polar defence fortresses, held by the veterans of the First Company, Titans of the Legio Praetor and the Ultramar Defence Auxifia. Though the invaders paid in blood for every yard gained, the defenders were ultimately pushed back inside the darkened corridors of the fortress.

In defence of their homeworld, the warriors of the First Company displayed heroism the likes of which has rarely been seen since. Dying to a man in the depths of the fortress, the narrow corridors allowed them to excel in battle. Upon the eventual defeat of the Tyranid fleet, the Ultramarines descended to the surface of Macragge and discovered scenes of great carnage at the northern polar defence fortress. The dead of the First Company lay where they had fallen, mounds of Tyranid corpses piled hundreds deep around each warrior. Though the entire company had been killed, they had broken the back of the Tyranid invasion and helped the Ultramarines to ultimately achieve victory.

Such a grievous loss was almost too much to bear and Marneus Calgar, Chapter Master of the Ultramarines, decreed that the Chapter Banner ol the Ultramarines would no longer be unfurled until the First Company was returned to full strength. Only now, 250 years after the defeat of hive fleet Behemoth, has the banner been lifted from its reliquary and been once again borne by one of the legendary Chapter Ancients.

The Defeat Of Angron

The war-torn world of Armageddon has known the tread of invaders many times, most recently in the form of the Ork Warlord, Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka's second invasion. But Ghazghkull was not the first, or even the greatest, threat to Armageddon. Some 500 years before that Ork was even born, the taint of Chaos came to the planet. Trouble had been brewing for some time, with riots and civil unrest spreading throughout the planet's main continental mass. On Armageddon Secundus these revolts were quickly suppressed, but those on Armageddon Prime proved to be more difficult to eradicate. Imperial reinforcements could not easily reach Armageddon due to the presence of the Mid-Calvius CVII Warp storm and as the fighting continued, a vast space hulk appeared in orbit...

With the arrival of this space hulk, the rebels on Armageddon were revealed as cultists of the Ruinous Powers, and to make matters worse, the great space hulk contained the Daemon Primarch Angron. The fallen Primarch of the World Eaters was accompanied by hordes of daemons and frothing Berzerkers, who hurled the warriors of the Imperium back in a tide of bloodletting. As the defenders rallied beyond the Chaeron River, reinforcements arrived in the shape of the Space Wolves chapter of Space Marines, led by the Great Wolf himself, Logan Grimnar. But greater than that, the Chamber Militant of the Ordo Malleus, the Grey Knights, answered the defenders' desperate cry for aid.

The Grey Knights, the fighting arm of the Daemonhunters, attacked while Angron's horde built great monoliths to their diabolical master. Led by Brother-Captain Aurellian, 100 Knights in Terminator armour teleported into the field of battle, fighting their way through the enemy host until they came face-to-face with the fallen Primarch.

Guarded by a dozen of his most favoured Daemon Princes, Angron was nigh unstoppable, but the Grey Knight Terminators attacked without thought for their own safety or survival. Many brave warriors fell in battle, but one-by-one, the daemons accompanying Angron were slain, banished back to the Warp by the faith and power of the Grey Knights. The battle waxed furious on the bloody field of Armageddon, but at last, the Grey Knights defeated Angron and cast his essence back to the Warp. With his defeat, the daemonic horde soon vanished and, without the presence of the Daemonic Primarch the hordes of cultists were soon crushed beneath the might of the Imperial counter-attack.

The aftermath of the First War for Armageddon was, however, to bear witness of some of the most terrible cruelty imaginable as the entire population of the planet was systematically rounded up and placed into forced labour camps. The planet was then repopulated so as to avoid the threat of any lingering taint of Chaos - a heinous act for which Logan Grimnar has never forgiven the Administratum.