- "Heroes of Armageddon! You have withstood the evil savagery of the Orks, and they have left nothing for you to fear. So raise high the black banners of vengeance—now is our time."
The Armageddon Steel Legions are the regiments of the Imperial Guard that fight as mechanised infantry alongside Chimera armoured personnel carriers in defence of the strategically-located Imperial Hive World Armageddon and its surrounding star systems. Armageddon, located in the Segmentum Solar, was a planet blighted and poisoned by millennia of heavy industrial output, though it was also a major manufacturing centre. In the 41st Millennium Armageddon became a constant battleground between the Imperial Guard's Steel Legion Regiments and the countless Ork hordes of the Warboss Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka.
Regiments of the Imperial Guard vary widely from one world to the next. Civilisation, training, and technology levels are wildly varied from one culture to another within the Imperium of Man, resulting in forces mounted on horseback and carrying spears next to elite troops bearing advanced Grav-Chutes deploying from Valkyrie Assault Carriers. Within these parameters, large formations of mechanised infantry are very uncommon within the Imperial Guard. The reason for this rarity is that the resources required to equip and maintain vast numbers of armoured vehicles are difficult to acquire, even for such personages as Imperial Commanders and Planetary Governors. Typically, gathering so many war machines also requires a pact or agreement with the Adeptus Mechanicus, for it is the Tech-priests and Enginseers of Mars who ensure that these vehicles can operate (and be repaired should they suffer damage) in the heat of battle.
The most well-known and renowned of the rare few mechanised infantry regiments in the Imperium are those founded upon the Hive World of Armageddon. Whilst some Imperial Guard formations rely upon horses or other such conventional steeds, the Steel Legions of Armageddon ride into battle as mounted infantry within the hulls of their trusted Chimera armoured transports. The high numbers of Chimeras amongst the Steel Legion regiments is due to the highly industrialised nature of their homeworld. Armageddon is one of the foremost manufacturing planets for Chimeras and produces vast numbers of this vehicle for use across the Imperium of Man. So great is Armageddon's output of Chimeras that an extremely high proportion of regiments raised from that world are mechanised infantry. These highly mobile forces are skilled at rapidly redeploying convoys of vehicles to engage the enemy. Often, the Steel Legion's vehicles simply overrun the enemy's front lines, allowing the infantry to dismount and sweep the area clear of aggressors.
The Wars for Armageddon
The citizens of Armageddon are no strangers to brutal warfare. Their world has suffered greatly during the 41st Millennium at the hands of invaders throughout no less than three devastating wars launched by the enemies of humanity. The Steel Legion played a major role in all of them.
First War for Armageddon (444.M41)
Few records exist of the event known as the First War for Armageddon, as much of it has been utterly purged by agents of the Inquisition. Fragments that remain describe a world gripped by a massive daemonic incursion. The foul daemons of Chaos were defeated only at great cost by heroes such as the Great Wolf Logan Grimnar of the Space Wolves Chapter and his valiant Space Marines. Some whisper that the world and many surrounding systems were purged in the aftermath of this invasion, and that the feared Daemonhunters of the Chamber Militant of the Inquisition's Ordo Malleus -- the Grey Knights -- were somehow involved.
Second War for Armageddon (941.M41)
Warboss Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka, quite possibly one of the most charismatic and dangerous Ork Warlords in the galaxy, led a massive WAAAGH! of Orks to invade Armageddon, starting the Second War for Armageddon in 941.M41. Warp Storms prevented Imperial reinforcements from reaching the embattled world, forcing Armageddon's defenders to fight alone against the Greenskin onslaught. Making things exceptionally worse for the defenders was the incredibly dangerous incompetence displayed by the planet's Imperial Commander, Overlord Herman von Strab. The war was costly, causing enormous casualties amongst the planet’s population, and it was only due to the heroic efforts of the legendary Commissar Sebastian Yarrick at Hive Hades that the forces of Armageddon were able to hold the line. Fortunately, other valiant Imperial forces were eventually able to make planetfall and support Commissar Yarrick and the Steel Legions. Space Marines from the Blood Angels, Salamanders, and Ultramarines Chapters threw back the Orks in several engagements, and the Titans of the Legio Metallica fought bitterly with Ork Gargants across Armageddon's surface. In the end, the Warp distortions blocking access to Armageddon abated, and fresh reinforcements arrived to help secure the planet's warzones. Warboss Ghazghkull left Armageddon to gather his strength and plan a new invasion, vowing revenge against Commissar Yarrick.
Third War for Armageddon (998.M41)
More than fifty standard years after the Second War for Armageddon, Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka launched a new onslaught against the planet. This time, Ghazghkull had made alliances with other notable Orks, such as the fierce Nazdreg Ug Urdgrub and the diabolically clever Mekboy, Orkimedes. An enormous Ork fleet soon arrived in the Armageddon Sector, smashing into the heroic but hideously outnumbered warships comprising the Imperial Navy's Battlefleet Armageddon. While the Ork fleet arrived in the Armageddon System, Commissar Yarrick had taken command of the Imperial forces on Armageddon itself and hastily organised a plan to prepare for the coming invasion. The Imperium was not without its defenders -- Titan Legions, Space Marines, and the Sisters of Battle reinforced Armageddon's existing defences alongside the forces of the Imperial Guard. Ork Roks (hollowed-out asteroids with crude steering mechanisms) smashed into Armageddon's surface and disgorged massive hordes of Greenskins. Meanwhile, alien forces and heavy equipment -- including many Ork Gargants and other massive war machines -- arrived directly on the planet via the Orks' "tellyporta" technology. After the initial assault, the Third War for Armageddon bogged down into a large number of individual clashes between the Orks and the Imperials. Frustrated by the growing stalemate of the war, Ghazghull left the planet to seek other, greater battles, closely pursued by Commissar Yarrick. Battles still rage upon the surface of Armageddon between both sides, with no end in sight.
The Spinward Front
So far, Lord Marshal Ghanzorik has deployed Armageddon Steel Legion regiments into only a handful of warzones in the Spinward Front in the Periphery Sub-sector of the Calixis Sector in the Segmentum Obscurus. These regiments have mustered at the world of Cyclopea to assist with the tithe preparations there to muster new Imperial Guard forces, and from there they were sent to the Departmento Munitorum depot on Ganf Magna to assist with operations against the Feral Ork tribes plaguing that world. The Armageddon Steel Legion regiments operating on Ganf Magna recently received an unexpected benefit. Due to a bureaucratic error somewhere in the byzantine organisation of the Departmento Munitorum, a large number of Deathstrike Missile Launchers were mistakenly routed to the Steel Legion mustering areas on Ganf Magna. The Guardsmen from Armageddon have embraced this addition to their nominal strength and are relishing the opportunity to use such devastating weapons.
The Hive World of Armageddon, like most of its ilk, consists of huge ash wastes choked with toxic pollutants and corrosive chemicals. Some regions of the planet consist of jungles and oceans, but the pervasive effects of industrial pollution are inescapable outside of the world's great hive cities. Teeming with humanity, Armageddon's hives are not simply manufacturing centres -- they are also packed with the crowded workers and overseers necessary to keep the massive industrial complex running. These conditions give rise to a seemingly endless series of savage gang wars that erupt regularly amongst the underclasses on Armageddon. Many recruits into the Steel Legions are taken directly from veterans of these brutal struggles for dominance of the underhive, as only the fiercest and most implacable gangers manage to survive and even thrive upon the carnage. The gangs of Armageddon are sometimes conscripted en masse into the Steel Legions, and it is said that most of these gangs require little to no additional training to be effective soldiers. In fact, some squads that were formerly gangers excel at inventive and cunning small-unit tactics on the battlefield.
The Steel Legion is sometimes supported by conscripted platoons of Planetary Defence Force troops and Ratling sniper teams. The Guardsmen of the Steel Legion wear uniforms that include a mustard yellow great coat, gas masks to protect themselves from Armageddon's toxic environment, and rounded helmets over black infantry fatigues. The Guardsmen of the Steel Legion, in addition to their Lasguns, make use of Grenade Launchers and Missile Launchers as heavy weapons. Their regiments are supported not only by Chimeras, but also by Leman Russ Executioner main battle tanks.
The troopers of the Armageddon Steel Legion are particularly skilled in the arts of deploying mechanised infantry and have a special expertise at battling Orks. In addition, Guardsman from Armageddon make fine assault troops for fighting in urban and hive city environments as well as heavy industrial zones, chemical sumps, and other such toxic regions. Their equipment and experience with such acrid environments make them invaluable for trudging through all sorts of polluted or otherwise noxious wastelands, from underhives filled with the toxic residue of ancient atomic generators to ruin-filled swamps rife with hallucinogenic flora, quicksand, and near-invisible pockets of lethal gas.
So toxic are the ash wastes of Armageddon that a man breathing its air freely would feel his lungs begin to melt and rot away. It is for this reason that the Armageddon Steel Legions are heavily protected against toxic and polluted environments. Each Steel Legion soldier wears a protective trenchcoat, gloves, and a visor to keep his exposure to the corrosive atmosphere at a minimum. Possibly the most iconic piece of gear for the Steel Legion is the rebreather unit carried by every trooper. These units are capable of filtering out the worst effects of any airborne poisons and are the primary reason that many Steel Legion Guardsmen have survived doing battle upon the ash wastes. Senior officers have rebreathers that are often shaped into a mask similar to that of a grinning skull. The Guardsmen of the Steel Legion are not the only things protected from venomous environments within these regiments. Throughout the Steel Legions, all vehicles are fully enclosed and possess airtight seals to ward passengers from the foul and acidic atmosphere encountered by convoys traversing the ash wastes. The Steel Legion takes special care to protect their mighty banners, each one hung with trophies of honour and no small amount of Ork kill markers. These banners are coated with highly resistant materials in an attempt to preserve them from the wastelands' acidic decay.
A standard Armageddon Steel Legion Guardsman will be outfitted with the following wargear:
- M36 Pattern Lasgun - Produced in a multitude of different styles and patterns, the Lasgun can be found in use on almost every world of the Imperium. The M36 Pattern is one of the most ubiquitous patterns of Lasgun in use by the Imperial Guard, and has long been the standard weapon issued to the troops of the Armageddon Steel Legion regiments.
- 4 Lasgun Charge Packs - Charge packs are powerful batteries used almost exclusively by Imperial laser weapons. The cost of a charge pack varies depending on the class of the weapon. In all cases, it provides shots equal to the weapon's full clip value.
- Flak Armour - The most common type of armour used by Imperial Guard forces is Flak Armour, and it is standard-issue combat gear to the countless millions of Imperial Guardsmen who fight on the Emperor's behalf across the galaxy. Many layers of ablative and impact absorbent material go into making each suit, enough to deflect or negate most low-level attacks such as small arms, shrapnel, and proximity blasts. Solid hits from high impact weapons can generally negate it, but given that it is relatively lightweight, cheap to produce, and dependable in most combat situations, many veterans keep using it even when offered something better.
- Mono Knife - The Mono Knife is a one-handed melee implement is the ubiquitous back-up weapon for warriors all across the Imperium, be they lowly hive scum or the elite soldiers of a Planetary Governor. Some, such as the Catachan Fighting Knife, are designed for a specific purpose, whilst others are more generic in nature. The Mono Knives utilised by the Death Korps of Krieg are specially fashioned blades with superfine edges that can easily cut through armour and never lose their edge. These knives are carried by all by all members of the Death Korps as both a bayonet and a field tool.
- Armageddon Steel Legion Imperial Guard Uniform - The Armageddon Steel Legion uniform consists of a chemically-treated toxic-resistant trenchcoat, usually worn buckled along the chest, a helmet with special straps and lockplates for the Armageddon Pattern Rebreather that every soldier is issued. Additionally, soldiers of the Steel Legion wear thick, toxic-resistant gloves and boots, a basic set of trousers and an undershirt. Unusually, the fabric and condition of these uniforms are quite standard, thanks to the standard resources. of their highly industrialised home world.
- Toxic-Resistant Trenchcoat - Each Guardsman of the Armageddon Steel Legions is equipped with a toxic-resistant trenchcoat, boots, and gloves. The specially-treated gear protects a Guardsmen from the most polluted or chemically toxic environments.
- Armageddon Pattern Rebreather - Designed to keep the wearer alive in even the most noxious atmosphere, this rebreather consists of a mask (often shaped like a skull for senior officers) connected by hose to a small air supply. A character wearing an Armageddon Pattern Rebreather is immune to the effects of gases and issues of air quality, and can even survive underwater at limited depths. The air canister lasts for two full hours before requiring replacement.
- 4 Empty Sandbags
- M39 Entrenching Tool
- 4 Frag Grenades - Frag Grenades use a combustible charge and special fillers of shrapnel fragments which make them potent anti-personnel weapons. Imperial Frag Grenades are roughly the size of a clenched fist and covered with a heavily notched shell, both to increase the shrapnel produced and provide a more secure grip for throwing.
- 2 Photon Flash Grenades - Photon Flash Grenades detonate like a small star, blinding anyone nearby and bright enough to overload primitive vision protection systems. Anyone within 15 metres of a photon flash grenade when it detonates will be temporarily blinded.
- 2 Smoke Grenades - Smoke grenades release a dense smoke which only obscures basic eyesight and optical based systems. They do not block detection systems that use heat or other spectral bands outside of normal human eyesight, but are much more widely available and easier to construct.
- Poor Weather Gear
- Basic Toolkit
- Mess Kit and Water Canteen
- 2 week's Rations
- Blanket and Sleeping Bag
- Rechargeable Lamp Pack - Sturdy and reliable, glow-globes illuminate many an Imperial paveway and cathedral. Most portable ones are roughly the size of a clenched fist and can shine strong, yellowish light a dozen or so metres in width, lasting roughly five hours before their power pack needs recharging or replacing.
- Grooming Kit
- Dog Tags
- Imperial Infantryman's Uplifting Primer - A standard-issue Imperial text that covers a vast variety of topics, this book is possessed by all members of the Imperial Guard as part of their standard-issue equipment. The Primer is a basic guide that details everything a Guardsman needs to know: principles and regulations of the Imperial Guard, issued arms, attire, apparatus, and equipment, basic battlefield policy and Imperial Guard organisation and structure, elementary battlefield medical instructions, and a detailed guide on the foes of the Imperium. No Guardsman should ever be found without possession of a copy of the Uplifting Primer for the punishment is severe.
Notable Steel Legion Regiments
- Armageddon Ash Wastes Militia - Fought in the Third War for Armageddon
- Armageddon 16th Steel Legion - In 776.M36 the 16th Armageddon Steel Legion Regiment put down a rebellion by a Chaos Cult on the world of Cassell called the Way of the Emperor's Flesh in less than 6 hours.
- Armageddon 47th Steel Legion - Served with distinction in the Third War for Armageddon
- Armageddon 69th Steel Legion
- Armageddon 87th Steel Legion
- Armageddon 91st Steel Legion - The 91st served at Helsreach during the Third War for Armageddon.
- Armageddon 93rd Steel Legion- The Armageddon 93rd Legion fought with distinction in the Third War for Armageddon at the Mannheim Gap.
- Armageddon 101st Steel Legion - The 101st acted as the command regiment at Helsreach during the Third War for Armageddon.
- Armageddon 121st Steel Legion - The 121st served at Helsreach during the Third War for Armageddon.
- Armageddon 116th Steel Legion
- Armageddon 141st Steel Legion - The 141st Steel Legion fought in the defence of the hive city of Palonious during the Third War for Armageddon where they suffered heavy casualties. They were eventually reinforced by the Salamanders Chapter of the Space Marines. During the battle around the Eumenides Bridge the regiment was nearly destroyed by a large force of Orks of the Blackskulls Tribe as they migrated out of the Diablo Mountains. With the assistance of the Salamanders the bridge was saved and the Greenskins were pushed back towards the mountains. The remnants of the Regiment were then used to reinforce the 252nd Armageddon Steel Legion Regiment.
- Armageddon 273rd Steel Legion- The 273rd Steel Legion Regiment fought at the Battle of Helsreach during the Third War for Armageddon.
- Armageddon 276th Steel Legion - The 276th Steel Legion Regiment fought in the ash wastes of Armageddon where, in 963.M41, the 3rd Company discovered the remains of a shattered Ork Gargant left over from the Second War for Armageddon and secured it with the help of the regiment's 4th Company in the face of heavy Ork counterattacks from the Ork tribes that had remained on Armageddon after the conclusion of the Second War.
- Armageddon 808th Steel Legion - The Armageddon 808th Steel Legion is known for its aggressive and hard-charging officers, whose leadership style has earned the regiment a considerable reputation for trying unusual -- and often quite risky -- manoeuvres to approach the enemy by surprise or at great speed. This regiment first attracted attention during the Imperial Crusade into the Spinward Front, when it became engaged in a bitter and violent battle against a group of Orks on the world of Ganf Magna. Despite the primitive weapons and equipment of the local Ork mobs, they won several victories over the 808th through surprisingly cunning use of terrain, stranding the regiment's transport vehicles in a series of narrow passes and overwhelming the Imperial soldiers within with their characteristic brutality. The 808th recovered from their losses and proved more successful in later engagements, swearing to avenge themselves upon the Greenskins by seeing every Ork expunged from Ganf Magna -- only to be redeployed shortly thereafter, their tempers still unquenched in the black blood of the Orks. The 808th recently saw action in a bizarre engagement on the planet of Sisk. Originally meant as a training exercise, a Steel Legion convoy of Chimeras was on patrol in the outer fringes of the northern continent when they encountered a band of rogue psykers and mutants led by a hulking figure in spiked Power Armour. The battle that followed was nightmarish -- dramatic seismic upheavals rendered many of the Chimeras useless, and the Steel Legion was forced to dismount. The Armageddon troopers fought through the enemy's psychic projections, crossing trenches of living fire and enduring assaults by ambulatory slime. The mutants and the warband's commander inflicted severe casualties on the Steel Legion, but the regiments' ability to withstand toxic environments enabled them to survive the onslaught and press on to claim a pyrrhic victory. Few other Guardsmen could have accomplished such a feat, and the banner of the 808th received a blessing from Sisk's Ecclesiarchy high cleric in honour of their bravery.
- Armageddon 8th Super Heavy Tank Company - The Armageddon 8th Super Heavy Tank Company was a super heavy tank company of the Imperial Guard raised on Armageddon that was equipped with Stormsword super heavy main battle tanks and employed against the Orks during the Third War for Armageddon.
Notable Armageddon Steel Legionaries
- Major Pious Korren - Pious Korren is an officer in the Armageddon Steel Legion with the rank of Major who became one of the most famous tank aces of the Third War for Armageddon in 998.M41. He is also known as the "Hero of Anthrand." Korren and his crew single-handedly destroyed an entire armoured column of Ork vehicles during the Battle of Anthrand Plain. Korren directs his crew from the top hatch of the main turret of the famed Shadowsword super-heavy main battle tank known as the "Iron Saint."
The soldiers of the Steel Legions require gas masks and thick, synthetic trenchcoats to protect them from their now toxic homeworld's atmosphere and thus have a uniform which is a composite of many different elements. Parts of the uniform are drawn from the British Army's infantry uniform in World War I (the coats are modelled on the British 1914 Utility Tunic and the gas masks are of the 1916 Box-Respirator type) and the German Paratroops (Fallschirmjäger) of World War II (particularly the Steel Legion's helmet design). This is contrasted with Steel Legion weapons, which are all much more technologically advanced and more portable than standard Imperial designs -- for example, their las rifles are 1/2 the size of the comparable Cadian Pattern weapons, and have folding wire stocks.
- Codex: Armageddon (3rd Edition)
- Codex: Imperial Guard (5th Edition), pg. 19
- Codex: Imperial Guard (3rd Edition, 2nd Codex), pg. 64
- Codex: Imperial Guard (3rd Edition, Revised Codex)
- Epic Armageddon (Background Book), pp. 133, 135
- Imperial Armour Volume One - Imperial Guard and Imperial Navy, pp. 64, 108
- Only War: Hammer of the Emperor (RPG), pp. 8-11, 66
- White Dwarf 352 (UK), "Liber Apocalyptica - Titan Killer!" pg. 32-34, 36-37
- White Dwarf 264 (UK), pg. 69
- Helsreach (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Third War for Armageddon Worldwide Campaign - Forces Disposition, Imperial Forces: Armageddon Steel Legion