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.
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 Royal 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 comparable Imperial designs - for example, their las rifles are 1/2 the size of Cadian weapons, and have folding wire stocks.
There were three wars fought for control of Armageddon and in all of them the Steel Legion played a major role. The First War for Armageddon is perhaps the least well known, and probably for good reason. Chaos Cultists worshipping the Chaos God Khorne broke out in rebellion against the Imperium during a Warp Storm. Soon, a great Space Hulk appeared over the planet, containing none other than Angron, the Daemon Primarch of the World Eaters. The Steel Legionaries proved to be the backbone of the world's defence in the great conflict that ensured.
The Second War for Armageddon began when a massive force of Orks invaded the hive world in 941.M41 led by the mighty Warboss Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka. The Planetary Governor of the world, Herman von Strab, was completely unprepared for the attack, and his pride and incompetence only made matters worse. Eventually, the defence of the planet was taken over by Lord Commander Dante of the Blood Angels. During the war, an Imperial Commissar named Yarrick, who had been exiled by von Strab to Hades Hive, led a heroic defence of the hive which used units of the Steel Legion to effectively defend Hades Hive. That eventually distracted Ghazghkull, infuriating him enough with the hive city's defiance to send more and more of the Greenskins' forces against Hades Hive. The battle escalated to such proportions that Ghazghkull considered the fight a matter of personal pride, and took command of the Ork forces assaulting Hades Hive himself, blinding him to the other battles on the world. Although the hive eventually fell to the Greenskin assault, the distraction gave the Imperial forces enough time to mount a counterattack that finally broke the back of the Ork invasion force.
Fifty years after his first attempt, in 998.M41 Ghazghkull Thraka launched the Third War for Armageddon when he led a second Ork WAAAGH! against the world in an attempt to gain vengeance against the Imperium. Commissar Yarrick and many of the heroes who had fought for in the planet's defence before were called to battle again. The Steel Legion Regiments were once again the backbone of the Imperial Guard's defence of the world.
The Armageddon Steel Legion Regiments are recruited primarily from the population of Armageddon and are trained according to normal Imperial Guard methods and standards. The Steel Legion Regiments are employed primarily as mechanised infantry units as one of the primary products of Armageddon's many manufactorums are the ubiquitous Chimera armoured personnel carriers. This large pool of armoured vehicles allows the Steel Legion Regiments to conduct blitzkrieg attacks in which they smash through enemy lines and then disembark from their vehicles to engage as heavy infantrymen while their Chimeras provide supporting fire. 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.
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 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.
- 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
- White Dwarf 264 (UK), pg. 69
- Helsreach (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Third War for Armageddon - Imperial Forces Disposition: Armageddon Steel Legion