The Cerberus Heavy Tank Destroyer is a super-heavy tank destroyer that was used in limited numbers by the Space Marine Legions during the Great Crusade and later during the Horus Heresy of the late 30th and early 31st Millennia. The Cerberus was a rare and experimental variant of the super-heavy Spartan Assault Tank also used by the Space Marine Legions, both of which make use of the same hull, armour, and chassis design. While the Spartan Assault Tank was developed by the Mechanicum in response to the Space Marine Legions demanding a vehicle as powerful and versatile as the Land Raider Proteus yet also having the ability to carry Terminators into combat, the Cerberus was designed near the end of the Great Crusade by the Mechanicum of Mars as a way to field test archeotech weaponry that was recovered during the Great Crusade known as the Neutron Laser Projector. The Cerberus Heavy Tank Destroyer is an example of one of the many classes of war machines that rose to prominence and was used by several of the Space Marine Legions during the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy, only to fall from common use amongst the Adeptus Astartes as the Age of the Imperium ground on. One of the reasons for this fall was the drastic change in the way Space Marines were utilised after the Legions were broken down into Chapters during the Second Founding. A small number of the newly-formed Space Marine units retained several of these vehicles in their armouries. There were other contributing factors as well, not least amongst these is that the Imperium simply could not maintain the arcane systems many of these potent engines of destruction utilised. Countless Tech-Priests have made it their life's work to recover even a fraction of these long-lost treasures, such as the legendary and ill-understood flare shields once utilised by certain classes of armoured vehicles. Others hold that such technologies are the echoes of earlier, darker times and fear that to resurrect them is to call forth the horrors of the distant past and to invite the return of forces that should be left well alone. It is unknown if the Adeptus Mechanicus is able to build new Cerberus tanks in the late 41st Millennium or if the technology has been lost like so much else from the Great Crusade era.
The Cerberus Heavy Tank Destroyer was used by the Space Marine Legions near the end of the Great Crusade in the late 30th Millennium as a testbed for the experimental Neutron Laser Projector weapon. The Neutron Laser Projector itself was retro-engineered by the Mechanicum after being rediscovered within Dark Age of Technology battlefield wreckage recovered at great cost from the Forbidden World of Deep Hyades VI by Mechicum Explorators from the Forge World of Galatea. The Mechanicum placed the retro-engineered prototype weapon into the modified chassis of the Spartan Assault Tank, using that vehicle's large interior space to mount the sizable Atomantic-Arc Reactors and radiation shielding needed for its operation. The result of the Mechanicum's labours was a relatively small and mobile weapons system that was capable of rivaling the firepower of the much larger Turbo-Laser weapons commonly found on Titans and other super-heavy vehicles. The Neutron Laser Projector was both more compact and capable of higher amounts of collateral damage than other, similar weapons. The new weapon system was not welcomed into the Imperial arsenal without some controversy, however, as it was unstable and presented safety concerns for many within the Mechanicum. Despite its instability, the Mechanicum delivered preliminary detachments of the Cerberus into the service of several Space Marine Legions for comprehensive battlefield testing and trials, although it was not long after this that the vehicles were pressed by the Traitor Legions to turn their destructive power against the Imperium itself rather than the war-machines of xenos. During the Horus Heresy of the early 31st Millennium, the Mechanicum did not stop their study of Neutron Laser technology, and eventually developed a variant of the Neutron Laser Projector that was smaller yet just nearly as powerful known as the Neutron Laser Cannon. This weapon was mounted upon the Sabre Tank Hunters of the Space Marine Legions and the Valdor Tank Hunters of the Imperial Army, although it is unknown which of these two vehicles were developed first and which side of the conflict made the most use of them.
The Cerberus Heavy Tank Destroyer is armed with a hull-mounted, forward-firing Neutron Laser Projector, an experimental weapon retro-engineered from the battlefield remains of Dark Age of Technology wreckage. The Neutron Laser Projector was an extremely misunderstood weapon whose secrets are known only by the highest circles of the Mechanicum of Mars that is more powerful than any weapon system of its size, comparable only to Titan-sized weaponry. The weapon fires a powerful energy beam capable of crippling or outright destroying most armoured vehicles, up to and including Battle Titans. Unfortunately, the weapon is highly unstable and if the weapon's energy beam fails to penetrate its target, it is prone to dangerous feedback that can cause serious harm to its operators and the vehicle's crew. The weapon itself and the Atomantic-Arc Reactors required to power it are capable of erupting in an apocalyptic explosion if damaged or destroyed. This explosion is capable of seriously damaging or destroying nearby vehicles and buildings, along with disintegrating any remaining trace of the Cerberus itself. The Cerberus can also be outfitted with sponson-mounted Heavy Bolters or Lascannons and a Pintle-mounted twin-linked Bolter (Combi-Bolter) or other Combi-Weapon, a Heavy Flamer, a Heavy Bolter, a Multi-Melta, or a Havoc Missile Launcher for added firepower and defence. The vehicle can also be equipped with a Hunter-Killer Missile Launcher, armoured ceramite plating, Smoke Launchers, or a Searchlight. Due the instability of the vehicle's main weapon and power source, the vehicle is always equipped with a Flare Shield for extra protection from enemy fire.
Known Cerberus Heavy Tank DestroyerEdit
- Choronzan - This vehicle belongs to the Exorcists Space Marine Chapter, and is believed to have remained in stasis for over a millennium before being awakened, accompanied by way of dark ritual to take part in the Aschen War against the Daemon Prince known as the Horned God. Though it survived that fell campaign, the vehicle was immediately re-interred and has not been deployed since, for reasons that remain undisclosed.
- Hell's Judgement - This most potent of the World Eaters Legion's war machines was held back from the initial stage of the defence of the Urgall Depression during the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V, and only committed once the Iron Warriors, Night Lords, Word Bearers and Alpha Legion had turned upon the Salamanders, Raven Guard and Iron Hands Legions. When the World Eaters super-heavy tank destroyers, the Hell's Judgement at their head, was unleashed against them, the effect of their near-suicidal assault upon the Loyalists Legions was catastrophic, shattering any chance of organised resistance.
- Intemperata - The Intemperata was one war machine of the Iron Hands Legion in an armoured wing of a dozen deployed to the surface of Istvaan V during the Drop Site Massacre. The engine took part in supporting the Iron Hands' assault and, in doing, screened an entire Terminator Century of its parent Avernii Clan from the heavy guns of the Death Guard. The Intemperata's unit came under punishing and sustained fire from massed batteries of laser destroyers and Graviton Cannons when the Iron Warriors revealed their true allegiance, all but the Intemperata itself reduced to flaming wrechage within minutes. The war engine was last seen engaging the Traitor God-Engine known as the Dies Irae in order to draw its fire from the Iron Hands infantry squads, a noble sacrifice for which the Intemperata will always be honoured.
Adeptus Mechanicus Technical SpecificationsEdit
|Vehicle Name:||Cerberus Heavy Tank Destroyer||Main Armament:||Hull-mounted Neutron Laser Projector|
|Forge World of Origin:||Mars/Anvilus IX||Secondary Armament:||2 Sponson-mounted Heavy Bolters or Lascannons|
|Known Patterns:||I-IV||Traverse:||10 Degrees|
|Crew:||Commander, Driver & Gunner||Elevation:||-5/+20 Degrees|
|Powerplant:||Reactor system unknown||Main Ammunition:||Estimated 20 five second blasts|
|Weight:||174 tonnes||Secondary Ammunition:||2,600 rounds|
|Width:||6.1 metres with sponsons|
|Height:||5 metres||Superstructure:||95 mm|
|Ground Clearance:||0.5 metres||Hull:||95 mm|
|Max Speed On-Road:||35 kph||Gun Mantlet:||N/A|
|Max Speed Off-Road:||30 kph||Vehicle Designation:||Undesignated|
|Transport Capacity:||N/A||Firing Ports:||Unknown|
|Access Points:||2 Side Doors, 1 Top Hatch (Both Crew Only)||Turret:||N/A|
|Addendum:||Recommended containment/stasis protocols disseminated 367.M38|
- Imperial Armour Volume Two, Second Edition - War Machines of the Adeptus Astartes, pp. 112-114
- The Horus Heresy - Book One: Betrayal by Alan Bligh, pg. 228
- The Horus Heresy - Book Two: Massacre by Alan Bligh, pp. 62-63, 80-81
- Forge World - Cerberus Heavy Tank Destroyer
In The Horus Heresy - Book One: Betrayal the Cerberus' main weapon is listed as being called both a Neutron Laser Projector and a twin-linked Neutron Laser Battery. The weapon is called a Neutron Laser Projector on the vehicle's page on the Forge World website. This will be used as its canon name until otherwise noted by Forge World. The Cerberus will be featured in the upcoming The Horus Heresy - Book Two: Massacre, and whatever name is used in that book will then be considered canon.