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DropPod00

Drop Pods of the Space Wolves Chapter in flight

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Deathstorm Drop Pods of the Ultramarines Chapter clearing the way for Space Marine landing forces

Drop Pods are atmospheric assault transports that are primarily used by the Adeptus Astartes and their Chaos Space Marine counterparts for orbital insertion and planetary assaults where achieving tactical surprise is often an important factor. Drop Pods, along with Thunderhawks, Thunderhawk Transporters, Storm Eagles, Storm Ravens, Caestus Assault Rams and Teleporters make up the majority of a Space Marine Chapter's means to deploy their forces to the surface of a planet quickly. Drop Pods resemble the standard Imperial Life Pod that is used to evacuate the crews of severely damaged starships. These craft are used as a one-way, environmentally sealed armoured landing craft to insert forces right into the heart of a battle or deep behind enemy lines.

The ultimate weapon of terror and suprise, when a Drop Pod lands directly in the midst of an enemy line or formation and its occupants disembark and start wreaking havoc, there is little escape for the foe. Drop Pods are fired with colossal acceleration from an orbiting Strike Cruiser or Battle Barge, after which it screams through a planet's atmosphere with oversized rocket thrusters boosting it even further beyond terminal velocity; even the most advanced air defence systems have difficulty locking on to a Drop Pod travelling at up to 12,000 kilometres per hour. At these velocities, it takes only a matter of solar minutes, or even seconds, for a Drop Pod to reach its destination as it plummets through the atmosphere, only firing its retro thrusters at the last possible moment before making a devastating impact on the planetary surface with enough force to crush most structures. Drop Pod assaults are fraught with peril as the craft possesses few defences against enemy anti-aircraft fire or other aircraft or debris present in the air while they are plummeting downwards at full speed. Additionally, the passengers must lend their trust to the guidance systems of the craft's Machine Spirit (Artificial Intelligence) to safely deliver them to their destination. During the descent it is common for Space Marines to give voice to prayers to the Emperor and hymns of vengeance, steeling themselves against the danger of violent orbital entry and preparing themselves for the battle ahead.

While many Astartes Chapters use Drop Pods for quick insertions or deep strikes, others such as the Invaders or the Black Consuls will use Drop Pod assaults to launch the majority of their entire Chapter into combat. In these situations, massed Drop Pod assaults light up the sky of the target world as hundreds of these screaming harbingers of woe streak across the firmament. There are few enemies who can withstand this tactic, as the Space Marines will land in and amongst places that only moments before were considered a safe haven. After a Drop Pod is used it will remain on the battlefield until it can be retrieved by the Chapter's Techmarines, usually by use of a Thunderhawk Transporter.

History

DropPod01

A Drop Pod with its squad of Space Marines disembarking after landing

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Deathstorm Drop Pods sitting silently after expending all of their ammunition

The Adeptus Astartes has made use of the Drop Pod since the very beginning of the Great Crusade when they were still full-sized Space Marine Legions. These spacecraft, which could quickly rain down forces comprised of hundreds or even thousands of Astartes, were used to quickly bring a world into Imperial Compliance. Drop Pods were used by both sides in the great interstellar civil war known as the Horus Heresy, when thousands of Drop Pods brought both Traitor and Loyalist Astartes down into combat against their former brothers. Drop Pods assaults were the preferred method of planetary insertion for several of the Space Marine Legions, such as the World Eaters and the Space Wolves. Drop Pods are still used by most of the Traitor Legions even after the passage of 10,000 standard years, yet many Chaos Space Marine warbands now favour the use of the ancient Dreadclaw Drop Pod, as it is more advanced than the standard pattern Drop Pod. The Dreadclaw was the most advanced assault boat used during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy, yet a dangerous flaw in its Machine Spirit, which allowed it to become highly self-aware, lead to it no longer being used by the Loyalist Astartes.

Variants

There exist many variants of the standard Drop Pod, from smaller single-man versions to large Drop Pods capable of delivering a Dreadnought into combat. The following are known Space Marine Drop Pod variants:

Standard Drop Pod

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A squad-sized Drop Pod capable of carrying ten Astartes, armed with a Storm Bolter for heavy fire support

The standard pattern of Adeptus Astartes Drop Pod is capable of carrying up to 12 Space Marines into combat. They are launched from a vessel in low orbit towards the drop zone, usually in the midst of or near a battlefield. Once launched, the Drop Pod plummets through the atmosphere until its retro rockets fire to slow its descent. A Machine Spirit (on-board computer) guides the Drop Pod to its destination and can receive further commands from the Pod's mothership. Although a Drop Pod becomes immobile after having landed on a planetary surface, it can later be recovered by the Chapter's Techmarines and reused. These spacecraft are capable of being armed with a single Storm Bolter or Deathwind Missile Launcher that is able to provide covering fire for the disembarking Astartes. During the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy Drop Pods were equipped with a set of twin-linked Bolters. Although it is not standard, Drop Pods are able to be modified to carry Space Marines in Terminator Armour, yet this practise is rarely utilised due to Terminator Armour's capability to teleport directly into combat as long a Teleport Homer is first deployed. When a Drop Pod is modified to carry Space Marines in Terminator Armour, two standard-sized restraints must be replaced with a single large restraint due to the sheer bulk of Terminator Armour.

Thunderfire Drop Pod

The Thunderfire Drop Pod is a standard pattern Drop Pod with most of its internal seating restraints removed, so that the craft is capable of carrying a single Thunderfire Cannon and its crew into combat to provide heavy fire support for the occupants of other Drop Pods in a single assault, as Drop Pods are not large enough to deliver vehicles into combat from orbit.

Rapier Drop Pod

The Rapier Drop Pod is a standard pattern Drop Pod with most of its internal seating restraints removed, so that the spacecraft is capable of carrying a single Rapier mobile heavy-weapon platform and its crew into combat to provide heavy fire support for the occupants of other Drop Pods in a single assault, since Drop Pods are not large enough to deliver vehicles into combat from orbit. These Drop Pods were commonly used during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras of the late 30th and early 31st Millennia by the Space Marine Legions.

Squad Drop Pod

A smaller variant of the standard pattern Drop Pod, this variant carries only a single squad of 10 Space Marines into combat. Like the standard Drop Pod, this variant is also capable of being armed with a single Storm Bolter or Deathwind Missile Launcher that is able to provide covering fire for the disembarking Astartes.

Combat-Squad Drop Pod

An even smaller variant of the standard pattern Drop Pod, this variant can carry a demi-squad of 5 Astartes into combat, although it is usually used to insert forces behind enemy lines to conduct covert operations against the enemy.

Single-Man Drop Pods

These very small variants of the standard Drop Pod are capable of delivering a single person to the battlefield, and are usually used to deliver important Astartes officers such as Captains or Librarians to the planet's surface. These small spacecraft can also deliver other needed cargo such as special wargear or even Servitors if needed.

Dreadnought Drop Pod

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A Dreadnought Drop Pod ready to unload its cargo

The Dreadnought Drop Pod is the largest known Drop Pod variant used by the Adeptus Astartes, and is capable of delivering a single Dreadnought into combat. This variant is slightly larger than the standard Drop Pod, yet lacks any and all internal non-essential equipment, such as restraints and weapon holders, which are not present to make room for the bulk of the Dreadnought. The Dreadnought Drop Pod uses three or four large external door ramps as opposed to the smaller ones used on other types of Drop Pods. These Drop Pods are capable of delivering both Contemptor Dreadnoughts and now-standard Mars Pattern Mark IV and Mark V Dreadnoughts to the battlefield.

Deathstorm Drop Pod

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A Deathstorm Drop Pod armed with five Assault Cannons

The Deathstorm Drop Pod is a variant pattern of the standard Drop Pod that carries heavy weaponry instead of Space Marines. These heavy weapons are slaved to a targeting Cogitator, and once the assault ramps have opened, the weapons will open fire on anything outside of the spacecraft. These weapons will only fire in the direction of the ramp they are positioned at and will strafe the immediate area with weapons fire. These weapons do not possess auto-targeting capabilities and will fire indiscriminately at the area around them until all ammunition is expended, although by the time this happens the Drop Pods carrying the Space Marines themselves will have landed and started disgorging Astartes onto the battlefield to face any enemies that survived the onslaught unleashed by the Deathstorm Drop Pod. The Deathstorm Drop Pod can be equipped with either five Assault Cannons or five Whirlwind Missile Launchers, one of these weapons positioned at each of the spacecraft's assault ramps.

Deathwind Drop Pod

The Deathwind variant of the Drop Pod is no longer used by the Adeptus Astartes. This variant, similar in nearly every way to the Deathstorm variant that ultimately replaced it, was originally armed with Deathwind Missile Launchers to provide fire support. This variant has been replaced with the Deathstorm variant due to Whirlwind Missile Launchers being more powerful than Deathwind Missile Launchers and just as easy and cost effective to manufacture.

Supply Drop Pods

Supply Drop Pods are Drop Pods that can be delivered to Space Marine forces operating behind enemy lines or otherwise away from an area where it is possible for them to readily resupply. Supply Drop Pods can be used to deliver anything that is needed to a squad, such as foodstuffs, weapons, ammunition, and wargear such as Jump Packs.

Non-Astartes and Non-Imperial Drop Pods

The following is a list of all known non-Astartes and non-Imperial Drop Pod variants and crafts of similar function:

Chaos Drop Pod

The Traitor Legions and Renegade Space Marines also make use of the Drop Pod. Chaos Drop Pods are similar in every way to their Loyalist counterpart, although they are usually warped and twisted beyond recognition by their time spent in the Eye of Terror. They often have various non-standard customisations added to them by their Chaos Space Marine masters and are covered in blasphemous Chaotic iconography. The standard Drop Pod is used alongside the rarer and more advanced Dreadclaw.

Dreadclaw

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A Chaos Dreadclaw, as seen from the side and bottom

The Dreadclaw is an ancient Drop Pod pattern dating back to the time of the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy that can also be used as an assault boat for ship-to-ship combat. Unlike other Drop Pods, it is able to take off after landing. Dreadclaws are exclusively used by the Traitor Legions of the Chaos Space Marines. The Dreadclaw was the most advanced assault boat used during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy, yet a dangerous flaw in its Machine Spirit, which allowed it to become highly self-aware and nearly sentient, lead to it no longer being used by Loyalist Astartes.

Eversor Temple

The Imperial Assassins of the Officio Assassinorum's Eversor Temple are deployed in special Drop Pods that prepare them for their missions. These Pods are equipped with neuro-links that feed the details of the mission directly to the Assassin's mind while remote links activate and begin to prepare his body for the task at hand. Once the Drop Pod lands at the appropriate destination the Assassin is fully briefed on the mission at hand and is fully awoken from his or her stasis.

Life Pods

The Life Pod is the ancestor spacecraft from which all Drop Pods are derived. Life Pods are used by many intelligent, space-faring species throughout the galaxy to evacuate their starship crew members during an emergency. These pods are known by many different names and designations, yet they all are designed to do the same thing: get their passengers away from danger. Life Pods are usually equipped with advanced life support systems and navigation equipment, allowing them to safely remove themselves from danger. Life Pods can be used to land the escaped crew on a planet's surface or simply make their way to a nearby friendly starship or space station to be retrieved. Sometimes these spacecraft may be captured by the enemy, the escaped crew held as hostages or simply enslaved or killed. The quality of the spacecraft's life support, navigational equipment, comfort and safety features, and overall ability to keep its cargo from dying, varies from species to species. Tau Life Pods feature ample room, comfortable seating, and even shielded view ports, while Imperial Life Pods tend to be more spartan and utilitarian.

Ork Roks and Krash-Kapsuls

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An Imperial Artist's rendering of Ork Roks

The Orks have their own version of Drop Pods, from the small (yet much larger than an Imperial Drop Pod) Krash-Kapsul to the massive Roks. Krash-Kapsuls are rarely used by Orks as they much rather prefer to use the larger Roks to get their forces into the fight quickly. Ork Roks are essentially a hollowed-out asteroid that is plated in thick armour, outfitted with large engines, and armed with a vast number of very big weapons. The Orks will deliberately slam these craft straight into the ground of a target world, causing massive amounts of damage to whatever it hits. After the Rok hits its destination, the surviving Orks will quickly swarm out of the wreck and engage their targets.

Tyranid Mycetic Spores

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A Tyranid Mycetic Spore delivering a Carnifex to a planet's surface

Mycetic Spores are large, living shells used to transport Tyranid bioforms from Tyranid Hive Ships to a planet's surface. They are considered the Tyranid equivalent of an Imperial Drop Pod, as they function in much the same way. Mycetic Spores are designed to survive the gravitational and thermal stresses of orbital insertion and to protect their organic cargo from impact with the planet's surface. Once through the upper atmosphere, the spores alter their shape to slow descent. The spores themselves die soon after impact, having safely released a swarm of Tyranid creatures.

Notable Deployments of the Drop Pod

Adeptus Mechanicus Technical Specifications

Drop Pod
Type Orbital Drop Pod Operational Ceiling N/A
Vehicle Name Drop Pod Max Speed 12,000 kph descent
World of Origin Lucius Range Unlimited
Known Patterns IV - XXXVI Main Armament N/A
Crew N/A Secondary Armament N/A
Powerplant 1 x FV-50-75 Retro-Rocket Main Ammunition N/A
Weight 14.0 Tonnes Secondary Ammunition N/A
Length 5.2 Metres Armour
Wingspan N/A Superstructure 60 millimetres of armour
Height 7.7 Metres Hull 70 millimetres of armour
Vehicle Designation: 2109-044-8657-DP 010 Transport Capacity

12 Space Marines or 6 Terminator Marines (Modified)


Dreadnought Drop Pod
Type Orbital Drop Pod - Dreadnought Operational Ceiling N/A
Vehicle Name Dreadnought Drop Pod Max Speed 12,000 kph descent
World of Origin Lucius Range Unlimited
Known Patterns I - XVII Main Armament N/A
Crew N/A Secondary Armament N/A
Powerplant 1 x FV-50-75 Retro-Rocket Main Ammunition N/A
Weight 19.0 Tonnes Secondary Ammunition N/A
Length 7.5 Metres Armour
Wingspan N/A Superstructure 60 millimetres of armour
Height 11.1 Metres Hull 70 millimetres of armour
Vehicle Designation: 2109-044-8661-DP 013 Transport Capacity

1 Space Marine Dreadnought


Deathstorm Drop Pod
Type Orbital Drop Pod - Weapons Operational Ceiling N/A
Vehicle Name Deathstorm Drop Pod Max Speed 12,000 kph descent
World of Origin Lucius Range Unlimited
Known Patterns I - VII Main Armament 5 x Whirlwind Missile Launchers or 5 x Assault Cannons
Crew N/A Secondary Armament N/A
Powerplant 1 x FV-50-75 Retro-Rocket Main Ammunition Unknown
Weight 16.5 Tonnes Secondary Ammunition N/A
Length 5.2 Metres Armour
Wingspan N/A Superstructure 60 millimetres of armour
Height 7.7 Metres Hull 70 millimetres of armour
Vehicle Designation: 2109-044-8659-DP 013 Transport Capacity

N/A

Sources

  • Imperial Armour Volume Two - Space Marines and Forces of the Inquisition, pp. 143-153
  • Imperial Armour Volume Two, Second Edition - War Machines of the Adeptus Astartes, pp. 25, 158-163
  • Imperial Armour Volume Three - The Taros Campaign, pp. 22-24, 27, 32, 47, 54
  • Imperial Armour Volume Eight - Raid On Kastorel-Novem, pg. 105
  • Imperial Armour Volume Nine - The Badab War - Part One, pp. 80, 114, 134,
  • Imperial Armour Volume Ten - The Badab War - Part Two, pp. 26, 27, 142
  • Imperial Armour Volume Twelve - The Fall of Orpheus, pg. 153
  • Imperial Armour - The Horus Heresy - Book One: Betrayal, pp. 41, 208-209
  • Imperial Armour Update 2002, pp. 6, 42
  • Imperial Armour Apocalypse, pp. 26-27
  • Imperial Armour Apocalypse II, pg. 28
  • Imperial Armour Apocalypse (Second Edition), pg. 32
  • Planetstrike (5th Edition), pp. 1, 33
  • Warhammer 40,000: Apocalypse (6th Edition) (Digital Edition), pg. 132
  • Codex: Dark Angels (4th Edition), pg. 35
  • Codex: Dark Angels (6th Edition), pp. 42, 100
  • Codex: Space Marines (4th Edition), pg. 21
  • Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pg. 69
  • Codex: Space Marines (6th Edition), pp. 99, 169
  • Codex: Blood Angels (5th Edition), pg. 32
  • Codex: Space Wolves (5th Edition), pg. 47
  • Deathwatch: Rites of Battle (RPG), pg. 170
  • Void Stalker (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
  • Ultramarines Novel Series by Graham McNeill
  • Dawn of War (PC Game)
  • Dawn of War - Winter Assault (PC Game)
  • Dawn of War - Dark Crusade (PC Game)
  • Dawn of War - Soulstorm (PC Game)
  • Dawn of War II (PC Game)
  • Dawn of War II - Chaos Rising (PC Game)
  • Dawn of War II - Retribution (PC Game)

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