The Land Speeder is a light anti-gravity vehicle which serves as the primary reconnaissance, scouting, resupply and fast attack vehicle of the Imperium of Man's Adeptus Astartes. The Land Speeder is based on a Standard Template Construction (STC) design that was recovered early in the 31st Millennium by the Techno-Archaeologist Arkhan Land during his famous expedition into the Librarius Omnis on Mars. Land's Speeder, later known simply as the Land Speeder, was soon widely produced and used throughout the Imperium of Man by the various Space Marine Legions and the Imperial Army. The use of Land Speeders by the Imperial Army's successor, the Imperial Guard, was gradually phased out, as over the millennia since the Land Speeder's rediscovery the plasma and anti-gravity technologies required to manufacture it became increasingly rare. As such, only extremely resource-rich Imperial planets or Adepta such as the Forge World of Ryza and the Space Marines can afford to create and utilise them. As the Land Speeder design was only rediscovered at the time of the Horus Heresy, and due to the difficulty and expense of maintaining them, there are no Land Speeders amongst the Traitor Legions of the Chaos Space Marines, though they are available to Renegade Space Marines who turned to Chaos from a Chapter created after the Heresy. On the battlefield, Land Speeders are often deployed in squadrons of 3. Land Speeders are fast-response units, quickly dropping down from orbiting transports to add their firepower to the Space Marine forces deployed on the ground. The Land Speeder is not an aircraft, and is not capable of flight in the truest sense. While it is capable of reaching altitudes of up to 100 metres and is capable of gliding down to a planetary surface from obit, it is much more suited to skimming the ground. It is known that some Astartes formations, such as the Ravenwing Company of the Dark Angels Chapter, will use Thunderhawks to quickly and safely deploy Land Speeders while in-atmosphere.
The Land Speeder's origins date back to the first century of the Great Crusade, when Techno-Archaeologist Arkhan Land led several expeditions into the uncharted and extremely dangerous depths of the Librarius Omnis on Mars. During these expeditions Land rediscovered the Standard Template Construct (STC) designs for two heavy tracked vehicles. The first was the mighty battle tank which would later be known as the Land Raider, and the second was the humble utility vehicle called the Land Crawler. Land also discovered information regarding powerful and compact plates capable of emitting an anti-gravitic field and Land later developed theories on their uses. Unfortunately, years before the first Land Speeder was built, Arkhan Land and his entire expeditionary force were wiped-out by an unknown, yet extremely powerful psychic entity while conducting yet another expedition into the Librarius Omnis. All three of the designs he found were ultimately named after him.
Some time after his death, the anti-gravitic plate technology he had discovered was used in the construction of the Land Speeder. The Land Speeder was issued to the Astartes Legions and to the Imperial Army as a light vehicle intended for scouting and lightning-fast assaults. During the Horus Heresy the Land Speeder was used on both sides of the conflict, yet due to the difficulty and expense of maintaining them they are no longer used by the Traitor Legions. After the Horus Heresy, and the reformation of the Imperial Army into the Imperial Navy and the Imperial Guard, the Land Speeder was no longer issued to non-Astartes soldiers, as their technology has become far too precious and complex to be risked in the hands of Imperial troops who are not the elite of Mankind. The original Land Speeder had several different patterns, several of which were slower than others. These early designs were dropped from use completely as they had only been used by the mortal soldiers of the Imperial Army and the Land Speeder patterns used by the Astartes are far too fast and difficult to control for non-enhanced human reflexes.
The Land Speeder's main feature is its powerful anti-gravitic field emitting ventral plates that allow the vehicle to move without touching the ground, and to glide if dropped from orbit or off of a high structure. How these plates work is a mystery to all but the most senior and high-ranking members of the Adeptus Mechanicus. It is believed that Mankind once made much wider use of anti-gravity technology like the Eldar during the Dark Age of Technology, yet in the late 41st Millennium it is almost a lost art. While the xenos Eldar and Tau make use of far-superior anti-gravitic technology, it is forbidden for any Magos of the Machine Cult to study these devices, and any caught doing so usually receive the harshest sanctions. The anti-gravitc plates of the Land Speeder are positioned around the vehicle's nose and cockpit, and when they are activated they create a powerful inverse gravitic field, which is repulsed by natural gravitic forces and thus pushes the vehicle upwards. The vehicle is given forwards motion by a set of afterburning ramjets positioned on the rear of the Land Speeder. The Land Speeder is equipped with small stabiliser wings on its sides. The Land Speeder's anti-gravitic plates may be powerful, but they can only support approximately 4 tonnes, and thus the Land Speeder is only equipped with light armour. In truth, the Power Armour worn by the vehicle's crew usually provides better protection from enemy fire.
The standard Land Speeder is used as a fast scouting and reconnaissance vehicle and as such is only lightly armed and armoured. The Land Speeder is armed with a single pintle-mounted Heavy Bolter that is operated by the vehicle's gunner. The Heavy Bolter can be switched out for a Multi-Melta to give the Land Speeder better anti-armour firepower. The vehicle's weapon is mounted on an L-shaped rail system that allows the gunner to fire straight ahead of the vehicle or to the left, and while this limited movement would normally be deleterious in most tactical situations on other vehicles, the Land Speeder's anti-gravitic propulsion system allows it to quickly turn the entire vehicle towards the gunner's target. There are some Space Marine Chapters that use a slightly different non-named pattern of Land Speeder that is equipped with twin-linked Heavy Bolters in place of the single one. During the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy eras, the Land Speeder could be equipped with different weapons such as switching out its Heavy Bolter for a Heavy Flamer or adding another weapon such as a Havoc Missile Launcher, another Heavy Bolter, a Plasma Cannon, or a Graviton Gun. The Land Speeders of those ancient and more technologically advanced times were also able to be armed with up to two Hunter-Killer Missile Launchers, each with a single Hunter-Killer Missile. Unlike many other Imperial vehicles, the Land Speeder has no upgrades or attachments that can be equipped.
Land Speeder Variants
The Land Speeder, like many other Imperial vehicles, has over the years had numerous variant patterns created by the Adeptus Mechanicus or various Space Marine Chapter Armouries with a wide array of different weapon and feature combinations. Out of these many variants those officially recognised by the Adeptus Mechanicus and most commonly employed by Astartes Chapters are featured below:
- The Land Speeder Tornado is a more heavily-armed Land Speeder than the standard pattern. Land Speeder Tornadoes are equipped with a second weapon mounted under the vehicle's nose. Land Speeder Tornadoes can be armed with an Assault Cannon or a Heavy Flamer. Some Space Marine Chapters have been known to use a slightly different, non-named pattern of the Land Speeder Tornado equipped with twin-linked Assault Cannons and Heavy Bolters in place of single ones.
- The Land Speeder Typhoon is equipped with twin-linked Typhoon Missile Launcher racks mounted on both sides of the Speeder. These weapons fire anti-personnel missiles that are effective against lightly-armoured enemy infantry.
- The Land Speeder Tempest is a heavily armoured variant of the standard Land Speeder that incorporates many changes to the standard Speeder's design. The Land Speeder Tempest's single-pilot cockpit is entirely enclosed and instead of small stabilizers, full-sized wings extend from the sides of the Speeder. The Tempest is armed with a nose-mounted Assault Cannon and Twin-linked Missile Launcher racks along its sides. The Tempest was originally developed for use by the White Scars Chapter for use with their lightning-fast raid tactics. The Tempest is perfect for supporting such raids with its anti-tank missiles and its infantry-shredding Assault Cannon.
- The Land Speeder Storm is a troop-carrying variant of the standard Land Speeder pattern used by Space Marine Scouts as a transport and rapid-insertion vehicle. The cockpit configuration is the same as the standard Land Speeder, with the pilot and gunner sitting side-by-side. However, the fuselage has been stretched to add an open troop-carrying compartment capable of holding up to six Space Marine Scouts (this figure includes the crew). Other changes to this variant include the addition of a third engine thruster. As with the standard Land Speeder, the gunner station may still mount either a Heavy Bolter, a Heavy Flamer, or a Multi-melta. Furthermore, a Land Speeder Storm's baffled engines and sophisticated Vox communications array afford it a stealthy profile best suited to the Space Marine Scouts' mission of clandestine hit-and-run attacks. As a result, The Land Speeder Storm can be used as a mobile firebase, assault transport or stealth insertion craft as combat objectives dictate. To further enhance the Land Speeder Storm's effectiveness in strike missions, many Chapters add a Cerberus Launcher under the nose of the craft. This tri-barrelled weapon fires a disorienting volley of Frag, Stun and Blindfire Missiles into enemy positions, allowing the Scouts to move in and mop up any survivors. When combined with the rapier speed of the Land Speeder Storm, the Cerberus Launcher allows Scouts to launch rapid and daring assaults at an otherwise impenetrable defence line with impunity.
Chapter-Specific Land Speeder Variants
There are several different variants of the Land Speeder that are used only by certain Chapters, all known Chapter-Specific Land Speeder variants are as follows:
- Ravenwing Master-Crafted Land Speeder - The Ravenwing Master-Crafted Land Speeder is a unique variant of the Land Speeder used only by Master (Captain) Sammael of the Dark Angels Chapter's 2nd Company, which is known as the Ravenwing. The Master of the Ravenwing's Land Speeder is heavily armed with twin Heavy Bolters and twin-linked Assault Cannons. In addition, this specialised pattern of Land Speeder is equipped with superior targeting equipment and a protective Void Shield generator.
- Land Speeder Vengeance - The Land Speeder Vengeance is a variant of the standard Land Speeder and is used only by the Dark Angels and their Unforgiven Successor Chapters and is the deadliest weapon available in the Ravenwing's arsenal, a larger variant of the standard Land Speeder that is armed with the devastating Plasma Storm Battery, with which it lays down a blistering barrage to support the Dark Angels' attack. The Land Speeder Vengeance couples a larger chassis and four powerful gravitic lifter-engines with a ferocious heavy weapon load-out, providing the Ravenwing with a highly mobile and deadly support battery to aid them in their hunt for the Fallen.
- Ravenwing Darkshroud - The Ravenwing Darkshroud is a variant of the Dark Angels' own Land Speeder Vengeance that replaces the Vengeance's Plasma Storm Battery with an ancient relic statue from old Caliban, the vehicle then channels the arcane energies of the ancient relic and projects a field of impenetrable darkness, swathing the Dark Angels' forces in a gloom that can swallow even the most potent of incoming enemy attacks and protect the Unforgiven from harm. Those who have witnessed it at close range and felt its murky pall, and lived to tell of it, are disturbed forever more.
Known Users of the Land Speeder
The Land Speeder was widely used by the Imperium during the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy, including the Imperial Army, various Planetary Defence Forces, the Adeptus Mechanicus, and the Space Marine Legions. After the Horus Heresy, the Land Speeder was made available to the newly formed Space Marine Chapters as a fast attack and recon vehicle, and the only other forces that currently make use of the Land Speeder are Renegade Space Marines that have turned to Chaos after the Horus Heresy and are still able to maintain their own Land Speeders.
Notable Users of the Land Speeder
- Red Scorpions - The Red Scorpions Space Marine Chapter made use of Land Speeders during the Siege of Vraks and the Badab War.
- Lamenters - The Lamenters Space Marine Chapter made use of Land Speeders during the Badab War.
- Astral Claws - The Astral Claws Space Marine Chapter, and later the Red Corsairs Renegade Warband made use of Land Speeders during the Badab War.
- Blood Ravens - The Blood Ravens Space Marine Chapter made use of Land Speeders during the Dark Crusade and the Kaurava Conflict.
- Eagle Warriors - The Eagle Warriors Space Marine Chapter made use of Land Speeders as part of the Balur Scundus Strike Force.
- Dark Angels - The Dark Angels Space Marine Legion and Chapter have made use of the Land Speeder since the days of the Great Crusade. The Dark Angels 2nd Company, known as the Ravenwing, makes extensive use of Land Speeders, and even makes use of its own unque variants.
- White Scars - The White Scars Space Marine Legion and Chapter have made heavy use of the Land Speeder since the days of the Great Crusade, and are responsible for at least one of its variants, the Land Speeder Tempest.
- Raven Guard - The Raven Guard Space Marine Legion and Chapter have made use of the Land Speeder since the days of the Great Crusade. Several Land Speeders were used during the more recent Raid on Kastorel-Novem, against Ork forces.
- All other Loyalist Space Marine Legions - The Loyalist Space Marine Legions and their Successor Chapters, including the Blood Angels, Space Wolves, Imperial Fists, Ultramarines, and the Salamanders, made use of the Land Speeder during the Great Crusade era, and most still do in the 41st Millennium.
- Traitor Legions - The Traitor Legions that turned against the Imperium during the early 31st Millennium, including the Iron Warriors, Night Lords, Sons of Horus, Death Guard, and the Thousand Sons, made use of the Land Speeder during the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy, but due to the difficulty and expense of maintaining them without access to Imperial Forge Worlds, they no longer make use of them.
Notable Land Speeders
The following is a list of the notable named Land Speeders:
- Sableclaw - Sableclaw is a master-crafted Land Speeder of an unknown variation that is used by the Sammael, the Grand Master of the Dark Angels' 2nd Company, the Ravenwing, when he is not making use of Corvex, his venerable Jetbike. The craft features twin-linked Assault Cannons and an in-built Void Shield of unknown origin.
Adeptus Mechanicus Technical Specifications
|Type||Utility Skimmer||Operational Ceiling||100 Metres|
|Vehicle Name||Land Speeder||Max Speed||350 kilometres per hour|
|Forge World of Origin||Mars||Range||4,000 kilometres in atmosphere|
|Known Patterns||I - XXV||Main Armament||Pintle-mounted Heavy Bolter|
|Crew||1 Pilot, 1 Gunner||Secondary Armament||N/A|
|Powerplant||2 x AS 9-60 Ramjets||Main Ammunition||500 Rounds|
|Weight||3.5 Tonnes||Secondary Ammunition||N/A|
|Wingspan||5.0 Metres||Superstructure||15 millimetres|
|Height||3.0 Metres||Hull||15 millimetres|
|Vehicle Designation:||2109-063-9307-LS 010|
Land Speeders were introduced along with the other 1st Edition Warhammer 40,000 vehicles, the Rhino and the Land Raider. The first Land Speeder model was made entirely of metal. It looked more-or-less like two flying seats in front of two large turbines. The Space Marine crew were entirely exposed. This early version of the Land Speeder was armed with a Meltagun and a turret-mounted Multi-melta. During this edition of the game, Land Speeders were not entirely limited to the Space Marines; the Imperial Guard had their own Land Speeders. The Imperial Guard Land Speeder model was almost-identical to the Space Marine version, except for weaponry. The Imperial Guard Land Speeder was armed with a hull-mounted Heavy Bolter and a turret-mounted Plasma Cannon, then-called a "Heavy Plasma Gun". When the 2nd Edition of Warhammer 40,000 was released, Land Speeders were taken out of the Imperial Guard's army list. From this point on, they were entirely Space Marine vehicles. The Land Speeder's second incarnation was released in 1993. This all-metal version added more bulk and armour to the vehicle, with pilots being less exposed in the front though not the sides. The Meltagun and Plasma Cannon were replaced by an under-slung Multi-Melta and a Heavy Flamer fired by the Space Marine riding in the gunner's seat. In 1997, another Land Speeder model was released for the Ravenwing Company of the Dark Angels Space Marine Chapter. This version replaced the standard Land Speeder's Multi-Melta with an Assault Cannon and the gunner's Heavy Flamer with a Heavy Bolter.
The current design of the Land Speeder was introduced in 1998 for the 3rd Edition of the Warhammer 40,000 game. Unlike the previous models, this release was a completely plastic kit. The redesign of the Land Speeder made it appear sleeker. The pilots are almost entirely enclosed. Stabilizers and a spoiler were also added to make the vehicle look more aerodynamic. In line with the changes to the Land Speeder's profile in the Codex: Space Marines (3rd Edition), the weapons that were included in the kit were changed once more. The boxed set contained a Multi-melta and a Heavy Bolter, only one of which could be mounted onto the Speeder. Several variants were also released, using the same plastic model but including additional metal weaponry. The Third Edition of the game was the first time that Land Speeders could be fielded in squadrons of up to three of the vehicles, although the Tornado and Typhoon variants could only be fielded as individual vehicles. With the release of the 4th Edition Space Marine Codex, players were allowed to field different Land Speeder variants in the same squadron.
The Land Speeder appears in several other games outside of Warhammer 40,000. Land Speeders are available as units for the Epic large-scale battle tabletop game for both the 3rd and 4th Editions, similar in design to the corresponding Warhammer 40,000 version. Land Speeders have also been featured in Chaos Gate and Dawn of War, computer games based on the Warhammer 40,000 franchise. The Land Speeders in Dawn of War are Land Speeder Tornadoes that are slightly different from the ones in Warhammer 40,000. They are armed with twin-linked, under-slung Assault Cannons and twin-linked Heavy Bolters that are fired by the gunner.
- Imperial Armour Volume Two - Space Marines and Forces of the Inquisition, pp. 117-124
- Imperial Armour Volume Seven - The Siege of Vraks - Part Three, p. 72
- Imperial Armour Volume Nine - The Badab War - Part One, p. 111
- Imperial Armour Volume Ten - The Badab War - Part Two, pp. 155-157
- Imperial Armour - The Horus Heresy - Book One: Betrayal, pg. 214
- The Horus Heresy: Collected Visions, pp. 62, 155, 169, 231, 252, 255, 269, 298, 357
- Codex: Black Templars (4th Edition), p. 39
- Codex: Dark Angels (4th Edition), pp. 26-27
- Codex: Dark Angels (6th Edition), pp. 5, 46, 84
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), p. 74
- Codex: Space Wolves (5th Edition), p. 46
- Codex: Blood Angels (5th Edition), p. 33
- Dawn of War (PC Game)
- Dawn of War - Dark Crusade (PC Game)
- Dawn of War - Soulstorm (PC Game)
- Games Workshop - Land Speeder Vengeance & Ravenwing Darkshroud