- "Victory does not always rest with the big guns. But if we rest in front of them, we shall be lost."
- —Commander Argentius of the Silver Skulls
The Whirlwind is an Imperial artillery support vehicle based upon the Standard Template Construct (STC) Rhino Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) chassis that is now primarily used by the Space Marine Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes. The Whirlwind, whose standard pattern is known as the Whirlwind Helios, plays the role of artillery support, providing support fire onto enemy formations from the relative safety of geographical cover, such as behind hills, forests or other line-of-sight obstructions. It is intended to be used primarily for softening up a heavily-fortified static position or other well-defended target prior to the start of a major Space Marine assault. The Whirlwind is available exclusively to Space Marine forces and is typically deployed in squadrons of three units, though in smaller actions individual vehicles may be observed operating just as effectively.
The Whirlwind design is not used by the Chaos Space Marine Traitor Legions, although the reasons behind this are unclear as the Whirlwind was used extensively by all the Space Marine Legions during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras. The Whirlwind is armed with a Whirlwind Multiple Missile Launcher that is placed on a rotating turret on the vehicle's dorsal surface that is capable of firing a number of different types of missile ordinance. Unlike the Imperial Guard, Space Marine Chapters do not rely on heavy artillery bombardments and rarely deploy artillery unless it is truly needed. Many times when Whirlwinds are deployed to the battlefield they will only ever deliver a brief yet highly effective barrage against enemy targets, after which the Space Marines will engage any enemy forces that remain. When compared to the artillery tanks of the Imperial Guard, such as the Basilisk and the Medusa, the Whirlwind's range is much shorter, but it can unleash its weapon's payload with a much faster reaction time. The Whirlwind is one of only a handful of Space Marine vehicles that are capable of firing at their targets indirectly. This capability, combined with the vehicle's great mobility allow it to fire upon an enemy and then quickly relocate to avoid enemy return fire.
Typically, squadrons of Whirlwinds are used to provide artillery fire in support of Space Marine tactical deployments and advances. Though a Whirlwind's missiles lack the capability to penetrate heavy vehicle armour, they can be highly effective against large formations of lightly-armoured infantry or light vehicles. The flexibility of the indirect fire of a Whirlwind should also not be overlooked. Given a pragmatic initial deployment, it can provide fire support to friendly units almost anywhere on the battlefield.The Whirlwind can fire barrage after barrage of missiles into enemy formations or static defences, softening them up before the front-line units arrive and then the Whirlwind can provide tactical support as the Astartes forces require it.
The following is all known formations that make use of the Whirlwind:
- Whirlwind Suppression Force - When an Astartes ground force is in need of orbital fire support but none is available, they may make use of a formation known as the Whirlwind Suppression Force. All available Whirlwind artillery tanks are pooled together and placed under command of a single field officer mounted in a sensor-equipped Land Speeder. Using this tactic, a commander is capable of quickly assembling a large concentration of long-range suppressive firepower. This is most often done in flat desert-like environments, where the Lands Speeder can quickly maneuver itself far ahead of the Whirlwinds, calling in targets to be destroyed by the collective fire of the Whirlwinds. If any foe survives, the Land Speeder calls in the new coordinates and the Whirlwinds open fire again, and this tactic is repeated until all of the enemy forces are annihilated.
The Whirlwind is equipped with a dorsal-mounted Whirlwind Multiple Missile Launcher that is placed on a rotating turret on the vehicle's top that is capable of firing a number of different types of missile ordinance. The most common variant of the Whirlwind in use by the Adeptus Astartes during the late 41st Millennium is the Helios Pattern. The Whirlwind Helios originated on the Forge World of Helios, and the Whirlwind Multiple Missile Launcher on this pattern is capable of carrying 60 missiles, while the Hyperios anti-aircraft variant is capable of carrying 40 surface-to-air missiles to fire upon enemy aircraft. The Whirlwind, like all other Rhino variants, can also be outfitted with dozer blades, extra armour plating, a Hunter-Killer Missile Launcher, improved communications equipment, a Pintle-mounted Storm Bolter, a searchlight, and smoke launchers. During the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy in the late 30th and early 31st Millennia, the Whirlwind was capable of being outfitted with weapons and technologies no longer known or used by the Imperium in the late 41st Millennium, such as twin-linked Bolters (Deimos Pattern Rhino chassis only), Pintle-mounted twin-linked Bolters, and an auxiliary drive system. The Whirlwind was also able to replace its standard missiles for Hyperios air-defence missiles in order to engage enemy aircraft. During these ancient times a Whirlwind could also be used as a command vehicle for Legion artillery formations.
The Whirlwind Missile Launcher is capable of firing multiple types of missiles, many of which are arcane and can only be found within the quantum-sealed stasis chambers of the Deathwatch and other secretive bodies within the upper echelons of the Imperial war machine. The following is a list of known types, including:
- Vengeance Missiles - Vengeance Missiles represent the standard high-explosive missile warhead used by the Astartes.
- Castellan Missiles - Castellan Missiles are tipped with a special warhead that can be set to explode at specific times and altitudes to scatter small, mine-like bomblets across a designated target area. Castellan Missiles can establish makeshift mine fields quickly and without exposing Imperial forces to unnecessary dangers by laying mines.
- Incendiary Castellan Missiles - An Incendiary Castellan Missile's warhead had been further modified to scatter burning Promethium over a designated target area rather than bomblets. These horrific weapons are used to literally burn to death lightly-armoured enemy infantry and light vehicle formations.
- Hyperios Air-Defence Missiles - The Whirlwind is capable of firing Hyperios Anti-Air Missiles that are guided to strike enemy aircraft. The Whirlwind Hyperios uses similar missiles, although the anti-air weapons used by the Whirlwind Hyperios and Hunter Patterns of the Whirlwind are much more effective at the anti-aircraft role. Whirlwinds armed with Hyperios Anti-Air Missiles are rarely deployed on the battlefield, due to the existence of the aforementioned more effective alternatives.
- Frag Missile - Frag Missiles are designed to explode on impact with any surface, raking the immediate area with lethal shrapnel composed of aerodynamic metallic shards. Though Frag Missiles are primarily intended to be used as anti-infantry weapons, they can also be deployed effectively against light vehicles. Frag Missiles are often ineffective against heavily armoured infantry.
- Krak Missile - Krak Missiles are primarily intended to serve as anti-vehicle weapons, and contain a high-strength shaped charge with a relatively small blast radius, but causes massive damage to anything it hits with minimal collateral damage. Krak Missiles are also very effective against heavily armoured infantry, bunkers and other armoured or fortified static targets where their concentrated explosives will often punch holes straight through armour. However, a Krak Missile's small blast radius makes them impractical for use against most infantry and moving targets.
- Plasma Missiles - A very rare type of missile used by the Whirlwind, Plasma Missiles are mentioned within various archives, but are hardly ever used in combat in the present day.
- Super-Krak Missiles - A very rare type of missile used by the Whirlwind, Super-Krak Missiles are mentioned within various archives, but are hardly ever used in combat in the present-day.
- Vortex Missiles - An incredibly rare type of missile that used smaller versions of the Vortex Warhead.
- Special Missiles - A wide variety of uncommon missile types including those with gas, Anti-plant, Heywire, and Tanglefoot warheads.
Whirlwind Marks and Patterns
The following are all of the known different marks, patterns, and variants of the Whirlwind Artillery Tank:
Mark I Mars Pattern
Originally deployed as part of most Space Marine armies, the Mark I Mars Pattern Whirlwind was an earlier variant of the standard Astartes artillery support vehicle and shares many features and aesthetics found on the Deimos Pattern of Rhino-based vehicles. It possesses a distinctive shape with its functional-looking, boxy Whirlwind Multiple Missile Launcher. This older Whirlwind is still to be found as a part of many military forces in use across the Imperium of Man. It is armed with linked barrages of Vengeance Missiles and, like its Rhino cousin, a Pintle-mounted Storm Bolter and smoke grenade launchers for defensive purposes. Its crew complement includes a driver, a co-driver/gunner and a two-man missile weapons team.
Mark IIb Mars Pattern
The Mark IIb Mars Pattern Whirlwind has left and right-side segregated Whirlwind Multiple Missile Launcher batteries, a discrete Auspex radar system and revised engine stacks that distinguish it from the Mark I. Some additional equipment has also been relocated to the outside of the vehicle. It is armed with linked barrages of Vengeance or Incendiary Castellan Missiles. However the Mark IIb no longer possesses the Mark I's defensive weaponry, including the original Rhino's Pintle-mounted Storm Bolter and smoke grenade launchers. The Mark IIb Whirlwind's crew complement includes a driver, a co-driver/gunner and a two-man missile weapons team.
The Whirlwind Hunter, more commonly known simply as the Hunter, is the first known dedicated anti-aircraft platform used by the Adeptus Astartes. Many years before the discovery of the Standard Template Construct (STC) designs for the Hunter variant, the Space Marine forces had attempted many times to retrofit their Whirlwinds to fire accurately at enemy aircraft, with largely negative results. The Hunter variant is armed with a Skyspear Missile Launcher in place of the Whirlwind's standard Whirlwind Multiple Missile Launcher. The Skyspear Missile Launcher fires pre-blessed savant warheads, each housing the entombed remains of a distinguished Chapter Serf. Despite the newer Whirlwind Hyperios being an effective anti-air variant of the Whirlwind, the Hunter is still widely used by many Space Marine Chapters.
The Whirlwind Stalker, more commonly known simply as the Stalker, is a variant of the Hunter anti-air tank. The Stalker is based on the Hunter Standard Template Construct (STC) data, and was rediscovered only several millennia ago. The Whirlwind Stalker replaces the Hunter's Skyspear Missile Launcher with an Icarus Stormcannon Array. The Icarus Stormcannon Array features twin sets of multi-barrelled ballistic cannons that are capable of firing upon multiple targets at the same time.
The Whirlwind Hyperios is the newest variant of the Whirlwind designed sometime after the Horus Heresy to replace the Hunter variant as the Astartes' only anti-air vehicle. This variant uses a redesigned launcher system that allows it to carry more of the Hyperios air-defence missiles that were developed shortly before the outbreak of the Horus Heresy. The Hyperios is rarer than the standard pattern Whirlwind, and its missile turret has been replaced with a battery of anti-aircraft surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) and a linked fire-control targeting Cogitator that is intended to lock on approaching enemy aircraft and bring them down. The Whirlwind Hyperios are most commonly deployed by Space Marine forces when their Thunderhawk gunships are not available to provide close air support. The Whirlwind Hyperios' missiles are able to target enemy ground targets during emergencies, and although they are not effective against heavy armour, they can still cause heavy damage to enemy light and medium vehicles.
Deimos Pattern Whirlwind
The Deimos Whirlwind was the most common pattern of Whirlwind used by the Space Marine Legions during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy in the late 30th and early 31st Millennia. The Deimos Whirlwind was simply a Whirlwind Multiple Missile Launcher that had been mounted upon a Deimos Rhino chassis. The Deimos Pattern Whirlwind had its own variants during these times. It is unknown if any Deimos Whirlwinds still exist in the late 41st Millennium in the armouries of the Adeptus Astartes or the Traitor Legions.
Deimos Pattern Whirlwind Scorpius
The Deimos Whirlwind Scorpius, also known as the Whirlwind Scorpius, is a rare variant of the ancient Deimos Pattern Whirlwind that was widely used by the Space Marine Legions during the Emperor's Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy in the 30th and 31st Millennia. The Deimos Whirlwind Scorpius mounts a specialised anti-infantry rocket launcher, known as the Scorpius Multi-Launcher, in place of the vehicle's original Whirlwind Multiple Missile Launcher. This weapon system is believed to have only been used with the Deimos Pattern Whirlwind.
Notable Users of the Whirlwind
The Whirlwind artillery tank and its variants are used exclusively by the Adeptus Astartes, and aside from a small number that have either been captured by the Traitor Legions, or were part of a Chapter that turned to the service of the Ruinous Powers, there are no Whirlwinds in service to the Chaos Space Marines.
- Ultramarines - The Ultramarines Chapter used Whirlwinds during the Joran IV Campaign.
- Raptors - The Raptors Chapter used Whirlwinds during the Taros Campaign against the Tau.
- Space Wolves - The Space Wolves Chapter used Whirlwinds during the defence of Betalis III against the Eldar of Craftworld Mymeara.
- Blood Ravens - The Blood Ravens Chapter used Whirlwinds during the Dark Crusade and the Kaurava Conflict.
- War Bearers - The War Bearers Chapter has made extensive use of Whirlwinds.
- Eagle Warriors - The Eagle Warriors Chapter has made extensive use of Whirlwinds.
- Space Marine Legions - The Whirlwind was used by the Space Marine Legions during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy. It is known that Whirlwinds were used by the Iron Warriors, World Eaters, Word Bearers, Emperor's Children and many of the other Legions. It is unknown as to why the Whirlwind is no longer deployed by the Traitor Legions in the late 41st Millennium.
Notable Deployments of the Whirlwind
- Third War for Armageddon - During the Third War for Armageddon several Space Marine Chapters, such as the Black Templars and the Salamanders, used Whirlwinds against the invading Orks.
- Siege of Vraks - During the 17-year-long Siege of Vraks, the Space Marine Chapters of the Dark Angels, Red Scorpions, the Red Hunters, and possibly more used Whirlwinds against the Traitor forces.
- Badab War - During the Badab War Loyalist Space Marines Chapters such as the Red Scorpions, the Minotaurs, the Fire Hawks, the Salamanders, the Exorcists, and the Fire Angels used Whirlwinds against the Secessionist forces of the Tyrant of Badab, Lufgt Huron.
- Great Crusade and Horus Heresy - The Whirlwind was used by nearly all of the Space Marine Legions during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy. The Whirlwind, alongside the Basilisk and Medusa, made up the majority of the Legion's mobile artillery.
Adeptus Mechanicus Technical Specifications
|Vehicle Name:||Whirlwind Helios||Main Armament:||Whirlwind Multiple Missile Launcher|
|Forge World of Origin:||Mars / Helios||Secondary Armament:||N/A|
|Known Patterns:||IIb - XXI||Traverse:||360 degrees|
|Crew:||1 Driver, 1 Commander||Elevation:||0 to 65 degrees|
|Powerplant:||Quad MkII Adaptable Thermic Combustor Reactor||Main Ammunition:||24 Surface-to-surface Missiles|
|Weight:||33 Tonnes||Secondary Ammunition:||N/A|
|Height:||5.2 metres||Superstructure:||60 millimetres|
|Ground Clearance:||0.44 metres||Hull:||60 millimetres|
|Max Speed On-Road:||68 kilometres per hour||Gun Mantlet:||N/A|
|Max Speed Off-Road:||50 kilometres per hour||Vehicle Designation:||0120-766-0724-PR 145|
|Transport Capacity:||N/A||Firing Ports:||N/A|
|Access Points:||N/A||Turret:||30 millimetres|
It has been stated in many sources, such as Imperial Armour, that the Whirlwind's STC designs were found after the Horus Heresy, meaning that none of the Traitor Legions would possess any Whirlwinds once they fled into the Eye of Terror unless they later acquired them from Loyalist Space Marine Chapters in the field. Yet, in the Horus Heresy: Collected Visions background book, the Horus Heresy novels, and the Forge World Imperial Armour Horus Heresy background books, the Whirlwind was used during the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy by both Loyalist and Traitor Space Marine Legions. As the Whirlwind is featured in both the Black Library's Horus Heresy novels and Forge World's Imperial Armour: Horus Heresy background books, the canon has been retconned by Games Workshop so that the Whirlwind was always used by the Legions. No information has been released as of yet for the reason(s) that the Chaos Space Marines no longer make use of the Whirlwind.
- White Dwarf 117 (UK)
- White Dwarf 185 (UK)
- Epic Armageddon Rulebook, pg. 81
- Codex: Space Marines (3rd Edition),
- Codex: Space Marines (4th Edition),
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pg. 79
- Codex: Blood Angels (5th Edition), pg. 35
- Codex: Space Wolves (5th Edition), pg. 42
- Codex: Dark Angels (4th Edition), pg. 33
- Codex: Dark Angels (6th Edition), pp. 39, 103
- Codex: Space Marines (6th Edition), pp. 100-101, 121-122, 176
- Deliverance Lost (Novel) by Gav Thorpe
- Know No Fear (Novel) by Dan Abnett, pg. 299
- Angel Exterminatus (Novel) by Graham McNeill, pg. 382
- Imperial Armour Volume Two - Space Marines and Forces of the Inquisition, pp. 57-66
- Imperial Armour Voume Two - Second Edition - Warmachines of the Adeptus Astartes, pp. 84-92
- Imperial Armour Volume Three - The Taros Campaign, pp. 54, 153
- Imperial Armour Volume Five - The Siege of Vraks - Part One, pp. 57, 65, 146
- Imperial Armour Volume Seven - The Siege of Vraks - Part Three, pp. 38, 72
- Imperial Armour Volume Nine - The Badab War - Part One, pp. 71, 96
- Imperial Armour Volume Ten - The Badab War - Part Two, pp. 26, 111, 129, 157-163
- Imperial Armour Volume Eleven - The Doom of Mymeara, pg. 55
- Imperial Armour Aeronautica, pg. 33
- Imperial Armour - The Horus Heresy - Book One: Betrayal, pg. 220
- Imperial Armour - The Horus Heresy - Book Two: Massacre, Part One (Upcoming)
- The Horus Heresy: Collected Visions (Background Book), pp. 161, 342
- Dawn of War - Dark Crusade (PC Game)
- Dawn of War - Soulstorm (PC Game)
- Forge World - Legion Deimos Pattern Whirlwind Scorpius
- Forge World - Relic Whirlwind Scorpius