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"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
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A Whirlwind Helios artillery tank of the Black Templars Chapter

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.

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A squadron of Whirlwind Helios tanks open fire on an enemy during a night attack

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.

Armament

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A battery of Ultramarines Mark IIb Mars Pattern Whirlwinds open fire on the enemy

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.

Ammunition

The Whirlwind Missile Launcher is capable of firing multiple types of missiles, 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.

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

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A Mark I Whirlwind artillery tank

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

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A Mark IIb Whirlwind of the Ultramarines Chapter

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.

Whirlwind Hunter

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A Whirlwind Hunter of the Ultramarines Chapter

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.

Whirlwind Stalker

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A Whirlwind Stalker of the Ultramarines Chapter

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 millinnia 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.

Whirlwind Hyperios

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A Whirlwind Hyperios of the Dark Angels Chapter

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

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A Deimos Whirlwind Scorpius of the Night Lords Legion

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.

Notable Deployments of the Whirlwind

Adeptus Mechanicus Technical Specifications

Whirlwind Helios Mobile Artillery Tank
Vehicle Name: Whirlwind Helios Main Armament: Whirlwind Multiple Missile Launcher
Forge World of Origin: Helios Secondary Armament: N/A
Known Patterns: I - V Traverse: 360 degrees
Crew: 1 Driver, 1 Gunner Elevation: 0 to 55 degrees
Powerplant: Quad MkII Adaptable Thermic Combustor Reactor Main Ammunition: 60 Surface-to-surface Missiles
Weight: 33 Tonnes Secondary Ammunition: N/A
Length: 6.6 metres Armour:
Width: 4.5 metres
Height: 5.0 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: 0120-766-0810-WW 033
Transport Capacity: N/A Firing Ports: N/A
Access Points: N/A Turret: 30 millimetres

Also See

Canon Conflict

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.

Sources

  • White Dwarf 117 (UK)
  • White Dwarf 185 (UK)
  • Epic Armageddon Rulebook, p. 81
  • Codex: Space Marines (3rd Edition), p.
  • Codex: Space Marines (4th Edition), p.
  • Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), p. 79
  • Codex: Blood Angels (5th Edition), p. 35
  • Codex: Space Wolves (5th Edition), p. 42
  • Codex: Dark Angels (4th Edition), p. 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, p. 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 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, p. 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

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