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"Infantry win firefights. Tanks win battles. Artillery wins wars."

—Old saying amongst Astra Militarum artillery officers

Several Basilisk artillery pieces during a siege

The Basilisk is the standard self-propelled artillery piece of the Astra Militarum in the 41st Millennium, and is also the most common artillery piece used by the Imperial armed forces across the galaxy. The Basilisk is produced in vast numbers on all of the known Forge Worlds in the Imperium, and almost every Astra Militarum regiment maintains several in their arsenal.

The Basilisk uses the same versatile and rugged chassis used by the Chimera armoured personnel carrier, and retains all of its features with the exception of its troop compartment, which is replaced with the Basilisk's main gun and gunnery platform. There are several different patterns of Basilisk tanks produced on different Forge Worlds, such as the Armageddon and Vanaheim Patterns, which offer enclosed crew compartments to help protect the gunnery crew from small arms fire. A Basilisk with an enclosed crew compartment is incapable of firing as far as the open-topped version, due to the recoil restrictions of the enclosed crew compartment.

A battery of Basilisk mobile artillery pieces open fire at an enemy

The Basilisk is used to provide direct artillery support for other Imperial units that are fighting on the frontlines. Unlike other Imperial Guard artillery units such as the Griffon and the Bombard, the Basilisk is capable of leveling its weapon at the ground and can directly engage enemy units. The most common role for the Basilisk is the indirect bombardment of enemy units and fortifications, and it is usually held near the rear of the frontline alongside the Medusa and Manticore mobile artillery pieces.

When the situation requires it, a Basilisk can be pressed onto the frontline and used as a direct fire tank hunter or assault howitzer, but due to the vulnerability of  the Chimera's chassis to heavy weapons fire and the vulnerability of its crew, the situation will have to be dire indeed for a commander to order his Basilisks into the thick of the fighting.

An Astra Militarum Basilisk battery unleashes its fire upon the foe

Of all the Astra Militarum's ordnance units, the Basilisk is the most numerous. Like many self-propelled artillery pieces, Basilisks can keep pace with infantry advances, ready to unleash its payload at a moment's notice. Such devastating weapons are not intended to perform the same battlefield role as main battle tanks, however, their lack of ablative armour and exposed crew carriages making them too vulnerable to lead assaults. Instead, Basilisks are fielded in a support role to the front-line regiments.

Basilisks can be redirected, reloaded and fired relatively swiftly. The design of the Earthshaker Cannon allows the weapon to be elevated to a steep enough angle for it to fire its shells high over the battlefield and onto concealed enemy targets. Basilisks can therefore deploy out of harm's way where the enemy is powerless to retaliate. The powerful shells fired by the Earthshaker Cannon are capable of smashing apart the enemy lines with ease and are designed to cause catastrophic damage at the impact zone. Targets at the epicentre of such a detonation are immolated immediately, while those in the vicinity are pulverised by the deadly shock wave. The unmistakable shriek of the Basilisks' incoming ordnance is rightly feared by the enemies of the Emperor.


"When your company has a Basilisk, every problem looks like a crater."

— Talon Gunner

The Basilisk was first used by the Imperium during the Great Crusade in the late 30th Millennium, where it was fielded in great numbers by the Imperial Army and Mechanicum, and in smaller numbers by the Space Marine Legions. The Basilisk artillery pieces used by the Space Marine Legions were usually crewed by the Legion's mortal personnel, but they were  also crewed at times by the Space Marines themselves. The Basilisk, along with the Medusa, saw only limited usage by most of the Space Marine Legions, as the Astartes preferred the more versatile Whirlwind artillery tanks, which were based upon the Rhino chassis and thus were easier for the Legions to repair. There were some Legions that made heavier use of the Basilisk, such as the Iron Warriors and Imperial Fists Legions, who specialised in conducting or defending against siege warfare. During these ancient times the Basilisk could be outfitted in much the same way it is in the late 41st Millennium, but the artillery piece could also take on additional upgrades and attachments which have long since been lost to the Imperium.


The Basilisk's main weapon is an Earthshaker Cannon, a 132 millimetre gun that is capable of firing its shells over 15 kilometres at a velocity of 814 metres-per-second, and is fully capable of destroying enemy tanks and fortified structures with a direct hit. The weapon usually fires High Explosive shells but is also capable of firing Incendiary Shells, Smoke Shells, and Illumination Shells. The tank retains the use of the Chimera chassis' hull-mounted Heavy Bolter, which the vehicle's commander can use when under close-range enemy infantry attack.

The Basilisk can also be outfitted with several enhancements including an enclosed crew compartment, Camouflage Netting, Extra Armour Plating, track guards, a Hunter-Killer Missile Launcher, improved communications equipment, rough terrain modifications, a Pintle-mounted Heavy Stubber or Storm Bolter, a Searchlight, and Smoke Launchers. During the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras, Basilisk artillery pieces could be outfitted with other upgrades such as an auxiliary drive system and Pintle-mounted twin-linked Bolters. The Basilisk was sometimes also used as a command vehicle for artillery formations.

Known Formations

  • Emperor's Wrath Artillery Company - An Emperor's Wrath Artillery Company will begin the Imperial Guard's march to war, preceding the troops and vehicles with a thunderous barrage of heavy artillery fire. The battlefield is turned into a smoking, crater-strewn ruin, amidst which the enemy can find no cover or shelter from the death raining down upon them. These bombardments can last for solar hours, days, weeks, or even longer, and few defences can withstand the sheer destruction that is unleashed. These companies usually consist of three ordnance batteries, with each battery composed of up to three Basilisk or Colossus artillery tanks and a single command Chimera tank.

Known Patterns of Basilisk

  • Standard Pattern Basilisk - The standard pattern Basilisk has an open-topped crew compartment and a forward-mounted gun shield.
  • Armageddon Pattern Basilisk - The Armageddon Pattern Basilisk possesses a fully-enclosed crew compartment.
  • Vanaheim Pattern Basilisk - The Vanaheim Pattern Basilisk is outfitted with an enlarged gun shield that offers additional protection for the gun crew from the front and sides.

Notable Users of the Basilisk

Basilisk of the 12th Tallarn Armoured Regiment during the Taros Campaign

  • The Imperial Guard - The Basilisk is the main mobile artillery piece of the Imperial Guard and is used by nearly every regiment.
  • 28th Valhallan Armoured Regiment
  • 9th Dniepr Tank Corps
  • 142nd Cadian Armoured Regiment - The Basilisk was used by the 142nd Cadian Armoured Regiment in the defence of Cadia during the 13th Black Crusade of Abaddon the Despoiler.
  • 7th Mortant Regiment - The Basilisk was used by the 7th Mortant Regiment during the Sacking of Colonia.
  • 27th Konig Armoured Regiment
  • 66th Arcadian Armoured Regiment - The 66th Arcadian Armoured Regiment was a part of the Toal III Invasion Force.
  • 12th Tallarn Armoured Regiment - The 12th Tallarn Armoured Regiment used many Basilisks during the Taros Campaign.
  • 17th Tallarn Armoured Regiment - The 17th Tallarn Armoured Regiment used many Basilisks during the Taros Campaign.
  • 331st Tallarn Armoured Regiment - The 331st Tallarn Armoured Regiment used many Basilisks during the Taros Campaign.
  • The Death Korps of Krieg - The regiments of the Death Korps of Krieg used myriad Basilisks during the Siege of Vraks.
  • The Vraksian Traitor Militia - The Basilisk is so ubiquitous amongst Imperial Guard forces that it was also used by the Vraksian Traitor Militia during the Siege of Vraks after large numbers of the artillery pieces were liberated by the Forces of Chaos from Vraks Prime's extensive Departmento Munitorum storehouses.
  • Iron Warriors Traitor Legion - The Iron Warriors Chaos Space Marines often use the Basilisk during sieges.
  • Tyrant's Legion - The Tyrant's Legion used Basilisks against the Loyalist forces during the Badab War.
  • 8th Pardus Armoured Regiment
  • Ketzok 17th Armoured Regiment

Adeptus Mechanicus Technical Specifications

Basilisk Mobile Artillery Tank
Vehicle Name: Basilisk Main Armament: 1 hull-mounted Earthshaker Cannon
Forge World of Origin: All Known Forge Worlds Secondary Armament: 1 hull-mounted Heavy Bolter
Known Patterns: I - XXVI Traverse: 3 degrees
Crew: 1 Commander, 1 Driver, 1 Gunner, 1 Loader Elevation: 0 to 59 degrees
Powerplant: Vulcanor 16 Twin-Coupled Multi-Burn Main Ammunition: 20 Rounds
Weight: 40 Tonnes Secondary Ammunition: 300 Rounds
Length: 7.08 metres Armour:
Width: 4.86 metres
Height: 4.38 metres Superstructure: 100 millimetres
Ground Clearance: 0.45 metres Hull: 150 millimetres
Max Speed On-Road: 35 kilometres per hour Gun Mantlet: 60mm Gun Shield
Max Speed Off-Road: 21 kilometres per hour Vehicle Designation: 0427-941-3011-BA02
Transport Capacity: N/A Firing Ports: N/A
Access Points: N/A Turret: N/A

See Also


  • Codex: Astra Militarum (8th Edition), pp. 46, 109
  • Codex: Astra Militarum (6th Edition), "Basilisks," "Heavy Support-Basilisk Battery"
  • Codex: Imperial Guard (5th Edition), pg. 78
  • Imperial Armour Update 2006, pg. 2
  • Imperial Armour Volume One - Imperial Guard and Imperial Navy, pp. 159-164
  • Imperial Armour Volume One - Imperial Guard (Second Edition), pp. 158, 162-167, 263, 267
  • Imperial Armour Volume Three - The Taros Campaign, pp. 224-228
  • Imperial Armour Volume Five - The Siege of Vraks - Part One, pg. 36
  • Imperial Armour Volume Six - The Siege of Vraks - Part Two, pg. 143
  • Imperial Armour Volume Seven - The Siege of Vraks - Part Three, pp. 58, 126, 134-135, 187
  • Imperial Armour Volume Ten - The Badab War - Part Two, pp. 29
  • Imperial Armour Volume Twelve - The Fall of Orpheus, pg. 204
  • Imperial Armour - The Horus Heresy - Book One: Betrayal, pg. 220
  • Gaunt's Ghosts Omnibus: The Saint (Novel) by Dan Abnett, pg. 57
  • Ghostmaker (Novel) by Dan Abnett
  • Only War: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 218, 335
  • Wrath & Glory: Core Rules (RPG), pg. 64
  • Warhammer 40,000: Apocalypse (6th Edition), pg. 144
  • Dawn of War - Winter Assault (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)