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A sergeant of the 8th Cadian "Kasrkin" Regiment wearing Carapace Armour.

Carapace Armour is a type of combat armour used by many Imperial military and para-military organisations, including the elite troops of the Astra Militarum, the Militarum Tempestus and the Adeptus Arbites. It is also utilised by those who have turned against the Imperium but still make use of much Astra Militarum wargear, such as Traitor Guardsmen and the secessionist forces of the Severan Dominate on the Spinward Front.

Carapace Armour consists of large, rigid plates of armaplas or ceramite molded to fit parts of the body. It can range from complete armoured suits like those worn by the Arbitrators of the Adeptus Arbites to individual pieces such as chest plates, helmets, greaves, etc.

Carapace Armour is stronger and thicker than the Flak Armour used by the common soldiers of the Imperial Guard and various Planetary Defence Forces and it provides the wearer a much higher chance of surviving a direct impact with standard small-arms rounds, though it does little to protect against stronger weapons. Carapace Armour is used by a wide variety of the Imperial armed forces, including the elite special operations Tempestus Scions troops of the Militarum Tempestus, the Storm Troopers of the Imperial Guard and the armsmen who defend the starships of the Imperial Navy.

The carapace breastplate worn by many Imperial Guard officers is as much a symbol of their rank as a form of protection. Regular Guardsmen will usually be equipped with the cheaper and simpler to manufacture Flak Armour, although there are several elite Imperial Guard units, like those of the Cadian Shock Troops' Kasrkin, where Carapace Armour is used as the standard form of infantry protection. The most notable disadvantage of Carapace Armour is that it can be tiring to wear during extended combat.

Known Carapace Armour Patterns

An Astra Militarum Storm Trooper outfitted in Carapace Armour and armed with a Meltagun.

  • Cadian Pattern "Kasrkin" Storm Trooper Carapace Armour - The Cadian Pattern "Kasrkin" Carapace Armour is the standard body armour of the Cadian Shock Troopers' elite Kasrkin Storm Troopers, which completely protects the wearer's body and features a suite of advanced technologies. The helmet is equipped with a rebreather, photo-visor, encrypted micro-bead for Vox communications and a clip attachment to the side for a light source or vid-recorder, whilst the suit itself incorporates an integral Auspex unit accessed via wrist display and attachments for a Grav-Chute. The power for these systems is provided for by a small power pack, equivalent in size and cost to a Lasgun power pack, which allows for a week of continuous use before requiring replacement. While associated with the Fortress World of Cadia, this pattern of Carapace Armour has been adopted by the Departmento Munitorum for use by other Imperial Guard Storm Trooper units from as far away from Cadia as the Calixis Sector.
  • Hax-Orthlack Mark II Magistratum Combat Carapace - Produced by Hax-Orthlack for the Scintillan Lord Governor's Magistratum Enforcers, this suit of light articulated Carapace Armour is fully enclosed and features both a respirator and flash reactive eyepieces built into the helm. While most commonly encountered in the unforgiving grey-steel of the Scintilla Magistratum, Hax-Orthlack also produces this armour for the authorities of several other worlds in the sector, and a small number also find their way into the hands of the private retinues of powerful houses. The suit of armour also has a built-in respirator, commbead and photo-visor.
  • Hydraphur Pattern Judge's Carapace Armour - The Hydraphur Pattern Judge's Carapace Armour represents the manifestation of an Adeptus Arbites Judge's authority under the laws of the Lex Imperialis. It is similar to the light suits of Carapace Armour worn by standard Arbites Arbitrators, complete with the distinctive matte-black and red colouring, but also incorporates a storm coat and massive golden Aquila topping the helm. The helmet features a photo-visor, encrypted micro-bead for Vox communications and Vox-amplifier for issuing orders to crowds, while a small light source can be attached to the shoulder plates. A power pack similar in size and cost to a Lasgun's power source provides enough energy for a week's continuous use of the armour's various systems.
  • Pressure Carapace - Designed for the rigours of ship-to-ship combat, a Pressure Carapace set is armour first and a voidsuit second. Constructed from a lightweight ceramite plating over a thin, multilayered, sealed undersuit, Pressure Carapace armour is not really designed to protect from the hazards of the void for long periods of time, instead serving more as an incidental safeguard against accidental exposure. Adeptus Arbites boarding parties, such as those serving as part of the Calixis Sector’s Precinct Astra, tend to employ suits of Pressure Carapace armour during their raids upon illegal shipping, though they are far from the only organisation to use this type of armour.
  • Windrider Carapace Scale Armour - An odd mix of armour styles, this uses small diamond shaped arm plas plates bound together in overlapping sections, forming a flexible covering that is less restrictive than normal carapace armour. The officers of the Lacustan Windriders favour this armour for the extra mobility it affords, as well as its savage appearance.

Karapace Armour

Orks have their own equivalent of Carapace Armor they call Karapace Armour. Some Greenskin warriors, known as 'Ardboyz, choose to literally have plates of metal or recovered ceramite bolted (semi-)permanently to their bodies by the Painboyz.

Combined with an Ork's natural tolerance for pain and wounds, this "Karapace" is as crude as it is efficient, allowing the Ork warrior to walk through most forms of small arms fire unscathed. Although some Orks frown upon its use, a fair number of veteran Boyz choose to equip themselves with this crude Karapace Armour, knowing that it will give them a better chance to reach the enemy and chop them to bits.

See Also


  • Codex: Orks (4th Edition)
  • Dark Heresy Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 145
  • Dark Heresy: Ascension (RPG), pg. 143
  • Dark Heresy: The Inquisitor's Handbook (RPG), pp. 126, 181
  • Rogue Trader: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 139
  • Rogue Trader: Hostile Acquisitions (RPG), pg. 62
  • Warhammer 40,000: Wargear (4th Edition), pg. 66
  • Only War: No Surrender (RPG), pg. 122