An ancient pict-capture of a Sons of Horus Legion Contemptor-Mortis Pattern Dreadnought armed with twin Kheres Pattern Assault Cannons

The Contemptor-Mortis Dreadnought, also known as the Contemptor-Mortis Class Dreadnought, was a variant of the standard Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought, specifically the original Contemptor Prime model, that possessed two ranged weapon arms. The Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought is an ancient Imperial cybernetic combat walker used by the Space Marine Legions in the days of the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy, 10,000 Terran years before the present day. Like the current patterns of Dreadnoughts now in service, the Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought served as a cybernetic sarcophagus for an Astartes who had been so badly wounded in battle that his only chance for continued service to the Emperor lay in being interred within the cybernetic sarcophagus of a Dreadnought.

The Contemptor Dreadnought, like much of the technology developed at the dawn of the Imperium of Man, is larger and more powerful than its standard pattern counterparts. This pattern of Dreadnought was once a key part of the earliest Space Marine Legion forces raised on Terra in the late 30th Millennium to initiate the Great Crusade. Such relics are sometimes recovered as archeotech by the Imperium in the late 41st Millennium and then used to supplement the forces of the present-day Space Marine Chapters.



An ancient pict-capture of a Death Guard Legion Contemptor-Mortis Dreadnought during the Horus Heresy

In the time of the Great Crusade, Dreadnought combat walkers primarily served as heavy assault units and highly mobile weapons support platforms for the Space Marine Legions. They were highly valued for their ability to endure under very heavy enemy fire and to operate in locations and theatres where traditional combat support vehicles would be impractical or downright impossible to use. The Contemptor-Mortis Dreadnought used the more advanced Contemptor chassis as a potent carrier of heavy weapons. It was able to target and destroy the foe at close range and was also outfitted with an advanced Helical Targeting Array that allowed it to provide a Space Marine spearhead force with close anti-air support when needed. During the last years of the Great Crusade, the Contemptor-Mortis Dreadnought was widely used by both the Dark Angels and Iron Warriors Legions, although it was used to some extent by all of the Astartes Legions during this era. Ten standard millennia later, there remain several Contemptor-Mortis Dreadnoughts that are still operational. They are revered both as potent relics of the Imperium's Golden Age and as powerful weapons by those few Space Marine Chapters lucky enough to still possess them.



An ancient pict-capture of a Sons of Horus Legion Contemptor-Mortis Dreadnought during the Horus Heresy

The Contemptor-Mortis Dreadnought differs from the standard pattern Contemptor Dreadnought only in being outfitted with two ranged-weapons arms as a standard weapon load-out along with the integration of a Helical Targeting Array that allows the Dreadnought to unleash its heavy weapons as dedicated anti-aircraft support. The standard load-out of the Contemptor-Mortis was two sets of twin-linked Heavy Bolters, along with Smoke Launchers and a Searchlight. The walker's Heavy Bolters could be replaced with several different weapons, including a set of twin-linked Autocannons, a set of twin-linked Lascannons, a set of Multi-Meltas or a set of Kheres Pattern Assault Cannons. The Contemptor-Mortis could also be outfitted with Extra Armour Plating and a carapace-mounted Havoc Missile Launcher. In the late 41st Millennium the Contemptor-Mortis can be equipped with a carapace-mounted Cyclone Missile Launcher instead of the Havoc Missile Launcher.

The Mortis Dreadnought was the Castraferrum Pattern Dreadnought's version of the Contemptor-Mortis Dreadnought, although many of this version lacked the Helical Targeting Array that allowed the Contemptor-Mortis to engage enemy aircraft, along with being built upon the less advanced Castraferrum chassis.

Unit Composition

  • 1 Relic Contemptor-Mortis Dreadnought (41st Millennium Only)
  • 1 Legion Contemptor-Mortis Dreadnought (31st Millennium Only)


A standard Relic Contemptor-Mortis Dreadnought is armed and equipped with:

Any Relic Contemptor-Mortis Dreadnought may replace its twin-linked Heavy Bolters with these options:

Relic Contemptor-Mortis Dreadnoughts may also possess vehicle equipment such as:

Horus Heresy Era Wargear

During the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras the Contemptor-Mortis Dreadnoughts of the Legiones Astartes featured many more loadout options than those relics that still exist in the 41st Millennium.

A standard Legion Contemptor-Mortis Dreadnought is armed and equipped with:

Any Legion Contemptor-Mortis Dreadnought may replace both of their twin-linked Heavy Bolters with any of these options:

A Legiones Astartes Contemptor-Mortis Dreadnoughts may also possess vehicle equipment such as:

Adeptus Mechanicus Technical Specifications

Contemptor-Mortis Class Dreadnought
Vehicle Name: Contemptor-Mortis Dreadnought Main Armament: Two arm-mounted sets of twin-linked Heavy Bolters
Forge World of Origin: Mars Secondary Armament: N/A
Known Patterns: N/A Traverse: 360 degrees
Crew: 1 interred Space Marine Elevation: -90° to +90°
Powerplant: Atomantic Arc Reactor Main Ammunition: Variable
Weight: 14.5 Tonnes Secondary Ammunition: N/A
Length: 2.1 metres Armour:
Width: 3.1 metres
Height: 4.5 metres Superstructure: 200 millimetres
Ground Clearance: N/A Hull: 75 millimetres
Max Speed On-Road: 12 kilometres per hour Gun Mantlet: 180 millimetres
Max Speed Off-Road: 7 kilometres per hour Vehicle Designation: N/A
Transport Capacity: N/A Firing Ports: N/A
Access Points: N/A Turret: N/A

See Also


  • The Horus Heresy: Book One - Betrayal (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pp. 99, 170, 174, 177, 180, 200
  • The Horus Heresy: Book Two - Massacre (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pp. 78, 170, 193-195
  • The Horus Heresy: Book Three - Extermination (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pg. 171
  • The Horus Heresy: Book Four - Conquest (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pp. 197, 217, 222
  • The Horus Heresy: Book Five - Tempest (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pg. 155
  • The Horus Heresy: Legiones Astartes - Crusade Army List (Forge World Series), pp. 28-29
  • The Horus Heresy: Legiones Astartes - Age of Darkness Army List (Forge World Series), pp. 9, 36-37
  • Imperial Armour Volume 2 Second Edition - Warmachines of the Adeptus Astartes, pp. 24, 176, 179
  • Imperial Armour Volume 13 - Warmachines of the Lost and the Damned, pg. 108
  • Imperial Armour Index: Forces of the Adeptus Astartes (8th Edition), pg. 26


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