The Deathstorm Drop Pod, officially designated the Lucius Pattern Deathstorm Drop Pod, and also known as the Deathstorm Pattern Drop Pod, is a specialised variant of the common Drop Pod used by the Adeptus Astartes for planetary assaults.
A Drop Pod is a one-way, sealed, armoured landing craft that is launched from an orbiting voidship onto the planet below. The Drop Pod plummets through the planet's atmosphere at extreme speeds, firing powerful retro-rockets just before touchdown to rapidly slow its descent. Having made what is little more than a controlled crash landing, explosive bolts are released and the armoured doors of the pod open, allowing the enclosed Space Marines to deploy.
The Deathstorm Drop Pod is a heavy support variant of the standard Drop Pod, featuring internal weapons systems that deploy upon impact with the ground, and it makes up for the principal disadvantage of any Drop Pod used by the Imperium -- the inability to transport armoured vehicles such as Predators or Vindicators directly to where they are needed most.
Where internal seating and support harnesses are found in the infantry pods, the internal space of a Deathstorm is wholly dedicated to transporting either a series of automated Deathstorm Launchers or automated Assault Cannons, and the design of the craft allows for heavy support to be immediately transported to the battlefield with the minimum of delay.
Once a Deathstorm Drop Pod has touched down and its assault ramps have slammed open, the weapons within will open fire on anything outside of the craft. These weapons will only fire in the direction of the ramp they are positioned at and will strafe the immediate area with weapons fire until their ammunition is completely expended.
The weapons carried by a Deathstorm Drop Pod do not possess any auto-targeting capabilities and will fire indiscriminately at the area around them until all ammunition is expended. By this time further Drop Pods carrying Space Marine assault forces will themselves have begun landing in standard Drop Pods and started disgorging Astartes onto the battlefield to face any enemies that survived the onslaught unleashed by the Deathstorm Drop Pod.
The Deathstorm's automated weapon systems do not fire blindly, however, as this would simply be a waste of time and ammunition. They are instead slaved to a basic Cogitator unit that instructs the weapon's Machine Spirit (artificial intelligence) in target selection.
Although the weapons are capable of firing upon these selected targets, there is no discrimination between friendly units and the enemy. Once the battle its over, Chapter Techmarines will recover any surviving pod and have it repaired and rearmed for the next battle.
Deathstorm Drop Pods were first conceived and prototyped by the Raven Guard Legion during the Great Crusade, who sought to augment the firepower of their precision-orbital assaults. The Raven Guard's preference for such surgical-strike tactics would, upon occasion, leave them at a disadvantage in the case of both protracted engagements and in assaulting very heavily fortified targets where heavy units such as Legion tanks and artillery could not be used.
This opened the Legion up to levels of casualties during some successful Drop Pod assaults that their Primarch Corax would not countenance. The Raven Guard's solution spoke much to their own nature and preferred tactics -- a weapon that would strike with merciless swiftness and expend its force in a lethal fury that left little need for prolonged endurance.
Built around a standard Drop Pod chassis, the Deathstorm Pattern used rapid-firing missile launchers known as the Deathstrom Launcher System, similar to the present-day version's Deathstorm Missile Array.
The Deathstorm Launcher could be outfitted with either fragmentation or Krak warheads. This enabled the Deathstorm to blast an area in a massive volley of fire upon landing, clearing the way for the Space Marines to assault in their wake.
The Machine Spirit-targeted weapons of the Deathstorm would then continue to sweep the landing zone and provide fire support, although at much reduced firepower, the bulk of their ammunition already expended on their arrival.
The Deathstorm Drop Pod replaces the interior seating and restraints of the standard Drop Pod with a set of five automated weapon systems, known as a Deathstorm Missile Array or a Deathstorm Cannon Array. These weapons are slave-linked to an onboard Cogitator unit that directs their Machine Spirits (artificial intelligences) to fire upon any target within their range, friend or enemy, until their ammunition is expended.
After a successful Deathstorm Drop Pod deployment, regular troop-carrying Drop Pods or Dreadnought-carrying Dreadnought Drop Pods will land to assault the enemy. The Deathstorm Drop Pod's main armament, the Deathstorm Missile Array, consists of five automated Deathstorm Launchers armed with fragmentation warheads. These weapons can be replaced with a Deathstorm Cannon Array, a linked group of five automated Assault Cannons.
- 1 Deathstorm Drop Pod (41st Millennium Only)
- 1 Legion Deathstorm Drop Pod (31st Millennium Only)
A standard Deathstorm Drop Pod is armed and equipped with:
- Deathstorm Missile Array - The Deathstorm Missile Array is a system of linked Deathstorm Launchers slaved to a basic Cogitator unit on-board the Deathstorm Drop Po that instructs the weapon's Machine Spirits in target selection. The array contains five linked launcher systems.
- Inertial Guaidance System - The Drop Pod's Inertial Guidance System is an on-board flight-control system that helps safely guide the Pod to its target, avoiding enemy fire and obstacles.
A Deathstorm Drop Pod can replace its standard Deathstorm Missile Array with the following:
- Deathstorm Cannon Array - The Deathstorm Cannon Array is a system of linked Assault Cannons slaved to a basic Cogitator unit on-board the Deathstorm Drop Po that instructs the weapon's Machine Spirits in target selection. The array contains five linked rotary cannons.
Horus Heresy Era Wargear
A standard Legion Deathstorm Drop Pod is armed and equipped with:
- Deathstorm Launcher System with Frag Munitions - The Deathstorm Launcher System is a system of linked Deathstorm Launchers slaved to a basic Cogitator unit on-board the Deathstorm Drop Pod that instructs the weapon's Machine Spirit in target selection. The array contains five linked launcher systems. This version is equipped with Frag munitions.
- Inertial Guidance System - The Drop Pod's Inertial Guidance System is an on-board flight-control system that helps safely guide the Pod to its target, avoiding enemy fire and obstacles.
A Legion Deathstorm Drop Pod can replace its standard Deathstorm Launcher System loaded with Frag munitions with the following:
- Deathstorm Launcher System with Krak Munitions - The Deathstorm Launcher System is a system of linked Deathstorm Launchers slaved to a basic Cogitator unit on-board the Deathstorm Drop Po that instructs the weapon's Machine Spirits in target selection. The array contains five linked launcher systems. This version is equipped with Krak munitions.
The following are all known formations that make use of Deathstorm Drop Pods:
- Iron Cyclone - The Iron Cyclone formation is intended to make short work of even the heaviest of enemy defences and is the favoured Drop Pod deployment of several Space Marine Chapters who prefer the brutality of overwhelming force to destroy and smash aside enemy ground defences and strategic targets. This formation is believed to have been so-named by the Black Templars Chapter who used it repeatedly during the Second Aegisine Crusade against the rebel Drift Worlds of the Mandragora Sector in the 39th Millennium. During this bitter war the Iron Cyclone formation was deployed directly from Black Templars Strike Cruisers under merciless enemy ground-fire to overwhelm their bastions and silence their guns despite suffering heavy loses. It is lauded for breaking a deadlock that had tied up Imperial forces for solar decades, and the use of this tactic rapidly spread to other Adeptus Astares Chapters that also took part in the Crusade, including the Red Seraphs, Marauders, and the Fire Angels Chapters. This formation starts with an orbital bombardment of the target location followed by two to three Deathstorm Drop Pods to further clear the area and then three to five Dreadnought Drop Pods carrying Dreadnoughts and up to two Terminator Assault Squads to deploy immediately afterwards.
There are several variants of the Deathstorm Drop Pod used by the Imperium:
- Deathwind Drop Pod - The Deathwind variant of the Deathstorm Drop Pod is no longer used by the Adeptus Astartes. This variant, similar in nearly every way to the Deathstorm Pattern that ultimately replaced it, was originally armed with Deathwind Missile Launchers to provide fire support. The Deathwind Pattern was replaced with the Deathstorm variant due to its Deathstorm Missile Launchers being more powerful than Deathwind Missile Launchers and just as easy and cost effective to manufacture.
- Legion Deathstorm Drop Pod - The Deathstorm Drop Pods used by the Space Marine Legions during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras were similar to the present Deathstorm Drop Pods of the 41st Millennium with the exception of their weapon systems, as the Legion Deathstorms made use of only the Deathstorm Launcher System, a similar missile launcher system that was capable of being loaded with either Frag or Krak warheads. Imperial records do not mention if there exists any difference between the Deathstorm Launcher System of the Legion Deathstorm Drop Pods and the Deathstorm Missile Array used by the Deathstorm Drop Pods in the late 41st Millennium.
- Dominica Pattern Deathwind Drop Pod - The Dominica Pattern Deathstorm Drop Pod is used only by the Adepta Sororitas. This variant makes use of the Dominica Pattern Drop Pod chassis and is armed with either Heavy Bolters or Multi-Meltas.
Adeptus Mechanicus Technical Specifications
|Type||Orbital Drop Pod - Weapons||Operational Ceiling||N/A|
|Vehicle Name||Deathstorm Drop Pod||Max Speed||12,000 kph descent|
|World of Origin||Lucius||Range||Unlimited|
|Known Patterns||I - VII||Main Armament||5 Whirlwind Missile Launchers or 5 Assault Cannons|
|Powerplant||1 FV-50-75 Retro-Rocket||Main Ammunition||Unknown|
|Weight||16.5 Tonnes||Secondary Ammunition||N/A|
|Wingspan||N/A||Superstructure||60 millimetres of armour|
|Height||7.7 Metres||Hull||70 millimetres of armour|
|Vehicle Designation:||2109-044-8659-DP 013||Transport Capacity||
The Deathstorm Drop Pod was originally known as the Deathwind Drop Pod, and featured nearly the same armament and model. The name was changed to Deathstorm with the release of the Imperial Armour Volume 2 Rules Update (ver. 1.1) by Forge World.
No reason for the change was given in the update; however, it may be that the standard Drop Pod model and rules by Games Workshop could be armed with a Deathwind Missile Launcher in place of its Storm Bolter, which is a smaller weapon than needed for a Heavy Support unit, and as such the name was changed and the weapon altered to a Whirlwind Launcher to better reflect that the Deathstorm was meant to possess heavy firepower.
- Imperial Armour Volume 2 - Space Marines & Forces of the Inquisition, pp. 143, 146-147, 149, 152-153, 253
- Imperial Armour Volume 2, Second Edition - War Machines of the Adeptus Astartes, pp. 25, 158, 161
- Imperial Armour Volume 12, Fall of Orpheus, pp. 153
- Imperial Armour - Apocalypse, pg. 27
- Imperial Armour - Apocalypse II, pp. 28, 35
- Imperial Armour Index: Forces of the Adeptus Astartes (8th Edition), pg. 45
- The Horus Heresy: Book Two - Massacre (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pg. 201
- The Horus Heresy: Legiones Astartes - Crusade Army List, pg. 49
- The Horus Heresy: Legiones Astartes - Age of Darkness Army List, pg. 61