The Land Raider Achilles is a heavily armoured variant of the standard Land Raider used by the Adeptus Astartes. The Land Raider Achilles was developed in the closing years of the Great Crusade during the 31st Millennium by the Imperial Fists Legion. The Achilles is considered one of the rarest of all Land Raider variants. It utilises so many of the most arcane machine-artifice rites in its construction that each must be wrought individually and under the scrupulous gaze of the most senior Adepts of the Machine God. The Achilles differs from the standard Land Raider in both its armament and its construction, as the Achilles is armed as a short-range siege tank that is capable of withstanding massive amounts of punishment. The Land Raider Achilles has become legendary for its durability and the ancient and arcane technologies used in its construction. It is therefore an extremely rare sight on the battlefields of the late 41st Millennium and any Chapter blessed with even a single example of this formidable war machine considers itself fortunate indeed.
According to surviving accounts committed to the last volume of the Liber Armourum, the Land Raider Achilles came into existence at the very dawn of the Imperium as the Emperor's Great Crusade swept across the galaxy and several Chapters of the Imperial Fists Legion found themselves engaged in the far southern reaches of the galaxy against a sizable xenos empire whose warriors utilised fearsomely potent energy weaponry. The xenos empire required nearly the full strength of an entire Crusade arm to destroy it, and would have required more if the Achilles had not been developed. Legion Techmarines, working in conjunction with the Archmagos Xan-Ebon, conceived the Achilles as a means of delivering elite warriors directly into battle in the face of the aliens' devastating weaponry and constructed the first examples of the new class. The deployment of the Land Raider Achilles broke the impasse and the xenos empire was cast down so thoroughly that all records of its existence and its name are now dust. The Achilles' overwhelming close-range firepower and nearly indestructible armour helped crush the xenos and bring their worlds into the Imperial fold.
Even at the height of the Great Crusade, when the Space Marine Legions confronted fiendish xenos weaponry at every turn, the Achilles was never a common vehicle. Then, as today, each had to be constructed by the most skilled artificers, the engraving of the microscopic, techno-arcane sigils into its structure a time-consuming process that could little match the constant demand for new vehicles to replace those destroyed in battle. The Imperial Fists Legion commissioned and fielded the greatest number of Land Raider Achilles as it particularly suited their preferred methods of waging war. Several other Legions, in particular those who served alongside the Imperial Fists, commissioned their own examples and so the variant probably existed in limited numbers in most if not all of the other Legions. The Achilles continued to serve in the aftermath of the Horus Heresy and when the Imperial Fists Legion finally agreed to be broken up into Chapters during the Second Founding, it was inherited by the armouries of the Imperial Fists Successors. Unlike many examples of the most potent weapons systems fielded during the calamitous days of the Horus Heresy, the Achilles has remained in the canon of machine lore and is still fielded by various Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes as well the Ordo Reductor of the Adeptus Mechanicus.
The Land Raider Achilles is armed with a unique and powerful array of weapons, but this not why the Achilles has become a legend, the Achilles is legendary because of its extreme durability. The Land Raider Achilles is the most heavily armoured vehicle available to the Space Marines in the late 41st Millennium. The intent behind the enormous investment in resources required to construct even one Land Raider Achilles is to create an assault vehicle that is as resistant to energy-based weaponry as is conceivable for a vehicle of its class. To achieve this, during every stage of its construction, every square centimetre of the vehicle's interior structure, as well as the surface of every component, is etched with the most secret runes of the techno-magi, sigils inset with meta-conducting thrice-blessed zirconium that serves to repel even the most powerful of energy weapon attacks. Layer upon layer of ancient electromagnetic incantations and ferromantic computational algorithms are also etched into each part of the structure at a microscopic level using the most secret arts available to the Adeptus Mechanicus. The result is a vehicle that can only be destroyed by weaponry normally reserved for engaging far larger targets such as Titans, or by entirely unconventional weapons such as those utilised by Mankind's rivals for dominance of the stars. At the time of the Horus Heresy the methods and materials used in the construction of the Land Raider Achilles were far beyond the capabilities of all but the most supreme Master of the Forge or Enginseer Artificer to work, and thus this vehicle simply could not be mass-produced, even by the technologies available to the Imperium during the Great Crusade.
The Land Raider Achilles, like all Land Raider variants, is equipped with an extremely powerful Machine Spirit (Artificial Intelligence). The Land Raider Achilles is equipped with an enhanced Necris-Phobos Pattern Machine Spirit, and it is known to be one of the most warlike and frighteningly self-aware of any Astartes vehicle. As a result, the Land Raider Achilles is nigh-unapproachable by an enemy, or even a friendly who is recovering the vehicle from a battlefield. All personnel who will work in or near a Land Raider Achilles are warned to use extreme caution when dealing with the vehicle and its temperamental Machine Spirit.
The Land Raider Achilles is heavily armed for close-range siege combat, as the vehicle's armour can absorb most enemy attacks while the tank closes in for the kill. The Achilles is armed with two sponson-mounted twin-linked Multi-Meltas, one on each side, that are capable of making quick work of enemy armour and enemy fortifications. The Achilles' most unique weapon is its hull-mounted Thunderfire Cannon. The Thunderfire Cannon is a massive, multi-barrelled, rotary assault cannon that is usually mounted on a slow-moving, remote-controlled tracked chassis, and is used to provide heavy direct fire support for Space Marines during combat. The Achilles is thought to have been originally armed with a Viper Pattern quad-launcher, although most have been replaced with the more familiar Thunderfire Cannon. The Land Raider Achilles' troop-carrying space has been reduced in order to store the massive shells for the Thunderfire Cannon, and thus it can only carry up to six Space Marines, or three Terminators. Like all Land Raiders, the Achilles is equipped with a powerful Machine Spirit that is capable of taking over in case the vehicle's crew is killed or incapacitated. The Achilles can also be equipped with a pintle-mounted Storm Bolter, extra armour plating, a searchlight, a dozer blade, a Hunter-Killer Missile Launcher, smoke launchers and a Siege Shield.
As destructive as these weapons are, the ultimate intention is to deliver Space Marines into the heart of an enemy's position. The Achilles itself has only a limited transport capacity, much of its internal space taken up by the Thunderfire Cannon and its ammunition as well as the Techmarine ordnancer who mans it. For this reason, the Achilles is often fielded in conjunction with other patterns of Land Raider bearing the bulk of the assault units, in particular Land Raider Crusaders, their Hurricane Bolters and Assault Cannon scything down any enemy who might have survived the destruction wrought upon their position by the Achilles itself.
Known Land Raider Achilles Variants
- Achilles-Alpha Pattern Land Raider - The Achilles-Alpha Pattern Land Raider was the first prototype of the Land Raider Achilles, and these vehicles were hand-wrought by some of the most skilled Magos of the Mechanicum. Each was a unique work of the armourer's art, more powerful and durable than any tank of their class yet created. By the wars of the Horus Heresy, the Achilles Pattern was already in limited supply, while the vaunted "Alpha" prototypes were jealously guarded as command vehicles for the lords of the Legions. This formidable variant was constructed using specially Enhanced Ferromantic Rites. The hull of the Achilles-Alpha was specially constructed to resist even the most determined assault and was almost preternaturally resilient. Its armament matched its formidable armour, as it was armed with one hull-mounted Quad Mortar with frag and shatter shells and two sponson-mounted Twin-linked Volkite Culverins. The Achilles-Alpha could also exchange its twin-linked Volkite Culverins for twin-linked Multi-Meltas. An Achilles-Alpha could be outfitted with a searchlight, a smoke launcher, extra armour and a formidable Machine Spirit (Artificial Intelligence).
Known Users of the Land Raider Achilles
The Land Raider Achilles is one of the rarest vehicles used by the Chapters of the Space Marines. Even during the Imperium's height, just before the start of the Horus Heresy, the use of the Achilles had not extended far beyond the Imperial Fists Legion. It is known that several of these vehicles were delivered as gifts to the Dark Angels, Thousand Sons, and Salamanders Legions. In the 41st Millennium the Achilles is mostly found within the ranks of the Imperial Fists and their Successor Chapters, yet other Chapters also possess small numbers of them. It is believed that the Ordo Reductor of the Adeptus Mechanicus also has access to the Achilles design. The Land Raider Achilles is a highly sought-after prize and there are many tales of wrecked or dormant vehicles being discovered on forgotten battlefields. Such a rumour is enough in itself to divert entire Space Marine strike forces in an endeavor to reclaim it.
Notable Users of the Land Raider Achilles
- Imperial Fists - The Imperial Fists Space Marine Legion, and later Chapter, are the original developers of the Achilles, and they possess the most in their armouries.
- Imperial Fists Successor Chapters - It is known that the Successor Chapters of the Imperial Fists have higher concentrations of the Achilles than any other Successor Chapters.
- Dark Angels - The Dark Angels Space Marine Legion and its later Sucessor Chapters are known to have had a small number of Land Raider Achilles' in their possession at one time, gifted to them by the Imperial Fists before the Horus Heresy.
- Salamanders - The Salamanders Space Marine Legion and its later Successor Chapters are known to have had a small number of Land Raider Achilles' in their possession at one time, gifted to them by the Imperial Fists before the Horus Heresy.
- Minotaurs - The Minotaurs Space Marine Chapter have made use of the Land Raider Achilles during campaigns such as the Badab War.
- Ordo Reductor - The Ordo Reductor of the Adeptus Mechanicus is believed to make use of the Land Raider Achilles.
- Thousand Sons - The Pre-Heresy Thousand Sons Space Marine Legion is known to have had a small number of Land Raider Achilles' in their possession at one time, gifted to them by the Imperial Fists before the Horus Heresy. The Thousand Sons Traitor Legion may still have access to these vehicles, though they will have been warped beyond recognition by the power of Chaos.
Notable Land Raider Achilles
- Sire of Methusa - The most recent known Land Raider Achilles to have entered service with the Adeptus Astartes is designated the Sire of Methusa. Fifty-two standard years into a one-hundred year long Penitent Crusade imposed upon them for their part in the Badab War, the Executioners Chapter encountered a region near the galactic core no Imperial force is known to have visited for many millennia. In an area of high stellar density, the Executioners encountered a compact empire seemingly entirely isolated from the Imperium and ruled by a caste of leaders descended from a Rogue Trader dynasty thought long dead. The Executioners made war upon what they declared was a Secessionist enclave -- a heresy punishable by death. It was during the fighting for the pocket empire's capital world that the Achilles was fielded against the Chapter's warriors, costing the lives of several of the Executioners' 1st Company Veterans. When at length the Executioners defeated the secession they claimed the Achilles as a spoil of war, renaming it the Sire of Methusa and granting it pride of place in the Chapter's fleet-borne arsenal.
Adeptus Machanicus Technical Specifications
|Vehicle Name:||Land Raider Achilles||Main Armament:||2 Sponson-mounted Twin-linked Multi-Meltas|
|Forge World of Origin:||Mars / Gryhonne IV||Secondary Armament:||Hull-mounted Thunderfire Cannon|
|Known Patterns:||II - IV||Traverse:||180 degrees|
|Crew:||1 Commander, 1 Driver, 1 Ordnancer||Elevation:||-32 to 42 degrees|
|Powerplant:||Adaptable Thermic Combustion / Magon-Infusion Reactor||Main Ammunition:||30 one-second bursts|
|Weight:||76.0 tonnes||Secondary Ammunition:||48 Rounds (can vary)|
|Height:||4.11 metres||Superstructure:||100 millimetres|
|Ground Clearance:||0.50 metres||Hull:||95-115 millimetres|
|Max Speed On-Road:||50 kilometres per hour||Gun Mantlet:||N/A|
|Max Speed Off-Road:||40 kilometres per hour||Vehicle Designation:||Unknown|
|Transport Capacity:||6 Space Marines, or 3 Terminator Marines||Firing Ports:||N/A|
|Access Points:||2 Side Doors, 1 Front ramp||Turret:||N/A|
- Imperial Armour Apocalypse (2nd Edition), pg. 30
- Imperial Armour Volume Two (Second Edition) - War Machines of the Adeptus Astartes, pp. 38-39, 52-53
- Imperial Armour Volume Ten - The Badab War - Part Two, pp. 27,147-148, 194
- Imperial Armour Volume Thirteen - War Machines of the Lost & The Damned by Andy Hoare with additional material by Alan Bligh & Neil Wylie, pp. 48-51
- The Horus Heresy - Book One: Betrayal by Alan Bligh, pg. 218
- Forge World Webstore - Land Raider Achilles
- Forge World Webstore - Achilles-Alpha Pattern Land Raider