Malcador Heavy Battle Tanks advance across no-man's land during the Siege of Vraks

The Malcador Assault Tank, also known as the Malcador Heavy Tank is a venerable pattern of armoured vehicle that predates the Leman Russ tank in the Imperium of Man's service. It is not widely used by Imperial armed forces at the present time and is in fact little known even within the Imperial military.

In many regions of the Imperium, the Malcador passed out of common service many millennia ago. The few Malcadors that remain in the Emperor of Mankind's service have been relegated to the Departmento Munitorum's strategic reserve, to the arsenals of second-line Planetary Defence Forces or are maintained in active service only by a few units of the Imperial Guard due to ancient tradition.



An ancient pict-capture of a Legion Malcador Assault Tank during the Istvaan III Atrocity

The Malcador Assault Tank is a truly ancient design dating back to the wars that consumed Terra during the Age of Strife. The Imperial production model of this heavy tank was named after Malcador the Sigillite, the Regent of Terra and right hand of the Emperor of Mankind during the Unification Wars, the Great Crusade, and the Horus Heresy of the late 30th and early 31st Millennia. The Imperial Malcador tank was produced by the thousands by the Forge Worlds of Mars and Voss during the beginning of the Great Crusade where it was one of the primary main battle tanks of both the Imperial Army and the Legiones Astartes.

Although the Malcador was not as heavily armed as goliaths as the Baneblade or the Stormhammer, or as heavily armoured as the Land Raider, it possessed a number of advantages to its design, the principal of which was its battle speed, which was formidable for a tank of its size, thanks to its highly sophisticated, if temperamental, drive system. The Malcador's design also allowed it to fight in the harsh conditions of the void, which was why it was most commonly associated with the elite Solar Auxilia Cohorts of the Imperial Army during the time of the Great Crusade. The Malcador's design, however, does suffer from flaws; most tellingly the relative vulnerability of its propulsion systems and the limited traverse of its main turret weapon.

The Malcador was eventually replaced in Legion service by the Land Raider Proteus, and by the time of the Horus Heresy many Malcador tanks had been relegated to the Legions' strategic reserves and second line Imperial Army units, only to be replaced by larger numbers of smaller, more tactically flexible tanks such as the Leman Russ and its many variants. The demands of the galaxy-wide civil war soon brought them back into the fray, and their ubiquitousness in the Imperial reserves saw them used as test-beds for a variety of new variants intended to replace losses and fill gaps in supply and resource. By the time of the late 41st Millennium, the Malcador Heavy Tank and its various replacement parts are now only produced on a very few of the Adeptus Mechanicus' Forge Worlds, though the planet of M'Khand Secundus in the Segmentum Pacificus is one rare exception where the Malcador is produced in relatively large numbers.

Siege of Vraks

During the Siege of Vraks, after the Apostate Cardinal-Astra Xaphan had led the planet's defence forces into rebellion against the Imperium and into eventual service to Chaos, the Malcador heavy tank saw extensive service with the Vraksian Traitor Militia. Vraks was a Departmento Munitorum Armoury World, a massive storehouse of Imperial arms stockpiled over the centuries. Mothballed amongst these arms were a large quantity of Malcador heavy tanks and its variants as well as considerable stores of spare parts for these tanks. Although not often seen during the early stages of the campaign on Vraks Prime because it was passed over in favour of more common and reliable machines, the Malcador took on a more prominent role in the fighting as the campaign ground on. Malcadors were used by the Traitors both to anchor their defensive lines and to spearhead their suicidal counteroffensives into the lines of the besieging Imperial Guard regiments of the Death Korps of Krieg.

The Malcador Defender variant of the tank was a highly-valued weapon against the Death Korps Regiments who favoured massed infantry assaults as their main offensive strategy. The Defender's multiple Heavy Bolters could be used to decimate the assaulting infantry lines, especially if they could counterattack into the main body of the Krieg assault, though this was a dangerous tactic for the tank's crew. Yet this tactic proved successful as the campaign progressed and the Vraksian Traitors devolved further into the fanaticism and savagery of Chaos. Chaotic corruption amongst the Traitors became more evident as the war continued and their Malcadors and other war machines became adorned with the iconography and foul symbols of the Ruinous Powers. Many Malcador tanks eventually sported bloody trophy racks and other foul decorations cut from the body parts of fallen Imperial soldiers in imitation of the warbands of Chaos Space Marines that were drawn into the conflict.


The Malcador was designed to fill the role of a main battle tank for the Imperial Guard, though the Malcador pattern is somewhat larger and heavier than the Leman Russ pattern that replaced it as the standard tank of the Guard. The Malcador has considerable durability as a result of its sheer bulk and the heavy layers of armoured plating that it is wrapped in. It is well-armed for its size with a Battle Cannon mounted in a limited-traverse turret embrasure. This main weapon is supplemented by a hull and two additional sponson heavy weapons mounts and a hull-mount that can carry attached Heavy Stubbers, Heavy Bolters, Lascannons or Autocannons. The Malcador does possess some limitations, however, especially when compared to the lighter but more versatile Leman Russ Tank. The overall shape of the tank reduces the traversing range of its sponson and hull weapons, producing a limited arc of fire due to its heavy armour plating and reinforced weapons mounts. Its immobile main turret can also prove to be a problem in a chaotic engagement where the lines of battle interpenetrate and the foe's infantry or armour units can take advantage of the Malcador's limited firing arc. Experienced commanders minimize these problems by combining other armour variants and infantry support with their squadrons of Malcadors. The Malcador tank could be outfitted with a variety of upgrades and attachments, such as Camouflage Netting, Extra Armour Plating, an improved communications system, a Hunter-Killer Missile Launcher, a mine sweeper, a Pintle-mounted Heavy Stubber, rough terrain modifications, track guards, a Searchlight, and Smoke Launchers.

However, the tank has another major problem, the vulnerability of its engine. The Malcador's main engine plant, a thermic combustor design that is a variant for military use of a common pattern used in industrial and agricultural machinery across the human-settled galaxy, is underpowered in relation to the Malcador's sheer size and mass. This reduces its performance and provides very poor fuel efficiency. This problem has often plagued the Malcador and its variants and has been the primary reason why this pattern of heavy tank has been relegated to second-line status amongst the Imperial military forces.

During the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy the Malcador was used by both the Imperial Army and the Space Marine Legions as a main battle tank until it was replaced in service by more powerful vehicles such as the Land Raider Proteus. The Malcadors of these eras featured many features that have been lost to the Imperium over the subsequent millennia, the most notable being the full understanding of the vehicle's engine and drive system, for during the earliest eras of Imperial history, the Malcador was lauded for its formidable battle speed, a feature that has been lost, for many Imperial commanders now see the Malcador as unreliable at best. The Malcador was also once capable of being outfitted with Flare Shield technology, which is now lost or forgotten by the Imperium. Flare Shields were similar to present-day Imperial Void Shield technology, but were effective on a smaller scale. It is unknown if this technology is still in use in parts of the Imperium in the late 41st Millennium or if it has been lost over the millennia like so much else from that era.

During these ancient times it was also common practise to equip Malcadors with an additional layer of ceramite plating, for added protection against enemy fire. The tank was also capable of mounting a wide variety of Pintle-mounted weapons such as twin-linked Bolters, certain Combi-Weapons, a Heavy Flamer or a Heavy Stubber. When the Malcador was in service to the Space Marine Legions they were usually crewed by the Legion's auxiliary mortal personnel, but they could also be crewed by the Space Marines themselves. The Malcador was also regularly fielded as a command vehicle.

Unit Composition

  • 1-3 Legion Malcador Assault Tanks (Legiones Astartes, 31st Millennium Only)


A standard Legion Malcador Assault Tank is armed and equipped with:

A Legion Malcador Assault Tank may replace its hull-mounted Heavy Bolter with any of the following:

A Legion Malcador Assault Tank may replace its set of sponson-mounted Heavy Bolters with any of the following:

A Legion Malcador Assault Tank may take one of the following pintle-mounted weapons:

Legion Malcador Assault Tanks may also possess a variety of vehicle equipment such as:

When in a squadron of three, one Legion Malcador Assault Tank could be upgaded to the following:

  • Squadron Command Tank


Like the much more common Leman Russ main battle tank, the Malcador has had numerous hull variants designed over the course of its long service with the Astra Militarum. These were created to fulfill a specific battlefield role or to overcome a particular problem with the pattern's design. These variants have included siege weapon platforms, self-propelled artillery and other specialised versions. The two most common variants are the Malcador Annihilator tank hunter and the Malcador Defender breakthrough tank.


A Malcador Annihilator heavy tank in use during the Siege of Vraks

  • Malcador Annihilator - The Malcador Annihilator replaces the standard variant's limited-traverse Battle Cannon with a Twin-linked Lascannon and its forward hull weapons mount with a Demolisher Cannon. This variant was a field modification carried out on battle-damaged or unfinished production hulls intended to "up-gun" the tank's weaponry and extend its battlefield utility. The pattern's detractors hold that the variant is a hybrid intended to carry out two roles, neither of which it can fulfill with any real ability. The tank is simply too slow and too large to serve as a true "tank hunter" but is not large enough or heavily armed enough (due to the limited supply of shells for its Demolisher Cannon) to be matched against a true super-heavy tank like an Imperial Baneblade in open combat. Against other, more conventional armoured vehicles when it is part of a larger offensive force, the Malcador Annihilator can still prove its worth in the hands of a skilled crew.

A Malcador Defender used by the Vraksian Traitor Militia during the Siege of Vraks

  • Malcador Defender - The Malcador Defender is arguably the most effective of the Malcador tank variants. It is more common in many Imperial armouries than the standard heavy tank upon which it is based. Like the Malcador Annihilator, the hull weapon mount is replaced by a Demolisher Cannon but the upper turret embrasure is heavily modified to mount 5 separate Heavy Bolters angled to provide 360 degrees of fire coverage. This shifts the tank's role to that of serving as a mobile fortress that is often referred to as a breakthrough tank. It is well-suited to close-quarters combat, trench warfare and urban warfare engagements. In this role the variant's Demolisher Cannon can be used against well-fortified positions and enemy strong-points, while its multiple Heavy Bolters can sweep areas for hidden infantry and defend the tank from a close assault. Although the Malcador Defender is very cramped, fitting a large crew of 8 into its tightly-packed and blazingly hot hull, and is as prone to engine problems as the other variants, its battlefield role means that it seldom operates far from support or resupply. This can mitigate the design's inherent problems and its firepower and considerable protection can make it a valuable asset to Imperial forces for both offensive and defensive engagements.

A Malcador Infernus in use on the icy world of Betalis III

  • Malcador Infernus - The Malcador Infernus variant has been mostly replaced by the faster and more reliable Hellhound in front-line Imperial Guard regiments. This variant is usually found in storage reserves or relegated to second-line forces or Planetary Defence Forces. The Infernus is armed with a massive Flamer known as an Inferno Gun. The vehicle's Promethium fuel tank is towed behind on a large trailer. The fuel is stored in multiple parts and is pumped to a mixing chamber just behind the weapon's barrel to create a chemical jelly. This jelly is then compressed and is fired out in a flaming mass that sticks to any surface. Due to the poor placement and resulting vulnerability of this fuel tank, the vehicle is highly prone to exploding when hit by enemy fire. The Malcador Infernus is best deployed against enemy infantry that lack heavy weapons. Some commanders have filled the vehicle's fuel tanks with corrosive toxins or acidic gases, creating an even deadlier weapon against unarmoured and unhardened targets.

A Valdor Tank Hunter during the Siege of Vraks

  • Valdor Tank Hunter - The Valdor Tank Hunter is a variant on the Malcador tank's basic chassis. The Valdor Tank Hunter is named after another of the Imperium's ancient heroes from the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras: Captain-General Constantin Valdor of the Legio Custodes. The Valdor was developed near the end of the Great Crusade by the Mechanicum using retro-engineered archeotech recovered by Mechanicum Explorators out of the Forge World of Galatea that was known as a Neutron Laser Projector. This weapon was field tested by the Space Marine Legions where it was used by the Cerberus Heavy Tank Destroyer, a smaller variant of the weapon was eventually manufactured and equipped on the Valdor. The Valdor Tank Hunter is one of only three known Imperial vehicles to be armed with Neutron Laser weaponry, the other two being the highly experimental Cerberus Heavy Tank Destroyer and the more common Sabre Tank Hunter. Neutron Laser weaponry is highly unstable yet rivals in power much larger weapons such as Turbo-lasers that were mounted on Imperial Titans and certain super-heavy tanks. The instability of the Neutron Laser Weapons used on the Valdor Tank Hunter, along with the Imperium's slow technological regression and the near-complete loss of understanding of the Valdor's basic functions has doomed this vehicle and any other Neutron Laser armed tanks from ever being produced or used in high numbers by the present-day Imperial armed forces.

A Minotaur self-propelled artillery tank

  • Minotaur Heavy Artillery Tank - The Minotaur is a self-propelled artillery tank that uses the Malcador's basic chassis and advanced engine drive system. The Minotaur is based on what appears to be an earlier variant, or the original chassis' design. The tank's origins are unknown, as it is believed to have served the Imperium during the Great Crusade, although many speculate that based on the older design of the tank's Malcador chassis it may have been even older, more than likely dating back to the Age of Strife much like the Malcador itself. The Minotaur is unique amongst the vehicles of the Imperium in that its weapons are mounted backwards, facing away from the crew compartment. The tank is armed with two rear-facing twin-linked Earthshaker Cannons mounted on a central axis point with a complex stabiliser system. This weapon's location allows ample room for the storage of a large number of shells, which are kept to the sides of the cannon in armoured storage lockers to protect them from enemy fire. The Earthshaker Cannon is capable of laying down heavy barrages and accurate though indirect fire even when under heavy enemy assault. The reasoning behind this unusual weapons placement is that the Minotaur can back itself into a good firing position, such as a dugout, and fire upon the enemy. If the foe advances too close, the Minotaur can simply drive straight out of its fortified position and seek a better protected position further away, as opposed to the more complicated and risky task of backing out and turning around whilst under fire.

Adeptus Mechanicus Technical Specifications

Malcador Heavy Battle Tank
Vehicle Name: Malcador Main Armament: Battle Cannon
Forge World of Origin: M'Khand Secondary Armament: 1 hull-mounted Heavy Bolter, 2 sponson-mounted Heavy Bolters
Known Patterns: I - XIII Traverse: 60 degrees
Crew: 1 Commander, 1 Driver, 4 Gunners, 1 Loader Elevation: -2 to 20 degrees
Powerplant: HL330 v12 Multi-Fuel Main Ammunition: 32 Rounds
Weight: 105 Tonnes Secondary Ammunition: 7,500 Rounds
Length: 9.6 metres Armour:
Width: 4.4 metres
Height: 3.9 metres Superstructure: 180 millimetres
Ground Clearance: .65 metres Hull: 160 millimetres
Max Speed On-Road: 25 kilometres per hour Gun Mantlet: N/A
Max Speed Off-Road: 18 kilometres per hour Vehicle Designation: 8677-032-8391-ML021
Transport Capacity: N/A Firing Ports: N/A
Access Points: N/A Turret: N/A


  • Imperial Armour Apocalypse, pp. 14-16
  • Imperial Armour Apocalypse (2nd Edition), pp. 16-19
  • Imperial Armour Volume One - Imperial Guard (Second Edition), pp. 8, 140-142, 144, 267
  • Imperial Armour Volume Six - The Siege of Vraks Part Two, pp. 15, 30-31, 150-156
  • Imperial Armour Volume Seven - The Siege of Vraks Part Three
  • Imperial Armour Volume Eleven - The Doom of Mymeara, pp. 85-89
  • The Horus Heresy - Book One: Betrayal (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pg. 229
  • The Horus Heresy: Book Two - Massacre (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pp. 86-87
  • The Horus Heresy - Book Four: Conquest (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pp. 90-91, 280
  • The Horus Heresy: Legiones Astartes - Age of Darkness Army List pg. 81


Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.