The Manticore, also known as the Manticore Rocket Launcher, is a self-propelled rocket artillery piece used by the Astra Militarum that is based on a variant of the Chimera armoured personnel carrier chassis. A formidable weapon, the Manticore is capable of firing devastating barrages over incredible ranges. Though not as commonly seen on the battlefield as the Basilisk or the Earthshaker Cannon, the Manticore's versatility gives it a distinct advantage over other artillery. Named for the ferocious creature from ancient Terran mythology, the Manticore is armed with 4 long-range artillery rockets capable of firing a variety of different warheads, such as high explosive fragmentation warheads, oxy-phosphor incendiary warheads, air gas warheads to high altitude and surface-to-air interceptor missiles, providing it with an antiaircraft capability. But the most common type remains the deadly Storm Eagle Rockets, the signature payload of these ancient siege vehicles. The standard pattern of the Manticore is produced on the Forge World of Stygies VIII, while the rare pattern of Manticore that makes use of primarily incendiary Manticore Missiles is manufactured on the Forge World of Graia.
The Manticore Rocket Launcher is an ancient siege engine that dates back to the earliest days of the Imperium of Man. Once, these potent self-propelled artillery pieces mounted a variety of devastating warheads. Over time, as Forge Worlds have fallen and humanity's technological lore has been lost behind the veil of mythology, the Manticore's versatility has lessened. Though some variants still exist in far-flung corners of the Imperium, it is now the Departmento Munitorum standard for Manticores to go into battle bearing four mighty Storm Eagle Rockets. These munitions are by far the most powerful remaining Manticore armament, and are more than capable of causing unsustainable levels of damage to any foe.
Though its potency is undeniable, the Manticore is an ancient machine and prone to exhibiting considerable technological eccentricities. To reload a Manticore requires several solar hours of careful, uninterrupted ministration by a crew of Tech-priests and specialist Servitors. This process absolutely cannot be undertaken in the field, rendering the vehicle's ammunition reserve finite. This is coupled with the fact that the sheer antiquity of the surviving Manticores has rendered their Machine Spirits truculent and temperamental. If prevailing conditions are not to the rocket launcher's liking or its systems are treated without due delicacy, the Manticore has been known to malfunction in a most wilful manner. Storm Eagle Rockets deviate wildly off-course, fall uselessly out of the air, or simply ignore the depression of launch runes with curmudgeonly indifference. A Manticore crew will commonly bow to their machine before and after combat, humbly entreating its permission to discharge its weapons and then thanking it for delivering the Emperor's wrath. During battle they maintain a near-constant mantra of prayer and obeisance with the aim of mollifying their armoured steed, yet operational difficulties are still commonplace.
Compared to the Earthshaker Cannon, a Manticore is a highly sophisticated piece of equipment, utilising audio-modulated radio control systems, gyroscopic roll stabilisation and radar tracking. The Manticore can be used to fill a number of roles and make up any shortages in the existing order of battle of the Astra Militarum. When armed with anti-aircraft missiles it can stand in for a Hydra, when armed with oxy-phospor incendiary warheads it becomes a devastating anti-infantry weapon, and when armed with high-explosive warheads it can even be used to attack enemy tank formations.
Each Manticore Missile is divided into five components: the fuse, control and guidance equipment, an electrical unit, an explosive warhead and the missile's propellant tank. Each missile is powered by a two-part solid-fuel rocket that generates speeds of up to 300 metres per second once airborne. Due to the restrictions on the number of missiles available, Manticores are not as commonly seen on the battlefield as Basilisks. This means most artillery barrages are still fired by breach-loading artillery, though Imperial Guard commanders find the Manticore's tactical flexibility very useful.
Each Storm Eagle Rocket, the most common munition now used by the Manticore, is a self-contained arsenal. Mounted upon a single-stage booster and fitted with guidance and detonation-Augurs, these munitions are capable of extreme range bombardment. The Storm Eagle warhead contains concentric racks of high explosive bomblets, each soaked in sacred unguents of the Adeptus Mechanicus and hand-scribed with the One Hundred Canticles of Wrath. Soaring across the battlefield upon a contrail of flame, the Storm Eagle descends upon its target like an avenging angel. The deafening roar of the rocket's approach causes foes to abase themselves in terror, or flee screaming in a hopeless attempt at self-preservation. Directly above the target zone, the blessed warhead breaks up, unleashing its payload of bomblets across a wide area. Tanks are sent cartwheeling by concussive blasts, or are completely pulverised by the force of multiple detonations. Infantry are atomised or hurled into the air, blackened bodies tumbling down around the impact zone like ash from a hellish conflagration. Each warhead spawns a thunderous carpet of explosions that leave nought but wrath-strewn debris in their wake.
Whilst extremely powerful, the Manticore is notoriously unpredictable. The temperamental Machine Spirit of this artillery vehicle must be continuously tended to by a group of the artillery battery's attendant Tech-priests. Otherwise, without the appropriate blessings, the Machine Spirit may be offended, resulting in rockets veering off-target or even failing to detonate. Unfortunately, it is more common for the Manticore's weapon system to simply jam and for its rockets to be unable to launch. In very rare circumstances, it has been recorded that Manticores have unintentionally fired their entire payload at once, resulting in the catastrophic destruction of entire Imperial units.
Despite the Manticore's unpredictable streak, many commanders consider the rewards of their successful employment more than worth the gamble. A single Manticore is adjudged by the Departmento Munitorum to be equal in material value to an entire battery of lesser ordnance, and with good reason. When the rocket launchers are attached to Imperial Guard regiments for support, most officers employ them as terror weapons at a pivotal moment, using the might of the Manticore to deliver the decisive killing blow.
The Manticore can be equipped with several different types of missiles, including the Manticore Missiles, the anti-air Sky Eagle Rockets, and the now-standard Storm Eagle Rockets. The vehicle is normally equipped with a forward hull-mounted Heavy Bolter, but it can also be outfitted with a Heavy Flamer if needed. The Manticore can be also be equipped with the following enhancements: Camouflage Netting, Extra Armour Plating, a Hunter-Killer Missile Launcher, a mine sweeper, improved communications equipment, a Pintle-mounted Heavy Stubber or Storm Bolter, a Dozer Blade, rough terrain modifications, a Searchlight, track guards, and Smoke Launchers.
Regiments Known to Use Manticores
- 22nd Krieg Armoured Regiment - The 22nd Krieg Armoured Regiment made extensive use of Manticores during the Barbarius Campaign.
- 122nd Cadian Armoured Regiment - The 122nd Cadian Armoured Regiment used the Manticore during the Zhai-Khan Upising.
- 31st Cadian Armoured Regiment - The 31st Cadian Armoured Regiment unleashed its Manticores during the campaign on Levilnor IV.
- 58th Valhallan Armoured Regiment - The 58th Valhallan Armoured Regiment deployed its Manticores during Rogue Trader Milos Baral's exploration force to the Prath-Veil Sub-sector.
- 14th Phyressian Armoured Regiment
- 146th Catachan Jungle Fighters Regiment, The "Red Cobras" - The Red Corbras deployed their Manticores in the equatorial jungles of Yarant III.
- 17th Tallarn Armoured Regiment
Adeptus Mechanicus Technical Specifications
|Vehicle Name:||Manticore||Main Armament:||4 Storm Eagle Rockets or Manticore Missiles|
|Forge World of Origin:||Mars, Stygies VIII, M'Khand, Voss, Estaban III, Triplex Phall, Phaeton, Vanaheim, Lucius, Gryphonne IV||Secondary Armament:||Hull-mounted Heavy Bolter|
|Known Patterns:||I - XII||Traverse:||360 degrees|
|Crew:||1 Commander, 1 Driver, 1 Gunner, 1 Loader||Elevation:||0 to 45 degrees|
|Powerplant:||Vulcanor 16 Twin-Coupled Multi-Burn||Main Ammunition:||4 Missiles|
|Weight:||38 Tonnes||Secondary Ammunition:||300 Rounds|
|Height:||3.29 metres||Superstructure:||100 millimetres|
|Ground Clearance:||0.45 metres||Hull:||100 millimetres|
|Max Speed On-Road:||60 kilometres per hour||Gun Mantlet:||N/A|
|Max Speed Off-Road:||45 kilometres per hour||Vehicle Designation:||0427-941-3043-MA3|
|Transport Capacity:||N/A||Firing Ports:||N/A|
- Codex: Astra Militarum (8th Edition), pp. 48, 112
- Codex: Astra Militarum (6th Edition) (Digital Edition), "Manticores," "Heavy Support-Manticore"
- Imperial Armour Volume One - Imperial Guard and Imperial Navy, pp. 177-182
- Imperial Armour Volume One - Imperial Guard (Second Edition), pp. 9, 180-185, 267
- Imperial Armour Aeronautica, pg. 22
- Aeronautica Imperialis (Rulebook), pg. 24
- Imperial Armour, pp. 60-63
- Imperial Armour Apocalypse II, pg. 7
- Imperial Guard (5th Edition), pg. 54
- White Dwarf 366 (UK), pg. 5
- Only War: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 285
- Dawn of War II - Retribution (PC Game)