Given their homeworld's peculiar topography and low population, the Phantine Skyborne count amongst the rarest regiments within the Imperial Guard and are outshone in glory and deeds by more famous regiments such as the Elysian Drop Troops and the Harakoni Warhawks.
The Phantine Skyborne's military history is a recent one and one easily overlooked, as even on Phantine itself, the greater honour goes to the Phantine Air Corps and not the men and women of the Skyborne. Both formations have only come to the attention of the wider Imperium through their involvement in the Sabbat Worlds Crusade, and the hard-fought victories Warmaster Macaroth was able to wrestle from the Khorne-venerating Blood Pact and its likes. As such, the Skyborne's first military campaign recorded with any semblance of detail is the defence and subsequent purge of their own homeworld of Phantine in 771.M41.
According to a local proverb, Phantine is a world made of sky, but that has not always been the case. Through millennia of pollution, Phantine's troposphere was rendered uninhabitable for humans as the toxic gases and corrosive fogs of the lower atmosphere formed a life-eating sea called "the Scald". In order to escape certain death, Phantine's population was forced to seek refuge in height. On the tallest mountain-peaks and highest spires of their hive cities, above the world's cloudline, the Phantine erected their new homes: vast sky-cities under sheltered domes, heated and powered through the chemical wealth of Phantine's soil.
This relocation of the population led to profound changes in Phantine society, including its conscripted Planetary Defence Forces. By necessity, with no ground to move on, these PDF regiments became airborne units of drop troopers. When necessity demands Phantine provide fighting men and women to the Imperium, elements of these PDF regiments are "activated" or "promoted" to the Imperial Guard and take the title of the Phantine Skyborne. This was particularly the case in the latter part of the Sabbat Worlds Crusade and has continued ever since.
- The Phantine Liberation (771.M41) - Left vulnerable by the great push in the Cabal System, the Imperial Sabbat Worlds Crusade was flanked by the Chaos-tainted armies of the Blood Pact. A second frontline opened, and war raged on a score of worlds, including Phantine. Lacking air superiority, the Blood Pact was unable to wholly conquer Phantine before the Imperium could send in reinforcements and begin its liberation. As a matter of honour, the Phantine Skyborne requested to fight on the frontline to liberate their own world, but in truth they lacked the manpower to do so effectively and the burden of the combat would have to be carried by other, off-world regiments. Under the command of Major Fazalur, the Phantine Skyborne participated in all the great battles of this conflict, but were always tasked with taking secondary objectives. While the Phantine's courage could not be doubted, the Phantine Skyborne could simply not muster very large numbers, which repeatedly led the Skyborne to only engage "softer" targets, such as Hab-dome Gamma during the attack on the sky-city of Cirenholm, where the Blood Pact taken Cirenholm's population hostage.
- Operation Larisel (771.M41) - In the wake of the liberation of Cirenholm, the Imperial commander of the war on Phantine, Lord General Barthol Van Voytz, hoped to capitalise on the stealth capabilities of the famed Imperial Guard regiment called the Tanith First and Only. Van Voytz hoped to strike directly at the enemy commander: a Chaos Space Marine known as Sagittar Slaith who acted as Urlock Gaur's eyes and ears in the sky-city of Ouranberg. An extensive cooperation between the 81st Phantine Skyborne and the Tanith First and Only was required to mount "Operation Larisel". Both regiments selected their most capable elements to reach their common goal. In only six solar days the specialists of the Phantine Skyborne trained the Tanith in the use of a drop trooper's most vital piece of equipment, the Grav-Chute, before the four five-man teams were covertly dropped over Ouranberg. These teams consisted of a Skyborne specialist, a Tanith squad-leader, a Tanith Sniper, one Tanith Infiltrator and one average Tanith soldier equipped with the heavy U90 Pattern Autogun to deal with the terrifying Loxatl-mercenaries Slaith employed. Although one team was lost during insertion and one partially captured, the survivors of the two other teams were able to neutralise Slaith in preparation for the main Imperial assault, thus severely disrupting the Blood Pact's command structure.
- Las-Carbine - All Phantine Skyborne are armed with a lighter, cut-down version of the Lasgun known as the Las-Carbine. This weapon has a lower rate of fire and a shorter range than the standard Lasrifle, but is easier to carry and aim, often coming with a folding stock. Las-Carbines can be fired one-handed.
- Charge Cells - Phantine's power plants deliver countless megawatts of energy, of which at least a part is used to produce and charge power cells for the world's PDF and the Imperial Guard. The Phantine Skyborne use Type 5 standard Charge Cells.
- Laspistol - Every Skyborne fields a short-nosed, compact Laspistol as a back-up weapon.
- Combat Knife - This one-handed melee implement is the ubiquitous back-up weapon for warriors all across the Imperium, be they lowly hive scum or the elite soldiers of a Planetary Governor. Some, such as the Catachan Fighting Knife, are designed for a specific purpose, whilst others are more generic in nature.
- Grav-Chute - The Phantine notoriously have access to some of the best models of Grav-Chutes currently available in the Imperium. As such, the Skyborne favour the robust and reliable Icarus Type 5 Pattern manufactured on the mighty Forge World of Lucius. A grav-chute relies on anti-gravitic suspensor fields to counter the pull of gravity and slow its user's descent. The Icarus Pattern is equipped with twin gravitic nullifiers which easily bear the chute's sixty kilos once activated. The gravitic nullifiers are lodged into two spheres above the shoulders of the drop trooper. A big M12 model ventilator-compressor allows the trooper to direct himself in whatever direction required. The entire system is controlled by a single control stick that can be operated by hand. Unlike a true Jump Pack, Grav-Chutes are designed only to allow the user to land safely from a long fall -- such as combat drop from am orbital transport -- rather than leap into the air and begin powered flight. However, the power of the twin suspensor fields is such that a trooper can effectively float above ground and leapfrog over vast distances.
- Pressure Helmet - As drop troops are often required to perform high-altitude drops in low-oxygen altitudes, their helmets need to be pressurised and to incorporate respirators and breathing apparatuses. The Phantine's helmet can be directly connected to a cumbersome oxygen reserve which the Phantine carry on their belly during a drop. The Pressure Helmets also has in-built altimeter and a Micro-bead as to allow the troopers to communicate with each other.
- Vox-caster - A Vox-caster is a standard and reliable radio wave communication device used to transmit over long distances, including to and from orbiting vessels. This allows communications with other Imperial personnel who possess Vox-casters. A Vox-caster's standard range is 100 kilometres, though better crafted variants exist that have longer ranges.
- Frag Grenades - Frag Grenades use a combustible charge and shrapnel fragments to fill a given circumference with deadly shards that are a potent anti-personnel weapon. Imperial Frag Grenades are roughly the size of a clenched fist and covered with a heavily notched shell, both to increase the shrapnel produced and provide a more secure grip for throwing.
- Smoke Grenades - Smoke Grenades release a dense smoke which only obscures basic eyesight and optical based systems. They do not block detection systems that use heat or other spectral bands outside of normal human eyesight, but are much more widely available and easier to construct.
- Phantine Skyborne Imperial Guard Uniform - The Phantine Skyborne's uniform is coloured in light ocre, almost cream tones.
- Drop Suit - Given the extreme environment that caracterises Phantine, during their drops,the Skyborne wear rubberized bodysuit with a built-in hood and covering the feet as the base layer and as an environmental seal. The Phantine uniform consisting of fatigues, shirt, and jacketis is worn above this base layer, as well as the standard Flak-Jacket. Over this layer, a second, heavier bodysuit with quilted padding on the joints and strips of chainmail on the vitals is worn. It carries numerous pockets for the trooper to stow its equipment.
- Emergency Balloon - The Emergency Balloon is a unique piece of equipment of the Phantine Skyborne. Its usage is limited for operation on Phantine itself where a common parachute would only mean a slow descent into certain death once a trooper reaches the toxic clouds of the Scald. To prevent this from happening, the Phantine carry an Emergency Balloon which allows them to they stay airborne long enough to be rescued. The Emergency Balloon takes mere split-seconds to inflate thanks to a small pressurised gas-canister.
- Signal Flares and Flare Gun - Few military operations are as dangerous and prone to failure as drop operations. To limit failure and allow more flexibility on the battlefield, squad leaders and even common troopers carry a Flare Gun for emergency battlefield communication.
- Poor Weather Gear
- Basic Toolkit
- Mess Kit & Water Canteen
- Survival Rations
- Rechargeable Lamp Pack - Sturdy and reliable, glow-globes illuminate many an Imperial paveway and cathedral. Most portable ones are roughly the size of a clenched fist and can shine strong, yellowish light a dozen or so metres in width, lasting roughly five solar hours before their power pack needs recharging or replacing.
- Grooming Kit
- Dog Tags
- Imperial Infantryman's Uplifting Primer - A standard-issue Imperial text that covers a vast variety of topics, this book is possessed by all members of the Imperial Guard as part of their standard-issue equipment. The Primer is a basic guide that details everything a Guardsman needs to know: principles and regulations of the Imperial Guard, issued arms, attire, apparatus, and equipment, basic battlefield policy and Imperial Guard organisation and structure, elementary battlefield medical instructions, and a detailed guide on the foes of the Imperium. No Guardsman should ever be found without possession of a copy of the Uplifting Primer for the punishment is severe.
Notable Phantine Skyborne
- Major Fazalur - Commander of the 81st Phantine Skyborne during the Phantine Liberation, Major Fazalur personally led the drop of his batallion during the Reconquest of the sky-city of Cirenholm. A wise leader, Fazalur was the son of Phantine's most decorated military commander Sky Marshal Fazalur, Phantine former commander-in-chief, who was captured and executed by the Blood Pact when they took control of Cirenholm, where the Sky Marshal had chosen to retire.
- Lieutenant Goseph Kesherin - A decorated veteran of the 81st Phantine Skyborne, Kesherin was chosen to train those members of the Tanith First and Only in the use of Grav-Chutes. During the famed Operation Larisel, Kesherin was part of Larisel 2.
- Corporal Innis Unterrio - Phantine specialist detached from the 81st Phantine Skyborne for Operation Larisel. Unterrio's team, Larissel 1 successfully infiltrated Ouranberg, but was later discovered by Loxatl. While Unterrio died, the rest of his team was captured and brought as prisoners before Sagittar Slaith.
- First Class Arye Babbist - An able instructor, Fist Class Arye Babbist was selected to be part of the high-risk operation dubbed "Operation Larisel". Babbist and all members of Larisel 4 - with the notable exception of Sergeant McKoll - were all killed when their transport, a modified Maraudeur was shot down over Ouranberg.
- First Class Lex Cardinale - Lex Cardinale was a member of Larisel 3, one of four infiltration units tasked with infiltrating Ouranberg and assassinate the head of the Blood Pact, Sagittar Slaith. Larisel 3 was discovered as it tried to enter the principal hab-dome, but where other members of his team were killed, Cardinale was captured by the enemy. Interrogated by Slaith himself, Cardinale, though wounded and brutalized, never revealed what he knew. Captured alongside some members of Larisel 1, Cardinale was bound to serve as sacrifice in a dark ceremony to the Blood Pact's patron deity, the Chaos God Khorne, when the surviving Larisel-teams sprung into action, their precision shot forcing Slaith and the Blood Pact to scatter, thus saving his life.
- The Guns of Tanith (Novel) by Dan Abnett