A Tau Piranha squadron skims over supporting Fire Warriors to launch a counter-attack upon enemy forces

The Piranha is a light combat scout skimmer used by the Tau Fire Caste - a mobile weapons platform that is capable of great speed and manoeuvrability. Using its jet-thrusters and anti-gravitic engine, a Piranha glides over a planet's surface, its twin crew well able to hug the terrain and make the best use of any cover. Along with a nose-mounted main armament, a Piranha carries two Gun Drones - either retained on the vehicle to add firepower, or detached into AI mode to perform some other mission.

Piranhas are used in a wide array of capacities, and formations range in size from lone vehicles to a team of up to five working in conjunction. The larger schools of these deadly skimmers can use their Burst Cannons to annihilate enemy infantry units, while smaller formations are ideal for eradicating scouts or countering enemy teleporters. Lone Piranhas that are equipped with a deadly Fusion Blaster are proficient hunters of enemy tanks. Using its speed, the skimmer will attempt to manoeuvre so as to target tanks in their more vulnerable side and rear armour. During an attack run, Piranhas are a blur of motion, and the crew are more likely to trust their speed and jinking ability over any amount of armour.



A Tau Piranha skimming over the surface of Taros during the Taros Campaign

as part of a recon mission]]

The first time the Piranha was initially encountered and identified by the Imperium was during a diplomatic mission on the Tau Sept world of Dal'yth, where it was being used as an unarmed diplomatic transport vehicle for Water Caste negotiators. However, it was during the Taros Campaign that the Piranha was first field-tested in a military application, and has subsequently been code-named the "Piranha" by the Imperium.

During the Taros Campaign's Battle for Hydro Processing Plant 23-30, Piranhas were widely deployed in support of Remote Sensor Towers already in the area to provide Seeker Missile support. This caused the 114th Cadian Regiment's relief column to be constantly harassed by missile strikes and day long battles were fought between Chimeras and Piranhas. This led to the relief column being delayed long enough for Tau Hunter Cadres to overrun the plant. Piranhas also played an important role in the desert warfare on Taros, harassing enemy forces with the support of Hunter Cadres and eventually pursuing the Tallarn regiments of the Imperial Guard as they withdrew back to their landing zones in the closing stages of the campaign. Since the Taros Campaign, it has since been upgraded in terms of armour and armament, and has proved notably successful as a support asset for Pathfinder Teams.

Notable Pilots

  • Ghovah - The most famous Piranha pilot was Ghovah, from the Vior'la Tau Sept, who claimed over 1, 000 kills during his service fighting for the Tau Empire. His most famous victory, however, occurred after his retirement from the frontiers to a training position. An Ork invasion thrust Ghovah back into battle when the greenskins attacked Vior'la 's largest moon. Only Ghovah s half-trained Piranha cadre stood between the mechanised greenskin army and the destruction of the vital food producing moon base. With Ghovah leading the way, the Piranha squadrons darted in interweaving patterns to attack the columns of ramshackle Ork vehicles. Piranhas with Burst Cannons concentrated on the lightly armoured Warbikes and Trukk transports, while the Fusion Blaster-equipped skimmers dealt with the heavily plated Battlewagons and tanks. The Orks broke off their drive towards the Earth Caste agri-centres and attempted to engage Ghovah s Piranha teams. In the ensuing battles, the agile skimmers feinted and fled, setting the Orks up for repeated counter attacks. The greenskins finally broke when, even while losing control of his crippled Piranha, the elder Tau steered his vehicle straight into the Warboss's battlewagon, causing it to erupt in flames. Ghovah’s unstinting skill and sacrifice were noted and he was, posthumously, named a hero of the Tau Empire.



A Tau Piranha armed with a Burst Cannon and two Gun Drones

The design of the Piranha consists of a sleek and light design of a central, open-topped chassis that can seat two crew members. A Piranha is powered by complex dual anti-gravitic and jet-propulsion motive systems so that a Devilfish almost glides over a planet's surface. The anti-gravitic engines generate "cushions" of air upon which the Piranha floats upon, and its armoured bulk is then driven forwards by its two powerful thruster jet engines mounted on the sides of the main chassis. By manipulating the anti-grav plates so the Piranha is pointed slightly skywards, a Piranha pilot can gain extra lift from the Piranha’s engines to clear the many obstacles and terrain that often litters a battlefield; obstacles that more mundane tracked vehicles can never hope to traverse.

Two winglets also mounted on the sides of the main engines. Each of these winglets fulfils a similar role as the lift fins on a Devilfish chassis, providing extra lift to keep the vehicle off the ground and also providing space for two recesses each specifically designed to carry a Gun Drone. Mounted on the front of the central section of the Piranha is a chin turret, which can be fitted with a Burst Cannon or a Fusion Blaster. The armour of the vehicle is made from a dense nano-crystalline metal, named Fio'tak in the Tau Lexicon, that is light, malleable, strong and corrosive resistant; reducing the weight of the vehicle whilst also providing excellent protection. A Piranha carries two crewmen. The crew member in the front seat is the pilot, while the crew member behind him operates the chin-mounted weapon system. However, when the Piranha is used in a non-combat role, the second seat is often reserved important Tau dignitary passenger such as an Ethereal.

Tactical Role


A squadron of Piranhas moving into battle

Piranhas are used in a wide array of capacities, and formations range in size from lone vehicles to a team of up to five working in conjunction. The larger schools of these deadly skimmers can use their Burst Cannons to annihilate enemy infantry units, while smaller formations are ideal for eradicating scouts or countering enemy teleporters. Lone Piranhas that are equipped with the deadly Fusion Blaster are proficient hunters of enemy tanks. Using its speed, the skimmer will attempt to manoeuvre so as to target enemy vehicles in their more vulnerable side and rear armour. During an attack run, Piranhas are a blur of motion, and the crew are more likely to trust their speed and jinking ability over any amount of armour. Using its jet-thrusters and anti-gravitic engine, the Piranha glides over a planet's surface, its twin crew are well able to hug the terrain and make the best use of any cover.

Piranhas are usually found supporting Hunter Cadres in the niche role of acting as a light combat, raiding, and reconnaissance vehicle that can harass infantry and armour alike. Piranhas commonly clash with enemy scout forces during missions, and have been used by the Tau to provide armoured fire support in defence of an area by acting as part of a rapid-response force for Tau Pathfinders. In a reconnaissance role, the Piranha is a direct match to a Imperial Guard Salamander as it can tackle other light vehicles. This is a desirable asset; due to first contact with an enemy often being a clash between scout forces. It is thought that the Fire Caste observed and learnt from the Imperial Guard's deployment of Salamanders how to deploy and use Piranhas, and have adapted the same tactics for their Piranhas. However, this is pure conjecture by Imperial observers.

On the battlefield, Piranhas often seem to be everywhere at once - hurtling over friendly troops to counter-attack approaching infantry, racing along the flanks to launch devastating enfilades at enemy armour, or streaking from behind cover to destroy vulnerable foes. After so many training drills that stress using coordinated attacks and mutual fire support, Fire Warriors are well accustomed to the thrum of a Piranha soaring just over their head;, and they no longer turn to follow the sudden swoosh of air as they streak past.

Piranhas have the ability to bring firepower quickly to wherever it is needed, but they are even more dangerous when working in conjunction with Pathfinder teams. Using Marker Lights, Pathfinders often set up Piranha runs; ensuring that the skimmers' volley of fire is as devastating as possible. In return, Pathfinders that find themselves in danger of being overrun can request quick strikes by Piranha teams to help wipe out approaching enemies; or, at least, buy time for the Pathfinders to reposition.

Piranhas are also commonly equipped with potent Seeker Missiles, allowing them to strike at enemy armour from long range with the support of other Tau units outfitted with Marker Lights, such as Pathfinders. Piranhas are lightly armoured, however, and their only true defence is their speed and manoeuvrability. Piranhas have also been identified operating as armoured support for teams guarding important strategic locations such as Tau airfields; where they act as a rapid response force. In this way, they act as security where heavier combat vehicles are not generally required. In peacetime, Piranhas can also fulfil the role of an armoured personnel carrier, transporting important Tau diplomatic officials and Ethereals to and from locations where they are needed.

Known Tactical Formations

  • Firestream Piranha Wing - When a number of Tau Hunter Cadres fight together, they make use of a higher-level scouting force consisting of a number of Piranha squadrons. These so-called Firestream Wings are often called "Piranha Swarms" by Imperial troops. The are responsible for not only scouting terrain ahead of a multi-cadre force, but also disrupting enemy forces. The primary fucntion of a Firestream Piranha Wing is to hunt and eliminate isolated enemy forces. These Piranhas are often fitted with Seeker Missiles, and their chin-mounted Burst Cannon is often replaced with Fusion Blasters. This makes them exceptionally lethal armour hunters, especially when homing in on Marker Light targets acquired by other units. For this reason, the wing often includes a Tetra scout speeder team to support them in their hunt. The Firestream Wing's secondary function is to disrupt the deployment of enemy forces. They achieve this through a highly complex communications array mounted upon the wing's command vehicle. This array gathers sensor data from all of the Piranhas in the wing, and decrypts any communications it intercepts and identifies. The orders contained in the signal are alterd, the encryption re-applied, and the signal reconstructed before being transmitted onwards to the intended recipient. Should the signal prove impossible to replicate, the system is capable of jamming any type of communication it can detect. The re-transmitted signal is intended to disrupt enemy orders, changing dispositions without the enemy command being aware of the subterfuge. Enemy units will often find themselves deployed kilometres out of line, and either ambushed or unable to take part in the battle. Soon, the entire enemy army is in disarray, allowing the wing and following Tau units to engage the enemy entirely on their own terms. The Tau have become so adept at this process that they can analyse and jam almost any signal, and succeed in disrupting even entirely alien forces they have not encountered before.


Primary and Secondary Weapons

A Piranha is primarily armed with an underslung nose turret weapon and a hull-mounted secondary weapon system. The nose-mounted primary weapon can either be:

  • Burst Cannon – A Burst Cannon provides rapid-firing suppressive anti-infantry fire that can harass and mow down enemy squads. A Burst Cannon can also act as a fearsome self-defence weapon that can complement the fire of supporting squads.
  • Fusion Blaster – A Fusion Blaster is an anti-vehicle Melta Weapon effective against a range of light and heavy vehicles, and allows a Piranha to fulfil a tank-hunter role on the battlefield. However, a Fusion Blaster can also be used to great effect against heavily armoured infantry.

Piranhas Piranhas are also armed with two Gun Drones which ride with the vehicle in specially designed recesses. These Gun Drones are able to lend to their Piranha their additional weight of fire to pin down enemies, or can detach themselves from the Piranha to move off independently and perform missions of their own.


Devilfish transports can also be equipped with any of the following Tau vehicle upgrade systems:

  • Automated Repair System - Automated Repair Systems consist of dispensers which release tiny maintenance Drones which swarm over damaged weapon and drive systems, repairing them in the midst of battle.
  • Advanced Targeting System - An Advanced Targeting System assists the vehicle's gunner by identifying targets of particular value or danger, and plotting fire plans to counter them.
  • Blacksun Filter - Blacksun Filters allow the vehicle's gunners to accurately see and target enemies in low-light conditions.
  • Decoy Launcher - Decoy Launchers are a form of defensive measure that is mounted near the engines. They are capable of firing clouds of reflective strips and sophisticated electronic decoys, which are combined with flare and chaff launchers to protect the tank's thruster arrays from enemy missiles.
  • Disruption Pod - Disruption Pods display distorting holographic images in the visual and magnetic spectra to make the vehicle harder to target.
  • Flechette Discharger - Flechette Dischargers line the hull of the Devilfish and fire high-velocity flechettes at infantry which try to assault the vehicle.
  • Multi Tracker - A Multi Tracker consists of advanced stabilisers that allow the vehicle to fire accurately even whilst moving at speed.
  • Point Defence Targeting Relay - Designed to provide superior covering fire for nearby Fire Caste units, a Point Defence Targeting Relay automatically targets and engages enemies that try to assault the vehicle or nearby friendly units.
  • Sensor Spines - Sensor Spines feed data to an advanced ground-following flight control system. This allows the vehicle to avoid hazardous terrain that could otherwise damage the vehicle's drive systems.
  • Target Lock - A Target Lock computer automatically identifies potential targets and plots fire plans accordingly. This grants the gunners more choice and accuracy in engaging various targets.
  • Targeting Array - Computer-aided Targeting Arrays are sophisticated targeting systems that aid the gunners' aim in firing upon enemy targets

Optional Weapons

  • Seeker Missiles - Piranhas can also optionally have up to two Seeker Missiles in addition to their primary and secondary armaments. Each Seeker Missile is most effective when fired and guided by Marker Lights. Seeker Missiles are especially deadly when mounted on Piranhas, as their ability to rapidly position themselves on the flanks of a battlefield allows the Seeker Missiles to strike at more vulnerable side or rear armour of enemy vehicles.



A TX-42 Piranha variant, armed with Twin-linked Rail Rifles

The TX-42 variant of the Piranha is a more heavily-armoured version of the standard Piranha chassis and mounts heavier weapons. It has a semi-enclosed, armoured crew compartment and upgraded armament to turn the light Piranha into a heavier gunship, designed for frontline operations in support of Tau armoured units. It is can be armed with twin-linked Rail Rifles, twin-linked Missile Pods, twin-linked Fusion Blasters or twin-linked Plasma Rifles. To date, the TX-42 has only been encountered by the Imperium amongst the forces of the Sa'cea Sept operating in the Perdus Rift region during the Tau Empire's Third Sphere Expansion.

Ordo Xenos Departmento Analyticus Technical Specifications

Serial Number 85673-908461 Main Armament Burst Cannon in chin turret
Designation Light Skimmer
Vehicle Codename Piranha Secondary Armament 2 Gun Drones
Vehicle Type Grav-Speeder
Crew 2 (Pilot, Co-Pilot) Traverse 120°
Weight 4.5 tonnes Elevation From -46° to +5°
Length 5.7 metres Ammunition 2000 rounds
Width 6.4 metres Armour Type Nano-Crystalline Alloy

Composition Unknown to the Adeptus Mechanicus

Height 2.4 metres
Max Recorded Speed 160 kilometres per hour
Summary: Light Combat Vehicle; Can also mount a Fusion Blaster and Seeker Missile Rack



  • Apocalypse: Reload, pg. 46
  • Codex: Tau Empire (4th Edition), pg. 39
  • Codex: Tau Empire (6th Edition), pg. 47
  • Imperial Amour - Apocalypse, pg. 80
  • Imperial Armour - Apocalypse (Second Edition), pg. 82
  • Imperial Armour Volume Three - The Taros Campaign, pp. 181-183
  • Imperial Armour Update 2006
  • Deathwatch: Rites of Battle (RPG), pg. 195
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