A Tank Commander is an officer of the Astra Militarum who commands the armoured companies or regiments of the Imperial Guard depending upon his given rank in the command hierarchy. A Tank Commander most often rides to battle in the cupola of a mighty Leman Russ main battle tank. These grizzled Guard officers are virtually one with their machines, possessing an implicit knowledge of mechanised warfare in all its forms. Granted their pick of the armoured fighting vehicles available to their regiment, they are further entitled to select their crew from the finest veterans. The average Tank Commander is therefore a steely-eyed ace, heading up a crew of the very best his or her regiment has to offer.
To become a Tank Commander, an Astra Militarum officer requires a singular and obsessive dedication to the art of tank combat. Each possesses an authority over their vehicle crew on par with an infantry commander directing the many squads in a platoon. With a single word, a Tank Commander can coordinate the movement, targeting, firing and reloading of their mechanical steed. A moment's hesitation or a minute lack of clarity could leave their Leman Russ floundering ineffectually on the battlefield. The skill of these "tread-heads," as they are sometimes called by infantry officers, becomes obvious in combat. A Tank Commander is a veteran of dozens of battles, and knows where and when to direct his or her attacks to deal maximum damage. The most dangerous Heretics and abominations are obliterated before they can reach Imperial lines, while those who lead them are eradicated from afar.
Each Tank Commander is placed at the head of a tank company, where their authority and expertise is put to use directing the actions of multiple squadrons. A skilled Tank Commander is intimately familiar with the vehicles in his company -- he understands the strengths and weaknesses of each armament, the limitations of various engine patterns and the idiosyncrasies of every Machine Spirit. This allows him to wield his squadrons like a rapier or a battering ram depending on the needs of the battle. The Tank Commander knows when to order his battle tanks to launch full-throttle advances, moving to outflank the enemy position or dispersing to dilute incoming fire. Having lived through wars against the Imperium of Man's myriad foes, he can also identify weak spots in the enemy's armour towards which his company's gunners will direct their fire. To compel the might of the Astra Militarum's war machines is an awesome responsibility, for along with the lives of the soldiery a Tank Commander is also charged with responsibility for his regiment's armoured assets -- a resource that is far more valuable and difficult to quickly replace.
These veteran armour commanders will often be assigned temporary leadership of Astra Militarum infantry or artillery assets. This may see the Tank Commander's squadron line-breaking at the head of an overwhelming infantry offensive, or digging in to provide close cover for thundering batteries of big guns. Whatever the case, the Tank Commander’s strategic cunning and deadly armoured war machine can anchor an entire battle line, or smash that of the foe asunder. Infantrymen may grumble when assigned to the command of a tread-head, mistrusting such a man's grasp of the hardships faced by honest footsloggers, yet such complaints soon turn to cheers when the commander's tank squadron rolls into the foe's ranks, all guns blazing and tracks churning enemy bodies to bloody paste. It is a Tank Commander's fusion of combat experience and bellicose leadership that makes them especially deadly, and soldiers from non-armoured regiments serving under them quickly learn to trust in their prowess.
Some Tank Commanders adorn the hull of their vehicle with grim trophies collected by their company in battle. Those of the Armageddon Ork Hunters are renowned for this, and they will mount the skull of a defeated Warboss on the prow of their Leman Russ. Other, more pious commanders turn their tanks into battlefield shrines so that the light of the Emperor may ever guide their manoeuvres. Ornate reliquaries are fitted to the turret, the primary weapon is festooned with burning braziers, and from sponson-mounted Vox speakers comes the endless cry of incanted hymnals and Imperial Creed prayers.
- 1 Tank Commander riding in a Leman Russ Tank or other Astra Militarum armoured vehicle
A Tank Commander has access to all the variable armament loadouts available to his Leman Russ Tank or any other pattern of Astra Militarum armoured vehicle he commands. Please see the individual pages of those vehicles for more information.
Notable Tank Commanders
- Alaxei Dymetrin - Alaxei Dymetrin is an Astra Militarum Tank Commander of the 1635th Vostroyan Firstborn Mechanised, amongst whom it is said that Alaxei Dymetrin has oil running through his veins instead of blood. Dymetrin has never really embraced the lifestyle of the Astra Militarum officer, and is more comfortable in the steel belly of one of his beloved tanks than he is in the comfort of headquarters. However, after the death of his own superior officer during the Eighteenth Great War of Vostroya, Dymetrin led his regiment's Leman Russ tank squadrons with such efficacy that he broke the Ork siege plaguing his world's capital. His field promotion was quickly made an official posting, and he has been regretting it ever since. Reasoning that rank has its privileges, he has since given his orders from the command cupola of Tundra's Bite, a Baneblade super-heavy tank whose interior is covered in etchings, friezes and kill markings.
- Knight Commander Pask - Knight Commander Pask is considered one of the Imperial Guard's most renowned tank aces. A hero of the Imperium of Man and a constant presence within the armoured regiments of the Cadian Shock Troops, Pask is one of the most skilled tank commanders ever to grace a Leman Russ Tank. He has commanded these behemoths through hundreds of campaigns, with his reputation continuing to grow with each victory. Over the decades Pask has commanded all variants of the Leman Russ and has mastered them all. He knows the capabilities and limits of each and every weapons system these mighty war machines can mount and it is a brave fool indeed who strays into his gun-sights.
- Maximillian Weisemann - Maximillian Weisemann was a famous tank commander of the Astra Militarum from the world of Konig Prime who earned the status of tank ace while driving the Baneblade super-heavy tank. Born into a noble family, he trained from childhood with the duelling rapier and cavalry sabre, both weapons in common use in the culture of Konig. His first military service came in the Konig Prime Planetary Defence Forces when he was 14 standard eyars old. At 18, he was drafted into the Astra Militarum where he first pdrove the Leman Russ tank. He fought on the worlds of Lamas and Balor Secundus. After scoring a kill total of 98 enemy vehicles during the three-year Balor Campaign, Weisemann was promoted to a super heavy tank regiment and took command of the Lucius Pattern Baneblade 212, Arethusa. As a commander, Weisemann was stern and unforgiving and demanded strict discipline and perfection from his tank crew. Weisemann's career would come to an illustrious end during the Sacking of Colonia, when the world of Colonia came under attack from the Ork forces of Warboss Gharag Badtoof. Supporting the assault of the 7th Mortant Regiment with his Baneblade, Weisemann decided to first strike at the Greenskin forces while they were still mustering their strength and managed to catch them by surprise. In the ensuring engagement, Weisemann destroyed three Battlewagons and eight Warbuggies. Advancing towards the centre of the Ork force which had taken up position near a bridge, Weisemann's Baneblade engaged the Greenskins until only seven rounds of ammunition remained for its main weapon. When the tank's driver was wounded by enemy fire, the Baneblade lurched off-road and into a bog. Effectively stuck in the soft ground, Weisemann and his crew fought off attacks from Ork Tankbustaz and Fighta-Bommers. Weisemann and his crew abandoned their vehicle before it exploded from the aerial attack, but two of his crewmen were slain and many more were wounded and incapacitated. Weisemann ordered the able survivors to fall back to Imperial lines while he remained with the blazing remains of the Arethusa and the wounded, to defend them until relief arrived. It took the 7th Mortant Regiment two solar months of hard fighting to finally reach the bridge where the charred remains of the Arethusa lay. But of Weisemann and his wounded crew there was no sign. His body was never recovered and his fate remains a mystery. Later, a shrine of the Imperial Cult was erected near the bridge to commemorate Weisemann's valour and sacrifice.
- Pious Korren - Pious Korren was an officer in the Armageddon Steel Legion of the Imperial Guard with the rank of Major who became one of the most famous tank aces of the Third War for Armageddon in 998.M41. He is also known as the "Hero of Anthrand." Major Korren and his crew single-handedly destroyed an entire armoured column of Ork vehicles during the Battle of Anthrand Plain. Korren directs his crew from the top hatch of the main turret of the famed Shadowsword super-heavy main battle tank known as the Iron Saint.
- Pysell Roderrik - Roderrik is a Tank Commander who commands an armoured group of Cadian battle tanks and was last seen in combat against Necron forces.
- Astrov Yemenev - There have been countless Tank Commanders of note in the Astra Militarum's history. Astrov Yemenev of the Vostroyan 24th "Iron Bloods" Armoured Regiment was noted for taking out the dread Biel-Tan tank ace, Vathwal Heavenlance. The Iron Bloods encountered the Fire Prism pilot on Hive World Degis, alone and cut off from his invading army. With a trio of lancing blasts the Aeldari incinerated an entire squadron of Leman Russ battle tanks while weaving deftly between the returning Imperial fire. Three more blasts saw another squadron obliterated. With his company below half-strength, Yemenev ordered the remaining gunners to lay down a wide blanket of fire on either side of the zigzagging Fire Prism. This left but a narrow channel where Heavenlance could move, through which Yemenev fired the killing blow.
- Leman Russ Tank
- Leman Russ Exterminator
- Leman Russ Vanquisher
- Leman Russ Eradicator
- Leman Russ Demolisher
- Leman Russ Punisher
- Leman Russ Executioner
- Codex: Astra Militarum (8th Edition), pp. 37, 50-55, 88
- Codex: Astra Militarum (6th Ediiton) (Digital Edition), "Tank Commanders," "HQ-Tank Commander"
- Codex: Imperial Guard (5th Edition), pg. 58
- Imperial Armour Volume One - Imperial Guard and Imperial Navy, pp. 210-211
- Imperial Armour Volume One - Second Edition: Imperial Guard, pg. 271
- Imperial Armour Update, pg. 17
- Shield of Baal: Leviathan (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), "The Hammers of Ixoi"
- White Dwarf 366 (UK), "Spearhead (Expansion)", pg. 5
- White Dwarf 352 (UK), "Liber Apocalyptica - Titan Killer!", pp. 32-34, 36-37