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An Ultramarines Vanguard-class Light Cruiser in space dock.

A Vanguard Cruiser, also called a Vanguard-class Light Cruiser, is a variant of the standard Adeptus Astartes Strike Cruiser that has been refit for long-range operations without the benefit of Escorts or other naval support.

This is a variant that is primarily used by fleet-based Chapters of Space Marines that often need to send detachments of Astartes on long-duration missions far from the main Chapter fleet.

They have improved thrusters and defensive turrets, but this comes at the expense of weaker offensive weaponry.

As a result, Vanguard Light Cruisers are less capable of undertaking planetary assaults like normal Strike Cruisers because their weapons profile has been optimised for ship-to-ship combat, planetary exploration, reconnaissance and boarding operations.

Vanguards are thus used as scouting vessels operating independently or as heavy escorts as part of a large Space Marine fleet.


The Vanguard-class Light Cruiser comes in three main patterns:

  • Mark I - Armed with Torpedo launchers, Macrocannons, and launch bays for attack craft.
  • Mark II - Armed with Lances, Macrocannons, and attack craft launch bays.
  • Mark III - Armed with a single Bombardment Cannon, Macrocannons, and attack craft launch bays.

Notable Vanguard Cruisers

  • Red Harbinger (Fire Hawks Chapter) - The Red Harbinger was at first disabled and then captured by the Mantis Warriors Chapter in 350.904.M41, an incident that helped to initiate the internecine conflict between Space Marine Chapters of the Imperium known as the Badab War.
  • Obsidia (Salamanders Chapter) - In 838.912.M41, during the Badab War, the Executioners Chapter Cruiser Night Hag and the Executioners Battle Barge Phaeton's Wrath were hunting a pair of damaged Sons of Medusa Strike Cruisers in an asteroid field on the edge of the Eridayn Cataract when the Salamanders Vanguard Cruiser Obsidia suddenly interposed between the two sides and requested a ceasefire. After a tense stand-off, the Sons of Medusa withdrew and the Executioners agreed to parley with the Loyalist command. This action led to the eventual withdrawal of the Executioners from the conflict on the side of the Secessionists and their restoration to the Emperor's grace.
  • Mitrah - A Vanguard-class Light Cruiser of the Mentors Chapter.

See Also


  • Imperial Armour Volume Nine - The Badab War - Part One, pp. 22-23
  • Imperial Armour Volume Ten - The Badab War - Part Two, pp. 46, 201
  • Battlefleet Gothic Armada, pg. 23
  • Battlefleet Gothic Armada II (PC Game) (Image)
  • Spear of the Emperor (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Ch. II