Thursday, March 10, 2011

Astartes Power Armor

The Adeptus Astartes are the most powerful fighting force in the entire galaxy.  More commonly known as 'Space Marines', these warriors epitomize the art of war in every way.  In addition to their awesome firepower and extensive training and indoctrination, every space marine is given a suit of power armor.  This armor is the finest protection any foot soldier of any race in the galaxy can ask for.

The armor of the Astartes is the most advanced piece of machinery that mankind has ever produced.  Mixing the most micro-sized machinery and barely-understood biomechanical processes, the armor provides the warrior with additional strength and speed on top of the survivability. 

The armor is most often made from ablative ceramite plates, stacked layer-by-layer over the internal machinery.  This allows the armor to recieve impacts but deftect most blows.  The most vulnerable portions of the armor are the abdomen (often protected by the marine's boltgun-at-rest) and the leg joints (which is mitigated as the marine is constantly moving).  The most reinforced portions of the armor are the shoulder plates, chestplate, and lower legs.  These are the areas of the armor most exposed to enemy fire therefore requiring additional layers of ablative plating.

The interior machinery of the armor is made up of thousands of hyper-servos and mechandritic branches.  The armor weighs hundreds of pounds, which would be impossible to move by an un-augmented human.  The Astartes physiology makes them stronger by many times, allowing them to move the armor with little effort.  This is further enhanced by the psycho-active matrix of the power armor, which activates the machinery and moves the heavy armor plates with only thought.  Added to the space marine's already unimaginable strength, this allows the armor to act as additional muscles.  It is not unheard of for a space marine to be able to throw a tank using nothing but his hands, and power armor.

The entire suit of power armor is controlled by a miniature fusion reactor housed in an armored backpack.  Due to the intricate and super-charged machinery inside and the heavy weight of the armor plates and Astartes warrior enclosed in it, the suit requires a massive amount of energy.  This can only be provided by nuclear forces, and fusion is the simplest and most transportable form.  The energy produced by the mini-reactor is enough to power the suit forever, but the heat would fry a man in the suit instanty.  This is lessoned almost entirely by massive heat dispersing modules on either side of the backpack.  

Power armor is the most advanced battlefield asset in the entire galaxy.  In addition to protecting and enhancing the warrior's strength and speed, it also contains the wargear necessary for space marine shock troops to wage their wars.  Housed in the chestplate is the master power trunk, carrying enough power to sustain an Imperial tank.  Also housed there is nutrient-producing injection machinary, used to physically sustain the soldier without having to stop for food.  The leg armor contains additional gyrostabilizers and gravity enhancers to allow for extremely steady footing.  The feet have magnetized and grounded footpads, perfect for boarding actions and interstellar combat.  More advanced than all of this, however, is the helmet.  The smallest piece of the entire Power Armor suit, it is nonetheless the most packed with machinery.  The helmet of most space marines contains vox-systems, heads-up-display capability, orbital and transatmospheric vox-systems, voice amplifiers, air filtration and air-sealed environmental systems, multi-spectral vision capability, and audible enhancers.  With all this wargear, an Astartes is able to wage war at night, in extremely hostile environments, and against grenades and chemical weapons.

Even more advanced, so advanced that the Adeptus Mechanicus guards the secret closely, is the biomatrix.  The armor has a number of 'spikes' that plug into a space marine's implanted Black Carapace and 'reads' the neurons underneath.  In effect, the power armor's matrix turns the space marine's brain activity into electronic  signals which power the armor.  This allows an Astartes to control the armor with his thoughts in the same way as he controls his own skin and muscles.  What's more amazing is that the warrior doesn't even need to try to control the armor, it moves the same way as his arm when he wishes to move it.  With the space marine's great strength, speed, and skill being augmented by the power armor, the Astartes become more than any other warrior in the galaxy can match.

The only technical drawing I've seen of power armor is from the Rogue Trader days and is of the Mk 6 Corvus armor.  Check out how packed the helmet is, and pay especially close attention to the psy-spikes in the back of the chestplate.  That's how the power armor is told what to do by the marine's brain...

The Space Marine Power Armor has grown over 10 milennia of war across the stars.  Although the basic characteristics and purposes remain the same, key advancements have been made with each upgrade, or Mark (Mk). 

Mk I 'Thunder' armor
This armor was the form outfitted to the Emporer's armies around the time of conquering Terra.  It was thick and heavy, but wasn't fully enclosed and used archaic power sources.  Successful for that ancient time, it's barely worthy of a storm trooper of today.

Mk II 'Crusade' armor
The Emporer sanctioned the use of this armor at around the same time as the launch of the 'Great Crusade'.  As his armies went out and conquered the nearby star systems, they needed a fully enclosed suit of armor that they could also fight in.  Sadly, the armor provided very low mobity, but great protection.  Some feel that Tactical Dreadnought Armor began its development here.

Mk III 'Iron' armor
The Mark III armor saw little more than protective upgrades, especially with the central power trunk.  The problems with mobility still persisted, however, and this mark didn't appear to have a long service life.

Mk IV 'Maximus' armor
This pattern of armor was very widespread, seeing use across the entire galaxy by all 18 legions.  This armor was the most common at the time of the Warmaster's Ascenscion and gained the most popularity.  The armor was far more advanced in mobility, and included an entire comm and sensor suite inside the helmet.  The Maximus armor was really the first true 'power armor' as we know it today.

Mk V 'Heresy' armor
This armor was just being issued to the forces of the Astartes as the Horus Heresy broke out.  It was heavily reinforced with metal studs and was highly sought after considering the vicious close-quarter fighting that the space marines were known for.  Unfortunately, the time was one of great turmoil and some of the technology was lost and the cost of the armor was too much to continue for long.

Mk VI 'Corvus' armor
This is the most common form of armor to rule the Age of the Imperium.  Combining all the modern traits of today's armor with a simple and easy-to-produce construction made this armor very long lived.  It's not the greatest mark of armor in its history, but it certainly held the Imperium together as well as any other.

Mk VII 'Aquila' or 'Imperator' armor
The Space Marine forces of today wear this armor.  It includes all the advanced wargear to allow the warrior to do his craft, but also maintains the highest level of combined mobility and protection.  The deciding factor as to the greatness of the armor is its ease-of-repair.  Because it follows the Mk IV's example and is made up of simple and easy-to-produce components, the tech-priests can more quickly repair and return a suit of armor to duty.  The Astartes find this especially useful on long campaigns when they'll get resupply or refit much later than normal.

Mk VIII 'Errant' armor
This suit of power armor is a more heavily-reinforced version of the Mk VII.  Not sacraficing too much mobility in the lower body section, the heavier suit is perfect for heavy weapon or static units.  It is still rare, most likely because of the ubiquitious Mk VII's consistent performance so far.

'Dornian Heresy' concept Power Armor
This is some fan-fiction found over on another forum.  The basic concept is a change of the history of 40k, leaving the Ultramarines as the most advanced in the galaxy.  This was their version of the advanced power armor.  I dig it a bit, I gotta admit...

And there's the lesson on power armor.  Wait till yo see what the warrior inside is made of.  You might find out that this armor, awesome as it is, really is secondary and little more than a tool.  And that's what makes Space Marines cool!

1 comment:

  1. In love with the marines all over again. Thanks for posting. If you ever get around to it, could you post the White Dwarf "movie version" of a Space Marine army -- y'know, throwing game balance out the window and playing Marines like they should be portrayed on the tabletop -- as warriors worthy of this awesome-sauce armor!