(Terminator Squads (White Dwarf 109))
The Powered Armour of the Legiones Astartes is among the finest protection ever developed for use in war. In his armour, a Marine can function in almost any environment and need have little fear of injury. The basic design is so successful that Marine armour has barely changed since the First Founding. It is, however, not the only equipment and armour available to the Astartes Chapters.
A need for even heavier armour became apparent long ago to the Adeptus Chapters. Certain situations virtually demanded its use: ship-to-ship actions, tunnel clearances, Hive-world combat, all required that very concentrated firepower be brought to bear in confined spaces. Dreadnoughts were unsuitable for use In such places; their cumbersome size merely added to the problem.
After some false starts, the basic outline design for Marine Terminator Armour, a form of exo-armour, evolved. Drawing on both Powered Armour and Dreadnought technologies, Terminator Armour attempts to combine the best of both. Several designs evolved in parallel from the forge-worlds of the Adeptus Mechanicus and the armouries of the Marines. Often bearing little physical resemblance to each other these different Exo-armour suits have much in common. Massively armoured, sealed against any external conditions and incorporating their own armament, Terminator Armour designs proved their worth from the first. Like Powered Armour, the suits were equipped with fibre-bundle muscles and imposed few movement restrictions upon the wearer.
Terminator Armour also incorporates many more auxiliary systems than normal Marine armour. The armour's sensorium, based upon tendril sensors, links directly into the wearer's own awareness. The sensorium allows the wearer to use a vast number of scanners and detectors without conscious thought. Sensoriums can also be linked together, allowing every squad member to see exactly the same view of the battle as his comrades.
In addition to its formidable protective value, Terminator Armour has its own built-in weaponry: a Storm Bolter and a Powerglove. The Storm Bolter is a multi-chambered, short- barrelled development of the trusty standard bolter already used by the Legiones Astartes. It shoots at a faster rate than the original weapon, allowing it to lay down a curtain of fire. It is also quite short, partly because it is built into the exo-armour, making it an ideal dose combat weapon. Such a combination in a single weapon has proven useful, to say the least. The Powerglove is already standard issue in many Chapters, and needs needs little work to adapt it to exo-armour.
Some Marine tacticians and scholars have criticised the design of the suit and its weaponry for lacking a heavy punch at extended ranges. Given its primary function in boarding, close assault and clearance actions, such arguments have carried little weight. Exo-armour has been been included in the armouries of many Chapters who have recognised its worth.
Most Marine chapters maintain some Terminator suits in their armouries, and train some squads in their use. Some adaptive surgery for the sensorium interface is also necessary. However, Terminator Armour is not used by these Marines as a matter of course, but issued as and when required. Conventionally armoured Marines, for example, would not be expected to clear the densely-packed corridors of a Hive World. Their task would be to form a cordon, while Terminator Squads in exo-armour carried out the clearance.
The Thule Decimation of 728.M40 is one of the most noteworthy examples of the use of Terminator Armour. Six entire companies of Grey Knights (an elite Chapter that is unusual in having all of its Marines trained and adapted for Exo-armour) were equipped with Terminator Armour, including suits that had been requisitioned from five other Chapters. The assault was mounted with such haste that there was no time for repainting the suits. The Grey Knights were forced to attack in the colours of six different Chapters and, apparently faced by six Chapters of Marines, the defenders surrendered within three hours. One in ten on the planetoid city were subsequently executed for their part in the rebellion.
The Ultramarines' crusade against the Tyranid hive-fleet Behemoth also included several important actions by Terminator Squads. These included the first breach in the fleet's outer hull, and the subsequent destruction of the vats and nest chambers.
Armed and armoured in Terminator Suits, properly trained Marines can take on almost any foe and prevail. Exo-armour in itself is, of course, only half the story: without the devotion and skill of a Marine, it would be as nothing.