Monday, February 28, 2011

5 Minute History: Leman Russ

The Leman Russ Battle Tank is a main battle tank used by the Imperial Guard army in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. The tank's appearance is reminiscent of World War I-era tanks with completely exposed tracks and armed with sponson mounted weapons. Atop its rhomboid hull, the Leman Russ sports a Battle Cannon mounted in a boxy, angular turret.

Design-wise, the Leman Russ contains several features from World War I and inter-war tank design, such as gun sponsons, a rhomboid side profile and wrap-around tracks. However, the Leman Russ also bears a resemblance to the Soviet T-34/85, and its compact profile and relative height are reminiscent of the M4 Sherman. But from first glance, one could say that the Leman Russ is basically a WWI British Mk I tank combined with a T-34-like turret. It is by far the most common battle tank in the Imperial arsenal, and many variants have been built on the original design. The plastic model sold by Games Workshop is a modification of a French World War II B1 bis tank kit that Games Workshop purchased the rights to early on in the company's history. This probably explains why players always say it reminds them of a WWII era tank, it auctually is one!

The first boxed set was released in 1994 during the game's second edition. The accompanying ruleset for the vehicle was also first released with the codex for the new Imperial Guard army at that time. Originally, the miniature was armed with a hull-mounted Lascannon and Heavy Bolter sponsons. Later re-releases of the boxed set would add accessory sprues that gave modelers the option to replace the sponson weapons with Heavy Flamers.

As the iconic Imperial Guard tank, the Leman Russ appears in spin-offs of the Warhammer 40,000 franchise, such as the Epic 40,000 wargame. In fact the tank made its first appearance in the Epic game system, only appearing in Warhammer 40,000 in its second edition. The tank has also made appearances in the various video games that have included the Imperial Guard. Leman Russ squadrons are fieldable units in SSI's 1997 turn-based strategy game, Final Liberation. The tank is also a fieldable unit for the Imperial Guard faction in the popular RTS game Dawn of War. Even before the release of the Guard as a playable faction for the game, Leman Russ tanks were featured as controllable units in one of the latter missions of the Dawn of War campaign.


  1. Just wanted to say I enjoy the 5-minute history posts and hope they keep coming!

  2. Your info about the Char B is intriguing. Can I ask where you found that ? Thanks

  3. Pretty common information from multiple sources all stating that the mold was purchased. However, those sources lack any formal citation other than one reference to a no longer in existence web forum where a member claimed to have found the original transaction documentation transferring the ownership of the mold to Games Workshop.

    This may or may not be true considering that the Leman Russ design is markedly shorter than a Char B would be. But if the mold was cut in half and reworked to be shorter, it would be plausible, considering the long hull lines on the Char would allow for a shortening of the mold.

    Perhaps this particular ‘fact’ is best described as ‘accepted fact’ rather than ‘historically proveable fact’.