|And you thought Big Red's Death Guard speeders were old!|
When the 2nd edition of Warhammer 40,000 was released, Land Speeders were taken out of the Imperial Guard army list. From this point on, they were entirely Space Marine vehicles. The Land Speeder's second incarnation was released in 1993. This all-metal version added more bulk and armor to the vehicle, with pilots being less exposed in the front though not the sides. The meltagun and plasma cannon were replaced by an underslung multi-melta and a heavy flamer fired by the marine riding in the gunner's seat. In 1997, another Land Speeder model was released for the Ravenwing company of the Dark Angels Space Marine chapter. This version replaced the standard Land Speeder's multi-melta with an assault cannon and the gunner's heavy flamer with a heavy bolter.
The current design of the Land Speeder was introduced in 1998 for the 3rd edition of the Warhammer 40,000 game. Unlike the previous models, this release was a completely plastic kit. The redesign of the Land Speeder made it appear sleeker, with the pilots almost entirely enclosed. Stabilizers and a spoiler were also added to make the vehicle look more aerodynamic. In line with the changes to the Land Speeder's profile in the Codex: Space Marines sourcebook, the weapons that were included in the kit were changed once more. The boxed set contained a multi-melta and a heavy bolter, only one of which could be mounted onto the speeder. Several variants were also released, using the same plastic model but including additional metal weaponry. The third edition of the game was the first time that Land Speeders could be fielded as squadrons of up to three, although the Tornado and Typhoon variants could only be fielded as individual vehicles. With the release of the fourth edition Space Marine codex, players were allowed to field different Land Speeder variants in the same squadron.
According to the game's background, the Land Speeder gets its name from Arkhan Land, the techpriest who rediscovered the STC template containing its designs. As the Land Speeder's STC was discovered after the events of the Horus Heresy, the Land Speeder is not available to the forces of the Chaos Space Marines. Land Speeders are often used as fast-response units, quickly dropping down from orbiting transports to add their firepower to the Space Marine forces on the ground. In fact, this is seen in action in the introduction movie of the Dark Crusade expansion for the Dawn of War computer game.
The Land Speeder appears in several other games outside of Warhammer 40,000. Land speeders are available as fieldable units for the Epic large-scale battle tabletop game for both the third and fourth editions, similar in design to the corresponding Warhammer 40,000 version. Land Speeders have also been featured in Chaos Gate and Dawn of War, computer games based on the Warhammer 40,000 franchise. The Land Speeders in Dawn of War are Land Speeder Tornadoes that are slightly different from the ones in Warhammer 40,000. They are armed with twin-linked assault cannons underslung and twin-linked heavy bolters that are fired by the gunner.
Part 2 next week will cover some of the Land Speeder variants.