Leman Russ Tank: Conquering the Battlefields of the 41st Millennium

Leman Russ Battle Tank: The Imperium’s Mainstay Main Battle Tank

The Leman Russ Battle Tank is the primary main battle tank of the Astra Militarum (also known as the Imperial Guard), and the most widely deployed tank in the Imperium of Man.

This rugged and dependable vehicle has equipped the armies of the Imperium for over 10,000 years, delivering powerful tank-killing firepower and operating in the harshest environments the galaxy has to offer.

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Key Takeaways:

  • Rugged, reliable main battle tank of the Astra Militarum
  • Battle Cannon and Heavy Bolter/Lascannon as main armament
  • Named after Primarch Leman Russ of the Space Wolves
  • Many variants for different battlefield roles
  • Looted and used by Orks as well

History and Name

The STC (Standard Template Construct) for the Leman Russ was first rediscovered during the Great Crusade in the 30th Millennium.

The tank is named after Leman Russ, the Primarch of the Space Wolves Legion, in honor of his savage ferocity in battle.

The Leman Russ proved itself a highly successful design – rugged, well-armed and armored, but not overly sophisticated. Its versatility allowed it to be pressed into service in a variety of roles and environments.

Over the subsequent 10,000 years, the Leman Russ has undergone some design changes but remains fundamentally the same tank.

(Image Credit: MajMorse)

Design and Capabilities

The Leman Russ is designed for durability, reliability, and heavy firepower over speed and manoeuvrability. Its primary armament is a turret-mounted Battle Cannon – a powerful 120mm smoothbore gun equally adept at eradicating infantry and vehicles alike.

Secondary armament typically consists of a hull-mounted lascannon or heavy bolter, while sponson mounts can be fitted with an array of weapons like heavy bolters, heavy flamers, plasma cannons, or multi-meltas.

This allows the tank to be equipped for a variety of battlefield roles.

Armor on the Leman Russ is heavy, if not totally impenetrable – generally it is thickest on the front while thinner on the sides and rear. But even solid flank hits will often fail to destroy the tank thanks to its rugged construction.

The Leman Russ is powered by an efficient multi-fuel engine that can run on virtually any combustible liquid. This makes it well-suited for extended campaigns. While not a speedy vehicle, regenerative steering and a low ground pressure give it surprising agility for its size.

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Famous Leman Russ Tanks and Tank Aces

Throughout the lore of Warhammer 40K, there have been many famous Leman Russ tanks and crewmembers who have distinguished themselves with acts of battlefield valor and prowess. Some notable examples include:

Hand of Steel – Personal tank of Knight Commander Pask, Cadia’s most renowned tank ace. Pask has destroyed scores of enemy vehicles from the cockpit of his customized Leman Russ Vanquisher.

Skulltaker – Leman Russ Punisher of the Catachan Jungle Fighters, known for its Ork-skull camouflage and devastating anti-infantry firepower.

Avenger of Tallarn – The personal tank of Tallarn Desert Raider Captain Al’rahem. Armed with a heavy flamer, it burned a path through the Ork forces during the Battle of Tallarn.

Cadia’s Fist – Leman Russ Demolisher that played a vital role in the defense of Cadia during the 13th Black Crusade. Its crew sacrificed themselves to detonate a trapped Chaos Titan.

Sergeant Gassick – Grizzled tank commander who survived three decades of constant warfare on the industrial world of Armageddon. He is credited with over 300 confirmed vehicle kills.

Gunner Ferol Maxx – Sponson gunner who, after the rest of his crew were slain by Genestealers, continued to fight on alone for three days until relief arrived. He accounted for 87 enemy kills during this time.

These famous vehicles and crewmen encapsulate the bravery, determination, and indomitable spirit of the Astra Militarum’s armored forces. Many have become legends within their regiments, and their stories are used to inspire new generations of tank crews.

(Image credit: Dercius)

Crew and Operation

A standard Leman Russ is crewed by four or six guardsmen depending on whether sponsons are mounted. The crew consists of:

  • Tank Commander – Commands crew, maintains comms, mans pintle weapons
  • Gunner – Operates main and coaxial weapons, 2nd in command
  • Driver – Drives and maintains tank, can fire hull weapon when stationary
  • Loader – Loads main gun, oversees supplies and logistics
  • 2 Sponson Gunners (if applicable) – Man the sponson weapons

The interior of a Leman Russ is cramped, loud, and lacks creature comforts, but the crew are expected to operate their tank in any conditions. Each crewman has secondary duties in maintaining the tank and weapons between battles.


Many variants of the Leman Russ exist to fulfill different combat roles, generally by swapping out the turret-mounted Battle Cannon for a different weapon. Some of the more common variants include:

  • Leman Russ Demolisher – Short-range siege and bunker-busting tank armed with the heavy Demolisher Cannon. Excels at assaulting fortified positions.
  • Leman Russ Vanquisher – Mounts the long-barreled Vanquisher Cannon for sniping enemy armor at long range. Rarer due to loss of manufacturing capability.
  • Leman Russ Punisher – Anti-infantry specialist armed with the multi-barreled Punisher Gatling Cannon. Capable of shredding even the heaviest infantry units with ease.
  • Leman Russ Executioner – Mounts the powerful but finicky Plasma Destroyer. Highly effective against heavy armor but with a risk of catastrophic overheating.
  • Leman Russ Exterminator – Rapid-fire anti-infantry tank equipped with twin linked autocannons. Used for suppressing large mobs.

Regiments may also modify their tanks with add-ons such as dozer blades, hunter-killer missiles, mine plows, extra armor, camo netting, and improved comms gear to suit their specific needs and battlefields.

Notable Users

As the main battle tank of the Astra Militarum, the Leman Russ is fielded by virtually every armored and mechanized regiment of the Imperial Guard. Some of the more notable users include:

  • Armageddon Steel Legion – Famed for their heavy armor, including massed Leman Russ companies
  • Cadian Shock Troops – Backbone of the defense of Cadia, Leman Russ squadrons spearhead their advances
  • Death Korps of Krieg – Use special siege companies of Leman Russ Demolishers for breaching enemy lines
  • Vostroyan Firstborn – Proud and well-equipped, their Leman Russ tanks are lavishly decorated and maintained
  • Valhallan Ice Warriors – Rely on Leman Russ tanks for mobile heavy firepower in the frigid tundra

Leman Russ tanks are organized into dedicated armored companies or sometimes split into squadrons attached to infantry regiments. When massed together, Leman Russ battle groups can unleash devastating firepower.

Other Imperial factions make use of the Leman Russ as well, albeit in small numbers – such as the Adeptus Arbites, Planetary Defense Forces, and even the Space Marines of the Space Wolves chapter.

Even the Orks are known to loot and repurpose captured Leman Russ tanks.

Klan warbosses proudly ride into battle atop their “liberated” vehicles, albeit with much degraded weapon accuracy. Looted Leman Russes are especially popular with the vehicle-obsessed Death Skulls clan.


How does the Leman Russ compare to modern main battle tanks?

While an excellent tank by 40k standards, the Leman Russ would be considered primitive compared to 21st century MBTs. It lacks composite armor, computerized fire control, and the propulsion of an M1 Abrams for example.

However, its power plant and weapons are beyond our current technological capabilities.

Why is the Leman Russ used by so many Imperial factions?

The Leman Russ is used widely because it is a highly versatile platform that can be produced in large numbers thanks to its relatively simple design. It can be adapted for many roles and environments. This makes it attractive for any military force.

Is the Leman Russ based on any real tanks?

The Games Workshop designers have stated the Leman Russ is inspired by WWI-era British heavy tanks like the Mark IV as well as the Soviet KV-1 heavy tank of WWII.

The overall silhouette resembles the early 20th century tanks with WWI-esque side sponsons, but with sci-fi weapons.

What is the lifespan of a Leman Russ and its crew?

Given the unforgiving nature of war in the 41st millennium, the life expectancy of a Leman Russ and its crew is likely measured in months or a few years at best, barring any major refits. Crews that survive for multiple years and campaigns are considered grizzled veterans.

How does the Astra Militarum use Leman Russ tanks?

Leman Russes are used by the Astra Militarum in nearly every conceivable way a main battle tank can be used – spearheading assaults, anchoring defensive lines, supporting infantry, and engaging in tank-versus-tank combat.

Variants allow further specialization into infantry support, long-range fire support, anti-armor, bunker-busting, and more.

Leman Russ Tank


The Leman Russ Battle Tank is a true icon of the Warhammer 40k universe. For over 10,000 years, it has served as the Imperium’s armored fist, crushing the myriad foes of mankind beneath its heavy treads.

While not the fastest, most technologically sophisticated, or best armored tank, it is well-suited for the kind of grinding attrition warfare the Astra Militarum must fight.

Its versatility, reliability, and ease of manufacture ensure the Leman Russ will endure as the Imperial Guard’s main battle tank for millennia to come.

Wish to learn more about these fantastic beasts? Head on over to the kind folks at the Lexicanum!

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