Source 40k Armor

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WhiteLion
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Source 40k Armor

Post by WhiteLion » 2019-09-06 07:40pm

Hi everyone, I realized that apart from what I've read on some forums I don't have quotes about the thickness of the armor of warhammer 40k ships. Do you know any of them? Or is there a 40k fan on the forum reading the novels I could ask for? Many thanks in advance.

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Re: Source 40k Armor

Post by Elheru Aran » 2019-09-07 08:33am

The old Battlefleet Gothic codex is probably your best reference. Apart from that, you may have to try Lexcanium and chase its various references. Lex isn't perfect but unlike most of the other fan wikis, they do tend to try and cite their references.
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Re: Source 40k Armor

Post by WhiteLion » 2019-09-07 11:36am

I thank you, on lexicanum I saw but I was looking for something more precise about the thickness. On a forum a user gave me precise quotes from the novels but I can't find the topic anymore, I've seen a lot of them and I'm totally confused as to which one it is

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Re: Source 40k Armor

Post by Connor MacLeod » 2019-09-07 01:31pm

It can range from a few meters thick (5 meters in the first Bation Wars novel Emperor's mercy) to tens of kilometers thick (Black Crusade RPG core rulebook by Fantasy Flight Games, and that was a Grand cruiser.

Then you have really crazy shit like 'kilometres thick' armor plates (nevermind the hull) on a Flesh Tearers flagship in the 'Born of Rage' anthology. Which is all kinds of crazy and problematic.

I should note that if you believe 40K yields get into the high end biggatons, armor is kind of a joke without magic forcefields (or magic armor that is for all intents and purposes identical to a deflector shield) because it doesn't take much firepower escalation even by inefficient thermal effects to get to yields that will obliterate substnatial portions of your starship. In real life MJ range weapons quite easily can perforate even the thickest armor with little or no effort (penetration/perforation is always a probability game and was even in WW2) so it onyl becomes worse when yields go up.

If you keep yields in say the GW/TW range though (also possible for 40K warships) armor can be kinda/sorta relevant (with the help of magic forcefields especially) in the sense you aren't trying to keep the damage out but more to mitigate the effects and engage in effective damage control. Minimize the damage, not resist it. That's what real life warships have been doing (starting in WW2, even moreso now) and has lead to armor being less important than ensuring the ship can survive the hit and keep fighting.

Even with vehicles that still use armor (like tanks) armor is more dynamic than passive and focused on damage mitigation (with some damage control - like fire fighting apparatus). ERA and NERA being a prime example. Even the 'passive' armor is rarely homogenous rather than carerfully designed layers of materials (Starting with the Russian Combination K and going even to various iterations of whipple shielding that are to protect spacecraft or space installations. In the case of the latter you also have spaced armor.)

When I think in terms of 40K armor nowadays I tend to think less in terms of just the outside hull/armor thicknsses and more in terms of the entire volume of the ship. The protection scheme includes number of decks (and the halls/spaces between decks), bulkheads and internal armor belts (especially between crucial systems or areas you want to protect), and alot of damage control/repair measures and the like.

In that sense, the 'kilometres thick' slabs from Born of Rage (which are going to be problematic to the point of ludicrous normally) may not be homogenous, solid plates but some sort of complex (and possibly dynamic) armor array with lots of spaces and internal volume made up of multiple spaced layers. I believe real life armor 'thicknesses' do include spacing when they use them.

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Re: Source 40k Armor

Post by WhiteLion » 2019-09-07 01:55pm

Thank you very much Connor, so there's a huge variability in thickness, from ship to ship. So if you remember any other quote about the thickness in other ships?

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Re: Source 40k Armor

Post by Lord Revan » 2019-09-07 11:55pm

WhiteLion wrote:
2019-09-07 01:55pm
Thank you very much Connor, so there's a huge variability in thickness, from ship to ship. So if you remember any other quote about the thickness in other ships?
Well you got to remember that there's no such thing as "unified standard" in the imperium, so each Forgeworld or spacedock is gonna craft according to their own local standards though there some broad strokes patterns that allow a degree of unity within the imperial designs.
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Re: Source 40k Armor

Post by Sky Captain » 2019-09-08 02:52am

Aren't 40k armor made of materials that are impossibly durable compared to modern day stuff? Suppose you had material which at 10 mm thickness could take modern anti tank weapons all day without getting penetrated then it is plausible the same material at multiple meters thickness could actually survive nuclear weapon scale firepower. If you arrange that armor in some clever scheme with void spaces, layers of different materials, internal shock absorbers and what not then it may be possible to make armor strong enough to resist 40k firepower.

Bigger issue would be all exposed sensitive stuff that has to be outside armor to function, sensors weapons, engines. At some point stronger armor would be irrelevant because before armor is destroyed sensitive stuff that actually make ship able to fight would be long gone making a mission kill.

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Re: Source 40k Armor

Post by WhiteLion » 2019-09-08 04:30am

Yes, from what I could see, both the shields and the armor of the 40k ships are very resistant, they are damaged but it is true that they have the power to destroy entire continents.
Furthermore, the adamantium is described as the strongest material in existence.
Then from what I recently read on the planet Calth in Horus Heresy both the shields and the armor are able to withstand many bumps at the speed of light before yielding, and I was also struck by the fact that the ship in question was a simple transport and not an armored warship.

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Re: Source 40k Armor

Post by Connor MacLeod » 2019-09-09 02:29pm

WhiteLion wrote:
2019-09-07 01:55pm
Thank you very much Connor, so there's a huge variability in thickness, from ship to ship. So if you remember any other quote about the thickness in other ships?
They'd probably be buried in all my analysis if there are. The only ones I remember offhand probably come from the FFG RPGs (I think there's a 15m one in Rogue Trader, and a 10m one somewhere else.)

I really wouldn't get too hung up on the hull thicknesses anyways, because even with those numbers armor is likely to vary dramatically in thickness on diffrent parts of the hull, just like it does on RL ships and armored vehicles. Like there's not much chance you're going to be significantly protecting broadside gundecks (the guns have to stick out, and thick 'ports' will limit tracking ability something fierce) or any sort of gun turret.

Lord Revan wrote:
2019-09-07 11:55pm
Well you got to remember that there's no such thing as "unified standard" in the imperium, so each Forgeworld or spacedock is gonna craft according to their own local standards though there some broad strokes patterns that allow a degree of unity within the imperial designs.
That could be part of it, but most of it is just that as far as 'plausible' goes alot of the old science fiction conventions simply don't work. There's been tons of discussions where Mike and others like Sea Skimmer have discussed this. One of the more recent ones I remember from SLAM was this one where Skimmer even mentions why alot of those ideas are shit: Without void spaces and the like, a homogenous, thick plate of armor will just mean more spall and blast behind the armor from the shockwaves (at those yields, velocities, etc. shockwaves pretty much dominate as I recall.) Thats why armor gets more complex incorporating the aforementioned voids and other combinations of materials. And given those requirements, you're more likely to find low density, high mass efficiency materials (titanium, aluminum, composites, etc.) more desirable than dense.
Sky Captain wrote:
2019-09-08 02:52am
Aren't 40k armor made of materials that are impossibly durable compared to modern day stuff? Suppose you had material which at 10 mm thickness could take modern anti tank weapons all day without getting penetrated then it is plausible the same material at multiple meters thickness could actually survive nuclear weapon scale firepower. If you arrange that armor in some clever scheme with void spaces, layers of different materials, internal shock absorbers and what not then it may be possible to make armor strong enough to resist 40k firepower.
'Magic materials' is a useless handwavey blackbox unless you can actually measure it, and with most magic materials you can't because it's going to butcher physics. Someone tried asking for 'realistic' armor that could stop relativistic impacts and I remember Mike tearing him a new one (justifiably) for getting angry he wasn't getting it. Which is why I say its going to be magic deflector shields in practice even if its armor, so whether it is actually armor or a force field-like armor, or magically-augmented-by-forcefields armor, or something else... is irrelevant except for aesthetics.

It also goes without saying that even if you have starships that are 100x more massive than the FFG RPGs and have magic materials 1000x energy to vaporize carbon (higher than the '1000x stronger than steel' quote ascribed to at least certain kinds of wraithbone in some Eldar fluff), you're still going to have your ship obliterated by a multi-gigaton (nevermind teraton or higher!) broadside. And 1000x or higher isn't guaranteed to be the default assumption for 'magic materials'. And the above is ALSO assuming Star Wars - 'heat ray for preference even though they're stupidly inefficient' approaches to energy weapons rather than something reliant on mechanical damage (like a semi-realistic pulse-train laser...)

I suppose you could try working backwards from that 12 km Grand Cruiser that survived a purported mass-extinction (or nearly such, or perhaps a low end one) event in 'Know No Fear' without getting vaporized by what is going to be a hypervelocity impact. But that has its own challenges too....

Bigger issue would be all exposed sensitive stuff that has to be outside armor to function, sensors weapons, engines. At some point stronger armor would be irrelevant because before armor is destroyed sensitive stuff that actually make ship able to fight would be long gone making a mission kill.
That's actually built-in to the BFG style tabletop game. 40K Starships are supposed to be stupidly tough to actually destroy, unlike Star Wars ships. You can knock down shields easily, but you might not inflict much damage in doing so unless you concentrate fire (multiple ships, or from a bigger/more heavily armed ship.) You're also more likely to reduce it to a drifting hulk than vaporize it (which is partly why races like the Imperium and Orks can salvage such ships to begin with) unless you devote effort to continuing to pound it until the reactor or warp engines go up (which is usually bad news because its going to damage/destroy anything nearby.)

To say nothing of the fact that attack craft are still viable in 40K (bypassing shields helps, as does the fact they're typically much more massive than Star Wars fighters. But it still shares the problem of 'big ships tossing around biggatons that are still threatened by smaller ships that can carry a fraction of that yield' - it was never adequately addressed in pre-Disney Star Wars so much as ignored.)


Skintight surface forcefields and structurally reinforcing fields (usually both some form of powerfield per the Rogue Trader RPG) can help to make them somewhat more durable but that only reinforces how irrelevant actual, physical armor is by itself in most cases.

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Re: Source 40k Armor

Post by WhiteLion » 2019-09-09 08:59pm

Connor MacLeod wrote:
2019-09-09 02:29pm

It also goes without saying that even if you have starships that are 100x more massive than the FFG RPGs and have magic materials 1000x energy to vaporize carbon (higher than the '1000x stronger than steel' quote ascribed to at least certain kinds of wraithbone in some Eldar fluff), you're still going to have your ship obliterated by a multi-gigaton (nevermind teraton or higher!) broadside. And 1000x or higher isn't guaranteed to be the default assumption for 'magic materials'. And the above is ALSO assuming Star Wars - 'heat ray for preference even though they're stupidly inefficient' approaches to energy weapons rather than something reliant on mechanical damage (like a semi-realistic pulse-train laser...)

I suppose you could try working backwards from that 12 km Grand Cruiser that survived a purported mass-extinction (or nearly such, or perhaps a low end one) event in 'Know No Fear' without getting vaporized by what is going to be a hypervelocity impact. But that has its own challenges too....
Connor this interests me, do you remember the quotation quoting the events of the cruiser that resisted the mass extinction event? I'm also interested in quoting magical materials. Okay even if you tell me in which works we find them.

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