Throughout the madness of the Unification Wars, the techno-barbarian states on Terra used all manner of vehicles to wage war in ever more horrific ways. Most of these were deemed too unstable or dangerous to enter service in the Imperium and so things like the Ursh nightmare-crawlers, the panther heavy tank of the Yndonesic Bloc or the mebra-jets of Hy Brasil were confined to annals of history.
Several vehicles were kept on, either because of the reliability of their chassis, or because of the unit’s traditions. The most famous examples belonged to the Old One Hundred and included such notable vehicles as the scarab transports of the Geno 52 Chilead, the Angkorian Dragoons’ hydro-fanes and the skuttle-speeders of the Byzant Janizars.
As chronicled earlier in these accounts, the Byzant Dominate incorporated a large chunk of the Mediterranean Dust Bowl. Patrolling these rad-dunes and sand-mires proved difficult with conventional vehicles as they would frequently sink or get lost amongst the treacherous terrain. Instead, the Byzant Dominate developed a doctrine of flexible, fast moving forces and relied on light aircraft and skimmers to cover large swathes of territory quickly and safely. As a result, the Byzant Dominate lacked the heavy firepower of battle tanks when faced with an armoured opponent.
To make up this shortfall, the Byzant Dominate forged an alliance with neighbouring Boeotia. The Dominate would provide Boeotia with slaves for its vast manufactoria and the Boeotians would design and build skimming battle tanks for the Byzants. Thus the skuttle-speeder was born. A heavy set design, the skuttle-speeder required additional engines and power to hover off the ground.
The extra power meant that the skuttle-speeder could mount three heavy weapons: one on its turret, one mounted on its forward hull and one underslung. Shown below is the Annihilator variant, equipped entirely with lascannons, whose tank-hunting role supported the infantry cemaati. Another popular variant was the Delator, whose twin-volkite culverins decimated infantry with ease.
Each speeder had two crew, a pilot and gunner. The gunner sat in the turret with the three weapons linked via a rudimentary MIU system that removed the need for a third crewman. Space was a premium in the skuttle-speeder and as such energy weapons were the preferred loadout instead of using up space with ammunition.
Entering active use before the Unification Wars, the skuttle-speeder proved incredibly effective and demand soon outstripped supply. Able to keep up with the rest of the fast-paced forces and unleash the firepower of tanks twice its size, the skuttle helped protect the Byzant Dominate from empires much bigger and more powerful than it.
When the Byzant Dominate was brought into Imperial Terra, the Emperor sanctioned the continued production of the skuttle-speeder and spread their use to other Imperial Army units. Despite this, skuttle-speeders never saw wide-spread use in the Imperial Army owing to the difficulties of their production and historic oaths between the Boeotians and the Byzants.
Despite its relative rarity, the Byzant Janizars used them extensively throughout the Great Crusade. It was a common tactic to use the infantry cemaati as the anvil, pinning the enemy in place long enough to allow the skuttle-speeders to strike at the enemy’s flank.
When the Horus Heresy plunged the galaxy into civil war, the Janizars’ skills were put to the test as they faced the super-human astartes for the first time. Quickly realising that they were outmatched in conventional warfare, the Janizars resorted to the hit and run tactics they perfected during the Unification Wars, only engaging the traitor legions on their own terms.
I hope you enjoyed this fluff piece expanding the backstory for the Byzant Janizars. This model represents a medium speeder from the Mournival Events Imperial Army list. A fan made codex, it is incredibly sandbox and allows for all sorts of awesome lists. When I realised I could do platoons entirely mounted in skimmers I knew I had to create such a force for my Byzant Janizars.
This model was a fairly simple conversion, being based on the Dark Angel Land Speeder Vengeance with the turret from the Repulsor tank. As with the rest of my army’s speeders, I ladened it down with extra equipment for their long-range patrols.
This vehicle was an opportunity for me to practice my weathering more and I am happy with the result. I am planning on going back over my other vehicles in the force and applying the same weathering to make sure it is consistent.
Thanks for reading!