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In Defence of Firestrike Servo-Turrets

I've seen a few people on social media suggesting that it's thematically inappropriate for Space Marines to have a defensive turret, and that therefore, the Firestrike Servo-Turret shouldn't exist. Since this is obviously the most important debate of our time, I'd better weigh in.

My position is that those people are talking out of their butt trumpets.

In the manner of any rigorous argument I should begin by declaring any biases that might affect my judgement. My biases are twofold. Firstly I like the overall look of the mini even if there are elements I find silly (more on that later). Secondly I like it thematically for my army, since visually it makes me think of a Roman ballista supporting their heavy infantry.

Even with those two factors, I was still on the fence until I saw 40K Badcast host Campbell's paint job of it. Five minutes later I'd smacked the buy button. Which is weird, given that I've been much more minimalist with mine. I was very tempted to emulate Campbell's hazard stripes on the side of the blast shield, but it felt too much like theft, and what's more said stripes are an aesthetic that doesn't show up anywhere else in my Cobalt Scions force. Here's how my much more bland minimalist effort came out:

Pepé Le Pew Pew

There's some conversion work in there but I'll cover that later. No one will care about the conversions when I haven't finished informing the internet of my position on the crucial issue of defensive turrets. Without further ado let's look at the assumptions made in the argument that marines shouldn't have defensive turrets:
  1. As shock assault troops, marines have no use for defensive weapons.
  2. This is a defensive weapon.
To the first point, I could just point out that there's an entire chapter (the Imperial Fists) whose schtick is defending stuff and practicing stoic looks in the mirror. But I'll go one further than that and point out that while Astartes excel in shock assaults, they are expected to be gurt hench in all forms of warfare (with the permissible exception of the suicidal human wave). It scarcely needs reiterating that marines defending stuff in static positions have featured among some of the most famous battles in the setting, be it Macragge, the Fang, Baal, the hives of Armageddon... one could go on. Also they seem to have a knack for ending up piled up around a banner surrounded on all sides, but that's by the by.

To the second point, this isn't specifically a defensive turret. It's a support platform that, thanks to anti-grav plates, can comfortably keep pace with an infantry formation. If you combine its move of 3" with an advance roll, it is on average the same speed as regular infantry. To my mind this means it moves up with them, then switches off the anti-grav and settles down to lay covering fire as they complete the final movements of their assault. This means the servo-turret can be used both offensively and defensively. Unless, I suppose, you're doing an all-mechanised army, but that's very much an edge case. You might equally well move it into position to enact an ambush, since it wouldn't generate as much noise and heat as a vehicle. Plus, nothing says 'stealth' like a giant blue blast shield, amiright?

Subtle. Stealthy.

From a purely competitive perspective the servo turret is probably outperformed by other units, but from a lore perspective, I think this thing makes about as much sense as anything else. If you disagree, feel free to come at me in the comments, whereupon I shall take yer nan out to a lovely seafood restaurant and never call her back.*

With that case firmly closed, the one other lore question is... can a chapter really afford to waste a techmarine on manning a turret? Now this, and the question of vehicle crews, leaves a lot more room for debate. My headcanon is that there's levels of techmarines ranging from the proper techpriest-level marines to the more low level dudes who know enough about electronics and mechanics to maintain their vehicles. The low-level dudes, who I imagine to be called something like techmarine-adepts/initiates/novitiates/whatever, would of course be working towards becoming full techmarines following their training with the Mechanicus but must first spend some years familiarising themselves with the Chapter's war machines. That would also explain why some official vehicle crews are painted as regular marines, and some as techmarines.

Easy-fit means no moulded shoulder pad, which also means freehand. Woo! It's actually slightly faster to freehand the icon than to paint the moulded ones, but there's no way I could do this consistently for the whole army.

To close out today's post, I did say I'd cover what little conversion work I did on this kit. This was basically limited to removing the various wires connecting to the gunner, since it made no sense to me that if he had his dataspike mechandendrite plugged straight into the thing, he'd need three other cables plugging into his eye and, yes really, his navel and his right nipple. The eye cable in particular is some hench-ass cabling one might use to provide an ethernet connection to half a bloody office block, whereas I assume that once he's plugged into the turret, it'd just wire the footage from the blast shield lens into his HUD.

y u do dis?

Having snipped the cables away, the only other thing I had to do was fill in the hole in his eye socket with green stuff to make it look like a bionic eye, at which point, job's a good'un.

If I were to get a second turret I'd also be looking into using biker bits to replace his right arm, because I refuse to believe that there's a sign in the turret section of the armoury saying "you must be this armless to enter."

Finally, it's been a minute since I posted a picture of how the whole force is coming along, so here's my Cobalt Scions force so far:

Needs moar Intercessor

* Obviously I'll be very polite, since everyone who comments on the blog is very civil. Don't hate me for committing to the bit. If it can be called a bit. Which it can't.


  1. Agree. Wholeheartedly. And it’s a cool stocking filler too!

    1. All the best stockings have lascannons in them.

  2. From what I've seen most Primaris issues are:

    1: We've already got one of those!
    1b: We don't have one of those, but we have a solution that does the same thing!
    2:Marines have never used anything like that!
    3: Doesn't gel with existing lore!

    The firestrike turret is more 1:b- a solution to this exists already. Mobile Techmarine crew served weapons platforms aren't new, nor are static weapons emplacements. In the case of tarantula turrets, its a more sensible, lore driven solution that reflects how outnumbered marines are.
    In the case of TFC's and rapiers, they are complicated /relic devices that require a techmarine/adept to operate.
    In fact, the thing this looks most like is the classic razorback ( google that and the FST appears ) which has 2 lascannons and can move faster then the infantry it carries within. Also, it doesn't require a Techmarine to operate. And is based on the Rhino, a piece of equipment marginally less common than the lasgun across the Imperium.

    There's no real lore argument against the FST other than its an impractical answer to a solved problem. Twin lascannons haven't traditionally required nipple clamped martian graduates and grav-sleds.

    My only real issue with the model is that it doesn't communicate well that its supposed to move. Otherwise its a fine piece. You've done a nice job on the paint too.

    It might benefit from some white on the front somewhere - the rest of your vehicles and infantry have a balance of blue and white on the front face and it stands out in the group shot as a the lone blue block.

    1. Were there a plastic tarantula kit I'd probably be all over that, although those really don't look like they move. And there are certainly more sensible concepts that I would have preferred (e.g. a plastic primaris-crewed take on the rapier). To that point, the movement thing... as excessive as anti-grav on a turret is, I do at least like how they conveyed it by replicating the anti-grav plates on the tanks for the feet of the stand. Subtle, but ties in.

      Can't believe I just said there was something subtle in the design of a miniature with a nipple cable...

      And you make a good point about the lack of white on the blast shield. I just couldn't think of a design I liked to add, so kept things simple. Am open to ideas though!

      I considered a big white heavy support chevron, but the guns break it up too much.

      Thanks as ever for taking the time to give such a considered response, Mr Angel :)

    2. Im here for the pretty pictures and lore- my 2c is the least i can contribute:)

      You've painted yourself into a corner a bit by having all the white on your models seperate panels.

      Slapping a white horizontal stripe or the chevron you suggested might break the implied rules of heraldry youve built in to your army.

      My only useful thoughts are to put a white circle with the chapter symbol on the right, maybe lower right of the shield. Possibly a complimenting red circle below, showing company colours.

      Theres also the possibility of painting the lascannon muzzles white- I recall old lore about weapons that get a certain amount of kills painted white to honour the machine spirits.

      This might not be harmonious with your other guns though.

    3. Yeah the breaking of the rules was why I ended up not adding a chevron/stripe on initially :/

      Adding a chapter icon to the bottom right is probably the most solid idea yet, so thanks for that! Let's see if I can be arsed... :P

  3. I don't know much about 40k rules, but aren't some space marines specialists in defense like the Imperial Fists? I do recall that there was also a turret that could be used by space marines too, but that was a FW model

    1. Absolutely, the Imperial Fists aren't necessarily the only good defensive chapter, they're simply the most famous example :)

  4. It does not mention in the rule book that the crewman is a Techmarine. I field mine as the equivalent of a .50cal in Second World War games.

    1. With you 100% - I subsequently made an automated version (here: :D


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