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Greetings Terrans, I hope you and your loved ones are all fit, well, and bearing up in these strange times. I have another slice of oldschool fun for you today – yes, another project idea has been dusted off, reappraised, and dragged into the socially distanced light of day.

In order to provide context, I need to mention that I managed to get hold of the first 40k Compendium a few years ago – it’s a great book that collects a load of WD articles from the dawn of 40k and presents them in one neat bundle. I didn’t have it back in the day, but my mate did, and it is full of fond memories. It was the compendium that inspired the Primaris Legion of the Damned that I posted a few weeks back, but I have another project idea that this book inspired… It all comes from one paragraph:

“The Dreadnought is the ultimate form of personal armour. Inside his giant armoured suit, the wearer – or more correctly the pilot – controls the Dreadnought’s movement, armament and defences. To an extent, a pilot’s awareness becomes merged with his suit controls, sometimes to the point where man and machine are inseparable. As a result of this perculiar (sic) bio-mechanical relationship, experienced Dreadnought pilots cooped up inside their suits for long periods run a high risk of insanity. Perhaps it is fortunate that so few live long enough to go mad! Of those that do survive, some go rogue, joining the notorious ‘Dreadnought Bands’ that roam the galaxy, hiring out as mercenaries or living upon the spoils of wanton pillage.”

Now, I absolutely loved the idea of Dreadnoughts, (still do tbh!), and I thought this was such a cool piece of lore. With hindsight, it is almost certainly the origin of later Ork Dreadmobs, and also maybe the birth of the idea of Marines going insane while interred in their Dreads, or of Eldar ‘ghosts in the shell’ type situations, with long-dead spirits having a tenuous grasp on reality. This is all good fluff that is now firmly entrenched in the lore, but back in ’89, we just had that one throwaway statement… Notorious Dreadnought Bands…

My 14-year-old imagination ran riot with this, and I had visions of renegades from Human, (Dreadnoughts weren’t just a Marine thing back then), Ork and Eldar society putting aside their racial differences and choosing to forge mercenary bands of mechanised warriors who were bound only by their shared ‘bio-mechanical insanity’ – a band of iron brothers that stomped their way through the galaxy, hiring themselves out to the highest bidder… That 14 year old boy didn’t have the money to do anything about this vision, but 30 years later it’s game on, and with that in mind, I’ve been picking up the odd classic Dread here and there for a few years now. It gives me a lot of pleasure to present the first three members of the ‘Metal Heads’ Dreadnought Mercenaries.

First up is a classic Ork ‘Super-attack Onslaughter’ Dreadnought – I’ve always had a soft spot for the old Onslaughter egg-dreads – they are goofy as hell and a sod to put together, but there’s just something about them that makes me happy… They also happen to have the best name ever 😊

I swapped the usual weapon mount situation for a pair of ex-imperial las cannons that mated directly to the chassis. I actually think they work better as twinned Heavy Plasma Cannons, so I gave them a bit of a glow effect to sell that idea. I also replaced a missing top hatch with the pilot from an old Scorcher – no doubt he’s popped his head out for a better view of his target, or possibly to escape the after-effects of a particularly spicy squig curry. Either way, I see this guy as a long range specialist, (though like all good Orks machines, it’s no slouch in combat either, with twinned power claws).


The next Dread is a battered old Imperial machine, this one has the thin chassis and the long leg options:

Technically, it’s a Las-cannon equipped ‘Furibundus’ or ‘Fury’ class, but it is missing a twin-bolter arm (donated to another machine, to be revealed in a future post), and instead has a nifty little power claw that I had to hand. It also gave up its imperial pattern las-cannon to equip the Onslaghter above, so it has a slightly less impressive version salvaged from the bits-box. To make up for having such a piddly little cannon, it has a whacking great big missile – no particular reason, I just like it:


Finally we have another beaten up ex-Imperial machine – this time with the wider chassis & short legs:

I think this one was also a Fury at one point, but as with the example above, its arm went to a ‘yet-to-be-revealed’ machine, and its las cannon went to the Onslaughter above. Both missing limbs were replaced with missile launchers from the Sentinel kit – I always liked the idea of a mobile firebase type Dreadnought that doubled down on dakka at the expense of any manipulative limbs. I expanded on this idea with a pair of HK missiles to make an even more impressive fire platform, and I think the wide squat frame really sells that idea. As was the fashion at the time, I am christening this variant and am going for ‘Gundogan’ or Gun-Dog for short.


Here’s a final shot of the three of them together:

They don’t look especially cohesive at the moment, but wait until we add a few more into the mix…   Until next time!