Inspired by US Army gun-trucks from Vietnam to the current wars, and my own work escorting convoys in Iraq, plus many examples from fiction, like the vehicular warfare from the Mad Max movies, I decided to build myself a road-train for Warhammer 40k. I didn’t want a simple tractor-trailer, but a single vehicle that people could at least notionally move through.
So let’s start with the building blocks I used. The front end is based on the Taurox from Games Workshop. In this case some of the problems, such as the excessive size actually play into the vehicle concept as it would need a powerful engine; however I did not like the layout of the exhaust since it goes through the crew cab thereby making for obvious weak spots for no reason. So I modified them as follows.
I trimmed off the top parts of the ports to make it shorter, and cut out a notch and otherwise trimmed down the part itself so it could fit over the pipes coming out of the engine compartment. Thus a weak spot becomes a strong point. This part is of course completely skipable, but does help give a big truck feel. BTW, some have suggested this would make the crew choke on smog, but in an actual vehicle the windows would not just be gaps, but would have armored glass. Also if someone would want to improve on my design he could drill the holes into the muffler going to the side to direct it that way.
Second change, swap out the tracks for wheels. Victoria Miniatures has excellent kits for converting the Taurox into a wheeled vehicle. Easy to install on the front, but being OCD I thought the shocks looked inadequate so I trimmed down the ones from the Taurox and added them in for a more robust look. These can even be seen from the sides so it’s not a total loss of time.
Building a rear section. I thought about this, but ended up deciding on using the already existing Munitorum Storage Containers from Games Workshop. I’d seen them used in some conversion, and they had everything I needed, but did not fit perfectly as while the hulls indent towards the bottom they sit too low for the wheel kits. The easy solution was just to use greenstuff.
As you can see I also used green stuff to build a mount for the top. Once painted black even my rudimentary efforts basically blend in. The main trick is to make sure the floor of the back lines up with the floor of the Taurox.
To craft an articulating door I sort of went the easy route, and could have done something more extensive. I took the existing door and cut out small notches where the notional hinges are and installed magnets, and one more at the top to hold it closed. That gives a door which can open and shut, but wants to stay in place. I also made benches for the inside out of hobby sticks, that I trimmed down and cut notches out of where the support beams come through the container. It even has small bits coming out of the side on the inside which make for a very handy guide.
The central connection was a bit difficult, and I was never fully happy with the result, but my workable solution was to install a diaphragm from a model train, along with building up attachment points with green stuff and tow points. I didn’t solidly connect it so I could use them independently if I wanted and because it makes transportation much easier.
I wanted something more like a class of vehicles than one single type, and to reflect that I made the weapons modular. At the very back I built up a station for a heavy bolter, complete with sandbags to protect the gunner who I built using the top part of an Anvil Industry female miniature, making only the upper-body, and magnetizing it so I could remove the gunners or swap their positions.
The bolter I made from the weapons mount glued to a heavy weapons team bolter, and with a gunshield from Anvil attached to the front. The second weapon seen higher up was easier, as it was made from two hotshot volley guns attached to the same mount from the containers kit. Makes for a larger weapon than the storm bolter originally in there, but I built one of those anyways. For a more heavily armed version I also built a remote weapons station using the lascannon from the Imperial Bastion, but because GW tends to neglect coaxial weapons I added a pair of hotshot volley guns to make it into a more vesatile and powerful system. I figure it wouldn’t really require much else, and some worlds must build something like it. I should warn people on this that while I bought the cannon from Hoard o Bits it didn’t come with the base piece that it needs, so you might have to buy that separately. Still much cheaper than buying an entire bastion.
Something I really like about this is it fits with the concept as it would provide a very versatile gun which could protect the convoy from air-raids or even from light armor, while serving as a great infantry killer. While many Warhammer Vehicles use guns fixed in the forward position, often with nothing to aim them, I wanted to keep the vehicle something that could use most of its weapons regardless of which direction a threat comes from.
Aside from all that I only made slight changes, like stacking up cargo boxes on the back, and installing a cut-down Chimera antenna on the turret. I kept the Scions front shield, but I shaved off their stuff leaving just a skull and used the flat surface for a bumper number.
As a personal touch, and going with the theme I wanted to build for an all-female Catachan unit I swapped out the driver’s upper body for more Anvil bits, and put in a Raging Heroes gunner.
The name I lifted from the Simpons and the greatest Sports Utility Vehicle ever imagined:
And to top it all off I wrote up a bit of fluff about it:
Designed as an armored supply hauler the Canyonero Road-Train has seen extensive use by the Imperium of Man particularly with the forces of the Imperial Guard. While sometimes assumed as a cumbersome heavy vehicle, it shows surprising mobility and maneuverability for a vehicle of its size because of its 8×8 propulsion and fully articulating rear axle allowing for much better control and tighter turns. While the rear section can be detached this is usually only done in an emergency. The vehicle has proven effective, and even popular, for convoy operations through hostile areas because in contrast to other Imperial armored utility vehicles its weapons can all fire in nearly any direction. The joining diaphragm is sometimes assumed as a weak-point, but is resilient against small arms, and the different compartments can be sealed from each other for maximum crew protection which has also made it a popular vehicle for transporting hazardous materials. While the height makes it an obvious target it’s a necessary feature for the angled boat-shaped hull which is highly resistant against mines and roadside bombs. During assaults the height is often used to move squads of infantry into the second level of structures, while maintaining full security, thereby bypassing the likely enemy defense plans for buildings centering on entry from the ground floor. During civil instability it is often also used defensively to form improvised walls against rioters, among other uses.
On various fronts the versatile design has been re-purposed for many roles to include:
Armored personnel carrier,
Command and Control,
Long range communications,
Prisoner transport (compartmentalization makes it an ideal choice),
Mobile surgical station (can also be used as a field ambulance, but the space inside allows for much more extensive care),
Light rocket artillery,
“Oh yeah the Canyoneros, command brings them in sighting the need for convoy security and medical centers and all that, but I’ll tell you why they really bring them in: mobile quarters. There’s enough room inside for a pretty comfortable little apartment so leadership can look good by being somewhere near the front while enjoying some of their creature comforts. Lord-Commander Flashheart had one of these carrying two of his mistresses, they didn’t even know about each other since he always kept them in different compartments. You see just a few of these for that reason would draw attention, but a few hundred being used for this and that keeps anyone from catching wise and all along the commanders living in them claim to be living in the trenches with their men.”
– Guardsman Robinson of the 17th Praetorians, later heroically shot for sedition when a commissar heard him complaining about a commander’s importation of a whirlpool-bath for his quarters.
“It was the middle stages of an all too familiar disaster. Imperial Guard forces had pushed forward bravely against the Greenskin threat, but their Speed Freeks outmaneuvered us and cut off our main line of battle. I’d studied such incidents before and knew that even knowing better our commanders would eventually panic, not from a direct threat from such trash but at seeing our line units supplies dwindle to nothing, and trying to avoid a total loss, would order a withdrawal which in the face of the enemy and across contested ground would result in heavy losses even when pulled off correctly. We arranged an armed convoy of over a hundred vehicles, chiefly made up of Trojans and supply variant Chimeras, to resupply our forces at the front. It went badly as they were clearly not designed with convoy operations in mind as their main weapons are fixed facing forward, so most of our column was reduced to using cupola weapons if they were lucky enough to have them or rifles and even pistols from the hatches in many cases. The enemy harassed us as we moved while only our escorts at the front and back could retaliate effectively, so the Orks focused on our center. To stave off incoming attacks vehicle commanders turned to face them, thus stopping the column’s forward progress while causing separations as forward elements kept moving while everyone behind them was forced to halt, and each time we had to get our unit back into column and then moving again losing valuable time with some vehicles even trying to foolishly give chase and forcing me to threaten them personally with my pistol. We were crossing our quarter of the way checkpoint when things went from bad to worse, engaged on one side our vehicles again moved to engage with a couple getting stuck in a ditch when they moved off the MSR (main supply route) to engage, and while we conducted recovery operations the Speed Freeks cleverly attacked from the other side even while keeping us distracted firing at long range while driving around in donuts kicking up dust while shouting taunts. In the chaotic melee that followed the Guardsmen fought bravely, for the most part, but confusion set in as elements had already become intermingled and amidst the swirl of chocking dust we could not see the enemy often till they were at point-blank range. Again and again I saw Speed Freeks drive straight through our line laughing as they fought in exactly the sort of battle that suited them. If not for the the QRF (quick reaction force) from our headquarters things would have gone much worse, but as it was we had to pull back leaving nearly thirty vehicles either destroyed or captured as the Greenskins cheered. Doctrine was clear, we would go again but with stronger escorts including air cover and our command scrambled to figure out how we would acquire such additional forces while drawing up plans centered on elements we just didn’t have. While our Lord Castellan gave inspiring words, but his chief of staff seemed more interested in checking blocks of shortcomings to excuse the failures. The only question was how many more attempts of the same plan would have to be executed before he used it as an excuse to call the situation hopeless and order a retreat. Doctrine also called for the convoy to keep moving under attacks like we’d faced, but the circumstances had not worked out that way; however doctrine allowed for some judgement and not firing back with our main weapons would have invited annihilation.
As I moved about our base all that night, trying to organize the next attempt, I found elements of the Catachan 69th Combat Support Regiment in advanced preparations preparing for exactly that. It had been their QRF who had rescued our convoy the previous day and their commander felt her amazons could make the run in their Canyonero road-trains. No one had assigned them, and they had not even sought permission through the normal channels, they had just thought it up and were doing it seeming a little confused as to why people made such a big deal over a contested roadway. I took responsibility for the operation with higher in exchange for a place on the convoy which the Catachan’s were happy to give even though they gave my uniform some rather odd looks, seems it had been awhile since they’d had a commissar. We rolled out before dawn enforcing light discipline, and even though we had a similar number of soldiers in our element, as the previous day, we had half as many supply vehicles, but carried more than twice as much cargo, the extra soldiers crewing the numerous weapons mounted on the turrets and roofs as opposed to nearly half needing to be assigned as drivers and thus unable to fight. The first probes hit us when we were well underway, but they were met with fusillade of fire which rippled up and down the convoy as it kept moving uninterrupted and left many enemy vehicles destroyed in our wake. The bastards actually seemed excited to see the Canyoneros, shouting out what they like to call them ‘waaagh-rig’, I think this attracted more of them but we were ready. Even though their elements could mostly outrun us, even without the benefit of the MSR, our continuous movement made it difficult for them to mass enough forces for a real push even as increasing numbers shadowed us in the distance. Eventually they massed enough to make a real go of it, a veritable motorized horde on a bewildering variety of vehicles of different sizes and purposes. One huge waaagh trukk even mounted a massive set of drums which pounded a beat that could be heard even at range and over all the vehicles. That beat inspired them as they made their charge, and some of our Catachans even tapped their feet and hands to the sound, and even though our broadsides reduced many of their trucks to so much burning scrap many more came on led by a humongous warboss wearing an armored mask. The Emperor was with us a we weathered their fire while dealing death, but with bikes pulling close many of the troops sheltered inside climbed up onto our roofs to prove yet more firepower regardless of the danger. Showing their cunning the Orks concentrated their attack around the back of the convoy, near my position, and multiple jumped from their own vehicles onto my truck shouting war cries as they did. Others made it onto vehicles using huge poles precariously mounted on their vehicles, although I saw more fall beneath the tires than I ever saw complete that manuever. In the progenium myself and several class-mates had a bet as to who would be the first to kill the enemy with a sword while riding on a vehicle, and I’m proud to say that on that day I accomplished just that as the first one scampered up to our roof and onto my arching blade. A pitched melee broke out atop our moving vehicle as we repelled the boarders as if it were a maritime naval action. I saw Orks struck full on by trucks nevertheless climb up them to continue fighting, often laughing about their own failures in timing. A large trukk pulled alongside us and even attacked a boarding ramp over which they could charge without such a disadvantage and I readied myself when nexpectedly I heard the order of ‘button up’, and before I could gauge what they meant a Catachan sergeant almost as large as myself grabbed me and pulled me down through one of the hatches. The instant we were all inside and struggling to close the hatch a storm of las shots streaked across and in many cases into our vehicle causing hissing noises as their energy dissipated futilely against our armor, but proved more than effective against the enemy boarders. The vehicle behind us was hosing us down with small arms fire to clear them off rather than have us risk ourselves in melee. On a signal from them we resumed our positions on the roof, but the battle was already petering out as their force was spent and our escorts at the very rear continued to fire to drive off the last of them. At first I took what I heard from the Orks as a roar of rage, or maybe a taunt as we left the site, but I later realized was a cheer at having had a proper fight, something they had not expected from just a convoy.
In all we had a couple dozen wounded, but no dead, and several vehicles seriously damaged but even the ones missing a wheel managed to make it to the relative safety of our destination. We made a second run back to our base that same day, against weakened opposition, and another that night which passed straight through. The command staff credited our success to the fighting qualities of the Catachans, fighting qualities they had previously been keen to overlook or even discount, and suggested a few summary executions among the unit that had failed. Those troops, were well trained Gudrunites, and had fought well but with the wrong gear so we managed to find some more of the Canyoneros which were not being used to their full military potential and pressed them into service. We formed mixed groups interspersing different types of vehicles and cross trained or cross loaded the troops as best we could, and within a couple days the Speed Freeks of the Shiny and Chrome Clan were little more than an annoyance to our larger efforts. While I don’t recommend this as a replacement for our assault vehicles these road-trains can indeed prove their worth on any battlefield where the supply lines are threatened by insurgents or light and mobile enemy forces.”
– Commissar Abelard Hando