So now what’s next for Aeronautica Imperialis?

Back in July 2020 I wrote a speculative piece about future releases for Aeronautica Imperialis and some personal preferences for models. I had written the post after finishing painting my Valkyrie Assault Carriers which had been released alongside there Skies of Fire boxed set which contained miniatures for the Tau and the Astra Militarum.

I started to think about which models I would get next, and that got me thinking what we have seen that still needs to be released and also what could be released in the future and what I would like to see in the future as well.

Since that article was published we have had some new releases for Aeronautica Imperialis from GW and resin models from Forge World.

Forge World released the Vulture Gunship and the Arvus Lighter in August 2020.

We first saw the Avenger Strike Fighters in February 2020, they were eventually also released in August 2020.

In October 2020 we saw the release of the Ork Air Waaagh! Mega Bommer from Forge World.

Ork Mega Bommer

In a that blog post about what next for Aeronautica Imperialis I said could we see a huge Ork bomber or transport aircraft? I didn’t think we would see one, well we now have this new huge Ork aircraft for Aeronautica Imperialis.

What still needs to be released?

So here we are just under a year later and news of a new boxed set, Wrath of Angels.

After Wings of Vengeance, featuring Orks and the Imperial Navy, and Skies of Fire, which introduced the T’au Air Caste, this set is all about Aeldari Craftworlds versus Space Marines.

So for this boxed set we are getting, Xiphon Interceptors and Storm Eagles for the Space Marines, whilst for the Eldar, sorry Aeldari, we get Nightwings and Phoenix Bombers. Available separately will be a lovely looking plastic Space Marine Thunderhawk.

In my original post I said about the Xiphon

Though in some ways an obvious choice for Aeronautica Imperialis, the background implies it isn’t really used by the Space Marines much.

Well shows how much I know!

I am wondering if there will be additional releases at the same time?

What could be released in the future?

So this is an update of that original blog post.

This is not an exhaustive or exclusive list, as there are past models we have seen, or read about that could be released.

We had seen Aeldari in some of the publicity artwork for Aeronautica Imperialis and we now know that they are going to be in the Wrath of Angels boxed set.

Will we see the Crimson Hunter and Hemlock Wraithfighter? Also what about the larger Aeldari aircraft to combat the Thunderhawk?

With the T’au fighters and bombers already released in Skies of Fire, there are some other planes that could make a future release.

A Sun Shark bomber is a T’au aircraft designed to provide atmospheric air support to ground-based Fire Caste forces. Each Sun Shark incorporates a Pulse Bomb Generator that takes up much of its dorsal fuselage. This advanced microfactory generates, and holds stable, a shimmering orb of lethal energy. The Razorshark variant would likely to be a possible option if we get the Sun Shark. 

Possibly less likely are the larger T’au aircraft, the Orca, the Moray and the Manta.

Tau Manta on the Forgeworld displays
Tau Manta on the Forgeworld displays

It would not be beyond the realms of imagination that Chaos would also be a release. Across Warhammer 40000 ranges we have the Hell Talon, the Hell Blade and the quite interesting looking Heldrake. In addition there are Chaos versions of Imperial flyers as well, those corrupted and tainted by Chaos, as well as the traitor Legions. In addition I think if Chaos was to become a faction in Aeronautica Imperialis then we might see the Harbinger super-heavy bomber. The Harbinger is the largest aircraft ever unleashed by Chaos forces and was first deployed during the 13th Black Crusade against the Imperial positions on Cadia. Forge World did make an Epic version back in the day, so I think this is more likely than those metal aircraft made for Epic Armageddon.

The Space Marines have lots of flyers, some of these are less ideal for Aeronautica Imperialis.

So Wrath of Angels gives us three Space Marine flyers. In the Space Marine hangars and airfields you can find many different types of transports and fighters. I think the following could appear in Aeronautica Imperialis.

Could we see a conversion kit for the similar Fire Raptor Gunship, which is a specialised variant of the Storm Eagle. The Fire Raptor replaces the storage capacity of the Storm Eagle with greater ammunition stowage in order to feed the voracious appetite of its numerous weapon systems. 

The Stormraven gunship is a highly versatile multi-role aircraft found in the Armoury of the Adeptus Astartes. The Stormraven can act simultaneously as an armoured transport, orbital dropship, and strike aircraft.

The Stormtalon gunship is an aerial interceptor and ground-attack aircraft that serves in the armies of the Adeptus Astartes. The Stormtalon possesses Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) capabilities which allows it to hover in place while unleashing its potent barrage as well as engaging in more conventional dogfights like a supersonic interceptor. There is also the Stormhawk variant as well.

Finally we have the Overlord, it is an Imperial aircraft that is used as the primary gunship and assault transport by the forces of the Primaris Space Marines. With the focus of the new Warhammer 40000 being on the Primaris Space Marines, it might be something we see in Aeronautica Imperialis.

With the release of the Necrons as a core army for the new 40000, could we see the Doom Scythe and Night Shroud Bomber as releases for Aeronautica Imperialis? I don’t see why not, and could we even see new aircraft (as we did with the Grot Bommerz).

There are a couple of Dark Eldar flyers in the 40K ranges, the Razorwing and the Voidraven, as with the Necrons, a possible easy release, reality though not a fan favourite, so could be low on the list of possible options.

What is less likely….

As we’ve seen the Arvus Lighter, could we also see an Aquila Lander? Well not sure if this is a possibility, as we have the Arvus Lighter already.

Part of me would like to see the DeffKopta in Aeronautica, the reality I think is that we won’t. A Deffkopta is a rotary-wing aircraft that is often employed by the Orks, particularly Orks who are part of an Ork klan’s Kult of Speed. I think that it is too small for the game, yes I know we have Grot Bombs, but unless you had a bundle of Deffkoptaz which could swarm the enemy, then they could be easy shot out of the sky.

Going back to the T’au, as stated The Orca is a dedicated armoured orbital transport shuttle for ferrying Tau troops, equipment and supplies from Tau starships in orbit to a planet’s surface. However it only has self-defence weapons, so is not really an offensive aircraft, more a transport.The other thing is that the Forge World model has been discontinued which may make an Aeronautica Imperialis version less likely. The Moray was from Epic Armageddon, so may not now be canon. The 40K scale Manta is one of the biggest models available from Forge World and back in the day they made an Epic version, however would this work in the mechanics of the current rules?

It is well-armoured for use in frontline combat and can deliver massive amounts of firepower to the battlefield to help support Tau ground forces during a frontal assault against entrenched enemy positions. The Manta also features a large transport capacity that allows it to carry entire Hunter Cadres to and from engagements. However it is a super-heavy Tau spacecraft that is also the Tau Empire’s closest equivalent to the Imperium of Man’s Titans and Ork Gargants, which makes me think that it might appear for Adeptus Titanicus first, which is of course the same scale as Aeronautica Imperialis.

In the Space Marine hangars and airfields you can find many different types of transports and fighters. I think the following probably wouldn’t fly in Aeronautica Imperialis.

The Thunderhawk Transporter is a logistical variant of the standard Thunderhawk gunship used by the Adeptus Astartes to carry Space Marine vehicles into combat zones. Too big and not much firepower.

Thunderhawk Transport
Thunderhawk Transport

The Space Marine Landing Craft is a super-heavy landing craft that is used by the Space Marines of the Adeptus Astartes. This massive craft is designed to quickly deliver troops, vehicles and supplies to a planet’s surface from orbit, much like its smaller cousins the Thunderhawk gunship and the Thunderhawk Transporter. As with the T’au Moray this was “invented” for Epic Armageddon so may not be canon any more!

Stormbird is a catch-all term that refers to a series of various super-heavy dedicated attack landers that were once used by the Legiones Astartes as their primary means of deploying forces into combat. Stormbirds also served in air support and general planetary transport roles during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras in the late 30th and early 31st Millennia. The Sokar Pattern Stormbird was one of the later patterns of Stormbird developed during the Great Crusade and was used as the design precursor to the smaller, more widely produced Thunderhawk gunship. 

Could we see an Ork Landa? This was something that was created for Epic Armageddon and as I have stated many of the models and ideas from these rules have been ignored. Forge World have gone off and built their own new models and we have the ‘Eavy Bommerz in Aeronautica Imperialis which is an Ork big plane.

Really big things…

There are some BIG things that Forge World could make that would be interesting for games, but would require some new rules for larger aircraft or flying platforms.

If there was to be a Tau Manta, then I think we might need to see some new rules to allow for extra large aircraft. However if we did then that opens up possibilities for a wider range of large air borne craft and other stuff.

Taking their inspiration from SHIELD and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, could we see flying aircraft carriers? Or what about orbital airfields (hovering over a gas giant). In a similar vein could we see atmospheric air stations, high above the battlefield, armed with weapons to take out enemy aircraft.

From an Xenos perspective what about a huge Ork Rok? An Ork Rok is the most feared form of Ork spacecraft. A Rok was once an asteroid that has been hollowed out by Ork Mekboyz and then outfitted with Ork-made gunz, plasma engines, targeting systems and whatever other large, powerful weapons the Orks can get their green hands on.

The Ork Minelayer was something that we saw in the original Apocalypse rules. The Ork Mekboys create all kinds of strange vehicles and one of the most bizzare is the fifty tons of floating metal known as Ork Minelayer. This craft is suspended in mid air by powerful repulsor fields and uses its powerful engines to propel itself in clouds of black smoke. It is sometimes armed with a Killkannon or multiple Big Shootas and features a cavernous bomb bays.

Just because we don’t have them now, doesn’t mean such things couldn’t exist in the far future of Warhammer 40000. Likewise, they may make sense to protect mining operations over gas giants (think Star Wars’ Cloud City). 

These flying platforms and stations could make for really interesting scenarios.

So lots of possibilities out there for Aeronautica Imperialis. So what do you want to see next for Aeronautica Imperialis?

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