Imperial Navy - Facts & Figures


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Although I haven’t yet made any of my ‘First Five Days’ material public I have been slowly working on it when work and uni permit, one major problem I’m having though is fitting the details into a solid, GW canonised background. As most of our readers will be aware there’s a dearth of material on the Imperial Navy in general and how it handles aircraft as opposed to spacecraft in particular. So, what details are there out there about the IN, especially with regards to bombers, fighters and the like?

Well, I’ll catalogue what I’ve got so far and hopefully some of our readers and other bloggers will be able to chip in with some other sources and tidbits too. Once we’ve got all the info we can find I plan to create a workable background for Imperial Navy flyers that I can adhere to for the rest of the 609th material I produce.

So, what do we need to know?


  • Ranks
  • Awards
  • Titles
  • Training
  • Period of service

Aircraft Types


  • Squadrons
  • Wings
  • Larger formations? (’Air Armies’ like the 8th Air Force or 2nd Tactical Air Force of WW2?)

Air/Space differences
Do IN units specialise in orbital or atmospheric combat? Are there distinctions between the two types of unit?

Imperial Guard
We know that the IG don’t field ‘fast-movers’, aircraft like Lightnings and Thunderbolts that is, except for the Phantine squadrons. Why? Did Guilliman ban it in the same way he banned the Astartes from commanding IG units? It would make sense certainly, but where do the Phantine fit into that?

PDF and militia flyers are mentioned in several locations, particularly Dan Abnett’s novel ‘Double Eagle’. What role do they play? Are they subordinate to the Navy or Guard? Are they ever drafted into the IN, like PDF units are into the IG?

And then we get to what we know about IN aircraft in the 3rd Armageddon War.

So those are the questions. Below are the answers I can come up with:

Aircraft Types

  • Thunderbolt - ‘heavy’ fighter, orbit capable but not a ’starfighter’ ♦ ‘Double Eagle’ notes Thunderbolts have some thrust vectoring capability♣
  • Lightning - ‘light’ fighter, orbit capable, no details if ’starfighter’ , recent addition to IN ranks, STC rediscovered Karnak III♦
  • Valkyrie - airborne assault carrier, crewed by the elite of the IN ♦
  • Vulture - multi-role gunship, atmospheric ops only ♦
  • Fury - a true ’starfighter’, interceptor, appears roughly analogous to Thunderbolt ♦
  • Starhawk - ’starfighter’, bomber, minor details noted in BFG (BFG)
  • Aquila Lander - light personnel shuttle, orbit capable ♦
  • Arvus Lighter - light cargo shuttle, orbit capable ♦
  • Marauder - medium (?) bomber, interdiction bomber ♦
  • Marauder Destroyer - Marauder variant first used during 2nd Armageddon, close air support and ground attack aircraft, crewed by ‘handpicked IN pilots’ ♦
  • Marauder Vigilant - Marauder variant, support aircraft with C3, EW, ESM etc. equipment ◊
  • Marauder Colossus - Marauder variant, payload is one very large guided bomb, used for special target types only ◊


  • Standard Imperial formation appears to be the Wing. Wings seem to be deployed as such rather than as individual squadrons (no specific source, simply the most commonly mentioned formation), although Phantine units seem to be deployed as ‘Flights’ (squadron sized units).
  • 717th Fighter Wing consisted of 10 squadrons, each of approx. 20 aircraft during Siege of Vraks ♥
  • 1099th Bomber Wing consisted of 7 squadrons, each of approx. 12 aircraft during Siege of Vraks ♥
  • IA Vol 6 implies that squadrons can be of mixed aircraft models if of same type, i.e. Thunderbolts & Lightnings in one squadron, or multiple Marauder variants ♥
  • One bomber wing & one fighter wing appear to be total IN aerial assets committed to liberation of Vraks, a Forge World, may offer some perspective on potential deployment sizes in other battle zones? ♥
  • Anecdotal evidence suggests Valkyries and possibly Vultures are attached to specific IG regiments rather than used as separate IN formations
  • Anecdotal evidence suggests most pilots/aircrew are male and that there is a bias against female aircrew ♣

Known Units/Actions

Sabbat Crusade, Enothian War, 772. M41 ♣

  • 63rd Imperial Fighter Wing ‘Sundogs’, notable member (commander?) Flight Commander (?) Leksander Godel (40 kills)
  • 409 Raptors (Fighter Wing?), commander Wing Leader Ortho Blaguer (110 kills)
  • 567th Fighter Wing
  • 786th Fighter Wing, Lightnings
  • 96th Fighter Wing, Thunderbolts
  • 101st Fighter WIng, ‘The Apostles’ - wing  of celebrated aces (members include: Quint, Wing Leader Etz Sekan (CO), Harlsson, Major Suhr, Captain Guis Gettering)
  • Fleet Admiral Ornoff appears to be senior aviation officer on Enothis
  • 42 Fighter Wings, 16 bomber flights deployed to Enothis (also listed as ‘58 Wings’)
  • ‘Battle of the Zonophian Sea’, multi-day (weeks?) battle on Enothis. Imperial losses 948, Arch-Enemy losses (claimed) 7840

Taros Intervention (Imperial Armour 3)

  • Fighter Wings: 83rd, 386th, 1002nd, 2774th
  • Bomber Wings: 5012st, 2424th

Siege of Vraks (IA 6)

  • 717th Fighter Wing consisted of 10 squadrons, each of approx. 20 aircraft
  • 1099th Bomber Wing consisted of 7 squadrons, each of approx. 12 aircraft

Third Armageddon War (Codex: Armageddon)

  • Imperial Fleet lists 43 Bomber Strike Wings and 67 Interceptor Strike Wings on its strength. Presumably these are Furies and Starhawks but no details are provided.
  • Furies may have been used from ground bases as well as fleet units
  • 2-3500 Ork Fighta Bommer squadrons listed as being present at 3rd AW plus 2100+ Ork attack craft (spaceborne/capable aircraft???)


Flight Personnel Ranks (in approx. order of seniority), no info on groundcrew available

  • Wing Sergeant (WS in IA is noted as being second in command of 83rd IN Fighter Wing, ‘Eagle’ squadron) ♦
  • Flight Commander/Commander (sep. ranks?) ♣
  • Captain ♣
  • Wing Leader ♣
  • Fleet Admiral ♣

PDF Aviation

  • Aircraft Type: KT4  Wolfcub (pulse (rocket) engines, quad cannon (nose mounted) )
  • Aircraft Type: Cyclone (twin piston engined, delta form, ‘Interceptor pattern’, twin seat)
  • Personnel: Rank: Pilot Cadet
  • Personnel: Rank: Major (appears equivalent to IN Wing Leader)
  • Personnel: Rank: Air Commander
  • Planet Enothis air units known as ‘Enothian Commonwealth Air Force’, part of PDF

Imperial Air Force

  • Only known units are Phantine or ‘Imperial Phantine Air Corps’ (’only founded IG regiment who are fliers’)
  • XXI Wing ‘Halo Flight’, deployed as part of reinforcements to Enothian War 772.M41, Sabbat Crusade
  • Halo Flight was equipped with Marauders and commanded by Captain Oskar Viltry, strength 12 aircraft & crews
  • Aircraft nicknames appear permissible, known nicknames ‘K forKillshot’, ‘Widowmaker’, ‘G for Greta’ (aka ‘Gee Force Greta’), ‘Hello Hellfire, ‘Throne of Terra’, ‘Mamzel Mayhem’, ‘Get Them All Back’, ‘Consider Yourself Dead’,  likely based on aircraft serial numbers or aircraft markings with a squadron
  • XX Wing ‘Umbra Flight’ commanded by Commander Jadgea Bree,  equipped with Thunderbolts, strength is 12 pilots & aircraft
  • XX Wing ‘Obris Flight’ commanded by Wilhem Hayyes
  • Ranks: Pilot Officer, Commander (Flight Commander?), Captain (seniority unknown between Cdr & Capt.)
  • Umbra Flight flys as three flights, each of 4 aircraft
  • As part of IG can recruit from PDF units unlike the Navy which either doesn’t or isn’t permitted to do so


  • Aeronautica Imperialis
  • ◊ FW website
  • ♥ Imperial Armour Vol. 6
  • ♣ ‘Double Eagle’
  • Codex: Armageddon
  • Imperial Armour 3

7 Responses to “Imperial Navy - Facts & Figures”

  1. Marc says:

    There is some rather good information regarding the ranks, tactics and aircraft used by the Imperial Navy in the books Execution Hour and Shadow Point.

  2. SCC says:

    Thanks Marc, I have Execution Hour in a box somewhere, not sure about Shadow Point though. I’ll take a look through them and see what’s there…

  3. Marc says:

    Been trying to source Shadow point but it is really expensive from Amazon so I am giving it a miss.

    They are set during the Gothic War so some of the terms and tech might be outdated by the BoA III.

    For ranks the IN tends to follow RN as far as I have read (adding denotions like flag or star to some of the ranks). As such a Captain will outrank a commander. Pilots are likely to be officers most likely with air/flight and/or ground crews being provided by the extra ranks. RN ranks (for officers anyway) are as follows.
    Sub Lieutenant
    Lieutenant Commander
    Rear Admiral
    Vice Admiral
    Admiral of the Fleet.

    These ranks are used for the IN in Execution Hour and the rank of Flag Captain for IN is roughly equivalent to a General I think it is for IG, working on that a cruiser class ship has about 10,000 crew and that a Captain is a senior servant of the Imperium equal to a Prime Marshall of the Adeptus Arbites.

    As an off direct topic aside, I love the detail you guys are putting into this website. I have been following Brother Argos’ progress for the converting of his steel legion troops since he started it and it has been great now with the added detail on this website..

  4. SCC says:

    @Marc: Thanks, nice to know other folks out there appreciate and enjoy the crazy levels of detail we’re aiming for :D

    Thanks for the IN info, I’ll dig out the two books, I’m sure I’ve got Shadow Point as well, and take a dekko at them…

  5. Marc says:

    If you are looking for some good information on the Imperial Navy for the third Armageddon war there is a heap in Battle Fleet Gothic Armarda, which are downloadable from the GW site.
    I am looking at starting a BFG fleet themed around the events of the BoA and also tailor my 40k army more towards this than the Gothic War.


  6. ArmourHead says:

    I think the Navy needs a land force. For long range Naval patrol boats. A force for rapid response to planetary incursions by xenos or rebels. Until the Guard turn up,or the PDF mobilise.
    Or to rescue downed Aircraft crews, to defend LZs, to protect Personal and Land bases.

    The RAF have Gunners and Paratroopers.

    So why not let the Imperial Navy have there own reponse units??

    Im trying to think of additioanl fluff to give it more realism.

    Any comments would be welcoe?

    I would use Elysian Droptroops as my models, use a unique camo or colour scheme, that relfects there standing as non IG.

    Any suggestions on modelling conversions welcome??


  7. SCC says:

    @Marc: I have the original BFG game and the PDF downloads for it, sadly, it’s all big ship centric with little info on the fighters. Still, I’ll review it for useful nuggets in the near future.

    @Armourhead: In terms of realism I agree, the RAF has the RAF Regiment and the USAF has plenty of ground forces, including Special Forces types like ParaJumpers etc.

    But in the world of 40K I’m not so sure. Guilliman’s edicts bar any one force, be it IG, IN or Astartes, from having access to combined arms in order to make rebellion (a la Horus) very difficult to organise. So it’d be difficult for the IN to have such units on any large scale. More likely IN armsmen and the non-skilled labour aboard starships would be used to fill in those roles ad hoc I think.

    Still, having those roles filled by Navy crew does make a lot of sense. I’ll have to check Double Eagle again to see if that gives any clues about who mans anti-air emplacements or builds bases etc…