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Battle of Vannaheim

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Battle of Vanaheim
Conflict Horus Heresy
Date 008-009.M31 (main phase)
Location Vanaheim
Outcome Traitor victory
Loyalists Traitors
Primarch Leman Russ (late battle)[2]
Captain Gautrek Skyblade[2]
Cazin Ru'darak(KIA)[2]
Warsmith Orbarox Grawlen[2]
Large Space Wolves force[2]
Shattered Legions warband[2]
Loyalist Vanaheim Mechanicum[2]
5,000 Iron Warriors (72nd Grand Battalion)[2]
700,000 Solar Auxilia[2]
Heavy Heavy

The Battle of Vanaheim,[1] also known as the Fall of Vanaheim,[2] was a battle of the Horus Heresy fought from 008-009.M31.[1]


Vanaheim was a Forge World and Ice World which showcased some similarities to Neptune and Uranus regarding its hostile atmosphere and other conditions. As most of the planet was largely uninhabitable, its population was centered on a series of nine hives. These were of extraordinary as these were orbital stations and outfitted with technology that allowed for the creation of habitable bubbles around them. Accordingly, the Forge World became a center of research on and production of aircraft, as these were the main medium for the hives to keep in contact with each other and the surface, where the actual forge-fanes were located.[2]

When the Horus Heresy erupted, Vanaheim initially attempted to stay neutral. However, the Iron Warriors' 72nd Grand Battalion under Warsmith Orbarox Grawlen chanced upon one of the Forge World's tithe fleets. Though Grawlen had been ordered to support the Dark Compliance of Paramar V, the knowledge and resources extracted from the tithe fleet convinced him that his force as well as Perturabo himself would be far better serviced by capturing a whole Forge World rather than attempting to garrison a embattled world like Paramar V.[2]


Traitor conquest and Ru'darak's guerrilla war

The battle thus began when the Iron Warriors' 72nd Grand Battalion led by Grawlen arrived at Vanaheim. After a demand of surrender was refused by the local Forge Lords, the Warsmith began an assault with 5,000 Space Marines and about 700,000 Solar Auxilia (called the "Iron Penance"). He reasoned that he did not have to secure the entire planet, but rather only the orbital hives as these held most of the planet's population and were the main means to transport the Forge World's industrial output into space. By securing these, he could force the Forge Lords to do his bidding. The Iron Warriors launched a daring assault on the orbital hives of Vanaheim, capturing them after ten days of brutal fighting. In response, the rest of the planet surrendered.[2]

After Vanaheim's conquest, the planet's industrial output was rerouted to support the Traitor cause. However, this also attracted unwanted attention by nearby loyalist forces, while local Tech-Priests sent messages requesting aid into the void. The first response arrived in the form of a warband belonging to the Shattered Legions, led by Captain Cazin Ru'darak of the Salamanders' 53rd Company. Ru'darak's force was a collection of Salamanders, Raven Guard, White Scars, Solar Auxilia, Imperial Army regiments, and Divisio Aeronautica contingents. This motley force was too weak to retake Vanaheim by force, but would subsequently wage an extensive guerrilla war against the Iron Warriors in the void, the air, and on the land.[2]

For some time, the loyalist guerrilla campaign succeeded in disrupting the traitor presence. However, when Ru'darak's forces made a more daring airborne attack on one forge-fane on Vanaheim's surface, Beta-X15A, they were drawn into a trap. Even though they succeeded in completely destroying the forge-fane, depriving the Iron Warriors of important war materiel, this attack resulted in the destruction of two-thirds of the loyalist guerrillas' aircraft and heavy personnel losess, with Ru'darak being among those listed as fallen in combat.[2]

Attempted reconquest by the Space Wolves

Not long after the destruction of Beta-X15A, another force of loyalist Astartes arrived at Vanaheim. This contingent was vastly larger than the Shattered Legions warband, consisting of a collection of Space Wolves raiding parties previously involved in battling the Night Lords at Daverant. This force was led by Captain Gautrek Skyblade of the 4th Great Company. Unlike Ru'darak, Skyblade believed that he could not only cripple the Iron Warriors on Vanaheim, but retake the entire world. The first action by the loyalist was to attack the local Iron Warriors fleet. In a series of battles, Skyblade's fleet (reinforced by the remnants of Ru'darak's ships which had remained in hiding in local asteroid fields) successfully shattered the traitor forces in space, forcing the remaining Iron Warriors ships in flee.[2]

In contrast, the next operations would go poorly for the loyalists, as the Space Wolves launched three counter-attacks to reclaim the orbital hive stations.[1][2]

The first assault targeted several hives, but was repelled by the traitors. The Space Wolves suffered massive losses, and were subsequently forced to operate in a more concentrated fashion. However, Skyblade falsely assumed that the first attack had revealed the Iron Warriors' overall defenses, and thus believed that one major loyalist strike at Vanaheim's capital hive Fyrstaheim could overwhelm the Iron Warriors. Instead, the second attempt revealed that Grawlen's main force had set up position in Fyrstaheim's "Iron Spyre", a fortress which broke the Space Wolves attempt to establish a foothold.[2]

At this point, Skyblade acted more out of wounded pride than sense and ordered his final assault. This time, he ordered his remaining airborne and space forces to abandon their sieges of Vanaheim's outer hives to launch an all-out attack on the Iron Spyre. This final offensive was led by Skyblade personally, and the Captain was seemingly killed when his Fire Raptor Gunship was shot down. The loyalists suffered massive losses, but were actually able to penetrate the Iron Warrior defenses and enter the Iron Spyre. Ultimately, this success proved meaningless when the Iron Warriors launched their own counter-attack in space with their remaining fleet. As the Space Wolves were mostly focused on the Iron Spyre, heavily depleted, and in disarray due to Skyblade's disappearance,[2] the Iron Warriors fleet defeated the loyalist navy. Traitor boarding parties even captured the Space Wolves Grand Cruiser Helicon Spear which became a prize for the traitor legion.[1] Cut off due to the defeat of their fleet, the Space Wolves in the Iron Spyre were left isolated and close to destruction at the Iron Warriors' hands.[2]

However, at this point the Space Wolves' main fleet under Primarch Leman Russ himself arrived in the system. His large fleet scattered the Iron Warriors' navy, absorbing what remained of the fleets of Ru'darak and Skyblade. Russ then turned to Vanaheim directly, using his forces to push the Iron Warriors back to their strongholds in the orbital hives. He then made contact with the local Forge Lords, requesting their aid to the loyalist cause. Instead, the Forge Lords once more declared neutrality, seemingly hoping that they could be left alone even as the Space Wolves and Iron Warriors fought each other in the planet's orbit. Disgusted at the local Mechanicum and aware that a full conquest of both the orbital hives and the uncooperative forge-fanes would be too costly to his Legion (which had already suffered heavy losses in the Burning of Prospero, the Battle of the Alaxxes Nebula, and at Daverant), Russ opted to instead withdraw all local loyalists he could contact. He then ordered his fleet to fire on Fyrstaheim; initially, the hive -protected by the Iron Spyre's powerful shields- seemed to survive the barrage. Then, the shields unexpectedly failed, causing the loyalist fleets' guns to completely destroy Vanaheim's capital hive and its 300 million inhabitants. The shield's failure had in fact been caused by the remnants of Skyblade's landing force, as the Captain had actually survived his aircraft's crash and rallied his troops to sabotage the Iron Spyre's shield reactors.[2]

Satisfied with Fyrstaheim's destruction, Russ and his legion then left, leaving the rest of Vanaheim to the Iron Warriors. They were not accompanied by Skyblade and his comrades. The Captain and about other 200 Space Wolves had been able to escape the capital hive's destruction in captured gunships, but opted to move onto Vanaheim's surface to atone for their failures by continuing their war against the Iron Warriors.[2]


The retreat of Russ and the vast majority of the loyalists allowed the Iron Warriors to claim victory, even though Vanaheim's industrial output had been vastly reduced by the fighting. Grawlen would take immense pride in having forced a Primarch to withdraw from battle. In the next years, Vanaheim became a major center of the Iron Warriors' private empire and was crucial in supplying traitor forces. The local Forge Lords' alleged neutrality was crushed as the Iron Warriors either corrupted or just killed them, ultimately controlling the entire planet. However, their control of Vanaheim would suffer under constant small-scale attacks by the loyalist guerrillas. These were the remnants of Skyblade's contingent, united with the remaining ground forces of Ru'darak's old warband.[2]

When Vanaheim was eventually retaken by the Imperium in the Great Scouring, a small loyalist force drawn from four Space Marine Legions reemerged, having kept up the fight all these years.[2]

See also


Battles of the Horus Heresy
005-006.M31 Battle of Isstvan IIIFirst Battle of ProsperoWar Within the WebwayBattle of the Somnus CitadelUnrest on CalibanSchism of MarsBattle of DiamatDrop Site MassacreBattle of the Rangda SystemFirst Battle of ParamarManachean WarSignus CampaignTreachery at Advex-MorsSiege of CthoniaBattle for Felweather Keep‎
007-008.M31 Battle of PhallBattle of RavendelveRuin of MaerdanBattle of the Alaxxes NebulaPale Stars CampaignBreaking of the Perfect FortressChondax CampaignSecond Battle of ProsperoFirst Siege of Hydra CordatusBattle of the Furious AbyssBattle of CalthBattle of ArmaturaBetrayal at IthracaDeath of CanopusShadow CrusadeCrusade of IronDoom of BorminaDefence of TyrosDefence of the Three PlanetsBattle of UlixisAmbush at EspandorBattle of Aquila AtollBattle of Drooth IIPercepton CampaignBattle of IydrisThramas CrusadeFall of Baztel IIIBattle of VannaheimSecond Battle of ParamarBattle of Constanix IIMezoan CampaignBattle of BodtBattle of DwellErellian SubjugationSiege of Baal
009-010.M31 Battle of MolechBreaking of AnvillusXana IncursionCarnage of MoroxSangraal CampaignBattle of ArissakBattle of PerditusBattle of SothaDrussen AtrocityScouring of Gilden's StarBattle of NyrconBattle of TallarnCataclysm of IronBattle of NocturneWar of DrakesBattle of PlutoSiege of InwitBurning of Ohmn-MatBitter War
011-014.M31 Reaving of the Xibana ReachesLorin Alpha CampaignSubjugation of TyrinthMalagant ConflictBattle of the Kalium GateBattle of CatallusAxandrian IncidentBattle of the Haddon SystemJarrazr IncursionBattle of TralsakTarren SuppressionBalthor Sigma InterventionBattle of AbsolomScouring of the Ollanz ClusterBattle of ZepathSecond Battle of ZaramundBattle of AnuariBattle of PyrrhanSecond Battle of DavinArgolian MassacresBattle of TrisolianBattle of YarantBattle of KradeBattle of DelugeBattle of Heta-GladiusBattle of the Aragna ChainBattle of KallethBattle of the Diavanos SystemBattle of DesperationBattle of Beta-GarmonWar for AgaropsDefence of RyzaBattle of ThagriaPassage of AngelsThassos IncidentBattle of Zhao-ArkhadSerpent's CoilSiege of BarbarusForicaan CampaignBattle of VezdellBurning of VrexorDawn of DesolationDeath of ChemosBattle of Luth TyreYdursk IncidentFall of TenzebarSolar WarRaid on LunaSiege of TerraGreat Scouring