Chapter Colors

Submitted By: Date: March 13, 2004, 08:31:26 PM Views: 9099


This was written based around 2nd Edition, but is still usable for Standard Codex Marine Chapters. This was also written before the GW colour schemes book came out. The pieces in italic are the author’s description of a picture or miniature.

In this section we examine the organisation of a Chapter and the various markings, insignia and uniform details associated with Space Marines. This Codex information is applicable to any Chapter of Space Marines that follows the Codex.

Every Chapter has its own heraldic uniform consisting of a colour or a coloured scheme. These colours are given to the Chapter when it is founded. In the case of the Ultramarines the colour is blue. Every Chapter is different to some degree. Every Chapter also has its own badge or insignia, the Chapter badge which appears on all of its property, its battle flags, vehicles, and, most obviously, on the left shoulder pads of its Space Marines.

Company Colors

The following colours are used on the raised trim around the shoulder pads to denote the company to which the Space Marine belongs:

1st (Veteran) - White
2nd (Battle) - Yellow
3rd (Battle) - Red
4th (Battle) - Green
5th (Battle) - Black
6th (Reserve-Tactical) - Orange
7th (Reserve-Tactical) - Magenta (or Purple)
8th (Reserve-Assault) - Grey
9th (Reserve-Devastator) - Blue
10th (Scout) - White


Squad Badges

The badges were the same then as they are now. They are displayed on the right shoulder pad, in a colour that contrasts with the Chapter colour. The Ultramarines, Genesis Chapter, Aurora Chapter, White Panthers, Storm Lords, and Eagle Warriors use white badges; the Imperial Fists, Brazen Claw, and Novamarines use black badges; the Silver Skulls paint the badges in the Company colour; the Mentors use red badges; and the White Consuls use blue badges.



The Iron Skull is a traditional badge of ancient origin. Classical convention is to represent the Iron Skull as a red device. The Codex insignia for a sergeant, it is displayed on the shoulder armour and/or helmet of a Space Marine of this rank. It is awarded for leadership.

Note that the Ultramarines sergeants have red helmets with bleached bone skulls on them. Additionally, the Chapter badge of Ultramarines sergeants has the red skull in the middle of the U.


Squad Leaders

Some of you are asking what Squad Leaders are. Well, back in 2nd edition each squad had both a Sergeant and a Squad Leader. Think of the Squad Leader as a Corporal. When the squad fights 10-strong, the Sergeant is in charge. If, however, the squad breaks down into two 5-man squads, the Sergeant would take one and the Squad Leader would take the other. On with the story...

A Marine who demonstrates exceptional initiative will be awarded the Iron Halo. This simple badge has its origins in the earliest days of the Imperium. Often painted onto a Marine's armour as a red badge, the Iron Halo is the Codex insignia for a Squad Leader. It is displayed on the shoulder armour and/or helmet of the Marine as a mark of his rank.

This is NOT the Iron Halo war gear, which Independent Characters may take in 3rd edition, although the badge resembles it. The Ultramarines Squad Leaders have this device painted in the middle of the U on their left shoulder.



Squads of Veterans are equipped and fight like the Tactical squads of the other companies. Each Space Marine has the characteristic white helmet and the trim of the shoulder pads is white. The Veteran squad tactical symbol is derived from the Crux Terminatus and takes the form of a large cross, over which the squad designation number is printed in black.

Each of the squad members also bears the Crux as an honour badge on the left kneepad. Rank insignia are displayed on the left shoulder pad. The Squad Leader's badge is the iron halo; the Sergeant's badge is the iron skull. In addition, the Sergeant has a red helmet with a white stripe.

Imperial Fists veterans are indicated by the helmet stripe being painted red.


Hero Heraldry

In place of the squad badge, Space Marine Heroes have their own heraldry based on the Company to which they belong. The basic device is in Company colour. Note that if the Company colour is the same as the Chapter colour, use white instead of the Chapter colour on the Hero's badge.

1st - White cross
2nd - Yellow bar (vertical)
3rd - Red bar (diagonal, lower left to upper right)
4th - Green upper half, Chapter colour lower
5th - Black quarters (upper left and lower right)
6th - Orange V
7th - Purple right
8th - Grey upper left half (diagonal split)
9th - Blue bar (horizontal)
10th - none shown


Librarians have blue armour with yellow tabards. Devices used by Librarians are books, lightning bolts, and the horned skull. These devices are displayed on banners and on the right shoulder pad of the Librarian. The left shoulder pad will be painted in Chapter colours with the Chapter badge.


Chaplains have black armour. The right shoulder pad displays a white skull on a black field. The left shoulder pad will be painted in Chapter colours with the Chapter badge.


Apothecaries have white armour. The right shoulder pad displays the prime helix (red thingy with black wings). The Prime Helix is the emblem of the Apothecaries. The bright red design represents both the gene-seed itself and to some extent the sacrifice every Marine is prepared to make to ensure the Chapter's future. The left shoulder pad will be painted in Chapter colours with the Chapter badge.


Techmarines have red armour. The right shoulder pad displays the machina opus (black and white skull thingy). This is the mark of a Tech-Priest Adept. It is awarded to each Techmarine as he completes his mysterious training with the Adeptus Mechanicus on Mars. Bearers of the Machina Opus are accorded great respect by the Tech-Priests and they alone are allowed free passage through the Ring of Iron and into the great workshops of the Martian Hive. The left shoulder pad will be painted in Chapter colours with the Chapter badge.

Standard Bearers  (also called ANCIENTS)

A Marine who bears this honour has literally won his laurels. Acts of valour leading to great victory are deeds rewarded with the Imperial Laurel. The wreath is often worn as a crown or sculpted onto the Marine's helmet. The Wreathed Skull is a common form of the honour. The Codex demands that Company Standards be born into battle by proven warriors and the bearers of these all wear the Imperial Laurel.

Otherwise, they are as any other Command Squad Space Marine.


[The Crux Terminatus] is one of the most famous of all Space Marine icons. Only the honoured veterans of a Space Marine Chapter fight in suits of Terminator armour and wear this badge. The symbol has various forms and designs but all versions are carved from great chunks of stone. Within each badge is bound a tiny fragment of the suit worn by the Emperor during his climatic battle with the arch-traitor Horus over 10,000 years ago*. Sergeants and captains bear modified versions of the design to signify their rank and authority. The veterans frequently wear smaller representations of the crux when they fight in power armour. These small, metallic icons are hung from banner tops, weapons and belts.

Also the see the description of Veterans above. Since the Crux Terminatus appears on the left shoulder badge of Terminator armour, the Chapter badge is displayed on the right shoulder pad.

* Note that the Rogue Trader era fluff indicated that only Terminator Captains had the fragment of the Emperor's armour in their Crux Terminatus.


Other Badges: Purity Seals

The Purity Seal records are not so much an honour as a blessing. Before a campaign the Chaplains of the Chapter pass through the ranks chanting litanies and invocations. Certain honoured individuals are marked by the Chaplains for special blessings recorded on the parchment streamers and affixed to their armour with the great wax seal. Often the very receiving of such a blessing may itself be marked by the adopting of a solid electrum casting of the seal, permanently attached to the Marine's armour or wargear.


The Imperialis

The winged skull badge that is the Imperialis has its origin in the great Heresy of Horus. It was adopted as the campaign badge of the loyal Chapters during the Imperium-wide conflict that was the heresy. Since then it has become the honour of righteous victory. Most often the chest armour of the recipient is carved into the great winged skull but it can also appear on the banners and finials.

Skull and Motto

In addition to the specific badge of the Iron Skull there are many other icons and emblems which incorporate the skull. As honours these often have a multitude of uses and meanings. Often combined with simple mottoes the skull honour can be seen on shoulder pads, helmets, kneepads and even on bolter cases and vehicles.


Vehicles are painted in the Chapter colour with the Chapter Badge displayed. Additionally, the Company badge will be displayed as a circle painted in the Company colour, with the Company number being displayed as a Roman numeral. Transports have the squad badge displayed.

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