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Leman Russ and Land Raiders are meant to be the main battle tanks of the Imperial Army and the Space Marines, but are they really equal?

Is there any record of a Leman Russ tank going against a Land Raider (or many for that matter, as they often come in groups), and which vehicle normally wins the battle? (I am speaking from the point of view of a traitor Guard tank unit going against a Loyalist Space Marine tank unit, or vice versa.)

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  • I know little to nothing about this fandom, but even the most cursory of glances reveals that the Leman Russ is a deeply flawed vehicle with penetrable sides and underside. It's also relatively slow and has limited armaments. By comparison, the Land Raider is faster, has 'impenetrable' armour, unlimited (laser-based) armaments and can fight on without a crew if the need requires.
    – Valorum
    Jun 14 at 20:24
  • @Valorum I’ll expand the question to baneblands as they might be a better match
    – Boolean
    Jun 14 at 20:29
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    You might also want to narrow down the specific versions you're talking about. A quick look at the wiki reveals that there are about a gazillion kinds of Land Raider tank
    – Valorum
    Jun 14 at 20:30
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    2 things: you keep switching the order of marines/army vs. land raider/leman russ. Always list pairs in the corresponding order so people can associate them properly. Also most army tanks are tanks whose purpose is to fight with their primary weaponry, while Land Raiders are technically fighting personnel carriers - their main armament of twinned bolters is not in the same category as a Baneblade or a Stormhammer, but they carry a squad of Astartes.
    – DavidW
    Jun 14 at 20:40
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If you are happy with the answer from the tabletop game, there we can have a clear winner:

Without looking for details, each model in the WH40k is described as having a certain "power rating" as well as a "point value", which offers a bit better granularity showing how "good" a given unit is. For example, a squad of 4 Space Marines Intercessors with a sergeant has a power level 5 and a base cost of 20 points per unit (which can be modified by adding equipment), while a squad of 10 Gretchin has a power level 2 with a cost of 5 points each.

So now let's look at Leman Russ:

W40k stats for a Leman Russ, power level and cost highlighted

As you can see, a single tank has a power level of 10 and cost 140 points.

Now, let's look at the Land Raider:

W40k stats for a Land Raider, power level and cost highlighted

It has a power level of 15 and cost 285 points, but part of it might come from the fact, that a Land Raider is considered also as a transport unit. If you'd want to look at a pure tank, such as Predator (8/120), you could see that Russ has a certain advantage. Still, the Raider has stronger armour and more powerful offensive capabilities.

But if we consider a Baneblade Heavy Tank, we can see that it is a clear winner:

W40k stats for a Baneblade, power level and cost highlighted

However, this is because the Baneblade is in a completely different category of units than Russ and Land Raider which is called "Lords of War" and it is reserved for either super-heavy units or super-powerful heroes (for example, Space Marines have a super-heavy tank called Astraeus, which is even more powerful than Baneblade, with power level 35 and cost 675 points).

Leman Russ tanks are relatively cheap and mass-produced on a story level, used in great numbers as an "armoured fist" smashing through the enemy. In contrast, both Land Raiders and Baneblades are treated with the utmost respect as artefacts.

Note: I'm not sure are those values current, but this was the closest info that I've found for the 9th edition of WH 40k

EDIT: I've found quite a detailed analysis (from a modern point of view) of WH40k tanks:

  • Leman Russ

    Front view of a green-painted model Leman Russ

    It is a slow (35/21 km/h on/off-road) but heavily armoured tank with a huge profile. It required 6 men to work in an extremely cramped place (with only 3 escape routes!) and operate very powerful guns which would be better placed on a static platform. Comparing it to real-life tanks would be fairly useless even before WW II, but it still works well as a mobile defence platform (the famous Guard "hold the line!") or to support the waves of expendable infantry. But it is cheap, easy to build and very customisable.

  • Land Raider

    View of a Land Raider model, painted beige with brown and grey detailing, from just above the right forequarter, showing the right wing weapons cluster.

    In comparison, to the previous tank, this is a masterpiece: it requires only two Marines to operate, as the rest is controlled by a powerful Machine Spirit (which can even control the tank autonomously). It is very fast (55/48 km/h) beating even modern Leopards, even while it is much heavier than them. It is covered with a special composite material that is much tougher than steel. The flip side is of course the cost: Land Raider would be very, very pricey to build. But it seems that it is well-designed to do what it is supposed to do: manoeuvre itself into a good position, smash through an unsuspecting enemy and deliver its real payload: Space Marines.

  • Baneblade

    Photo of a camouflage-painted Baneblade from the right forequarter

    It is an incredibly huge (316 tonnes!) and therefore slow (25/18 km/h) tank, requiring 10 people to operate. Its armament is truly amazing, and the main cannon is inspired by a howitzer designed to destroy bunkers... but in the WH40k it shoots guided missiles. And it is just one (or two) of the "eleven barrels of hell!" However, Baneblade suffers from poor armour, and its speed and poor manoeuvrability mean that it requires solid support from other units to be effective in combat.

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  • A complicating factor is that the land raider also carries troops, which at least adds to its point value. That said, I think even with just crew the land raider is not only considered superior but can easily be more effective in games. Another good question is which version of 40K is in question. 1st edition land raiders had two double las cannons standard, and under those rules it was incredibly powerful, even though the original model was kinda lumpy. Jun 15 at 12:13
  • @ToddWilcox I have never heard of how notoriously “lumpy” land raiders are, is that not down to the fact that first edition models aren’t perfect in design?
    – Boolean
    Jun 15 at 22:58
  • Sources vary about what 40k vehicles are capable of. For instance, in the novel Necropolis, Leman Russes are described as fast-moving precision weapons despite their limitations. (Although some of that comes down to uncommonly skilled crews.) Of course, consistency has never really been 40k's strong suit.
    – Cadence
    Jun 16 at 0:29
  • I don't think we should discount points for the Land Raiders being a transport. The title question asks which one is the "superior" tank. Being versatile is certainly an asset. Also, the question asks for a fight Leman Russ vs Land Raider: I guess Leman Russ pilots would think twice before going toe-to-toe with a vehicle that potentially carries superhuman beings with plasma guns.
    – Taladris
    Jun 28 at 0:46

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