I've often been confused at the size of Warhammer 40k titans. I've been reading one of the Horus Heresy books and it describes an Imperator class titan as having a small city on its shoulders with command stations, barracks, etc. At 100 meters tall, this is only 7 meters taller than the Statue of Liberty. I've been up the Statue of Liberty, and it definitely couldn't host a small city. I get that they're wider but still it seems that it's a bit of a stretch of imagination to suppose that it could host such a large structure.
This is partially a style issue. This is a partially medium translation issue. How the Imperator Titans look in the games and how they look in the minds of artists are completely different. There are no cities on the tops of these Imperator Titans. There is often a command center where the battle can be seen and managed since they supposed to tower over the battlefield stylistically and figuratively.
- This is the Imperator Class Titan figure. Most of the time there is nothing around it, so you don't know how big it is in proportion to anything else. Different sculptures emphasize different things. Some are more ornate than others and have better detail. These are some of the early designs.
The titan is often shown not alongside anything that gives it scale. The structure on the top of the shoulders of the central body has three (possibly four) guns mounted on the very top for ranged mortar fire. Some of the early paintings depicted them like this. Again, nothing really to scale it against so it can look so large…
Some artists when they cast the Imperator Titan, in the right light, with billowing smoke wafting up from the craters below, it can seem monstrously large. Just the way the God Emperor's avatar, the Imperium's most terrifying war machine should look.
- But if you are from one of those Forge worlds and stylish lighting isn't going to cut it, you can compare the size of the Imperator and realize it isn't a small city of there, nor a castle, instead it is just four very large cannons mounted there. There is also a heavily shielded command center with room enough for a good deal of staff. Maybe a latte bar. A matter of style over substance.
- Here how the figures compare to the field of battle at scale. The second image shows the Imperator against the other titans at scale. Look at the teeny-tiny space marine at his feet. Remember that guy is supposed to be this guy...
- Now can you see why Imperators are supposed to be terrifying and people might be prone to exaggerate what they remember seeing? Shellshock, hysteria. This is the impression the Imperium wants to leave you with.