Aeronautica Imperialis

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Aeronautica Imperialis
Tabletop Wargame published by
Games Workshop
Rule System Epic 40,000
No. of Players 2
Session Time 30 minutes - 3 hours
Authors Forge World
First Publication January 2007
Essential Books Aeronautica Imperialis

Aeronautica Imperialis was a wargame made by Games Workshop focusing on the aircraft of the factions of Warhammer 40,000. It's in the same 8mm scale as Adeptus Titanicus, with the relaunched 2019 range produced primarily in plastic. It is a reboot of an earlier game of the same name produced by Forge World.

Like many Specialist Games, support is sparse but regular, with monthly updates and releases advertised on the Community site. GW has, however, sporadically pulled products from their webstore, creating gaps in the game players often improvise to fill.

2019 Relaunch[edit]

The relaunch is upon us! And by the Emperor do these tiny planes look amazing. Currently, there are five factions available: Ork Air Waaagh!, the Imperial Navy, the Tau Air Caste, the Craftworld Eldar and the Adeptus Astartes.

The first two factions are represented in the first starter box, Wings of Vengeance. The miniatures included are two Imperial Navy Thunderbolt fighters (can be alternately assembled as Thunderbolt Fury fighters), two Imperial Navy Marauder bombers, three Ork Air Waaagh! Dakkajets and two Ork Air Waaagh! Fighta Bommers. Aside from the plastic, also contained is the rulebook, an “Area of Engagement” game board, some dice, and quick reference cards.

There is a second starting box released in 2020 titled "Skies of Fire", focusing on the conflict between the Imperial Navy and the T'au Air Caste, bringing six new aircraft to the game as well as introducing the T'au faction. Just like Wings of Vengeance it includes ten miniatures, evenly split between the two factions. The T’au force includes three Barracudas and two Tiger Sharks, each with a wide array of weapon options. The Imperiums forces consist of two Valkyrie Assault Carriers, which can alternatively be built as Vendettas, plus three Lightning Strike Fighters, one of which can be built as a Lightning Fighter. Just like Wings of Vengeance, it will also contains is the rulebook, an “Area of Engagement” game board, some dice, and quick reference cards.

Additionally, GeeDubs has put out the Rynn’s World Air War campaign book, which details the events of Waaagh! Snagrod’s invasion of the Crimson Fists Chapter homeworld. Before you get too excited about the prospect of Space Marine air combat let me curb your enthusiasm by telling you that the Rynn’s World Air War campaign book is only Imperial Navy versus Orks. However, let me reignite that enthusiasm by telling you that it does contain rules for the ‘eavy Bommer and Grot Bommer.

More factions can be expected, the T'au has been announced for a Taros campaign and even more of the Imperial Navy (the game is called Aeronautica Imperialis after all) with the addition of Lightnings and Valkyries.

As of 2021, Craftworld Eldar and Space Marines have been released in the Wrath of Angels box. Just like the others, it has a rulebook, dice & board, but no reference cards this time. It also has eleven models: three Nightwings and three Phoenix Bombers for the Eldar, and three Xiphon Interceptors and two Storm Eagles for the Space Marines. The included rulebook also has rules for a Fire Raptor, but not the plastic Thunderhawk that was the main selling point when the Marines were announced.


A significant departure from the previous AI release is that the game now takes place entirely on a hex grid. While this takes away some of the guesswork because you can always count hexes between you and your target, it removes any uncertainty about who can shoot what and what's in range. Official How to Play video

Anyone familiar with X-wing or Wings of Glory will find the Ace Maneuvers system familiar, if more flexible. Players first plan a maneuver, then roll for initiative and take turns alternating movement and then alternating shooting.



In typical Ork fashion, their aircraft are essentially black smoke belching engines with as many guns as Orkly possible to bolt on. Boys before Toys is apparently true for Orks in every GW game, so bring the hordes and laugh as your opponent literally has too many targets to pick from and drowns in a sea of green.


  • Dakkajet – The main “aircraft” of the Ork Air Waaagh! The WAAAGH is all about speed, hot nasty bad-ass speed and nowhere is this more apparent than the Dakkajet. If you're playing on the starter mat these things can close the distance to knife-fighting range in the sweep of an auspex and when they get there they're bringing a bucket full of dice with them. They require careful piloting though, as their puny 2 structure points means they can be taken out by a lucky lascannon or bolt cannon shot. Cheap as chips you can easily field a whole swarm of them.
  • Fighta Bommer – More heavily armed and armoured than the Dakkajets. The thinking Ork's aircraft, for when you want to get someplace fast but also maybe survive the journey. The Kustom Big Shoota upgrade is highly encouraged, as this bad boy should stick around long enough to get more value out of them.
  • ‘eavy Bommer – Bigga iz Betta Oh lawd he comin'! The 'Eavy Bommer is one beefy boi. It boasts an impressive amount of health and a separate gun for every arc. Unfortunately, all of those guns take up space so it isn't as good at bombing as the Marauder. Unlike the Marauder, it has a transport capacity.
  • Grot Bommer - Drops Grots as bombs? Drops Grots as exploding self guided missiles! A Grot Bomb when launched maneuvers similarly to any other aircraft. It gets D3+3 hexes of movement and one change of facing either left or right every turn. Then it does this until it ends up next a plane, at which point you see if it explodes. Bring these for shenanigans and hilarity. Can pay for even more Grot Bombs.
  • Mega Bommer - Tactical Nuke Inbound. The largest Aeronautica model to date, the Mega Bommer boasts the highest structure in the game at a whopping 10, with guns, guns, and more guns. Its also equipped with the "mega bomm," which is canonically just a tactical nuclear weapon. Careful though, this model is Forge World only, so price is certainly a concern.


  • Pair of Rokkits- A one use barrage best at short range. Gives the Orks some much needed punch to supplement their weaker guns. Can be used on air or ground targets.
  • Pair of Wing Bombs- A short range but powerful bomb.
  • Pair of Big Bombs- The same, but bigger.
  • Kustom Big Shootas- Two more big shoota shots in the front arc at short and medium. The answer to "Do I want more Dakka?" is always, "YES".
  • Belching Smoke- A one use 6+ invuln against ammo 1, 2, or 3 weapons.
  • Fly Boss- A once per game reroll for this aircraft.
  • Wazmek Speshul- GO FAST. Increase your max and min speed by 1.
  • Extra Armor- A 6+ invuln that reduces your max speed by 1

Ground Defences

  • Flak Platform- First of all, it's criminal this is no longer called the Flakka-Dakka Gun. But it's a pretty good low level defense battery. Has the risk of being overflown.
  • 'Eavy Flak Cannon- A heavier hitting emplacement with fewer shots and the chance of extra damage on a 6. Effective up to Altitude 4 out of 5.

Imperial Navy[edit]

Where the Ork aircraft are flying scrap heaps, the Imperial Navy aircraft are flying bricks adhering to the Imperium’s policy of brute forcing as much as possible. The Imperials are the kings of medium range, dropping a surprising amount of hard hitting dakka. If you can keep your opponents in the sweet spot you'll be able to fuel the golden throne with their sweet, sweet tears.


  • Thunderbolt fighter – Work horse of the Aeronautica Imperialis. A very capable air to air fighter with enough hardpoints to sling some air to ground hate.
  • Thunderbolt Fury – A surprisingly cheap upgrade to the Thunderbolt. The Avenger Boltcannon has one more shot at close and medium range while also doing extra damage on a roll of 6. Generally the better option, unless you really need to save points.
    • It should be asked how the fuck this makes sense, as the dedicated ground attack craft of the Navy, the Avenger itself, only carries one cannon and sacrifices a lot of space to do so. This little shit managed to get two.
  • Marauder bomber – Front facing lascannons, turrets on top and at the rear makes this one tough cookie. Throws a hilarious amount of dice when bombing things. Want even more? You can take four pairs of Hellstrikes or bombs on the wing pylons. Or you could choose the same number of Skystrikes and to make a dogfighting Land Raider.
  • Marauder Destroyer – The Imperium looked at the Marauder and said "Needs more GUN." Trades lascannons for autocannons, the tail heavy bolter for an assault cannon, and some bomb capacity for troop space. Most expensive imperial airplane but easily worth the cost for the amount of battlespace role's it can perform. rivals Ork aircraft for close range dakka it can put out.
  • Lightning and Lightning Strike - 2 structure planes with ok - bad weapons that make up for it with an incredible Throttle of 3 and the ability to perform maneuvers 1-7. In the right hands, this thing is murder. Not in the right hands, it has a tendency to explode.
  • Avenger Strike - Like a Thunderbolt, but for ground attack and worse. At 20 points base, it is cheaper than a thunderbolt, but its additional weapon options (which are quite useful) both put it at the exact same cost. For this, you get one worse Throttle, Structure, and Max Altitude. At two points less than a Thunderbolt Fury, though, it isn't impossible that this could find a place in your list.
  • Valkyrie and Vendetta Assault Craft - Vendettas with its 6 lascannons can deal a lot of mid range damage, while also transporting troops. Not as agile or fast as a real fighter though. Skip the Valkyrie, none of its loadouts are good for its points.
  • Vulture Gunship - The first Imperial aircraft with Jink.
  • Imperial Arvus Lighter - Its cheap, can transport stuff and disengage after having transported stuff. Also no guns at all. Useful if you want to win transport games without dedicating a Marauder or a Valkyrie for that.
  • Marauder Colossus - It loses some of the regular Marauder Bombers weapons and gains one big bomb instead. It looks cool, but a regular Marauder deals more damage to ground targets and enemy aircraft, so there is no reason to take it.


  • Skystrike Missile- A medium to long range anti-air missile. Extra damage on a 6
  • Hellstrike Missile- A short to long range air-to-ground missile. Extra damage on a 6
  • Wing Bombs- Exactly what it sounds like. A short range high power bomb.
  • Ejector Seats- The chance to save the crew on a 5+. Reduces a kill to 75% of its value instead of 100%
  • Flares/Chaff- A one use 6+ invuln against ammo 1, 2, or 3 weapons
  • Infrared Targeting- Allows you to ignore night fighting and bad weather at medium range
  • Imperial Ace- A once per game reroll
  • Armored Cockpit- A permanent 6+ invuln

Ground Defences

  • Hydra Flak Battery- A slightly worse low level defense platform than its Orkish counterpart.
  • Manticore Missile Battery- Overfly this, bitch. A SAM system nearly capable of orbital targeting. Doesn't get many shots, but it'll make you feel it when it hits.
  • Basilisk Anti-Aircraft Gun- The most expensive Imperial ground assets at 9 points. Like the Manticore, it doesn’t get many shots, but it damages on a 2+ and causes extra damage on a 6+. Effective altitude of 4. Similar to the Ork ‘Eavy Flak Kannon. All told, not horrible.

T'au Empire[edit]

The T'au bring a mixture of technological advantages and some big fracking guns to the skies of the 41st millennium. Their roster varies from the tiny remora drone to the titan killing Tiger-shark.


  • Barracuda- A family of fighters, each with a different primary gun. On top of the upgrades that any plane can take, the barracuda can also can take either cyclic ion blaster drones, or long barrelled burst cannon drones. The ion blaster puts out more dice at closer range, and is more likely to damage, whilst the burst cannon excels at medium range. Its a choice between optimising for medium range, or covering your short range weak spot.
    • The AX-5-2 carries a swiftstrike railgun, which when it hits is going to hurt, wounding on a 2+ and doing extra damage on a 6. Problem is, at its optimal medium range its only putting out two dice. The railgun is the most points efficient, but is let down by its inability to fire at short range.
    • The AX-5-3 is a whopping 4 points extra on the standard craft. For it, you replace the railgun for a giant burst cannon that puts out 6 dice at medium range. The only catch is it only wounds on a 5+, and doesn't do extra damage.
    • The AX-5-4 only costs 1 point over the standard, and for it you replace the railgun for an Ion cannon. At short and medium ranges it puts out 1 extra shot over the railgun, but only wounds on a 4+.
  • Tiger Shark- The T'au big boy fighter bomber. With 5 structure, its an ideal recipient for the armoured cockpit upgrade. Again, this is a family of planes, each with its own primary weapons. Compared to the Barracuda, its slower but much more tanky. If you can afford these, you'll want these to act as heavy fighters. They can also be equipped with the same drones as the barracuda, so see them.
    • The AX-1-0-2 is the standard model, featuring a pair of railguns. They're similar to the Barracuda versions but with 1 extra shot at long and medium ranges. Good if you're short for points
    • The AX-1-0-3 costs a FUCKHUGE 8 points more than the standard. For that, you'll get a twin heavy burst cannon, which will shit dice at medium range, but you'll only wound on a 5+. Quite probably not worth the cost.
    • The AX-1-0-4 is a mere 2 point upgrade. The Ion cannon will not wound as much a the standard, but puts out more dice. Quite probably worth the upgrade if you can spare the point.
  • Tiger Shark AX-1-0- The titan killer takes to the skies. In terms of chassis, its the same as the standard, but with no transport space, and 1 higher max speed. It can be equipped with a long range heavy rail cannon, or short ranged plasma accelerators. Use the former if you wanna take something out turn 1, or the latter if you expect a close range brawl.
  • Remora Drone- Teeny tiny drones. They're hella cheap, and make imperial lightning fighters look tanky. However, you won't have to worry about ground defences thanks to stealth, and at max speed they're hella manoeuvrable. In terms of firepower its, well its not great. But what did you expect from a tiny scout plane.

Adeptus Astartes[edit]

The Space Marines are as tough as one can expect, and that's pretty damn tough. Nothing has a Structure of less than 3. Their short-range options tend to be a bit naff, though, so they need to keep their distance.


  • Ceramite Plating- Reduces Extra Damage values by 1 to a minimum of 6+. Won't stop a lascannon or railgun shot. Would be worth it if 5+ ED were more common. As is, probably not, unless you know your opponent is bringing a Basilisk or 'eavy Flak emplacement.
  • Infrared Targeting- Allows you to ignore night fighting and bad weather at medium range.
  • Armoured Cockpit- A permanent 6+ invuln.
  • Veteran- A once per game reroll.
  • Techmarine- Once-per-game repair of 1 structure on a 5+.
  • Infernum Halo Launcher- A one use 6+ invuln against ammo 1, 2, or 3 weapons.


  • Xiphon Interceptor- 3 Structure, and a Quad Lascannon are good points, as long as you can keep your distance. The Rotary Frag Missile Launcher probably isn't, as it has only 5+ damage. For 2 points, you can replace it with Krak Missiles for air-to-ground shenanigans or Hunter-killer Missiles for air-to-air dogfighting, though without a short-range value, your plane will turn into the flying brick it resembles at short range, or if you run out of either weapon's 3 ammo, whichever comes first.
  • Storm Eagle- 4 Structure, 2 transport and the ability to hover. This is your objective-grabber until the Thunderhawk arrives. Has twin Heavy Bolters for pinging sparks off enemy planes at short range, on top of the similarly-damaging Dual Frag Missile Pods, which can be replaced with the Xiphon Interceptor's missiles except that they throw out 1 extra die.
  • Fire Raptor- BROADSIDE MANOEUVRES! *ahem* Basically a Storm Eagle that trades up on weaponry and trades the transport out for side-mounted ball turrets. If you're skint on points, Heavy Bolters will scratch the enemy's paintwork, or if you're not, then Autocannons or Lascannons can be brought to bear. Also has Hellstrike Missiles as standard, with 3 ammo.
  • Thunderhawk- Oh yeah baby, it's here! It'll fulfil all your transport needs, and anything that flies in front of its Turbo-laser is going to get vaporised. Pretty hard to approach as it has all-round turrets, in addition to 8 structure points. Expensive, but what did you expect? Expect it to be a priority target, and position your interceptors to defend it.

Craftworld Eldar[edit]

The Craftworlders are here, they are fragile, and they are tricksy. Literally: they have 2 Structure and Jink on everything. Jinking bombers. Just imagine it.


  • Holofield- If the plane isn't Stalled or Spinning, then every time an enemy arcraft fires, all (at Long range) or one (at Medium) nat 6's to hit have to be rerolled. Potentially great, especially on a plane with Bright Lances.
  • Asuryani Ace- Once-per-game reroll, can only be taken on one plane in your force.
  • Spirit Stone- You can reroll to avoid crashing or breaking up, and to recover from a Spin.
  • Mindsight- Night Fighting & Bad Weather don't apply at Medium range.
  • Star Engines- +1 Max Speed and Min Speed, to a minimum of 9.


  • Nightwing- 2+ Handling, every Ace Manoeuvre and a Max Speed of 8 let this thing be an annoying pest, which is all it'll ever be if you don't take its extra weapon for 3 points. A Shuriken Cannon won't do much at only 5+ damage, though at 8 Firepower up close, they're bound to *hit*. The Scatter Lasers are somehow worse, with the same damage and less dice. The Starcannons synergise with the Shuriken cannon a lot better. Sure, they have less than half the firepower, but at 3+ damage, they'll at least hurt what they're hitting. The Bright Lances don't work as well up close, but with 2+ damage and Extra Damage on a 6, that can be forgiven (and can troll a Lascannon-user with 1 die over their 0), while the Missile Launchers are the odd one out, with Ground Attack and 2 ammo.
  • Phoenix Bomber- Bombers aren't supposed to be this nimble! Or fragile, for that matter. It's relatively cheap, though, which won't be the case for long, since you'll probably want to upgrade it. For 2 points, you can replace the Missile Array with long-range capable Nightfire missiles that only have 2 ammo each: the Plasma array for air-to-air or the Krak array for air-to-ground, which is probably the better option, just to make sure that ground targets take a battering *before* this big fat priority target gets shot down. Additionally, for 3 points, you can add on some air-to-air Bright Lances, Starcannons or Pulse Lasers. The former two work as described above, while the Pulse Lasers throw out more dice at worse damage than the Bright Lances.

External Links[edit]

  • The Airspace Compilation, a fan-made supplement featuring units added to 40K since Aeronautica Imperialis was released, as well as some content for some posting-board campaigns.
The Specialist Games of Games Workshop
Warhammer 40,000
Battlefleet Gothic - Epic - Gorkamorka
Inquisitor - Lost Patrol - Necromunda - Space Hulk
Warhammer 40,000
Aeronautica Imperialis - Assassinorum Execution Force - Adeptus Titanicus
Betrayal at Calth - Blackstone Fortress - Shadow War: Armageddon
Necromunda - Kill Team - Space Marine Heroes - Combat Arena - Space Marine Adventures
Warhammer Fantasy: Blood Bowl - Man O' War - Mordheim - Warmaster
Warhammer: Age of Sigmar: Gorechosen - Warhammer Underworlds - Skirmish - Warcry
Board Games: Chaos in the Old World - Relic