Carapace armour is basically Flak Armour LV2. A bit tougher, and a bit more expensive. Carapace Armor is usually given to commissars and stormtroopers, but is sadly a step down from Power Armor. It is currently the best armor that non augmented humans outside of the Sisters of Battle and Inquisitors can get their hands on. Rarely it will also be worn by Lost and the Damned or a well equipped PDF. Generally speaking, this is the most protection an ordinary man will get to use unless they get extremely lucky/prove useful enough to wear some form of powered armor.
Like Power Armor it has Ceramite or armaplas (perhaps plasteel, armaplas is never really explained) molded into armor plates. This also makes it much heavier and will fatigue the wearer much faster than flak armour or power armour given that it usually lacks any kind of assisted movement systems, though that isn't always the case as semi-powered examples do exist. Usually, soldiers issued carapace armor are elite units and given light genetic enhancement to bear the weight without problems.
The protection provided by a set of carapace armour varies a lot from story to story, as you'll frequently hear of normal bolter bolts punching clean through power armour (at close range) and thus should go through carapace like it wasn't even there, however on the tabletop now carapace offers some protection from the likes of heavy bolters, power mauls and autocannons, and to a lesser extent even Hellguns, Inferno Bolters and Sternguard Bolters.
The largest problem with wide-scale deployment is one of cost. While some regiments, such as Krieg, can afford to fabricate and maintain carapace armour for its elite grenadier units (and tanks, heavy tanks, and super-heavy tanks and other giant vehicles in massive quantities), mass deployment becomes another issue (because the Imperium has yet to put its worlds on a war economy footing, so it's always lacking in everything its military needs. Seriously, a Hive World dedicated to war churns out continent factories of tanks and armor.). To whit, carapace armour costs roughly the same to put on a guardsman as it does to shuttle in a fresh guardsman (this is poorly worded as there is no way in Hell a Guardsman wearing carapace equals the cost of transporting him from his planet to another star system). While in elite units the Return on Investment for combat experience can be worth the added cost to equip, the general modus operandi of the Guard is to ship two men instead of one well-armoured one. Which is double stupid as the one better equipped guardsman is worth a dozen or more fragile dudes. Which is why grenadiers are so fearsome. They’re damn hard for grunts to kill and slaughter everyone. Of course, if you armored the Guardsman he wouldn't need to be replaced in the first place, but the Administratum is not known for being remotely competent, and putting two men in two different places has its own advantages over putting a single well-armoured one in one place. But not really. Because two men in two different places just means they can’t support each other and die even more easily than they normally would. Even with strong defenses the enemy would just focus heavy forces and win and then go after the next one as well. You MUST have soldiers capable of weathering that. Numbers can do it but there comes a point the cost of replacing casualties cannot compete with the price of better equipment. Having one better equipped man instead of two red shirts doesn’t mean he cannot protect as much territory, it means the one man can actually defend his position whereas the other two would be curbstomped.
The Imperium is the embodiment of “He who defends everything protects nothing” largely due to its obsession with overwhelming numbers scattered across the galaxy instead of fewer soldiers capable of hitting many times the weight of the canon Guard. Even when concentrated, the Guardsmen often lose simply due to not being durable enough to survive long enough to make a meaningful impact. The Tempestus Scions (Stormtroopers) embody this on tabletop and perhaps in the lore. They're not quite glass cannons but still somewhat squishy yet hit hard enough to be wary of and get the job done. When paired with the Guard's vehicles and support, the result is the death of any threats to the armor while the armor gleefully slaughters everything. Which is, of course, how infantry is supposed to support vehicles in the first place in real modern warfare.
In all fairness to Krieg, though, they mostly use their line infantry to press openings made by grenadiers and tanks or to hold fortified positions. The parts of their body that stick up from cover when fighting are actually protected by carapace armor, which is very reasonable and efficient. Their whole bodies aren’t generally exposed to anything carapace can protect against until the grenadiers and vehicles have smashed any real threat to the line infantry’s own advance.
There are, in fact, entire regiments of grenadiers and they don’t generally come from Hive Worlds. This pretty much proved the planets could make extremely well equipped and highly trained Guardsmen but just don’t give a damn. Probably thanks to corrupt rulers hoarding wealth for themselves. Thank the Emperor they seem to prefer producing tons of artillery to offset this or the Guard would be fucked. Don't tell their enemies to build anything for intercepting artillery shells like real life militaries are doing. Or maybe do so to force the Mechanicus do use their funky space-techno-magic to be helpful.
Hydraphur Judge's Armour
The main armour worn by the Imperial's skull-stomping authorities. The Hydraphur-pattern Judge's carapace suit represents the manifestation of a Judge's authority under the laws of the Lex Imperialis.
It is similar to the light carapace suits worn by regular Arbites, complete with distinctive matte-black and red colouring, but also incorporates a storm coat and massive golden eagle topping the helm. The helmet features a photo-visor, encrypted micro-bead and vox-amplifier, while a small light source can be attached to the shoulder pads. A small power pack similar in size and cost to a lasgun's power pack provides enough energy for a week's continuous use.
The Hydraphur-pattern Armour does not offer the same degree of protection as conventional Carapace Armour, due to the environment they operate in, in which Stubbers are the most common weapon they will face against.
They also come with the aforementioned spiffing coat and look just original enough to not look like a blatant Judge Dredd knock-off. Although with the helmet on, it looks more like they are conditioning to role-play in Mega City One.
The more chad version of the normal Carapace Armour. The Cadian-pattern "Kasrkin" carapace suit worn by the famed Cadian Kasrkins (Otherwise known as the cat armour by /tg/ due to the unit artwork in Dawn of War), completely protects the wearer's body and featuring a suite of advanced technologies.
The helmet is equipped with a rebreather, photo-visor, encrypted micro-bead and clip attachment on the side for a light source or vid-recorder (Which, in Dawn of War, made them look like they had cat ears, hence the nickname), while the suit itself incorporates an integral auspex unit accessed via wrist display and attachments for a grav-chute.
Power for these systems is provided for by a small power pack, equivalent in size and cost to a lasgun power pack, which allows for a week of continuous use before requiring replacement. While associated with Cadia, this pattern of carapace suit has been so popular (With less of the stigma associated by normal Carapace Armour amongst the Guard), that it was eventually adopted by the Departmento Munitorum for use by other units from as far away as the Calixis Sector.
The Kasrkin and their armour, used to be the stock-standard armour worn by Stormstroopers. Unfortunately, with the update of the Tempestus Scions, which basically replaced the Kasrkins. Their model range has been discontinued ever since.
Armour worn by everyone's favourite nurse!
On top of physical protection, Hospitaller Carapace Armour provides specialized defense against the noxious threats they may encounter as a Medicae: The hooded robes are coated in incense and ungents, while the armour itself is sealed, treated against toxins and comes with a Rebreather, integrated Surgeon Tools and Diagnostor to help the Hospitaller practice her craft.
They are for all intents and purposes, combat nurse uniforms. As they are meant more for a civilian role than it is, a fully fledged combat role. As such, they are less bulky and more slimmer than usual.
Due to them not wearing proper power armour, the Hospitaller suit is only Toughness 3 and a 3+Sv. For some reason though, she is extremely tough at 4 Wounds! Seriously, she has more health than a fucking Terminator. Why that's the case we have no idea.
Per usual any version that normal humans have, Space Marines will have a better version. Instead of Power Armor, Neophyte Astartes who survive the Geneseed process become Scouts are given Scout Armor and Camo Cloaks.
The purpose of this armor is to make themselves super stealthy instead of giving extra protection (Unless you're Raven Guard or their Successors who sneak around in full Powered Armor to get best of both. However there is a fluff reason for that.)
Even Sergeants and Veteran Sergeants (who are members of the First Company) wear it when they volunteer to train the newbs. As unlike certain chapters, you don't become top dog if you act like a total douchebag (in an ideal Imperium of Man, anyway). Wait a minute. Ten captains, one squad of veterans as honor guard each, sergeants are often veterans and ten in each company and yet the Chapter can call on a hundred terminators without removing honor guards and sergeants...hooold on. Math doesn't work that way!
Deathwatch Scouts have further modifications, with gel-passages, a re-breather system that contains both oxygen and water, auto injector gloves, a vox system, and a special coating. These upgrades deliver enhanced mobility and extended operations while sneaking explosives or teleport homers into the homes and HQs of unlucky xenos.
The original version of Carapace Armor. A step down from Power Armor, Void Armor was standard issue protection for the Solar Auxilia. As the name implies, this armor is the grim dark future version of a spacesuit, at a time where normal humans have the expertise to do actual personal void combat.
Unlike normal civilian-grade Void Suits which incorporate simple void-kits that include tether lines, voidsteel clamps, and similar small pieces of useful equipment (Which means that poor void suits may not adequately shield the wearer from the energies of the void over long periods of exposure, leading to sickness or death), Void Armor is meant for combat in conditions that even all but the most specialized units would flounder in, like the vacuum of space or extreme exo-planetary conditions. Unlike Carapace Armor it seals off most of the wearers body as Void Armor comes with a nifty looking Steam punk style helmet.
Fully integrated with life support systems, Void Armor had low level self repair systems that worked against small amounts of penetration and lacerations, while being resistant to radiation (due to space having Cosmic rays and all that other stuff) and thermal effects.
Fluff says it was made by Saturnyne Domains, so now it's nearly impossible to create by the 42nd Millennium. If the Imperium bothered to store the STC printouts, we might still be seeing this armor in wide use today. Interestingly (or perhaps not, thanks to Wardian fluff), the Grey Knights now call this region of space home.
Crunchwise, to match the fluff, this was when tthe IG got actual space armor instead of cardboard. Void Hardened Carapace Armor, thus 4+ save being stock for the Solar Auxilia, while doing fine even in Zones Mortalis. Pretty sweet.
Reinforced Void Armour
An enhanced version of Void Armor. The Reinforced variant makes an unaugmented human almost as hard to kill as a Space Marine, thanks to its extra protection from Flamer style weapons and most long range explosives. These were worn by Veletaris Storm Sections and Auxilia Flamer sections. This creates the implication that Reinforced Void Armor was meant for close quarter fire fights. With the number of Xenos who love running head first into the battle lines or ambushes in dark corridors, an enhancement of Void Armor isn't a bad idea.
No sane human being would get into a firefight with a Space Marine, but the Horus Heresy made for an insane time period. As such, the Auxilia had ample access Volkite Chargers and Flamers. This would make it absolute hell for anyone without a defense comparable to Terminator Armor. Yes, volkite. Too-rare-to-be-standard-for-Astartes volkites. Yes, at this point one fifth of the Imperial Army were Solar Auxilia. Don't think about it, heretic. By the time a loyalist or traitor got themselves close enough, most of his buddies were turned to ash or simply vaporized. Even if an enemy could survive long enough to close the gap, that enemy would be easily vaporized by the nearby allies of whoever was getting attacked in the first place.
Without factoring in the difficulty of even penetrating reinforced Void Armor to begin with, it was clear that taking on these guys in melee combat was a sheer impossibility unless you were an Astartes or in a massive horde. Even then, the most assault focused of Astartes would be reduced to slinging Bolter rounds, energy beams, plasma and grenades against squads of normal humans like it was World War One in space.
These brutal firefights between Auxilla and Space Marines on both sides would have most likely been common during Horus's rebellion, where average shmucks in barebones half flak armor would be turned to soup in short order, assuming any reasonable number of Auxillia turned traitor.
Crunchwise, Void Armor that re-rolls failed armor saves against Templates and Blasts. This is invaluable and awesome - short of the best armor a regular human could hope for. Veletaris exclusive, though. Do note that both versions of Void Armour lack the -1 penalty the Space marine version has.
It is unknown if any of these suits remain in peak condition by the 41st/42nd Millennium.
|Armour of Warhammer 40,000|
|Imperials:||Flak Armour - Carapace Armour - Power Armour (Human Power Armour - Dragon Scale Armour |
Exo-Power Armour - Space Marine Power Armour - Artificer Armour - Aegis Armour - Auramite Armour)
Terminator Armour - Centurion Armour
|Chaos:||Flak Armour - Carapace Armour - Power Armour (Chaos Power Armour - Warp-Forged Armour) |
Terminator Armour - Fleshmetal Armour
|Asuryani:||Mesh Armour - Aspect Armour - Exarch Armour - Phoenix Armour - Rune Armour|
|Drukhari:||Kabalite Armour - Wychsuit - Incubus Warsuit - Ghostplate Armour|
|Harlequins:||Holo-Suit - Death's Legacy|
|Orks:||Studded Armour - Flak Armour - 'Eavy Armour - Mega Armour|
|Tau:||Kroot Armour - Recon Armour - Combat Armour - Battlesuit|
|Necrons:||Necrodermis - Sempiternal Weave|