"Look, Rhinos, RRRRRRHHHHIIIIIIINNNNNOOOSSSSS!!!! Our enemies hide in METAL BOXES, DA KOWARDZ! TEH FEWLZ!! We...*space asthma* We should take away their METAL BAWKSES!!"
Rhinos are the primary Armored Personnel Carrier of the Space Marines (both Traitor and Loyalist alike), and are without a doubt one of the most useful and ubiquitous vehicles in the entire Warhammer 40K universe. As an easy bake oven (read STC) produced vehicle, the Rhino dates back to the distant time of Mankind's initial colonization of the galaxy. Originally, they were named "RH1 N0 - Tracked Exploration and Multi-defence. This means that 'L33T SP34K' is still used in the distant grim dark future. Also it being created for "Multi-defence" hints at the possible fact that creation of this STC took place between 1970 and whenever C.S. Goto will finally draw his last breath.
They are the most ubiquitous vehicle period on the tabletop, as well; they are cheap, effective, easily-modded, and useful in a wide array of scenarios. They give Devastators the ability to get where they need to set up, Rubrics mobility, and if nothing else are something to hide behind when Eldar/Imperial Guard starts trying to snipe your commander with Brightlance/Lascannon fire. They can also be used as battering rams and for Tank Shocking enemy units. Topping it all off, they can pump some ammo down-range for when you really need to squeeze out some extra fire. If you don't take them out while their cargo is inside, you'd better take them before they do such dick moves as acting as moving cover, providing fire support (for the Chaos version, though the loyalists can do the same with the Razorback) and acting as tank shockers, since the annoyance factor of these things racks up in a hurry.
Rhinos aren't terribly well-armed OR well-armored; their front and side armor are AV11, and their rear armor is AV10. Their only weapon is a Storm Bolter (Combi-Bolter for the Chaos version). However, they are impervious to most antipersonnel fire from the front or sides (unless you fight Necrons or Tau), and the fact that they're so frickin' cheap to use - means they see a lot of use in literally every Space Marine and Chaos army that isn't completely drop-pod/teleport happy (and even then they may see quite a few Rhinos). It's so simple that it can be repaired by your average Guardsman (seriously), and its armor is thick enough to hold off considerable amounts of anti-personnel fire - handy against the Orks and Dark Eldar.
Firaeveus Carron hates the things for some reason. Brother Albus of the Thousand Sons has informed us that this was because Carron was dropped on his head during his gene-seeding process. Like, for the entire day he was dropped on his head over and over.
Also, Brother Vold, also of the Thousand Sons, has hinted that the first thing he saw as a mortal was a single Rhino running over a lot of his hometown. Which would be badass if it wasn't so unbelievable.
As a broad counterpoint, there are a couple reasons to not utilize Rhinos. Firstly, as a cheap, efficient transport, they have a deleterious "pounds to points" ratio. Building up a large force of the transports does not swell a starting army quickly and they are thus shied from by players looking to start a force. Secondly, they have little offensive presence, especially with tank shocks being wholly unreliable. Certain editions favored raw aggression and static firebases, which left Rhinos out cold. In a similar vein, they did not always transport troops faster or more safely than walking, again edition-dependent. An early exploded transport was slower and could cause more damage to a squad than the stray rokkit that blew the Rhino up. Additionally, they can't carry bulky models or be used for scouting or infiltration well, thus closing off other combat styles from finding their use.
Rhinos in ActionEdit
There are seven main kinds of Metal Box currently available; the Loyalist Version, the Mechanicus Version, the Custodes/Sisters of Silence Version, the Inquisition Version and the Chaos Version along with the Sororitas. All absolutely kick ass. Essentially speaking, almost everyone uses the damned Metal Box like the 40k equivalent of fucking iPhones. Even the Squats of all people are known to use the Rhino. Guess it really is that good eh?
The Loyalist Rhino is basic with lots of options. It has a Storm Bolter, which is generally better than a Combi-Bolter at longer ranges, and it can mount a wide variety of weapons as well, including things like Hunter-Killer missiles (infinite range one-shot Krak Missile). Additionally, dozer blades for Loyalist Rhinos work at speeds higher than 6", so it's possible for a Loyalist Rhino to move at cruise speed (or even flat-out) and still get the bonus on Difficult Terrain tests. This makes the Loyalist Rhino useful as an assault transport, and generally ensures that it can get where it needs to go in a hurry.
Custodes Rhino/Null-Maiden Rhino
As expected from the Emprah's Adeptus Custodes and Sisters of Silence, they themselves have access to the Rhino to help assist them in the 41st millennium. However it is a bit sad seeing as how the Custodes and Sisters went from having anti-grav vehicles that could one shot most enemy tanks and stealthed APC's with anti-tank missiles during the Great Crusade to now being bound to one of the most simple vehicles of the Imperium. That or maybe the forces of the Talons of the Emperor are having budget cuts and decide to use the Rhinos as compensation so they could use their more advance vehicles as a backup. The differences between a Custodes and Null-Maiden Rhino other then troop compartment is that the Custodes version gets aegis (+5 invulnerable save) and venerable special rules while the Null-Maiden has a radius special rule that effectively can turn off all psyker powers, so you can troll Thousand Sons and Eldar players. As expected, these Rhinos are covered in gold which somehow automatically improves its status as 'venerable'. I guess gold paint really is the answer to everything.
Adepta Sororitas Rhino
Like their Space Marine siblings, the Adepta Sororitas have access to the Rhino. It's very similar to the normal Rhino (same equipment, same options). The only different things about it, aside from it's aesthetics, are that it has can take a Laud Hailer (basically a megaphone that constantly broadcasts prayers and hymns, which helps the Sisters with their acts of faith) and the fact that it comes with a 6+ Invulnerable and Adamantium Will. As you can imagine, this makes it just as awesome, if not more, than the Space Marine Rhino.
Chaos Rhino aka The Hedgehog
The main difference between loyalist and chaos version of Rhinos is that the ones of chaos have SPIEKS! In a few ways, the Chaos Rhino is a better deal than the Loyalist version. It lacks some of the nifty-bang-splat weapons of the Loyalists, but has a Combi-Bolter, which is better at close range than the Storm Bolter of the Loyalist Rhino. It also can pack on more extra stuff to make the model itself larger - which whilst has the potential to make your Rhino a larger (and easier to hit) target, also makes it do its job of providing cover in an emergency that much better. Chaos Rhinos can also mount Dirge Casters (no overwatch for the enemies in 6"), and their vehicle can be possessed (immune to shaken/stunned results but becomes BS3/WS3 in exchange and can occasionally OMNOMNOM unlucky passenger). Its best-known and possibly-coolest advantage over the Loyalist Rhino is the Havoc Launcher, which gives it a long-range twin-linked frag missile launcher that allows the Rhino to join in the fun and spray off some explosives to support its squad. It totally makes up for the fact that Chaos fellows don't get Razorbacks.
The Mechanicus also deploys the Rhino but in less frequency due to having most of its forces as cyborgs and robots. It is similar to the loyalist counterparts but with Mechanicum iconography and stuff. They're also painted in Mechanicum red, black and white to show that yes, the Rhino is part of the Mechanicum forces. Although the Mechanicum don't really use them as much, the Skitarii found them to be quite useful in regards of not getting sniped in the battlefield. Plus the Mechanicum needs something that would led their expendable robo-men to do something rather than instantly dying in droves.
The Inquisition not only has the Rhino but also other supposed 'Space Marine Exclusive' vehicles such as two patterns of Land Raiders and the Razorback. The Inquisition being some sort of pseudo-army (A large independent militia is a more accurate term) needed a transport vehicle to carry the Inquisitor and his merry men of psychos and sociopaths cheaply and safely. So it is of no surprise that the Inquisition would choose the famous Rhino and its versatility. While the Inquisition do also have access to the Chimera, it is more regulated to act as a support vehicle rather then being a dedicated transport, so the Inquisition rolls with it.
Yeah the Squats have them too. Back in the ye olde days, the Squats were able to gain access to the Rhino in the Ork and Squat Warlords army book back in 1992. While the Squats already have their oversized machines and Land Trains, they found out that they are in dire need of some surface crawling troop transport. So they got the Rhino in exchange for the Imperium getting the Leviathan. The deal worked, and now our little space dwarfs can ride inside a metal box while being supported by even bigger Metal Boxes.
The people over at Relic Games commissioned a true-to-scale Rhino for the Grim Dark Present of the Third Millennium. Oddly, they must have only had a Guardsman model on hand for scale purposes (This is because they didn't make one, they dressed up a FV432). See it here. While badass, perhaps the money they put into that Rhino should have been put into Dawn of War II.
Other Rhino variantsEdit
Because the Rhino is an incredibly easy vehicle to both make, maintain, and customize, the Imperium has developed several vehicles based on the Rhino chassis, though nearly all of them are exclusive to the Spehs Mahrens.
The Predator tank is the Space Marine's standard battle tank that uses an up-armored Rhino chassis, but has no more transport capabilities as its weapons and ammunition take up the space. Instead, it has a turret-mounted autocannon and 2-side mounted Heavy-Bolter sponsons and even heavier armor. The autocannon and Sponsons can be swapped for lascannons for tank-hunting though. There's also the Blood Angels' custom version called the Baal Predator, which mounts a twin-linked assault cannon or a flamestorm cannon for a turret.
Back then, the traditional all-rounder of the Predator was the Twin-linked lascannon turret and H.Bolter side-sponsons. Now, with the changes in the lascannon's stats and price, it's now reversed with the autocannon turret and lascannon sponsons, as this is now the cheaper option. If you use the 4th edition combo now, you're probably better off with a Land Raider.
A heavier Rhino that eschews some personnel-carrying capacity for heavier weaponry. More expensive, but it can now mount shinier bits like Multi-Meltas and lascannons, which means it can act as a useful close-support unit as well as a transport, if the Predator is your Main Battle tank, the Razorback is your light Infantry Fighting Vehicle.
Particularly useful for marine Devastator Squads which provides them with much needed mobility and can provide effective support for them as their weapons can match the range devastators typically fight from.
The Whirlwind artillery tank is the Spehss Mahrens' primary artillery piece. It can't exactly contest with the IG's artillery in terms of power, but it is more mobile than most of them. It's optimized for screwing over infantry, it can either fire an AP4 shell for anyone in the open, or another one that ignores cover saves.
Probably the only good thing Roboute Guilliman did during the Horus Heresy is inventing the Vindicator. The Vindicator is the nightmare of every other thing out there. The Vindicator mounts a Demolisher Cannon, which is basically a S10 AP2 pieplate shotgun and coupled mad-tough frontal armor.....with a fucking dozer blade that makes it look cool and makes sure that even difficult terrain can't stop it from fucking someone's day up. In short, think of it as a battering ram ... With a Demolisher cannon. If something expensive gets in it's firing range, it's 98% guaranteed dead, or at least messed up badly. With 6th ed rules any vehicle even touched by the deathpie template gets the full brunt of fuck, instead of just half.
It's even scarier when it's with Chaos version, throw in a havoc launcher and daemonic possession and then watch your opponent devote retarded amounts of firepower to keep the Khorne-incarnate rape-engine down.
A new Pattern, introduced in the 6th edition codex for the Space Marines. Looks like an overhauled Whirlwind, but replacing the Missile launcher with Anti-air cannons and MOAR plates, making it a Flak tank of sorts. Can target multiple enemy targets firing normally, or one target with twin-linked.
Anti-aircraft vehicle. It kills flyers by pelting them with dead people.
The Sabre is an old pattern used during the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy. It is basically a self-propelled tank destroyer that usually uses either a hull-mounted lascannon or autocannon. Its nothing really fancy. Its a simple Rhino with a gun, with the transport ability removed as the passenger compartment is used to store ammo, or in the lascannon's case: the generators responsible for powering the weapon.
Think of a Jagdpanther and you're pretty close.
A Sisters of Battle only variant, the Immolator mounts a pair of Heavy Flamers standard, but can switch it for a pair of Heavy Bolters or a pair of Multi-Meltas, thereby completing the Holy Trinity of Bolter/Flamer/Melta. Formerly a go-to unit for anyone playing Witch Hunters, but when the Inquisition got split off and Sisters got their own separate army, the points got jacked up and it stopped being as popular. It came back in force with the 6e digital update, with a points decrease, every unit in the army having easy access to it and a free upgrade to multi-melta.
It's worth pointing out that it, like the Sister Rhino variant you can build from the same box (protip: The difference is whether the glass canopy on top is open or closed) are absolutely gorgeous models. But then, having gorgeous models has never been an issue for Sisters.
The Sister's primary artillery piece and in true Sister fashion it's a tasty blend of awesome looking and insane. Similar to the Whirlwind, except it replaces the regular old rocket launcher with a missile spewing pipe organ. However, due to the frosty relations between the Ecclesiarchy and the Mechanicus, they don't get as much proper maintenance as they should, resulting in an appropriately moody machine spirit that might decide to sulk and only spit out one missile... or go mad with battle fury and unload a whopping six onto your enemy's face.
An earlier version of the Rhino used during the Great Crusade, the Deimos-Pattern Rhino is somewhat better armed than the currently used version with two turret-mounted bolters (which could be replaced with a pintle-mounted combi-bolter, heavy bolter, heavy flamer, or Havoc missile launcher). However, this extra firepower came at the expense of front armor, and without an assault ramp it was not quite as good at carrying assault troops into battle.
The Rhino Advancer AKA the Space Marine Limo was a long bodied, open-topped variant of the Deimos-Pattern Rhino modified to carry a greater number of Space Marines while also letting them deploy more rapidly. This was due to the larger, 20 man Tactical Squads of the Crusade/Heresy Era. They have since fallen out of use as their increased capacity was of little benefit after the Legions were divided into smaller Chapters.
This Rhino was specially equipped with grav-plates similar to the Land Speeder and further enhanced with technology reverse-engineered from Eldar transports, allowing them to hover over the ground and fly to a limited extent. Only the Adeptus Custodes and the Sisters of Silence have been known to use them, and even then they have never been deployed since the Siege of Terra. It's been theorized that they were meant to carry troops to and from the Imperial Webway that the Emperor was attempting to construct.
Like anything else associated with the Iron Warriors, the Castellan Rhinos were designed with siege warfare in mind. While it was still perfectly usable as a transport, its real value stemmed from the unfolding armor bracing that allowed it to be quickly repurposed into an instant bunker.
A new command Rhino announced as an exclusive for Warhammer World, it differs from other Rhinos by using a twin-linked Plasma Gun as its main weapon instead of a Storm Bolter. But more importantly, as a command tank it gets a fun batch of toys- anytime past the first turn, its orbital array either allows it to bring in one unit from reserves (bypassing the reserves roll entirely) or call down a Chapter Master-style orbital bombardment once per game (S10 AP1 with Ordnance 1, Barrage, Massive Blast, and always rolls 2d6 for scatter regardless of BS). Additionally, it has a Servo Skull Hub that gives out one of three buffs to anyone within 12" (each of which is usable once per game): grant a unit Fearless, repair a nearby vehicle for one Hull Point on a 2+, or allow a unit to fire Snap Shots and Overwatch at their full BS. It's meant to be used alongside the Land Raider Excelsior, and as a result it gives the LR +1 BS as long as it stays within 24" of it. And for those wondering it, no, the Rhino Primaris can't transport actual primaris.