Dark Angels Apothecaries

As a follow-up to my previous piece about the Dark Angels, I wanted to take a look at how Apothecaries should be painted. The question: should they be all white, or wear their normal color with white embellishments? (TL:DR: White, in my opinion, but sources differ.)

The basic guidance, as I understood things, was that each Space Marine chapter has its own colors—blue for Ultramaines, red for Blood Angels, and so on—but that Techmarines, Chaplains, Librarians, and Apothecaries wore their own colors of office—red, black, blue, and white, respectively—instead, with just the left shoulder pad showing their chapter’s colors. For medics, especially, it makes sense to have them be easily identifiable. In present day (though this would certainly be laughable in the grim, dark future of the 41st millennium) medical staff are not supposed to be treated as targets.

Here, though, is a Rogue Trader-era photo which shows a good bit of variation.

Rogue Trader medics

Note the Dark Angels example, bottom-right, in what’s now considered to be their pre-heresy color scheme along with a Consecrators-like stripe on his helmet.

By the second edition of Warhammer 40,000 they were wearing all white.

2nd edition Apothecary

Second edition codex

His left shoulder pad is green and shows the Dark Angels symbol but could otherwise be an Apothecary for any chapter. (He’s also wearing his 3rd company designation on the wrong knee. How embarassing!)

The sixth edition codex makes a change. We have a robed Apothecary wearing green with a white helmet, right shoulder, and narthecium.

6th edition Apothecary

Sixth edition codex

7th edition Apothecary

Seventh edition codex

Deathwing Apothecaries are shown in bone with white accents.

6th edition Deathwing Apothecary

Sixth edition codex

In eighth edition, however, we get an illustration of a Primaris Apothecary in white.


Eighth edition codex

Black sidearm, though, rather than red. This is another detail that’s changed over time. 3rd edition-era Dark Angels carried black guns, but that didn’t last. They’ve been shown red more often than not. Also note that his kneepad has a helix, not a company badge. Each company does have its own Apothecary, so either this is an error or this is how they show they’re not attached to a particular company.

Ravenwing Apothecaries have always been depicted in all white.

IMG 1606

So which is it: white or green (or bone or black)?

The real answer, as always, is that they’re your models and you can paint them however you want. Here we have a case where the official books even give you both options. I’ll argue for white, though. The Blood Angels’ Sanguinary Priests tend to wear a lot of red, but they have an in-story reason for differing from the codex: they partially serve as company spiritual figures since the Blood Angels’ Chaplains are devoted to babysitting their battle brothers who have fallen to the black rage. Iron Hands don’t paint their Techmarines red which implies they’re not kept at as much of a distance. Dark Angels don’t give any special role to their Apothecaries—they’re not even Inner Circle.

So why is the Deathwing apothecary in bone? (He actually is Inner Circle since he works with the Deathwing day-to-day and it would be rude for them to have to shut up whenever he entered the room.) I suppose there’s an argument that his Deathwing-ness overrides his medic-ness, but I think it’s just what the studio painter happened to decide. Maybe they thought it looked strange to have one model wearing a different color than the rest of his squad. Him wearing his company colors would match the green Apothecary of the era (though not the white Ravenwing one).

I’d like to construct an argument that the 8th edition Primaris Apothecary in all-white represents a decision by Games Workshop to roll back the variant for the Dark Angels, but really that’s wishful thinking on my part. It’s probably actually the case that the artist just painted him white, and I’ve not seen an official studio model of a Primaris Apothecary in Dark Angels green. Early promo art for the Dark Angels Combat patrol showed they didn’t even have a Primaris Chaplain model—his shoulder pad is clearly from an Ultramarines collection—and it differs from the color scheme seen in the codex which has him in a green robe. All of which to say, not all of Games Workshop treats this stuff as rigorously as I’d like.

I’ll leave the last word to the fourth edition of Codex: Dark Angels:

IMG 1643

“The armour, or sometimes just the helmet, of an Apothecary is pure white, with the chapter icon visible on one shoulder pad.”