Ancient History

...sort of.

Back in 6th edition, Games Workshop made a masterstroke when they released Ogre Kingdoms. Not only did this give the Ogres a homeland, a culture and detailed background, but it also gave us Gnoblars (easy slaves and fodder!) and a lot of glimpses eastwards of the Dark lands and Cathay.

6th edition was glorious for reasons such as this, the Hellcannon and the new Wood Elf aesthetic (GW has always been strong in the looks departments since very early days), but interestingly for our Dawi Zharr purposes, the Ogre Kingdoms army book stated the origins of the Leadbelchers' weaponry being as follows (from Lexicanum; my emboldening):

Quote Originally Posted by Lexicanum
Leadbelchers are Ogres armed with great hand cannons, imaginatively named leadbelcher cannons. These Ogres are absolutely addicted to the thunderous roar of cannons and the immense destruction caused by their shot. Fortunately, they are few in number, for they either gain these cannons as a reward for great service from Chaos Dwarfs, or have to scavenge them from enemy artillery. Also, like all cannons, they are prone to misfires that can often kill the Leadbelcher himself.

The alpha-males in charge of small groups of Leadbelchers are fittingly known as Thunderfists.
This is likely familiar already with virtually all Chaos Dwarf collectors, but it is still an interesting point to look back at. Having cannons as a reward for Ogre mercenary and other service in the dark empire of the Chaos Dwarfs could likely be expanded with Chaos Dwarf trading and slaving caravans making it into the western parts of the Mountains of Mourn or to the Sentinels to sell weaponry to Ogres, which could well include the odd cannon. The role of arms dealers have always suited the Chaos Dwarfs particularly fine, not least seen with the spectacular Hellcannon and implied trading of arms and armour with the northern Chaos-worshipping Human tribes.

All pictures courtesy of their various owners... none mentioned, none forgotten.

On to the models. There are 4 Leadbelchers and 4 cannons in each kit, as can be seen in this picture where you will see duplicates of every single cannon design between the two units/ranks:

The interesting bit here is that obviously the GW sculptors had the above background in mind when designing the Leadbelcher cannons. There are no ornate Dwarf cannons, and no exotic Cathayan or suchlike eastward cannon. What we have is 1 Empire Great Cannon, and 3 cannons of uncertain origin which we may conclude are made by Chaos Dwarfs:

A closer look at the 3 suspects:

If decorations is something to go by, they all look like cheap shoddy work compared to the 4th edition and Legion of Azgorh ranges, just what you'd expect the Chaos Dwarfs to bestow upon mercenaries and trade partners. As we know, the Blacksmiths of Chaos keep the best produce for themselves. What the Ogres are getting is mass-produced second rate artillery. Still deadly, though.

Now, what might be interesting for Chaos Dwarf conversion and terrain purposes, is what to make of the fat brutes' handheld artillery pieces? One could of course include Ogre mercenary cannoneers as unit fillers in ranged units. One could make a trade caravan wagon or Iron Daemon's train car stacked with supplies and trade goods including said cannons. If a bit cheap, one could use the cannon barrels straight on some chassis for ordinary Chaos Dwarf field artillery pieces. One could even have a favoured Hobgoblin Khan who sports a cannon gifted to him by his overlords, instead of the token ballista.

They might be particularly interesting for terrain. Just think about it: What if you have some Chaos Dwarf naval vessel or supply barge project going? It might already sport one oversized main weapon as is right and proper for Dawi Zharr warships, but how to fill out the rest of the deck with details? Mounting some cannons (not even rockets!) nicked from the Leadbelchers could go some way toward giving the ship some versatile secondary weaponry and add to the detail level.

The cannons might be particularly interesting for fortifications. Perhaps the rocket launcher, Magma Cannon or mortar mounted on this or that battlement broke down, or is yet to be cast and delivered? As an emergency or stopgap measure, one could easily see the castellan dredge up some cheap cannon from the arsenal, usually used as hefty payment for Ogres, and mount it on the walls to cover up some of the fort's artillery shortcomings, until proper replacements can be acquired. Or perhaps there are some small cannons permanently deployed at certain spots with sweet killing angles or vulnerable sections?

We mainly see various kinds of mortars (incl. Daemonic a.k.a. Asscannon and Daemonforged a.k.a. Hellcannon), rocket batteries and Magma Cannons. Yet perhaps somewhere we can find a place for a cheap cannon as well?

Food for conversion thought!