That’s what I thought, the day I first clapped my eyes on GW’s big lead monster, The Thunderhawk Gunship. Then low and behold they released the Forge World one, what was a man to do (a man with 3 kids and not much in the way of spare cash)?
Now I wanted one, but wasn’t going to part with the best part of £400 to get one, so like any other good tight wad, I started to hunt the web to see what I could find.
Now their are loads of sites out there, offering many different types of ‘Template’ designs, but trust me, most of them are crap!
I did find one set that I thought with a bit of chopping and changing I could work with, many moons ago I had built “Bessie”, a 40k scale Reaver Titan, made out of foam board and card, she managed to scare the hell out of my opponent before she meet a untimely end under the wife’s vacuum cleaner, so the plan was to make Bessie MK2 stronger than her former partner in card.
After lots of mucking around with photo’s and drawings (see the Internet is useful) I had some workable plans to play with, now the only major difference between my Thunderhawk and GW’s one (apart from the price) is that I wanted it to carry a Rhino or Razorback inside, so that i could use it like a real drop ship (see Aliens), this just involved making it slightly wider than the norm.
Now I had the plans and the ideas, off I went to the local craft shop to pick up 2 sheets of A3 foam board, pack of A4 card, some PVA glue and the sharpest craft knife I could find. The first task was to make the basic shell of the Thunderhawk (2x sides plus various top and bottom sections) making sure I had a rhino to had to make sure it was the right width.
It was now a case of just filling in the different gaps with pieces of foam board till the basic shape was complete. The next thing to sort was the wings (easier said than done), the small front wings were just a case of cutting out and pinning to the front sides and then covering the exposed sides, but the main rear wings were a challenge, they had to be light enough to not break the foam board they were pinned to, but look chunky enough to look like they could support the weight of a flying Thunderhawk.
This was done by cutting out 4 wing sections and then gluing 2 of each together giving me the same shape as the templates but at approx 1cm thick, these were then giving the same treatment as the front wings, where I cut a long strip of card, 1 cm thick and glued this over the exposed sides.
But wait, I forgot the engines!
Going back to the web, I had a look at other home made Thunderhawks and found that a lot of them had used to engine pods from Anakin Skywalkers Pod racer (toy not the real thing), so a quick rummage through my kids toy boxes (great place to find stuff) and a hunt on E-bay turned up with nothing, so it was back to the drawing board. I finally decided on just making the engines like solid tubes with intakes on the front and exhausts on the rear, believe it or not these are made from the tops of Fruit Shoot bottles (with the pull up cap taken off).
How to attach the engines, do I go for the under slung approach or do I go for the between the wing and the body look?
I decided on the between idea, this meant I could attach them to the main body by pinning them through the main body and into the end of each wing, which would then be supported by the upper wings.
Now with the main body and wings done, I filled all the gaps with every modeller’s friend, poly-filler, this was left for a couple of days to dry, then I sanded it smooth-ish.
To make it look more like a 40k vehicle, I then covered the thing with squares of card and plasti-card (margarine tub lids), to give the appearance of panels, I also added doors and hatches from rhino and land raider kits (see kids, never throw anything away).
Next item was guns, now the official Thunderhawk is armed with 4 twin-linked heavy bolters, but after some time, and the fact that I didn’t have any spare heavy bolters, I opted for 2 twin-linked Lascannons and 2 twin-linked assault cannons, why?
Well as any veteran player of 40k will tell you, a heavy bolter can struggle to get through the armour of a Eldar war walker (Av10) never mind another space going vessel, where a lascannon can cause quite a lot of pain to anything it hits, and when said Thunderhawk has landed (saying it has taken out all the big tanks and gun emplacements near it), its next biggest threat will be from Squads where the leader has a power fist/melta bombs etc, so lots of anti-personnel fire was needed, there fore, twin-linked assault cannons mounted on the front.