Thursday 15 March 2012

Work in Progress- Warhammer 40K Thunderbolt Fighter Jet

And now for something completely different, or at least a break from Steampunk…

The Waffle:

When I was in my early teens I was very much into Warhammer 40,000. Not so much the gaming aspect, oddly enough, but the stuff around it. Here was this massive science fiction world which had all this supporting literature to add depth to proceedings, frankly fantastic art work, and rather nice and imaginative miniatures. With all that, I found I couldn’t get quite so enthused about the reality of mating all that supporting stuff with actually playing the games, preferring to focus on collecting and painting the models.  Different strokes for different folks though.

I stopped playing Warhammer, but kept an interest in the literature and imagery, and indeed my sketchbooks from about the ages of 12-19 are crammed with drawings of 100-foot high Titans or future-retro tanks, and I have the distinct feeling that it led rather strongly to projects like Britannia. I still read the literature, especially the Dan Abnett stuff, and one of his best is the book “Double Eagle”, which is a sort of Battle-of-Britain in the Warhammer 40k universe with Imperial pilots (the goodies) flying armoured fighter planes against The Archenemy Baddies.

Being a fan of this book, and wanting to do something non-steampunk for the sake of my sanity (what do you mean not every vehicle needs to run on coal?! Heresy!), I decided to have a go at building a Thunderbolt Fighter. I’ve been wanting to do some experiments with miniatures shots, trying to achieve in-camera effects I currently use photoshop for, and felt I needed a large-scale model to try it out with- more on this in a future post.

The current design of the Thunderbolt is a model produced by Forge World, and whilst its a lovely piece of sculpting in keeping with the current 40K design style, it didn't quite appeal to me. I thought I'd have a go at doing my own interpretation based on descriptions in the books, so I decided not to even produce a design sketch or doodle for this, and just have a go. It would also be in a larger scale than Warhammer miniatures do- mine would be built to 1/32nd as a consequence of needing large models for my intended shots.

This would be a proper Ben-build, done on as cheap a budget possible, using recycled parts. When I did “Britannia” I needed a couple of large aircraft models, and ended up customising large toys or cheap-and-nasty model kits, somewhat crudely as they were only background items. These had been pretty much ground to bits anyway in two subsequent house moves and storage in a box in the loft, so out came the hacksaw.

The basis for the Thunderbolt are four large aircraft kits/toys- a US A-10 thunderbolt in 1/48th scale, a 1/32nd F-105 Starfighter, a toy passenger jet of unknown type, and a toy that somewhat resembles a Vulcan bomber with a Concorde fuselage. The models were dismantled and rebuilt, glued back together, and generally mangled around into the right sort of configuration. The distinctive engines were made from marker pens.

Trial fit of the components here, to see how they would relate to each other. At this point the plan was still to use the entire of the passenger plane fuselage, inverted.

The cockpit assembly from the Starfighter kit shoe-horned into the inverted passenger jet fuselage.

The cockpit assembly and rear fuselage- the framing was built up from parts from a tractor cab (1/32nd scale poundworld toy), the fuselage is the chopped about remains of the A-10 body.
Further detailing and structural work was added with mountcard, then the cockpit assembly was built up- components from the Starfighter kit forming the main interior, with the framing built up from a 1/32nd toy tractor cab from a poundshop. More details were built up from bits and pieces from the scrapbox. Oddly the only actual Warhammer kit components going into this are the nose guns.

Much more to be done on this model, though annoyingly its been pushed back by more Steampunk stuff- I do intend to get this finished pretty soon though, returning to it as a break from building steam powered contraptions. I have a feeling that Steampunk may be about to, if not has already, jumped the proverbial clockwork mecha-shark, so I want to get that project done soon-as…

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