Thursday 6 December 2012

Thunderbolt update- nose art, and enemies

Bit of an update on the Thunderbolt Project... First off:


Something I like doing with these projects is designing my own decals to go on models- for Britannia, everything was designed from scratch, from wording to font to images (such as the winged Britannia Angel that appears pretty much everywhere in the village).  This project offered the same opportunities.

Having redesigned the logo of the Imperial double eagle already, I decided to extend the theme to some of the other markings for the Thunderbolt jet...

In the source novel, "Double Eagle", the Phantine Air Squadron are described as having (as their motif) a "Stylised eagle, clasping the jagged lightning bolt".  Theres an illustration in the front of the book, I took this as a starting point, and drew my own version, based on the bar-winged eagle I'd done earlier:

Being as this would be a bit tricky to cut out, with all the holes in the wings and tail, I designed something like a squadron badge for the Phantine XX instead, to stick on the tail fin:

One thing I've always loved with combat aircraft is Nose Art.  Its something the RAF don't really go in for these days, but I've seen loads of photos (and the preserved section of "Guinness Girl" in the RAF Museum at Cosford) of planes from the First Gulf War, with tons of saucy nose art painted on.  Its something the Yanks still seem to go in for with their bomber fleets, judging by what I've seen at airshows, and given the WW2 vibe that runs through the source novel, I thought it fitting to try something.

   Back during Britannia I started designing a pin-up/nose art pic for the Nuclear Bomber wing, before scaling down that aspect of the project due to time constraints.  Dubbed "Babe Vulcan", she was a development of the Britannia Angel.  Her pose was based on a pic I'd shot at college of a model sitting on an exercise ball (which, to go into further nauseating detail, was initially inspired by a saucy drawing I'd seen on deviantart I think); I replaced said inflatable with a rather poorly drawn missile, and ended up doing her in a somewhat cartoony fashion, as at the time I was drawing in this style for a webcomic.  Anyway it never got beyond the line drawing sketch though, and was abandoned.  Until now, when she was given a new lease of life...

   I reworked the original drawing a little, and gave her a camo outfit and the redesigned eagle wings, just to tie in the imperial theme.  A bit of shading with the dodge/burn tool, and a heavily redrawn bit of armament to sit on, and we have the classic wartime busty-blonde sat on a vaguely phallic missile/bomb, so common to the nose-art genre in the second world war.

   It could be argued that the nose-art approach isn't that suitable for this particular model, which is kitted out for Cdr. Bree Jagdea; in the book she's portrayed as pretty strict and by the regs, and it does occur to me that her character might not sanction something like this.  On the other hand, her pilots in the original book do decorate their planes, and she does demonstrate a sense of humour in places amongst all the earnestness, and thinks of her plane affectionately in the female pronoun.  Maybe by the sequel she'll have lightened up a bit, and as for having a busty lass on the plane?  Well, I'd like to think that humanity of the far future would be open-minded to that sort of thing (I know, it probably comes from my being an irritating lefty liberal who has spent too much watching Dr Who where everyone is space-bisexual in the future).


   Ages ago, I started building a bomber aircraft model.  This was originally intended for the “Warchild” commission, though was essentially speculative.  Really I started building it because I had a slightly damaged 1/72nd Airfix Wellington bomber kit part-built, and started cobbling together a future-retro bomber design.  It never got finished though, as the “Warchild” commission ended, and last saw the light of day as a wreck on the seabed for the underwater pics:

   With the Thunderbolt nearing completion, I wondered about reviving this miniature for some pics, and so decided to cobble something together.  Originally I wondered about doing the same as I had with the Bolt, and doing my own interpretation of the 40K design, but in the end I decided to go for something a bit more freelance.  It still has that future-retro 40K look to it, but with hints from other aircraft design.  The livery will be a bit more freelance- for the sake of the pictures, I decided to have the fiction being that this is a ‘native’ aircraft of whatever world the Phantine Thunderbolt squadron has deployed onto.  However, in "Double Eagle" the Marauder bombers are described as being painted silver, and I've always liked the silver livery of American WW2 bomber planes, so plan to carry this over for this model, eventually.

   The original part-built model was literally dusted off, then work commenced.  The basic superstructure is that of the Wellington, but with a new cockpit assembly built up around a bit of misc. transparent-plastic.  The look of it ended up being something akin to a Flying Fortress in shape, which was accidental but looks alright.  There was no proper design sketch for this model, I have to admit, it was literally cobbled together with bits and pieces.  The original turboprop engines had actually been recycled onto the Steampunk Airship, so new engines were built up from felt-pen components… the under slung jets intended to resemble the engine-pods on a B-52 bomber.
   Other bits and pieces were cobbled together in usual fashion, just from odds and ends, though with a certain carry-over with components I’d used with the Thunderbolt.  The extended wings give the plane a little bit more presence, and came from an Airfix Stuka.

Now just to start painting and marking it up...


   The Archenemy aggressor aircraft in the book “Double Eagle”, the so called “Bats”, are pretty loosely described, and frankly for these pictures I decided I just needed something that looked a bit angular, evil, and distinctly different to the Bolt.  The relatively loose description suits me really, as it gives full freedom to just get on and make something really quickly…

      The first of these really are a cobbled-together job, using bits from cheap toy robots bought ages ago from Poundland.  In fact some bits from these toys have ended up on the Thunderbolt, being usefully chunky, angular shapes, but here one whole robot body forms the basis of one of the Bats.  Other components are just anything handy, bits from other model kits, card, anything.  The wings are from the tracks from a cheapo toy train set, which donated other parts to the Steampunk project.  In hindsight a bit of a cock-up this, as all those holes in the wings will make for some problems later on I suspect…

   The second plane is slightly more traditional- it uses as its basis an old model kit for an F16XL- this was one of many kits that I bought cheap off a toy stall on the local market when I lived in Gloucestershire, and I never got around to painting it or doing pretty much anything with it.  The wings were extended with mountcard (actually unused components from the Steampunk Monorail tracks), and a couple of other bits added to disguise its outline a bit more.

   The third Bat is an older  model, built originally (and never finished) for the Warchild graphic novel project.  This plane needed to look like a futuristic fighter plane, though I was never happy with it for that particular project, and it was consigned to the bits-box for possible reuse.  It seems perfect for this one though as an enemy bat.

Its built around a mix of other aircraft components- in my teens I started making, but never properly completed, a large number of Airfix kits, and over the years the grinding effects of being stored and moved around in various boxes pretty much reduced them back to their component parts.  So the body of this particular jet is a combination of Airfix Typhoon, Stuka, Wellington Bomber, Jaguar, and the nose and tail from a verrrry cheap Poundland Transformers "Darkwing" knock-off, roughly resembling a Tornado jet.  The whole thing has that chunky, angular look which screams 80’s-vision-of-the-future.

Next up will be a trip to the painting shop, or the back garden as its known, when this bloody rain stops...

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