Thunderbolt Fighter


Everyone’s talking about fliers.  Games Workshop released some gorgeous ones, and I’m lucky that it happened right around my birthday, so my Necron Overlord now has two Scythes at his beck and call (thanks to Marcus and my lovely lady).  I still wanted to try to make something, though, preferably on the Imperial side of things.

It turns out Jeff Vaughn--the guy behind the fantastic Malcador and Baneblade models I’ve worked on--also did a template for a Thunderbolt which is available over at the BWC Archives.  Like his previous stuff, it’s a very solid model that isn’t cluttered with details.  Easy to understand, easy to build.

And let’s be honest—after Dan Abnett’s Double Eagle a good chunk of us wanted to field a full squadron of fliers.  Not one or two models that we call a squadron, but a full-on group.  A squadron that can rain death down on the battlefield or take out Matt’s Warlord Titan with a few passes.

Did I say that last bit out loud...?


So, for this post, I’m building three Thunderbolts side by side.

Be aware right up front, this template makes a Thunderbolt that’s about 2/3 the size of the Forge World model (which is about 11” wide (wingspan) x 10” long).  You need to enlarge it to about 150%, which will give you something almost spot-on to the true model.  If your printer lets you go big, you can get most of it going corner to corner.

Helpful Hint – I took my templates to the local Fed Ex/ Kinkos and used the photocopiers there.  They have oversized 11”x17” paper (they call it “tabloid-sized”) which will fit these designs perfectly.  I got three sets of 150% sized templates for just $1.70.  So that’s sixty cents per Thunderbolt.

Alternately, you can build it at the existing scale and just tell your friends it’s very high up in the air.  Just remember you’re doing that while you follow along and cut all my custom measurements by a third.

Because of the size, I couldn’t paste these pages to one piece of cardstock, so I had to cut the different elements apart in advance.  Then it was just some basic work with a glue stick while Iron Man played in the background.  I found the main fuselage went well corner to corner on a pizza box, and the secondary fuselage goes side to side.  All the other elements could fit with no real problem.

Once they were in place, it was time to start cutting.  I started with the main fuselage.  It’s big, but it’s also about half of the work.

This is one of those templates that looks intimidating because it’s got a single piece with a lot of sections in it on it.  Well, first off, the Thunderbolt fuselage only has thirty or so scores that need to be cut.  Total.  That’s it.  Second thing is, they’re almost all on the same side.  Praise where praise is due, Jeff Vaughn made a phenomenal and very easy to use template.

Before I did anything, though, I added a few tabs to the template at key points around the fuselage.  These can be rough, quick things—they’re never going to be seen.  They just need to be wide enough to hold some glue.

I’m not putting tabs everywhere, like I have on some previous models.  The tabs do affect the thickness and the folds at points, and I’m worried how that could work on some of the fold-heavy places like the nose.  So I’m going to try something new there, which I’ll get to soon enough.

This is Important—Remember when I said the scores are almost all on the same side?  These are a couple of the ones that aren’t scattered through this template, and I’ll try to identify all of them.  On the main fuselage there’s two lines in the nose structure and two along the tail.  Make sure these lines get scored on the opposite side.

The bulk of this went together without any real problems.  It took me about thirty minutes each to cut out the main fuselage sections (making three of these at the same time, remember), and then another twenty for scoring.  So call it three hours to get all three sections ready for folding and gluing.  Then I worked through and glued the tabs, rotating my clothespins from one fuselage to the next as I went.

Helpful Hint – Make sure your creases are good and solid.  Because a lot of these are shallow folds, there’s an instinct to go easy on them.  Go deep with the folds, because the card is going to straighten out naturally and the actual shape of the assembled fuselage will hold it in place.  Better to go too deep and have to push it out than too shallow and have no way to fold it deeper

Once all three were dry, I took a good look at the nose section.  I knew it was going to take a bit of work because there are so many fine lines that a score just being a little off could make elements not line up right here.  This is also why I didn’t want to be dealing with tabs for this part.

Instead, I cut a few strips of white paper (plenty of it leftover from the templates) and started using them like patches, or even paper mache.  I’ve used a similar method a few times before to cover small gaps and imperfections in models.  I held the nose sections in position, added a drop of glue, and pushed the paper over it.  I used a hobby knife to make sure the paper sat flat on the card and went into the corners.

Helpful Hint –the paper soaks up glue a lot faster than the cardstock and becomes soft.  As a result, you need to wait longer so this can get drier or those little pieces will pop apart like... well, wet paper.  This requires a bit of patience, but the results are fantastic.

Rather than do one whole nose, I’d do the same patch on each fuselage and work my way through, giving them more time to dry.  Each nose needed about four pieces to make it solid.  This probably took close to an hour and a half altogether, but it was worth it.  This let me straighten a few pieces and make sure everything lined up well.  If there are a few gaps, they’ll end up getting hidden by the lascannons.

Once they were done I put the tail section together the same way.  I put down a bead of glue and ran a strip of paper along the inside.  The hobby knife let me work it into position.

That gave me three pretty solid main fuselage sections.  Next time I’m going to work on the weapons mount and the secondary fuselage, and hopefully get the wings attached.


  1. Do you have another place for the blue prints? Tried to join the group but still no luck joining after 2 weeks. :(

    1. Yeah, they can be really slow about that. Sorry. I'd pester them again. It took me about a week before I was approved for the main archive, but then almost a month for the BWC2.

      I might just put all the templates I work with up somewhere. Either tie them to the posts or make a little separate archive. I'll make an announcement when I do.

  2. Still no word. Wrote anoter email. but i am losing faith. :( if you had some up that wold be great as another source.

    1. Already up, Anon, and the Thunderbolt is in there. Check the front page of the blog.

  3. Hi. Where can I find the complete templates to build the model?

    1. I'm not sure about "complete," Luca, but you can find the sametemplate I used here--


  4. Hello, where are the templates available? Perphaps you still have a copy of them?
    Thank you

    1. Errrrrr... well, like it says right in the post, the template's available over at the BWC Archive.

      I think it might be in the STC Archive, too, but I'm not sure about that.