Thunderbolt Fighter, Part II

When we last left the men of Aquilla Squadron...

So, last week I got all three fuselage sections pretty solid.  This time I needed to build the other two major sections of each Thunderbolt—the weapons mount and the secondary fuselage (which also gets the wings).  Going in order with the templates, the mount is first.
This Is Important--The weapons mount is pretty simple, but it does have a number of backscored lines.  Some of them are pretty easy to do, but some you’ll either need to measure or do what I did...

Helpful Hint--  Get a ball point pen or fine-point Sharpie, preferably black.  Put a dot on each edge of the card, right where the line ends.  When you flip it over, you should just be able to see the two dots and run a straight edge between them.

Because this is a bit finer, I decided to use the patch method I used on the nose of the main fuselage.  It worked fine here, and all three of these took me about twenty-five minutes to assemble, from cutting out to final patch.

I decided to hold off installing this piece in the main fuselage because I think it’ll be easier to put weapons on it while it’s out.  More on those in the next two weeks.

The secondary fuselage got a quartet of tabs.  It also has two lines that need to be backscored. They lined up very easily with a straight edge.
I made sure the folds on the engine casing were very tight.  As I made each fold I tried to slide them into position and make sure everything was as snug as possible.  This took a little longer because I clamped them and double and triple-checked to make sure they didn’t slip or shift.  I gave them a little extra drying time between tabs, too.  It probably took close to half-an hour of work on each one, even though they’re pretty simple and straight-forward.

Next up was the wings.  These were going to be a little tougher.  At first, I wanted to do them double-thick to give them some stability and make them look solid.  I also needed a way to connect them to the fuselage that will be structural (since a single edge doesn’t give me much.  I studied the picture in the Apocalypse expansion book and tried to get a sense of the details and such.

In the end I decided to keep them single-thickness.  If I doubled them up I worried the cardstock would start to warp, plus I was just worried they’d look kind of funny and rough on the edges.

As for attaching them, after some thought and planning (and a few discarded ideas), I fell back on the oldest card-building idea there is.  Insert tab A into slot B.  In this case, slot B is that open space past the engine.

Tab A should fit right under that extended part of the engine casing.  Check your own measurements to be sure.  This tab should be backscored so it folds up.  I glued it in place, clamped it, and made sure the front of that edge was butted up against the engine casing, too.  A gap in the front will be far more noticeable than one in the back.

Helpful Hint—I found this was a great, simple way to get the wing to sit flush.  I let the secondary fuselage hang over the edge so the wing was upright.  Then I clipped a few clothespins to the front edge of the wing and let gravity do the rest.  A glue bottle helped keep it steady and perpendicular to the engine casing.

Now, believe it or not, at this point the template is about 90% done.  I just need the tail sections and the cockpit.  I wanted to add a few more details, though, and also fill in some Paperhammer alternatives for the engines and weapons.  I started with the wings, because these details could also help keep the whole thing structurally solid.

I cut four strips 2 1/8” long and 3/4” wide for detail work.  One of them went on the underside of each wing along the front edge, butted up against the fuselage.  It makes the wing look thicker and helps give a little extra structural support, too.

Then I measured out four more at 3 11/16” by 3/4” wide.  At first I thought about taking the 1/8” hole punch to them to create that circular pattern on the Forge World model, but a few attempts convinced me I wasn’t going to get them all to line up right (at least, not without a heck of a lot more effort than I was willing to put into this).  So for now I glued this strip on top of the wing.  As below, I butted it up against the fuselage for more support.  I had a light score in it that lined up with the score in the wing, and gluing them together helped hold the wing at the angle I’d created.  I clamped this down to keep it from warping.

Once that detail strip was kind of solid, I glued a line of 1/8” discs back in place.  I flipped them over so the beveled edge from the punch became a new level of detail.  This isn’t quite aerodynamic, yes, but how many things in the grim darkness of the future really are...?

Last but not least, I wanted to add something big and showy on one of them to mark out the squadron leader.  There’s no rules for him, but I’m hoping my gaming group would be fine with a flying ace who follows the same (well, slightly modified) rules and points of a tank ace (a.k.a. Commander Pask).  We can hammer out the fine details later, but if we can’t, well... hopefully it’ll still looks cool.

There are a bunch of Warhammer 40K fonts floating around the web, and you can probably find two or three of them with a simple Google search.  There’s Marines, Imperial, and ChaoSquat off the top of my head.  Many of these have a version or two of the Imperial Eagle.  Using my word processor, I opened up and created one that hit 6 1/2” long (I think it was about 185 points, size-wise).  Once it was printed up I essentially had a template for an Aquilla (an idea I’ve tossed out a few times but never shown here). 

It took a little under half an hour to cut out the claws, heads, and all the individual feather/pinions.  Once I had it, I lined it up on the cutting board and split it right down the middle.  Half went on each wing of the squadron commander’s Thunderbolt.  I think it looks fantastic.

Next time, some scratch-built engines, weapons, and a few more details.


  1. Okay first off, I love the Imperial eagle on the commander's wings.

    Second thing, you are certifiable for cutting and trimming out the imperial eagle.

    Third thing, I'll see you at group counseling since I'm working on a Paperhammer Thunderhawk (http://40kressurected.blogspot.com/)

  2. Hey, Michael,

    I like your Thunderhawk. Very, very nice so far. I've thought about building one myself, but I've always been a bit intimidated. Especially by Eli's models.

    Glad to hear you're enjoying the Thunderbolt. I had to skip last week because of a deadline, but I'm hoping to get back on track by the end of this week.

    If I may be so bold, try using a glue stick for your templates. You don't have the bubbling issue that comes up with wet glue so you can start working much faster. Also, the paper template peels off much easier once you've got everything cut and scored. The paper's helpful at first but it's a pain when it comes time to paint.

    Hope my geeky blog offers you some inspiration or help with your project. We can share more notes in Thursday's counselling session. :)

  3. haha. Right I'll bring the pizza if you bring the beer Thursday.

    But yeah, you're blog is what got me started with the Paperhammer stuff. Actually it was your BaneBlade that really made the difference. I had tried to do that exact template (Looks at shelf containing unfinished attempts at BaneBlade...) 4 times. Each time I got closer to completing it, but had to stop when I ran into problems with the templates. Was a huge up lifter to know it wasn't me that was reading the templates wrong or something.

    But yeah, the paper-hammer thunderhawk isn't intended to be the final model (Though I admit as I build the monster I'm reconsidering the idea of not-using it in game), but simply as a study case. If you read all of my posts on it, you'll see where I've made notes about the construction of it in thicker mediums. That's because I'm gonna try and build a 2nd thunderhawk out of Sheet Styrene. Maybe someday we'll put your Thunderbolts against my Thunderhawks >:)

  4. Oh, and thanks for the suggestion on the glue stick. I'll have to try that.

  5. Try frozen pizza boxes, too, for your thickness issues. I've found they're just ever-so-slightly thinner than cereal-box cardboard (and bigger, too). It's not much, but it's made a huge difference in a couple of these models, especially when I'm using tabs on thing.

  6. Oh, and if you liked the Baneblade, I'm hoping to tackle Jeff Vaughn's Warhound template before the end of the year. :)

  7. OH! I've been working with that template for a while. Built it twice, just haven't been satisfied with it So I've been re-building it trying to address what I didn't like. I've had a copy of the template sitting in photoshop and an image of the finished model on a clip board next to my desk for the last months. Every time I have an idea or thought about it I hop into photoshop and try to design it or grab the clip board and try to sketch it out. I'll be interested to see your take on it though.