Thunderbolt Fighter, Part V

Okay, engines, canopy, tail, and wings.

As a last step before I launched into the big assembly, I added a crosspiece to the canopy in the back, right under the knot of my added  bow tie.  It’s about 7/8" across—the same width as the front of the canopy—and hopefully it’ll make the whole piece a bit more solid.  There are two small tabs on it as well.  None of it has to be really precise or esthetically pleasing as this is all interior/ structural stuff.  As long as it does the job, it’s good.

This Is Important – Okay y’know that tab at the front of the canopy?  The one I decorated with small card discs?  Because of the pieces I had to add to fill the gaps in the cockpit, this tab is too wide to fit now.  Rather than spreading out, its sides need to run straight down.  Depending on how you placed things, it could even angle in a bit.

I coated my little interior bracket with glue, and the inside edges of the fuselage as well.  The rear engine slid in, and I worked it into place by reaching through the cockpit and keeping one finger inside the engine itself.  It took a bit of wiggling but I got it in place.  Then I held the whole thing solid for a minute, letting the glue dry as much as possible.

As soon as I was sure the engine wasn’t going to slide or pop out of position, I grabbed the canopy.  I folded the front tab up under the canopy and then glued the underside (the one I didn’t decorate).  I also glued

In a perfect world the canopy should’ve fit down between those two gap-filling pieces.  Alas, this is not a perfect world, or a perfect template.  So the canopy sits a little high, which means it has to sit a bit more forward (so the tab stays flush against the front of the cockpit).

I slid a pencil through the top of the canopy to press the tab against the front of the cockpit.  I also kept checking the postion from different angles to make sure the canopy stayed lined up.  If it’s in the right position, there should be a thin gap between the edges of the canopy and that section of the tail behind it (yes, this gap’s supposed to be there).

So all that’s done.  Finally.

Next I cut out all the fins and braces.  Like the wings, the big question was how to get these solid on the fuselage.  Because of the braces, I couldn’t do tabs this time. What I decided on was lengths of trim to widen the fins and tail a bit.

I cut a 1/4” strip and ran it along both sides of the tail along the base, cut to shape on the front edge.  Then I did the same thing on the fins, top and bottom.  To make sure these stayed straight, I wrapped them in wax paper and let them dry under a few copies of 14 (how’s that for a shameless plug?).

Helpful Hint – If you just give it a minute to dry, the base of the tail is wide enough at three layers thick that it will stand very well on the brace.

Another Helpful Hint – It’s tough to get a perfectly straight tail because all of these fuselages are a bit warped one way or another.  Rather than measure it, I eyeballed the tail from a few different angles.  It’s more important that it looks right than it is right, if that makes sense.

I did the same on the fins.  Keep in mind these run off the back edge, so be careful with the glue.  Again, I eyeballed the level.  Another few minutes and these were done.

As a final bit of detail there, I added a few purity seals.  With the high risk being a fighter pilot involves, it’s not too hard to believe the Ecclesiasty would bless those brave souls.  And it’s really easy to believe the Mechanicus would bless their flying machines a hundred times over.  I just put a couple on the two basic squaddies, but our fighter ace got a quartet of them.  Placed carefully, they hide some flaws and also help sell movement.

This made the main fuselage pretty much complete (except for the lascannons in the nose).  Now it was time to move onto the secondary fuselage.  As before, I decided to do a bit of quick detail first.

Looking at the Forge World model, there are two circles on either side of the secondary fuselage which look suspiciously like gas tanks.  I made two 1/4” circles with my hole punch and added those on. 

There’s also a scoop on top of this section, right in front of the canopy.  I didn’t want to build the whole scoop, but I still wanted the idea of it.  I cut a piece of card 1” by 3/8” and centered in that panel of the fuselage.

Now for the engines.  The next big element here are the side engines.  On each one, one section’s going to fit inside the secondary fuselage and extend just a bit out the front.  The other section goes inside the first one and extends back past the cockpit.  I need to scratchbuild them, but it’s not like I haven’t done it a few times (LINK) here before.  The real challenge is making them match the exact size of the holes in the secondary fuselage.

For each engine, I cut a piece of card 3 3/8” x 2”.  This got scored at 3/8” wide x 2” long sections.  The last piece, as usual, is the tab, and I trimmed the edges on it a bit.  We’ll call this piece the front.

This piece turned out to be a hair too big, though.  Just enough that it wouldn’t fit without significant reshaping of the hole or bending of the cylinder.  After careful re-measurement, it turns out this piece actually needs to have sides that are 11/32” wide for the cylinder to fit.  And I can be honest--I was not looking forward to making eight measurements and cuts on that scale for six different engine components.

However, I realized if I just glued the 3/8” cylinder one panel smaller—making a seven-sided cylinder with a tab two panels long—it would fit fairly well.  I wrestled with this decision for a bit. I knew I was giving up some smoothness in that circle to keep from doing the extra, eye-stressing work.  In the end, I decided to make the seven-panel cylinder work, but either should fit if you choose to go with the finer detail.

Next was the inner section.  For each one, I cut a piece of card 2 1/4” x 4”.  This got scored into 1/4” wide x 4” long strips.  The last piece, as usual, is the tab, and I trimmed the edges on it a bit.  Because of their length, these were a bit more work to glue together.  I pushed my clothespins in as far as they'd go, then worked them out to make sure the seal was still tight at the ends.

Now that the front pieces were dry, I worked on them a little more.  I cut a few strips of card 1/4” wide and about 2 13/16” long.  I wrapped them tight around my hobby knife (you could also use a large marker or round pencil or something like that) so they got a good curve to them.  Then I wrapped one around the cylinder and trimmed it (if needed) to make a flush join between the ends.  The seam should be on the underside of the engine, if the cylinder looks better from one angle than another.
I cut one strip to fit just inside the cylinder, too.  That’ll give the sense of a thick, heavy case around the engine and help add to the illusion that it’s rounded.  If you decide to do this, make sure the seam where the strip comes together is towards the top of the cylinder.  This strip was 1/4” x 2 3/8”, trimming if needed.

And that’s a lot for now.  Next week, the secondary fuselage gets added and I build some weapons.

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