Thunderhawks – Hooo!

Closing the gap on the area between Adeptus Titanicus and Aeronautica Imperialis got a bit easier, with the recent release of Astartes Aircrafts. And among those aircrafts, is one of the most famous flyers the Space Marines have, the mighty Thunderhawk! (Imagine the Thundercats intro ... hooooo!)

Aeronautica Imperialis - Astartes Aircrafts

I have to be honest, the Thunderhawk has a special meaning for me. Beginning with the first Thunderhawk, all metal kit, that was released in the late 90s and I even held that one on my first visit to Warhammer World in 1999. And that particular kit got much more attention this year, when Emil a.k.a. Squidmar got one of these Thunderhawk kits, painted it up and sold it for an impressive 25.600 GBP.

Citadel Journal 22 - Metal Thunderhawk Citadel Journal 22 - Metal Thunderhawk

That kit was a huge improvement to its original form, a flying brick with a little turret, that got much neater design in the mid-90s for Epic 40.000.

Space Marine - Thunderhawk Gunship Epic 40.000 - Thunderhawk Gunship

When Forge World came around, the Thunderhawk saw a return in 28mm, but already at around 400 GBP not something you could easily fit in your regular Wargaming budget. For that reason, I even tried to scratch build one back in 2010.

Scratchbuild Foamboard Thunderhawk Gunship Scratchbuild Foamboard Thunderhawk Gunship

There were multiple rumours over the years, of a plastic Thunderhawk being released. But so far, we only saw an updated design of the Thunderhawk by Forge World, along with a price upgrade coming with it (it went up from 375 to 499 GBP ... yay). Buuuut, in May 2021, along Warhammer Fest we finally saw the Thunderhawk coming plastic ... just in a much smaller scale.

Aeronautica Imperialis - Thunderhawk Gunship

I got myself two of these. But didn't want to build both the same way. If you're familiar with the Forge World kit - and everybody who owns a Aeronautica one is, as Games Workshop rather brazenly uses the more detailed 28mm Forge World kits to promote their ~8mm Aeronautica range (they did this partially on Adeptus Titanicus as well) on the boxes - you will know, that they come with a few functions. Unfortunately, these are not part of the AI kit, beside of the landing gear.

Forge World - Thunderhawk

The front ramp can be lowered, some of the armour panels can be moved, as do the weapons. And especially the first one caught my eye.

Forge World - Thunderhawk Forge World - Thunderhawk Forge World - Thunderhawk

Details are good on this kit; the main body is quite huge. Just casting is not that great, as you have a solid amount of flash around the casted pieces.

Aeronautica Imperialis - Thunderhawk Gunship

I wanted to recreate the lowered ramp, and see what else I could pull off in that scale. For the ramp, I needed to thin out the cross brace in the front, as that would make that area to narrow / low. I used the landing gear from the other Thunderhawk git, to create some interior detail and covered the top with a bit of plastic card, so you don't just see the underside of the upper plastic part. The ramp is easily removed and repositioned. It makes sense to file the small lip to an even surface.

Aeronautica Imperialis - Thunderhawk Gunship Aeronautica Imperialis - Thunderhawk Gunship Aeronautica Imperialis - Thunderhawk Gunship Aeronautica Imperialis - Thunderhawk Gunship

And I cut the main gun of the Thunderhawk, so I could elevate that as well. Along with some thin plastic stripes for the ramp, there was not much else to do. I will try to get my hands on some 3d printed Assault Marines, standing there, ready to jump, like Airborne troops. I was thinking about cutting and re-aligning the twin heavy bolters on each side, but that seems like a bit too much work, for what it would achieve.

Aeronautica Imperialis - Thunderhawk Gunship Aeronautica Imperialis - Thunderhawk Gunship

For direct comparison, I am very happy with what I achieved. Yet, to be honest, nothing impossible and it would have been a great upgrade for the kit itself, if Games Workshop would give you that opportunity right from the start.

Aeronautica Imperialis - Thunderhawk Gunship Aeronautica Imperialis - Thunderhawk Gunship Aeronautica Imperialis - Thunderhawk Gunship

The Thunderhawk is quite a massive kit and I'll try to build an Epic army around it. The pricing is halfway reasonable, especially if you get around 10-15% off. I just don't like that they use not the actual model on the front of the packaging, and they could have provided much more Space Marine icons on the decals. As for the other aircrafts, like the Fireraptors and Storm Eagles, those are heavily overpriced, as you get twice the number of flyers from the other Imperial kits compared to these.

I hope that we will see more Space Marine vehicles (and infantry) in plastic in this scale, as I'd love to build two forces for the Horus Heresy, to go along with my Titan legions.

Posted by Dennis B.

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  1. Do you know how this compares size wise to the 2006 resin Aeronautica imperialis Forgeworld version?

  2. They’re about 25% bigger.

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