Fall of the Royal Thunder
by Pat "Pat" Ohta Introduction by Darren Pai
The Royal Thunder was the crowning achievement of the Cygnar air fleet. The first of her kind, she flew high above enemy forces to relay information back to ground units. She met an early end when her first mate grew jealous of his captain's success. Seeking to frame the captain, he diverted intelligence to Khador spies. Cygnar security agents discovered the betrayal and branded the entire crew as traitors.
There is no official record of what brought down the Royal Thunder. Some rumors say an undercover Cygnar assassin executed the crew during a mission. Others say she was shot down by a powerful warcaster. Only one thing is clear, the Royal Thunder flew high and flew fast, but fell from grace in a ball of fire.
The Royal Thunder is a Cygnar reconnaissance dirigible. A dirigible is an airship with a rigid skeleton and I wanted to make one that would fit into the War Machine universe, and look more “high tech” since it was going to be Cygnar ship. I also wanted to make it look like a boat or sub. Since there are no game rules for flyers, I decided to make this a crashed ship that can be used as an objective.
Part 1: The Craft
First, I cut a sheet of foam core approximately 9”X8”. I then cut a slight curve on one end. I based these measurements on a plastic bottle I had (1A & 1B).
Along the length of the sheet I drew lines ½” apart from each other. Then I scored these lines by cutting along them with my modeling knife, making sure not to go all the way through. These score lines will allow the foam core to bend (1C).
Next I drew a vertical line about 2” in from the side and scored it the same way (1D).
This section will be the bow of the ship. To make sure it would taper to a point I thinned the foam core slats by cutting through on the diagonal (1E).
I then wrapped the bottle in the foam core sheet and glued them together (1F).
Using hot glue, I started to taper the bow by working from the bottom up. I glued each slat one at a time, making sure they all came to a point. Then I cut another sheet of foam to make a hood for the bow (1G).
For additional support I cut another piece of foam and inserted it under the hood. At this point I also closed up the bow by gluing in a piece of foam (1H).
Now that the main hull of the gondola was done, I cut it in half and figured out how I wanted it to lay on the ground. I trimmed each piece until I was happy with the look (1I).
To add more height to the gondola I constructed a simple control deck. To make sure the foam core would sit properly on the body I cut the edges at an angle(1B & 1J).
Happy with the look, I proceeded to cover the entire ship with spackle. The brand that I use goes on pink and turns white when dry (1K).
I let the first layer dry completely, then sanded it smooth and applied 2 more coats, allowing each to dry in turn (1L & 1M).
After the final coat was dry and sanded, I applied 3 coats of black paint. This helped to add some strength and to give me a surface that the other details could stick to (1N).
Next I added windows. I wanted it to look like a maritime inspired ship, so I chose some round windows for the sides (1O).
To insert these I traced the window outlines on the side of the ship and then cut them out with my modeling knife. Then I added hot glue and inserted the windows (1P & 1Q).
I wanted a decorative figurehead for the ship. Something similar to the maidens seen on sailing ships. I chose an eagle, and used one that is normally for flags (1R).
Since the eagle’s head was turned sideways I used my modeling saw to cut off the head and reposition it (1S & 1T).
Since the bow is going to be laying on its side, I wanted the eagle’s wing to be bent on the side touching the ground. To do this I used a lighter, heated up the wing, and bent it when it got soft enough (1U).
I attached the eagle to the bow of the ship with hot glue and used Kneadatite to fix the neck and to smooth the transition of the eagle into the hull. Kneadatite is an easy to use two part epoxy putty- just mix equal parts of the blue and yellow strips. When it turns green it’s ready to be applied (1V, 1W & 1X).
I worked the putty onto the eagle and made sure the transition from the eagle to the ship blended well. When this was done I sculpted the feathers on the eagle and made sure they matched the rest of the body (1Y).
As the putty dried I started to add details to the rest of the ship. The first thing I did was to add brass tubing to the hull. I used Du Bro’s tube bender to bend the front of each tube, before I glued each piece to the ship (1Z, 1AA, 1BB & 1CC).
Next I hot glued Evergreen Scale Models ¼” channels to the sides and bottom of the ship (1DD & 1EE).
To finish off the detailing I added some miscellaneous bits and angle channels to the top (1FF & 1GG).
For the aft portion of the ship, I applied the same techniques stated earlier (1HH, 1II & 1JJ).
Since Cygnar has the ability to harness electricity, I added an engine, which I found on a old toy. I cut it off using my modeling saw and hot glued it to the side of the ship. At this point I also added the channels and brass tubing (1KK).
To finish the stern of the ship I cut a piece of hard card and hot glued it around the entire circumference (1LL & 1MM).
Next, I used a leather punch to make rivets. I set it to the smallest size and punched out chads from plasticard (1NN & 1OO).
To apply the rivets, I placed a drop of Crazy Glue and attached each piece one by one (1PP, 1QQ &1RR).
Part 2: The Bases
The last thing I wanted to do was to make the leftover skeleton that holds the gas bag. Since this was a wreck, all I needed to do was make sure the shape was right. Constructing the frame was easy. I used plastic I beams and heated them up using a candle. I did this in small increments so I could get it to curve (2A, 2B & 2C).
Be careful when you heat up plastic because it can catch fire (2D).
I made two big curved pieces and connected them by gluing in horizontal pieces. When this was done I drilled little holes into the I-beams and inserted pieces of wire (2E & 2F).
Once the pieces were done I began work on the bases. I cut random shapes out of foam core and beveled the edges using my modeling knife (2G & 2H).
Using my hot wire cutter I carved out small hills from foam blocks. I glued these to the foam core and at the same time glued the ships to the bases. For the hills, I used extruded blue foam, which is used for insulation. If you do not live in a cold weather climate it may be hard to find, in which case you could use EPS foam.
Next I added debris to the base. I began by mixing glue with water, and painting this mixture onto the bases.
Then I went through my bits pile to look for pieces of appropriate scatter material. While the glue was wet I placed them around the ship randomly.
Next I mixed up a batch of rubble. My mix included sand, various Woodland Scenic ballast, and small rocks from a parking lot. I poured this mixture onto the glue, then shook off any excess.
After the glue dried I primed everything black and painted everything with P3 paints.
This will be a fun objective to use in games, and now you know how to make one. Now get going and keep your battlefield from being boring.