"“Target in sight! Fight to your last drop of blood! For the Emperor!”"
- – A thunderbolt pilot during the battle of borneza gulf
The Thunderbolt Fighter is the Imperial Navy's primary heavy atmospheric fighter. Its nose armament will make a mess of anything in front of it, and its airframe is easily loaded with whatever payload a particular mission requires, like missiles (air-to-air and air-to-ground) or bombs, or even reconnaissance equipment. Its primary armament consists of two sets of twin-linked autocannons and a set of twin lascannons on it's forward dorsal area.
The autocannons are used for general dog-fighting and for strafing infantry formations while the lascannons are used for destroying heavily armored vehicles. It can also carry a variety of ordnance, such as tactical bombs, Hellstrike Missiles or anti-air Skystrike Missiles without sacrificing any of it's original firepower. Though it looks about as aerodynamic and maneuverable as a flying brick (seriously, its wings are like slabs of metal), it apparently is capable of serving as an air superiority fighter, and its bulk brings survivability and ease of repair -- its pilot is actually capable of repairing damaged drive systems mid-flight!
It is equipped with a rocket in its tail in addition to its two jet engines; the rocket is not suitable for space combat, but rather used to launch from an orbiting mother-ship into the upper atmosphere (and vice versa), as well as take-offs from hydraulic "fast-launch" ramps (essentially aircraft-carrier catapults, but on the ground). This doesn't really make sense, though, as this would mean the normal engines are enough for space combat because it and the Lightning and Marauder are used in space battle sometimes. And there's no reason for it to need a rocket when almost every other craft, including small ones, don't need a rocket to go out of an atmosphere. Heck, replace the rocket with two more engines and transport the craft in landers instead if this is honestly a problem. The thunderbolt is like a spitfire, a harrier and a brick mixed in one. Or a P-47 Thunderbolt, an American attack aircraft with 8(!) .50 caliber machine guns and over 1,000 kilograms of bombs.
Introduced in the revamped Aeronautica Imperialis game, the Thunderbolt Fury replaces the quad autocannons in the nose with a pair of Avenger Bolt Cannons, the lethal minigun usually mounted on the Avenger attack craft. The combination of mass-reactive Bolt shells and the high rate of fire makes for a dogfighting aircraft of punishing repute. This allows it to shred enemy fighters like there is no tomorrow.
Although many squadrons see a Fury or two amongst their ranks, though few consist of Furies alone as they are known to eat through ammunition like a fa/tg/uy eats through Meatbread at an astonishing rate; limiting its ammunition supply and therefore, reducing its effectiveness in prolonged engagements.
It should be asked how the fuck this makes sense, as the dedicated ground attack craft of the Navy, the Avenger itself, only carries one cannon and sacrifices a lot of space to do so. This little shit managed to get two.
The model was produced by Forge World, with rules first published in Imperial Armour Volume One - Imperial Guard and Imperial Navy, and periodically updated since (most recently in Imperial Armour Aeronautica). Games workshop makes teeny versions of them for Aeronautica Imperialis and they look very nice.