The standard air support and transportation vehicle for the Space Marines and their Primaris brethen. Comes in two variants, the Thunderhawk Gunship and the Thunderhawk Transport. The gunship variant can hold thirty Space Marines inside (or fifteen Terminators, three Dreadnoughts, or some combination thereof), or fifteen Primaris Marines exclusively and sports the massive Thunderhawk Cannon (or a Turbo-Laser) on its back.
The Thunderhawk replaces the Stormbird transporter, which is larger, more heavily armed and capable of carrying more cargo than a Thunderhawk Gunship and Transporter combined, up to 50 Space Marines. As the demand for dropships increased during the Great Crusade, the Thunderhawk was created as an easy-to-produce alternative for the Unification War era Stormbirds, though considered inferior in quality. After the Horus Heresy, it was decided that putting one-twentieth of a Space Marine Chapter in a single vessel was a bad idea, so the Stormbird was mothballed after the Codex Astartes reform.
The Thunderhawk started out life in Epic as essentially a flying Rhino (in other words, they were METAL BOXES); it had a stumpy battle cannon and wings three scale feet thick. This persisted through a number of horrendous-looking scratchbuilds before eventually someone at Games Workshop had the bright idea of producing a limited-edition £400 Thunderhawk in lead for 40K, with a much longer hull, proper, manly wings, and loads of weapons. These were given away as the non-useless prize for winning Golden Demon along with the usual Slayer Sword a couple of times, until GW saw there was a Market and Forge World took up the slack. Forge World once made models for both the transport and gunship versions of the Thunderhawk, but nowadays they only sell the gunship version.
- Length: 26.6-28.8m
- Wingspan: 26.65m
- Mass: 105-121 tonnes
- Crew: 2-4 crew including 30 Astartes (15 if Terminators)
- Acceleration: 2000kph; approx
In April 2017, Forgeworld released the new resin Thunderhawk model that replaced the old iconic flying brick. The new model is actually god damned aerodynamic for once and actually looks like it could actually fly rather than the usual Space Marine modus operandi of strapping wings on a cargo container and duct-taping some rocket engines to the whole mess.
The new Thunderhawk model boasts a slimmer and sleeker fuselage, a smaller and less pronounced Thunderhawk Cannon, and a less conspicuous cockpit than the previous model, as well as having larger wings to make them a little more proportional to the newly elongated body. Unfortunately the new model removed the horizontal stabilizer from the tail plane, resulting in much despair. It is also a little smaller than its predecessor, with a less conspicuous profile.
The new model is also pretty customizable. The smaller wings can still be glued at your preferred angle, (LOCK S-FOILS IN ATTACK POSITION!) and the heavy bolter turrets on the wings and nose are both capable of rotating (rotatable?). The side doors of the troop bay can also be swapped out for any of the Forgeworld sculpted vehicle doors as they are the same size as the ones on the standard metal box.
So far reviews from high rollers who can actually afford the typically high forge world price have been largely positive.
Of all the rumours that saturate 40k, the myth of a Plastic Thunderhawk is the Unicorn, one that people forever seek and yet will never find. Ever since GW began to make Plastic Superheavies starting with the Baneblade, rumours, hints and wishes for a Plastic Thunderhawk have flitted across the internet. When in 2017 the old Resin Thunderhawk was retired, those dreams once again reared their heads and fueled by rumourmongers hype for a Plastic Thunderhawk spread across the usual sites like Bell of Lost Souls and Bolter and Chainsword. Then it was revealed that it would be yet another Resin Thunderhawk, and once more the dream died. To this day though people still cling to the hope that one day the Thunderhawk will be made in plastic and thus affordable without selling half your internal organs.
GW recently made a cheeky reference to the legend that is the plastic Thunderhawk in their Squat revival video. The dream lives? Now that Squats are back and plastic Sisters of Battle are confirmed, anything is possible.
...Well, a plastic Thunderhawk does in fact exist, but only in Aeronautica Imperialis (and therefore smaller than scale). But it's a step closer to realizing the dream.
A Salamander Thunderhawk so small that Vulkan would want to boop its snoot.
The Thunderhawk Transporter is a logistical variation of the normal Thunderhawk gunship.
The transport variant has four massive magnetic clamping arms mounted on runners underneath the fuselage. These allow the Transporter to carry two Rhino or one Land Raider-sized vehicles, or an under-slung pod for carrying ammunition, fuel and other supplies. These items can be loaded and unloaded in quick order, minimizing the amount of time the Transporter is vulnerable while one the ground.
Both variants have missile/bomb pylons and multiple remotely-operated twin-linked heavy bolter turrets on the wings and hull, although the Transporter is propelled by four RX-92-00 combination rocket/afterburning turbofans. It is analogous to the Tau's Orca.
Crunchwise, it is what you expect. They fufill the role of airlifting tanks, and shares the statline of the normal Thunderhawk (with the exception of 26W - 4 fewer than the Gunship). In addition to 15 models including TERMINATORS, JUMP PACK models, CENTURIONS, and BIKES, it can hoist vehicles into battle in one of the following configurations:
- 1 model with the LAND RAIDER or SPARTAN ASSAULT TANK keyword.
- Up to 2 of the following: RHINO, RAZORBACK, INFERNUM RAZORBACK, PREDATOR, DEIMOS PREDATOR, WHIRLWIND, WHIRLWIND HYPERIOS, HUNTER, STALKER, DAMOCLES, VINDICATOR, VINDICATOR DESTROYER, WHIRLWIND SCORPIUS.
Also known as the AEtos Dios because people can't type Æ. The ChÆtos Dioritos (named after one of the personifications of Zeus) is a modified Thunderhawk exclusive to the Imperial Fists Primarch, Rogal Dorn. This flying rape-engine was first conceived following several failed attempts on Rogal Dorn's life following the outbreak of the Horus Heresy. Magos Telluria constructed for Dorn a unique, heavily-customized personal Thunderhawk gunship to both convey him in battle and to shield him as he conducted missions in the defense of Terra.
It is quite befitting that Rogal would have his own personal jet plane fit for a Primarch to oppose Perturabo's personal rolling bunker. It is also befitting that a Primarch's personal transport is the one big enough to carry three dreadnaughts, because we all know he wouldn't fit inside a Stormraven.
In terms of tabletop the Ætos Dios is usable in games of 3000+ points as a dedicated transport. It has the IWND special rule and a 4+ invulnerable save against all missile attacks. It's also CHEAPER than a Thunderhawk with the same equipment by more than 100 points despite having extra toys. It can ALSO carry 40 models rather than the standard 30.
Battlefleet Gothic Armada I & II
In Battlefleet Gothic: Armada and its sequel, the Adeptus Astartes Fleet is unique in that both its bomber and assault boats utilize the Thunderhawk. The bomber variant is a Thunderhawk Annihilator, whether this means it is the Thunderhawk equivalent of a Predator Annihilator, we have no idea. It's quite possible this is the case, given variants of Imperial Fighters adapted for space combat such as the Thunderbolt Kestrel exchange their Autocannons for additional Lascannons and/or Lascannon power cells. For the Thunderhawk Annihilator, this means it's likely a Thunderhawk that replaces the transport bay with additional power cells for the Turbo-Laser Destructor and/or a second barrel for the same gun.
Regardless, what we do know is that the bomber Thunderhawk is one of the most powerful bombers, second only to the Manta. Whilst the Space Marines have less bombers than most factions save for Tau, they make up for its toughness, damage and high AA attacks. The same is similar to the assault boat Thunderhawk, which also boasts high toughness and AA attacks in exchange for a lower velocity.