Mini Buck Rogers Thunderfighter




Another late 70s-era Starship - Buck Rogers' Thunderfighter from the 25th Century..

The Thunderfighter or simply the Starfighter is the main strike fighter of the Earth Defense Directorate against the Draconian Empire.  A variation of this is the Quad fighter, seating four occupants instead of the regular single or two-seater in tandem configuration.

The Thunderfighter popsicle stick mini model was another simple build.  There were only nine (9) major components to complete the model requiring only a few hours and five (5) instructable steps to assemble.  The tiniest parts were the wing tips made from toothpicks that the Dremel moto tool made quick work shaping it.  The single biggest delay in construction was the long wait for the Elmers white glue to cure.

This particular model is dedicated to our friends from deviantart and Gerard Duffy aka Taranis who painstakingly rendered the schematics and 3-D model images respectively of the Thunderfighter.  The images and schematics are featured in Step 3 of this instructable.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Like the BSG Colonial Viper before this project, not a lot of materials were used.  The base airframe was from regular sized popsicle sticks.  Wooden coffee stirrers with varying thickness' were used for the wing/engine pylons and cockpit/fuselage, a toothpick (for the secondary wing tips)  and a thinned tongue depressor (for the delta wing and secondary wings) were the other materials used for this build.

Tools used for this project were:
  • Dremel MotoTool 3000 and MiniMite with the following attachments:
    • 1/2" & 1/4" drum sander with fine/coarse grit
    • disc sander with fine/coarse grit
    • #125 high speed cutter
    • #932 grinding stone
    • Regular cut-off wheel
  • Olfa Cutter
  • Mechanical pencil
  • Ruler
  • Fine tweezers
  • Various clamps
  • Elmers all purpose white glue
  • Vinlyl Cutting Mat

Step 2: Schematics and Images

Images are plentiful via google and bing image searches.  Keywords used were "Buck Rogers Starship" although "Buck Rogers in the 25th century" also produced some interesting results.

The best images that were used for the build were schematics from the deviantart collection and 3-D renderings from Taranis.  Below are the URL for the schematics and 3-D models:

The 3-D images from Taranis were exceptionally helpful in determining the details of the fuselage, canopy and engine/weapons pylons shape and features.  I really appreciate the quarter views and various perspectives in the 3-D renderings.  Again, my sincerest appreciation to the images and schematic plans provider!:)

Step 3: The Airframe and Fuselage

The base airframe was made from three (3) layers of regular popsicle sticks.  The laminated layers were shaped into a wedge by using a drum sander attachment in a Dremel 3000 moto tool.

The cockpit canopy was from two (2) layers of sandwiched wooden coffee stirrers.  The laminated single piece was cut into a coffin-shape using an olfa cutter and finished with a disc sander attachment in a moto tool.

The ventral cockpit housing was from a single, thick wooden coffee stirrer sanded into shape with a drum sander and disc sander attachment in a moto tool.

Another layer of regular popsicle stick for the rear top and rear bottom parts of the airframe was shaped using an olfa cutter and a cutting wheel attachment in a moto tool.  The cutting wheel was used to carve a notch on the rear top part of the airframe that should fit the top cockpit canopy.  The rear top part was glued to the rear end of the base airframe and shaped with a disc sander attachment using Taranis' 3-D images as reference.

The same cutting wheel attachment was also used to carve a similar notch on the bottom rear part of the airframe to fit the ventral cockpit housing.  The bottom rear part was glued to the bottom rear part of the base airframe and similarly shaped using a disc sander attachment in a MiniMite moto tool.

The chevron-shape of the rear end was made using a 1/4" drum sander, cutting wheel and disc sander attachment in a MiniMite.
Although not illustrated, the chevron was finished using a #932 griniding stone attachment.

Finally, the cockpit canopy and ventral cockpit housing were glued to the top and bottom airframe respectively.  The rear end of the cockpit canopy and ventral cockpit housing should fit in the slots made at the rear top and rear bottom parts of the base airframe.

Step 4: Weapons/Engine Pylons and Wings

Two (2) thick wooden coffee stirrers were sandwiched for the Weapons/Engine Pylons assembly.  A drum sander attachment was used to carve the engine exhaust based on the images and schematics from Step 2.  A #125 high speed cutter attachment in a Minimite was used to bore the engine exhaust nozzle at the end of the pylon assembly.

After shaping the engine exhausts, the pylon was detached from the sandwiched coffee stirrer using an Olfa cutter.  The pylon was roughly shaped like a dagger with a coarse grit, drum sander attachment.  The final shape was rounded and finished with a fine grit, drum sander attachment and fine disc sander in a moto tool.  Two (2) pylons were made for one Thunderfighter model.

A wooden tongue depressor was sanded thin to make the two (2) delta wings and the two(2) auxillary wings.  The two (2) auxillary wings were patterned from the Step 2 schematics and cut to shape with an Olfa cutter.  The two (2) auxillary wings were for mounting at a 45-degree angle at the end of each pylon before the engine exhaust in Step 5.

The two (2) thin delta wings were traced from the Step 2 schematics and sliced with an Olfa Cutter.  The delta wings were for mounting at the side of each of the two (2) engine pylons during final assembly (Step 5).

The tiny wing tips at the end of each of the two (2) auxillary wings were from thinly shaped toothpicks.  A disc sander attachment in a Minimite was used to grind the toothpick to a very thin shape.  The same attachment was used to sharpen both ends of each wing tip.

Step 5: Final Assembly

Final assembly was a straight forward process of gluing all subassemblies to the completed airframe/fuselage.

The twin pylons were added first.  I made sure that the alignment of the pylons to the fuselage was correct by referring the assembled pieces to the Step 2 schematics and images.

The auxillary wings were added next.  I used three layers of spare popsicle sticks to prop up the assembled fuselage while the glue binding the auxillary wings to the pylons dried.  Three layers were sufficient to support the 45-degree position of the auxillary wings with the engine/weapons pylons.

The delta wings were added after the white glue binding the auxillary wings with the left and right engine/weapon pylons have set.  Finally, the wing tips at the end of each auxillary wings were set in place.

And there you have it, a Thunderfighter for Buck Rogers ready to take on the Draconian Marauders!



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    7 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    here is my post on your work..... and it contains a link back here, I also added 2 of your images to my blog with your credit added to each image.. hope this is ok


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the mention..

    I am astounded at what you can do with Popsicle sticks.

    Gerard Duffy

    Just like your other projects, it's so impressive... so inspiring and sooooo one of a kind. I love it. :-) :-) :-)

    Whatttt those were popsicle sticks... very cool :[). Thank you so much for sharing. I am loving it .
    I made something of popsicle too sometime back


    5 years ago on Step 5

    Great looking, yet again!