Building the Mako - With Pictures

It seems the rumours Faeit 212 posted were a little off, as the next White Dwarf is going to be full of Warriors of Chaos, rather than 40K flyers.  This doesn't entirely sadden me, though, as it gives me a chance to show off my own converted Tau flyer before it's swept away by Games Workshop's official release.  Or, y'know, not, if it really is all S5 guns and sub-par missiles.

I've been having some success with Blood Angels allies, particularly an assault squad and a captain with jump pack and power sword.  Of course, being a player committed to the aesthetics of his army, I couldn't just plop some bright red Marines down beside my white armoured, Stormtrooper-esque cadre.  Instead, a group of XV25s were 'upgraded' into experimental suits, armed with chain-blades mounted on one arm and cut-down burst cannons on the other.  Right approximate size, both have jump capabilities and similar armour ratings, works just fine.  And since my counts-as Blood Angels are really Tau models, it stands to reason that the Stormraven they're bringing along would have to match, right?

Hence, the Mako.
Given the Stormraven's high transport capacity and high AV, there was really no question of not using a Devilfish chassis.  I started with one of those and a Piranha.

The first step was to cut off the Devilfish's drone holders.

This gave the body a somewhat sleeker look, more appropriate for an aircraft.  I toyed with the idea of going further, shaving it down to produce more of a modern jet fighter nose, but ultimately decided I had other plans for those stubs.  Before I could move on to that, however, I needed to deal with the troop hatch.  Not only would nobody be likely to pop out the top of a flyer to take a quick look-see, but it through off the aerodynamics of the model and served as too great a reminder of its original nature.  So, first I had to pry that out, then I had to come up with something to take its place.

That's the underside of the Piranha, a section from the nose of the Piranha, and the interior part of a Devilfish's landing gear.  Cut and sanded to fight together, they served quite nicely to both cover the hole of the missile hatch and chance the outline of the upper section of the Devilfish.  With that detail sorted, and the Piranha obviously broken into sufficient pieces that I could get access to part of its undercarriage, I could lay it out to get a general sense of what I was working towards.

That's the engine pods from the Piranha mounted forwards on the Devilfish, where the drone holders used to be.  The nose would be built up by adding the Piranha's overtop, to give it bulkier forward armour and because I like the little targeting array built into it.  The Devilfish would keep its engine pods, but they'd be supplemented by the wings of the Piranha, and further by pieces of its side hull cut and shaped to fit.  And finally, the burst cannon would be replaced by a couple of fusion blasters, to represent the forward multi-melta a Stormraven can have.

Attaching the Piranha's engines was easy enough, but constructing the wings was more time consuming.  The image on the left shows the basic "wings on engine pods" look, and obviously that wasn't sufficient.  Using the sides of the Piranha (which are roughly the same thickness as its wings, thankfully), I cut two pieces and attached them side by side, making the wings wrap around the front of the engine pods in a much more organic-looking manner than just having them come to a forward point.  You can also see the chance in its nose, with the Piranha's attached overtop.  In retrospect I should have shaved the underside down further, to make it fit more tightly; it would've required less green stuff, later on.  Well, this is how we learn.

As I said, it required no small amount of green stuff.  Thankfully, the slopes of the Devilfish and the Piranha's nose blended rather well.  At this point, I also added a small embellishment to the upper rear.  That's part of the Piranha's nose, the section that covers the pilot's instrument panel, with two of the barrels from the burst cannon added to break up the lines of the vent plating over the removed hatch.  You can also see the burst cannons have been replaced with paired fusion blasters.  I was going to mount them much further back along the barrel, but ultimately it just looked better to have only the very front of the blasters hanging down.  Looks more like an actual weapon mount, and less like they've been stuck on to the base of a burst cannon.

With the body of the flyer completed, the only thing left was its main gun.  The twin-linked lascannon is far more useful than the alternatives for my cadre, and to represent that I decided to go with the railgun from a Hammerhead, mounted off-centre on the hull. 

I cut the barrel of the railgun close to the parallel supports, since otherwise it would hang too far forwards over the nose of the flyer.  Originally I was simply going to leave it at that, but it made the back look a little empty.  So instead, I took the... ammo hopper?  Power supply?  Whatever the big thing at the back of the railgun is.  I took that, cut off the underside of the boxy piece on the back, and mounted it on top of the chassis, with the boxy piece hanging over the back.  It gave the weapon significantly more heft on the chassis, and added to the overall look of the model.  To bridge the gap between the barrel and the back section, and to cover where the barrel didn't sit quite flush with the hull, and to try and emulate the housing for the ion cannon on the Barracuda, I added some green stuff.

To fill the spaces on the wings, I pulled the pulse carbines off the bottom of some gun drones and swapped them in there, exhaust sections outwards.  I may switch them for an SMS, to represent hurricane bolters, somewhere down the line, but for the moment it's good the way it is.  After that, it was just a matter of painting, and drilling out the bottom to handle the flying stand.  And, of course, getting a flying stand.  Thankfully, there are no small number of them floating around eBay, though the one I ordered did manage to come in right under the wire, arriving on the Friday just before a Saturday tournament where I wanted to field my shiny new ship.  So, with flying stand fitted, and the paint still drying when I headed off to the store, there it was; a Tau Mako, an experimental piece of kit for my cadre that, y'know, just so happens to have the same stats, options and points costs as a Blood Angels Stormraven.

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