As you may remember, I am a recent convert to the Greater Good and only started playing Tau a couple of years ago. So it was only a couple of months ago that I picked up a copy of the 3rd Edition Tau codex for the first time and I was interested to see that the Piranha was not included. Sometime between the 3rd and 4th Editions, the Research & Development department added a fast skimmer to the arsenal. One of my other hobbies is that I am a huge airplane nut, especially military aircraft. An interesting aspect of military aircraft development is how often things go wrong, or a particular design feature doesn't work. Very often, the first design of an aircraft bears no resemblance to the finished product. For example:
...eventually led to the V-22 Osprey
And somehow these ideas...
...led to the Harrier
It seemed only logical to me that there was a similar process during the development of the Piranha and I started to seriously wonder about what that might have looked like. The designers probably started with what they knew (the tried and tested Devilfish chassis) and worked on various prototypes before arriving at the end design. What about those in-between steps? The flawed designs, the ones that just didn't perform as needed? So, without further ado, I present to you the...EX-30 Pilotfish
Since my goal was to portray a vehicle in the middle of the design process, I started by filling all the gaps and lines. This is a plain and simple design, nothing fancy, just there to prove the concept works.
This picture shows the test-fill with the "fake fingernail" acrylic material.
Next, as I was trying to make this look like a Devilfish as much as possible, I cut the engines down to a similar ratio. I took the middle section out and glued the front and back parts together. The middle section will make an appearance later.
I can just imagine the test pilots complaining about how under-powered the Pilotfish is, and how much it would benefit from an afterburner.
Next, I trimmed the wings down so that they would fit flush against the fuselage, and also the tail section to make the new back fit easier. I intended to use the "tail lights" on the finished version, but I lost motivation towards the end of the project and gave up on the idea.
I used plasticard to build out the body, so I wouldn't have to model the entire thing out of Green Stuff. It saved on weight, and made the flat surfaces easier to create. This plasticard is in the form of a basic "FOR SALE" sign that I picked up at the dollar store. $1 for a sheet about 40cm x 60cm isn't bad in my opinion.
One thing that bugs me about the Piranha model is that if you want to do any gap filling on the fuselage, you have to complete the cockpit first, then cover it up to fill and prime the outside.
Unfortunately, I really don't have the concept of "WIP photos" secure in my brain, so I don't have any pictures of the thin layer of green stuff I put over the plasticard. In the last photo above, you can kind of see it around the back and sides, but the next photo I have is with the base coat in place.
One thing I can say about the fuselage is that it took A LOT of sanding to get it to its current shape, and even then there are nicks and holes everywhere. I got very, very tired of sanding and very, very tired of looking at Fortress Gray. The constant sanding by hand is what killed my motivation for this project. I really need to invest in a small orbital sander.
This is the last WIP photo I have, but from there it's pretty much just painting.
To mount the engines, I cut up the body of a Sharpie marker (a nice cylindrical shape) and filled the gap with acrylic.
I made a sensor package from the center section of the engine that I cut out and turned upside-down.
Some engine details. Stupid gaps and not being sanded enough! Gah.
The nose-turret is magnetized, allowing for a range of weapons to be added.
Project Manager's note: "Several of the Shas'La fitted a fusion blaster to the nose turret while yelling 'More power!'. They then made a pumping motion in the air with their fists and made a grunting noise (ref: possible Kroot hunting call?). Upon firing the fusion blaster the first time, it predictably blew out every power conduit on the vehicle. The possibilities raised by fitting an anti-armor weapon to a fast skimmer are intriguing though. Perhaps larger engines and a more robust power distribution system are warranted."
So, there you have it. A flawed and under-powered Piranha. I do wish that I would not have gotten so frustrated with the sanding and been able to give this the love that it needed. But I have been known to have a short attention spa...SQUIRREL!