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Warhammer 40K: Birth of the Space Marine Whirlwind

3 Minute Read
May 15 2024
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Today, gamers, we are heading back to 1989, the birth year of the venerable 40K Whirlwind. You won’t believe its original model!

Today, we step back to September 1989 and White Dwarf 117. It was a jam-packed issue with everything from Codex Titanicus to the Wartrakk Skorcha to Close Assault Terminators. But we are here to look upon a miracle. This issue gave us the Whirlwind. Not a model, mind you. Back then, GW would often throw out rules and give you instructions on how to convert the model yourself out of their existing kits.

There was only the Rhino kit to base the Whirlwind on, but that’s just part of the hobbyist challenge.

The Whirlwind’s Rules

Ahh, I LOVE a good complex template. The original Whirlwind had a 6-72″ range, was S8, and used that cool 4-part “ripple fire” template that would string out the hits across a tight area shared with the Thudd Gun. The distribution of the scatter directions on templates 2, 3, and 4 kept the barrage from folding back on itself and gave you a satisfying result most of the time.

Also, note that the Whirlwind could be used by BOTH the Space Marines and Imperial Guard army. Next, look up and enjoy the classic old-school feel of Space Wolves Primarch Leman Russ in the flesh leading that original Whirlwind on the tabletop.

The Whirlwind Model

Now, onto how to build one of these bad boys for your classic Oldhammer army:

Yes, you used bits from the Rhino sprue, and the missile barrels are made from what used to be the 40K converter’s secret ingredient. The classic 40×40 square WFB base. GW slipped these things into all kinds of early Rogue Trader conversions.  So retro cool! Last, but not least, don’t forget the original Whirlwind logo. You could paint up one of those on your current Whirlwinds for that little bit of 40K nostalgia and impress newcomers with some trivia!

Somehow, the Whirlwind had a teensy revival in 9th Edition and is still hanging on by a thread in the new Space Marine 10th Edition codex, so maybe you CAN teach an old, old dog new tricks. Still, though, the writing is on the wall with the bright Primaris future staring us in the face. As the old girl is nearing her twilight, we wanted to pour one out for the original model that kicked off 35 years of dropping pie plates on your buddies.

My Rogue Trader Blood Angels still are rocking an old plastic-metal one. Such good memories…

Anyone have any sightings of these ancient primogenitors of the Whirlwind line?


Author: Larry Vela
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