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Da Ork Air Force

Greetings all! Today's offering is a guest post from regular Bunker visitor Tom. If you like conversions, achievable batch painting and heavily themed 40K armies, this is a treat.

Tom: The whys and wherefores could fill an entire article, but for whatever the reasons I decided upon the release of the Ork Codex to collect a small Ork Army themed around the idea of an Orky interpretation of a WW2 air force.  Ultimately I want a bigger collection of Orky aircraft that can join up with and/or against Charlie’s, Jeff’s and Mark’s Orks in future Apocalypse games, but as a starting point I wanted to build and paint a small legal and reasonably balanced army.  I started collecting Orks since second edition, but I haven’t been playing much 40k for many years now, so this would be an entirely new army.

The whole thing has come together in a fairly Orky way, some units being built and painted long before I’d even decided on what other units would complete the army, but for the sanity of the readers I shall present things in a more rational and less chronolinear fashion.


So why WW2?  Fun mostly.  When I first thought up the idea of the army the concept was basically “Orks in Spitfires”.  Probably because I was staring at one at the time and thinking how very Orky it was to have a low-tech aeroplane with eight machineguns on it.  The original dakkajet.

So the fluff concept is a faction of Blood Axes led by Da Generalissimork*.  He’s a madboy that has repeated visions of the “Two Worlds War, when all da oomies wot there woz woz fighting each uvver and it woz ded brillyunt”.  Dedicated to this ideal of total war, rather than leading his own Waaagh, Da Generalissimork leads a mercenary band who fight for any Warboss who will take them from their spaceship aircraft carrier the HMS Ork Royal.

There’s a lot of spectrum of possibilities in a themed army.  For something like this we have just regular Orks at one end, and “I might as well be playing Bolt Action” at the other.  Ultimately I decided to go pretty light on the theme, and decided “Orks first, WW2 second”.  I didn’t want to have to sacrifice anything that didn’t perfectly fit the theme, since that’s most of the most fun units in the Ork codex.  The vision is WW2, but it’s being enacted by Orks.

So the theme will mostly be represented using heads from Spellcrow, some minor conversion work, and choice of paint scheme.  I also discussed the use of symbology with Charlie and Jeff and decided against it.  Whilst an RAF roundel is part of the iconic look of a Spitfire, I don’t fancy painting the Balkenkreuz on any of my models.  It also feels a little anachronistic to the 40k setting.

Force Composition

Despite my fixation on an air force, I also needed to have something usable in a 40k game and reasonably balanced, which meant lots of boyz and not too many flyers.  A small patrol and a large air wing might be legal, but it’s not sensible.  A lot of the fun aspects of Orks in the new Codex are represented by Stratagems, so I  knew I wanted a Battalion.  

HQ – 1 Snikrot – 4
HQ – 1 Big Mek (Index) – 5
Troops – 20 choppa Boyz – 7
Troops – 10 shoota Boyz – 4
Troops – 10 Grots – 1
Elites – 10 Kommandoes – 4
Fast Attack – 2 Deffkoptas – 4
Heavy Support – 2 Mek Gunz (Smasha Gun) – 4
Flyer – 1 Dakkajet – 7

The shoota boyz are the new recruits.  Generally assigned guard duty, they are sometimes also deployed to take and hold vital strategic objectives.  Only Orks with enough self control to follow a battle plan and not charge in at the first sign of a fight will last long in this Blood Axe army.

Once they’ve proven themselves, they might get promoted into Da Paras, the choppa boyz using the Blood Axe stratagem to deep strike into combat (by parachuting out of the back of the Orkules).  The best of the best may end up as Kommandos in the Special Air Service, led by Kaptain Dazzik Slurflinga (aka Snikrot).

Left to right: a guard, a para, and a kommando.

The Smasha Guns were built by the meks to catch returning aircraft that are too shot up to land safely, but as soon as some Ork worked out how much fun they could have using them to smash up enemy vehicles, they quickly started disappearing from the bases and finding their way onto the battlefield.  


Whilst I aim to have a Spitfire Dakkajet, I thought it would be fun to have a variety of Ork flyers themed after different factions.  As such I didn’t want to start with the Spitfire in case I made some mistakes.  Which I did.  I settled on an American themed Dakkajet, with the Mustang P-51 as the primary influence.  Following my guiding principle of “Orks first, WW2 second”, I decided not to get into repositioning wings and building landing gear to try to make the kit more like a Mustang.  If I wanted that I could just Orkify an airfix model.

I decided on some creative choices with the part options, a bit of light modelling and let the paint job do most of the work.  The pilot head with aviators was a must, and I stuck on the massive turbo charger for that american muscle car look.  Then of course there was the propeller blades.  Yes.  In a jet.  I know.  Because Orks that’s why.  A turboprop is a thing anyway, look it up.  

Here I realised I'd made a mistake, due to the arrangement of the hilarious Ork landing skid** which I had already assembled there was very little room for propeller blades when on the ground. I trimmed back the rear claw to drop the tail a little more and bring up the nose, but the prop is still smaller than I had envisioned. In future aircraft I will have to reconsider the landing arrangement.

To attach propellers I drilled 4 holes around the tip of the nose cone and inserted 2mm cylindrical magnets (in alternating directions so they didn't pop out whilst the glue set). The blades are then simple plasticard sheets with cube magnets glued on the backs. This means the propeller blades will get knocked off rather than broken when bumped and can be packed more easily. I tend to do this with any vulnerable protrusions or antennae.

Kustom Kommandos
As there are only 5 official single-pose Komando models (including 1 nob) I decided to flesh the squad out with some converted boyz. The heads were easy, sourced from Spellcrow alongside the Para berets and the Guard helmets, but to complete the look they also needed backpacks. I found a few options online but none were quite right so I made my own. Digging through my bitz box I found all manner of detritus to cobble together and cover in pouches and weapons.

At this point it's easy to just glue everything on, but I think it's important to remember Orks aren't made of velcro and need straps. Ork bodies conveniently already have plenty of straps that could function and shoulder straps for the backpacks, and some loose wargear have bits that, if not intended to be straps, can be painted as such. But other items need straps added for that vital pinch of verisimilitude.  This extended to the tankbusta bombs in the boyz mobs too. It’s a minor detail and I don’t exactly get down to modeling fastenings or anything, but I think it the different it makes has a good effort to reward value. 

Simple straps

The images above should hopefully be enough without a detailed explanation, but I’m happy to dive into further detail in the comments if requested.  I’ve tried using both superglue and PVA, but sadly it’s a case of choose your poison.  Superglue will soak through the paper and instantly glue the paper to your fingers, so it’s very fiddly to work with but once it’s stuck then it stays put.  PVA is much easier to work with but won’t dry for ages so unless you have the patience of Saint Eugenios the Incandescent you’ll be working with it whilst still wet which makes it harder to get tight straps lest you pull it apart.

Da Nobz
The nob that comes in the boyz box is…   not great.  Even overlooking his relatively tiny legs, the pose is very specific, especially if you want more than one in your army.  I wanted two, plus planned to use a third to make my Big Mek.  In the long term I plan to use the nobz box to flesh out my boyz, but since I have them and to save myself having to buy yet another box all at once, I figured I could do some conversion work on what I had to make them unique.

The Kombi-Burner used a shoota, with a trimmed down guard flamer offset underneath next to a fuel tank made from some plasticard tube with sheet plasticard roughly cut to shape to cover each end.  I added a rifle stock from I-beam and square rod to give it some appearance of balance, since it was being held so far out in the pistol grip.  

Kustom kombi-burner

The kill saw was pretty straightforward, replacing the main claws with a saw blade (this one was my second attempt at making a saw blade).  I took off the thumb claw, added in some turney gubbinz and on Jeff’s suggestion added in some rivets since the inner faces were looking a little bare without the thumb claw (dew claw??).

To differentiate the Big Mek, I reversed his hands, switching the power klaw to his right and sliced off, tweaked and reattached the index claw to be pointing, and using the big choppa left arm with a pistol hand and a kombi-rokkit made using a cut down burna-rokkit from the Dakkajet.  Since the Mek would have only the best gun I gave him a scope and a larger barrel (bigger is better).  The Kustom Force Field is another leftover from the Dakkajet.  I also gave him lifts on the bottom of his boots to increase his height a little.

Finally the nob for the Guard mob I put very little effort into as I was fed up with the same old pose.  He will be replaced in due course, so I didn’t even give him a Spellcrow head.

Mek Gunz
When I dropped into GW and demanded an entire Ork army, the staff were quite excited.  Sadly they were only able to produce one Mek Gun (blasted rival Warbosses looting all the good stuff!).  Since I already had a smasha gun left over from the Dakkajet (seriously, so many great spare bits!), and a couple of trukk wheels, I decided to make my own.  It was basically a kitbash of bits with a plasticard shield built onto the front in the style of WW2 field guns.

I learned a few lessons along the way.  It’s not very stable, it falls forward quite easily so I’ve had to add a little rock under one wheel so that it won’t fall over when placed on any surface not 100% flat.  Also I think I should have angled the shield back instead of having it upright, however being paranoid about making something fragile I pinned the heck out of it during the build and don’t think I could cleanly remove it and rebuild it angled back.  

The official model was built pretty much as per instructions, but I added another front shield on to balance up and increase the WW2 field gun look.  I used two layers on this one to match up with the thickness of the plating already on the model.  The whole thing is attached with more square rod and pins.

I’m currently splitting the six crew from the official set across both, since they have no in-game effect, but at some point I’d like to get some more since they make handy wound markers.  


For the paint technique, I wanted something quick and dirty.  Unlike the other…  er…  Beards?  Bunkerites...?  Unlike ‘the others’ I am not a master painter, I am at best a journeyman.  I wanted my army to look ok on the table and not take me too long to paint (I am slooooow).  Charlie gave me some guidance and we came up with the following basic plan (all using GW paints because that’s all I know):

  1. Basecoat the models Mournfang Brown (since you can’t get that spray anymore this was replaced with Army Painter Leather Brown)
  2. Drybrush the metal bits Necron Compound 
  3. Paint in the colours:
    • Waaagh! Flesh for the skin
    • Stormvermin Fur or Castellan Green for clothes
    • Extra details like teef, bling and berets
  4. Redo Mournefang Brown for leather and strappy bits where necessary
  5. Wash Agrax Earthshade
Some of da Paras
Some of da Guards
A smattering of grots

The primary colour of the army is a khaki green, mostly Castellan but the odd variation when it seems appropriate.  The secondary colour, being grey, adds some variety.  I added a complementary detail colour of Iyanden Darksun/Averland Sunset, just a little bit appearing in most units. 

Vehicles and other bits of gubbinz all start off drybrished silver, but then where appropriate they are painted over quite roughly with a colour, making sure not to get right to the edges.  Where something is mostly bare metal, I throw in a few bits of Balthasar Gold (which looks pretty brassy to me) or, less often, Retributor Armour (which actually looks gold).  Wires are picked out in Mephiston Red.

The Kommandos got a totally different treatment, to make them stand apart without standing out.  No rusty crap weapons for them.  They were painted black, drybrushed grey for a lazy highlight, and their weapons painted Leadbelcher and washed Nuln Oil for a cleaner metal finish.  The nightvision goggles were painted Ceramite White then given a wash of Biel-Tan Green for a quick glowy green effect.

All Finished! What Next?

Now that I have a baseline functional army, I can start adding new fun units to swap in and out, and in time maybe expand the army without it being unbalanced.  Here are a few schemes I’m already dreaming up.

I can’t not.  I love air-transport (see my entire Raven guard army).  Personally I don’t love the design of the official Chinork, and want something more enclosed and helicoptery.  I plan to make something a lot more like the UH-1D.  I know it’s a bit late for WW2, but Orks probably can’t tell the difference.  Fun before factual accuracy.  Since Jeff pointed out that “Oomie’s don’t surf”, the mob inside will all be wearing M1 “GI” helmets except the nob who will have a cavalry hat and yellow scarf.  Because reasons.

Conspicuous in their absence (mostly because I already had some Komandos and I couldn’t have too many non-troops mobs), no aerial themed Ork army could be complete without them.  I plan to have a mob of 30, led by Zagstruk.  Since Zagstruk is a Goff (why?!) this means legally I need to put them in a separate detachment if I want to keep my Chapter Tactics Clan Kulture rules. Whilst the people I play with are all pretty relaxed and wouldn’t mind me swapping Zagstruk’s clan (see my Raven Guard version of Telion), I try to keep things book legal wherever possible and all I need is one squad of Grots to go with Zagstruk to make a Patrol.  The downside is that Zagstruk can’t then fill one of my Battalion compulsory HQ slots, the upside is that actually the Goff Clan Kulture is probably better for Stormboys than the Blood Axe one.

As discussed previously the Mustang was just the test plane.  I want a Spitfire Dakkajet and a Messerschmitt Bf 109 Burna-Bommer.  Maybe a Zero to round out the four main factions?

*Sir Not-appearing-in-this-initial-army.
**As funny as it is, it's also straight out of real history. The Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet, the first rocket powered interceptor, had a simple landing skid and one of the major drawbacks*** was the back injuries caused to pilots with the hard landings.
***Another wonderfully Orky drawback being that it was so fast it barely had time to shoot at its targets between getting into range and being past them.


  1. "Four main factions?" *coughs* Russia *coughs* Sturmovik *coughs*


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