Thunderhawk (video game)

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For other uses, see Thunderhawk (disambiguation).
Thunderhawk video-game cover.gif
Developer(s) Core Design
Publisher(s) Amiga & DOS
Core Design
Sega Mega-CD
NA JVC Digital Studios
EU Core Design
JP Victor Interactive Software
Microsoft Windows
JVC Digital Studios
Platform(s) Amiga, DOS, Sega Mega-CD, Microsoft Windows
Release date(s) Amiga & DOS
Sega Mega-CD
NA 199301January 1993
EU 1993
JP 1993091717 September 1993
Microsoft Windows
Genre(s) Combat flight simulator
Mode(s) Single-player
Distribution Floppy disk, CD-ROM

Thunderhawk (AH-3 Thunderstrike in North America) is a combat flight simulator video game developed by Core Design and released for the Amiga and DOS in 1992, for the Sega Mega-CD in 1993 and for Microsoft Windows in 1996.

In the game the player is part of the "MERLIN" helicopter combat assault team, flying an AH-73M helicopter. The game has been described as a first person version of the Strike series of games.


The game consists of several campaigns for each one of ten world areas, the campaigns are themed around real events or activities in these areas (e.g. UN convoy relates to the Bosnian war, South China seas relates to piracy etc.)

The World areas and their campaign themes were...

  1. South America - Arms Running
  2. South America - Stealth Down
  3. Panama Canal - Canal Crisis
  4. Central America - Recapture Town
  5. Alaska - Bio Research
  6. Eastern Europe - United Nations Convoy
  7. The Middle East - Escort
  8. The Middle East - Oil Dispute
  9. South East Asia - Chemical Warfare
  10. South China Seas - Piracy

A typical campaign consists of 4 or 5 missions. Each mission has a primary objective that must be completed to successfully complete the mission, there are other targets in each missions such as tanks and SAM sites but these are only used to help the player boost their score. The primary target is usually a major structure like an enemy base or a bridge.

Usually the player is equipped with a standard set of weapons - 16 Missiles, 76 Rockets and a machine gun with unlimited ammunition. On some special missions the rockets are replaced by a weapon that is critical to the success of that particular mission, such as a runway cratering system when the primary objective is to destroy an airbase or a bomb when destruction of a bridge is the primary objective.

The control system for Thunderhawk was fairly unique for the platforms supporting a mouse. It used the mouse for basic control, plus some keyboard input for rarely used commands. Moving the mouse would tilt the helicopter in the specified direction, and make it start moving in that direction. Pressing the left mouse button fires weapons. When the right mouse button was held, moving the mouse up and down changed altitude, while side to side yawed the helicopter side to side.


Review scores
Publication Score
MegaTech 91%[1]
Mega 91%[2]
Sega Force 92%[3]
Sega Power 91%[3]
Gamesmaster 94%[3]
Mega Drive Advanced Gaming 94%[3]

The game received universal acclaim, and was a bestseller in the UK,.[4] Mega placed the game at #1 in their Top Mega CD Games of All Time,[5] with the sequel Battlecorps being 4th on the same list.


Thunderhawk spawned 2 sequels which were Firestorm: Thunderhawk 2 and Thunderhawk: Operation Phoenix. Firestorm was created with the same game engine as the original Thunderhawk.[6]


  1. ^ MegaTech rating, EMAP, issue 5, May 1992
  2. ^ Mega review, issue 13, page 24, October 1993
  3. ^ a b c d Thunderhawk full page magazine advert, 1993
  4. ^ Official Gallup UK Mega CD sales chart, March 1994, published in Mega (magazine) issue 18
  5. ^ Mega magazine issue 26, page 74, Maverick Magazines, November 1994
  6. ^ "Blam! Machinehead". Sega Saturn Magazine (4) (Emap International Limited). February 1996. p. 24. 

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