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Thunderhawk title.png

Thunderhawk MCD JP SSTitle.png

AH3ThunderStrike MCD US Title.png

System(s): Sega Mega-CD
Publisher: JVC Musical Industries (US), Core Design (Europe), Victor Entertainment (Japan)
Peripherals supported: CD BackUp RAM Cart
Genre: Shooting[1][2]

Number of players: 1
Official in-game languages:
  • English
  • Deutsch
  • Français
  • Español
  • 日本語
  • Release Date RRP Code
    Sega Mega-CD
    ¥7,8007,800 T-60134
    Sega Mega-CD
    $49.9549.95[4] T-60055
    Videogame Rating Council: GA
    Sega Mega-CD
    Sega Mega-CD
    DM 99.9599.95[10] T-115015-50
    Sega Mega-CD
    Sega Mega-CD
    Sega Mega-CD
    £44.9944.99[6][7] T-115015-50
    Sega Mega-CD
    Sega Mega-CD
    Non-Sega versions

    Thunderhawk (サンダーホーク), known as AH-3 Thunderstrike in North America, is a helicopter combat simulator game developed for the Sega Mega-CD by Core Design in 1993. During development, the North American version was known as AH-3 Firehawk.


    Thunderhawk, Briefing Room.png

    Briefing room

    In the game, the player controls a fictional AH-73M Thunderhawk (AH-3 Thunderstrike in the American version) attack helicopter in ten operations set across the world. Some operations are inspired by real events or activities in these areas (for example, escorting a UN humanitarian convoy during the Bosnian War or fighting pirates in the South China Sea). Each operation consists of four or five missions. While each mission has a primary objective that must be completed to successfully complete the mission, usually destroying a major structure like an enemy base or a bridge. A voice-acted briefing before the mission outlines the objective and discusses the threats in the area. There are other targets in the missions such as tanks and SAM launchers that can be destroyed to boost the player's score. It is often advantageous to destroy smaller targets such as communications stations and airports to soften the resistance before proceeding to the primary target.

    The helicopter flies forward with Up and backward with Down. It banks with Left and Right. It rotates with HOLD CLeft or Right. The player can change the altitude of the helicopter with HOLD CUp or Down. Flying lower helps avoid enemy radar, but flying higher avoids obstacles such as trees.

    The helicopter is equipped with a standard set of weapons: missiles, rockets, and a machine gun. Missiles and rockets have finite ammunition, restocked at the beginning of each mission, but the machine gun has 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 (RCS) when the primary objective is to destroy an airbase or a bomb when destruction of a bridge or submarine is the primary objective. Weapons are fired with A. The player can switch between the available weapons with B. Missiles automatically lock-on to targets as they appear on screen and seek them when fired. If there are multiple enemies on screen, the selected target can be cycled with C. Primary targets are noted when they are approached and highlighted. Some missions have friendly targets that must not be destroyed.

    The helicopter cockpit shows multiple instruments: the armor level, which shows how much damage it has sustained; a map, which shows the surrounding terrain, with ground objectives highlighted; the radar, which shows the locations of nearby threats (ground threats as red dots, air threats as yellow dots, missiles are white dots, and friendlies are blue dots); the radar detection warning light, which flashes red when an enemy has locked-on to the helicopter; the mission complete indicator, which flashes yellow when all of the objectives have been successfully completed; and the currently selected weapon. The map is also used for targeting when using bombs or the RCS. An altimeter, showing the current altitude, and a heading indicator, showing the direction of travel, are overlaid on the world view.

    Once the mission objectives have been completed, the player must fly out of the mission zone. The perimeter of the mission zone is indicated by white lines on the map. The player can choose to fly out of the mission zone before the objectives have been completed (which may be necessary if the player has low armor or has run out of ammunition). The player receives a demerit for each objective failed; receiving three demerits on a single operation ends the game. Bonus points are given for the percentage of enemy threats destroyed. After completing an operation, the player receives an operation ribbon and can save the game to the Mega-CD's internal memory.

    The player faces land (tanks, missile launchers), air (other helicopters, jet fighters), and sea (gunboats) threats. Colliding with obstacles such as trees and buildings also damages the helicopter. Expending the armor gauge crashes the helicopter and ends the game.

    There are three difficulty levels (Easy, Medium, and Hard).


    Operations can be selected to play in any order. Each operation consists of four or five missions.

    Thunderhawk, Operations, South America, Arms Running.png

    South America, Arms Running

    Thunderhawk, Operations, South America, Stealth Down.png

    South America, Stealth Down

    Thunderhawk, Operations, Panama Canal, Canal Crisis.png

    Panama Canal, Canal Crisis

    Thunderhawk, Operations, Central America, Recapture Town.png

    Central America, Recapture Town

    Thunderhawk, Operations, Alaska, Bio-Research.png

    Alaska, Bio-Research

    Thunderhawk, Operations, Eastern Europe, Combined Nations Convoy.png

    Eastern Europe, Combined Nations Convoy

    Thunderhawk, Operations, Middle East, Occupied Base Liberation.png

    Middle East, Occupied Base Liberation

    Thunderhawk, Operations, Middle East, Oil Dispute.png

    Middle East, Oil Dispute

    Thunderhawk, Operations, South East Asia, Chemical Warfare.png

    South East Asia, Chemical Warfare

    Thunderhawk, Operations, South China Seas, Piracy.png

    South China Seas, Piracy



    In the United Kingdom at least, Thunderhawk is thought to have been the best selling Mega-CD title released in the region[12], with an estimated 80% of Mega-CD owners also owning a copy of the game[12].


    Thunderhawk was followed by a sequel on the Sega Saturn, Thunderhawk II.

    Production credits

    (C)1993 Core Design Limited.
    (C)1993 JVC Musical Industries, Inc.™
    Japanese Staff
    • Executive Producer: Harunobu Komori
    • Producer: Toshiyuki Nagai
    • Director: Gaku Sato
    • Special Thanks: Takeshi Minagawa, Kaoru Tomiyama
    U.K Staff
    • Executive Producer: Jeremy Heath Smith
    • Programming: Mark Avory
    • Graphics: Jason Gee
    • Music: Martin Iveson
    • Live Guitar: Anthony Wheeldon
    In-game credits
    AH-3 Thunderstrike MCD credits.pdf

    U.K. Staff
    • Producer: Jeremy H. Smith
    • Programmer: Mark Avory
    • Artist: Jason Gee
    • Musician: Martin Iveson
    • Playtesting: Adrian Smith, Mark Price, Darren Price
    Japanese Staff
    • Exective Producer: Harunobu Komori
    • Producer: Toshiyuki Nagai
    • Director: Gaku Sato
    • Assistant: Ryo Misawa, Kohji Ishizeki, Takayuki Andoh
    • Manual: Rie Toshima, Comix Brand
    • Translate: Kayko Watanabe
    • Illustration: Kouichi Miyazima, CG IllustrationRio Huzuki
    • Actor Coordinator: Susumu Aketagawa
    • Actor: Yusaku Yara
    • Thanks: Takeshi Minagawa, Takeyuki Kasakura, Shunji Nishizawa, And All V.E. Staff
    • Special Thanks for: Kaoru Tomiyama
    JP manual
    Thunderhawk mcd jp manual.pdf

    Magazine articles

    Main article: Thunderhawk/Magazine articles.

    Promotional material

    Main article: Thunderhawk/Promotional material.

    Physical scans

    Sega Retro Average 
    Publication Score Source
    94 №10, p54/55
    94 №15, p46-49
    Sega Mega-CD
    Based on
    2 reviews
    Sega Retro Average 
    Publication Version Score
    Aktueller Software Markt (DE)
    Beep! MegaDrive (JP) NTSC-J
    Consoles + (FR)
    Computer & Video Games (UK)
    Edge (UK) PAL
    Electronic Gaming Monthly (US) NTSC-U
    Famitsu (JP) NTSC-J
    Freak (IL)
    Game Players (US) NTSC-U
    GamePro (US) NTSC-U
    Gamers (DE)
    GamesMaster (UK)
    Hippon Super (JP) NTSC-J
    Hobby Consolas (ES)
    Hyper (AU)
    Joypad (FR) PAL
    Joypad (HU)
    MAN!AC (DE)
    Mega (UK) PAL
    Mega Action (UK) PAL
    Megablast (DE) PAL
    Mega Force (FR)
    Mega Fun (DE) PAL
    MegaTech (UK) PAL
    Mean Machines Sega (UK) PAL
    Player One (FR)
    Power Up! (UK)
    Power Unlimited (NL)
    Sega Magazin (DE)
    Sega News (CZ)
    Sega Power (UK) PAL
    Sega Pro (UK) PAL
    Sega Zone (UK) PAL
    Sega Force Mega (UK) PAL
    Sega Force (SE)
    Sonic Mag: B.D. & Jeux-Video! (FR)
    Sega Saturn Magazine (JP) NTSC-J
    Sonic the Comic (UK) PAL
    Todo Sega (ES) PAL
    VideoGames Shopper (UK) PAL
    Video Games (DE) PAL
    VideoGames (US) NTSC-U
    VideoGames (US) NTSC-U
    Sega Mega-CD
    Based on
    43 reviews


    Mega-CD, JP
    Thunderhawk MCD JP Box Back.jpgThunderhawk MCD JP Box Front.jpg
    Thunderhawk MegaCD JP SpineCard.jpg
    ThunderHawk MCD JP Disc.jpg
    Thunderhawk mcd jp manual.pdf
    Mega-CD, US
    Thunderhawk MCD US Box Back.jpgThunderhawk MCD US Box Front.jpg
    Thunderhawk MCD US Disc.jpg
    Thunderhawk mcd us manual.pdf
    Mega-CD, EU
    Thunderhawk MCD EU Box Back.jpgThunderhawk MCD EU Box Front.jpg
    Thunderhawk MCD EU spinecard.jpg
    Thunderhawk MCD EU Disc.jpg
    Thunderhawk MCD EU Manual.jpg
    Mega-CD, FR (Blister pack)
    Thunderhawk MCD FR blister front.jpg
    Mega-CD, PT
    Thunderhawk MCD PT back.jpgNospine-small.pngThunderhawk MCD PT front.jpg
    Mega-CD, BR
    Thunderhawk MCD BR back.jpgNospine.pngThunderhawk MCD BR front.jpg

    Technical information

    Main article: Thunderhawk/Technical information.


    1. File:Thunderhawk MCD JP Box Front.jpg
    2. 2.0 2.1 (Wayback Machine: 2019-06-10 17:56)
    4. 4.0 4.1 Game Players, "Vol. 7 No. 1 January 1994" (US; 199x-xx-xx), page 54
    5. Sega Mega Drive Advanced Gaming, "January 1994" (UK; 1993-xx-xx), page 10
    6. Sega Force Mega, "January 1994" (UK; 1993-12-16), page 112
    7. Mega, "October 1993" (UK; 1993-09-16), page 27
    8. Select Round, "Octobre 1993" (FR; 1993-xx-xx), page 2
    9. Megablast, "4/93" (DE; 1993-09-29), page 35
    10. Sega Magazin, "September/Oktober 1993" (DE; 1993-09-01), page 31
    11. Megazone, "January 1994" (AU; 1993-12-29), page 35
    12. 12.0 12.1 Mean Machines Sega, "January 1996" (UK; 1995-11-xx), page 19
    13. File:AH-3 Thunderstrike MCD credits.pdf
    14. File:Thunderhawk mcd jp manual.pdf, page 13
    15. Aktueller Software Markt, "März 1994" (DE; 1994-02-07), page 105
    16. Beep! MegaDrive, "October 1993" (JP; 1993-09-08), page 25
    17. Consoles +, "Novembre 1993" (FR; 1993-1x-xx), page 148
    18. Computer & Video Games, "October 1993" (UK; 1993-09-15), page 74
    19. Edge, "November 1993" (UK; 1993-09-30), page 82
    20. Electronic Gaming Monthly, "November 1993" (US; 1993-xx-xx), page 50
    21. Famitsu, "1993-09-24" (JP; 1993-09-10), page 39
    22. Freak, "11/93" (IL; 1993-xx-xx), page 1
    23. GamePro, "October 1993" (US; 1993-xx-xx), page 84
    24. Gamers, "Oktober/November 1993" (DE; 1993-09-24), page 74
    25. GamesMaster (UK) "Series 3, episode 2" (1993-09-16, 24:00) (+7:55)
    26. Hippon Super, "October 1993" (JP; 1993-09-03), page 41
    27. Hobby Consolas, "Septiembre 1993" (ES; 1993-xx-xx), page 116
    28. Hyper, "December 1993" (AU; 1993-xx-xx), page 56
    29. Joypad, "Octobre 1993" (FR; 1993-xx-xx), page 122
    30. Joypad, "1/1995" (HU; 1995-xx-xx), page 15
    31. MAN!AC, "11/93" (DE; 1993-xx-xx), page 35
    32. Mega, "October 1993" (UK; 1993-09-16), page 24
    33. Mega Action, "November 1993" (UK; 1993-10-07), page 38
    34. Megablast, "1/94" (DE; 1993-12-29), page 30
    35. Mega Force, "Mega-CD Force: Le Supplément Spécial Mega-CD" (FR; 1993-xx-xx), page 18
    36. Mega Fun, "10/93" (DE; 1993-09-22), page 36
    37. MegaTech, "October 1993" (UK; 1993-09-20), page 54
    38. Mean Machines Sega, "November 1993" (UK; 1993-09-28), page 42
    39. Player One, "Septembre 1993" (FR; 1993-08-xx), page 56
    40. Power Up!, "Saturday, January 01, 1994" (UK; 1994-01-01), page 1
    41. Power Unlimited, "Jaargang 2, Nummer 2, Februari 1994" (NL; 1994-01-26), page 60
    42. Sega Magazin, "September/Oktober 1993" (DE; 1993-09-01), page 30
    43. Sega News, "Leden 1997" (CZ; 1997-xx-xx), page 32
    44. Sega Power, "October 1993" (UK; 1993-09-02), page 36
    45. Sega Pro, "October 1993" (UK; 1993-09-09), page 44
    46. Sega Zone, "October 1993" (UK; 1993-09-xx), page 38
    47. Sega Force Mega, "Autumn 1993" (UK; 1993-09-16), page 110
    48. Sega Force, "8/93" (SE; 1993-12-09), page 20
    49. Sonic Mag: B.D. & Jeux-Video!, "Avril 1994" (FR; 1994-xx-xx), page 34
    50. Sega Saturn Magazine, "September 1995" (JP; 1995-08-08), page 85
    51. Sonic the Comic, "November 27th 1993" (UK; 1993-11-27), page 10
    52. Todo Sega, "Octubre 1993" (ES; 1993-xx-xx), page 54
    53. VideoGames Shopper, "January 1994" (UK; 1993-xx-xx), page 39
    54. Video Games, "10/93" (DE; 1993-09-29), page 108
    55. VideoGames, "February 1994" (US; 1994-0x-xx), page 66
    56. VideoGames, "April 1994" (US; 1994-0x-xx), page 82


    Thunderhawk title.png

    Main page | Magazine articles | Video coverage | Reception | Promotional material | Technical information

    Sega Mega-CD
    Demos: Thunderhawk (1993) | Thunderhawk Taikenban (1993)

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