Roland D. VIa by Fly

1/48 scale
Cost: $30.00
Kit No. 48005
Decals: Three versions
Comments: Engraved panel lines; resin engine and cockpit components; photo-etch seat straps and machine gun jackets


The Roland D.VI was designed by the Luft-Fahrzeug-Gesellschaft (L.F.G.), a company whose aircraft were manufactured under the trade name “Roland” after 1914 to avoid being mistaken for Luftverkehrsgesellschaft m.b.H (L.V.G.) aircraft. The design was completed late in 1917, and first flew in November 1917. The D.VI was a single seat biplane which discarded the so called Wickelrumpf, or semi-monocoque fuselage, used in previous successful L.F.G. aircraft such as the Roland C.II Walfisch, the D.I and D.II in favour of the equally unusual (for aircraft use) Klinkerrumpf (or clinker-built) construction where the fuselage was built of overlapping strips of spruce over a light wooden framework.

In January 1918, two D.VIs were entered into the first fighter competition held by Idflieg at Adlershof, one powered by a 160 hp (119 kW) Mercedes D.III engine and the other by a Benz D.III of similar power. Although the winner of the competition was the Fokker D.VII, orders were placed for the Roland as insurance against production problems with the Fokker. In this era aircraft were not yet truly mass-produced, and production problems plagued even some of the finest fighters of the war, including the Royal Aircraft Factory’s S.E.5a. A total of 350 were built, 150 D.VIa’s powered by the Mercedes, while the remaining 200 were powered by the Benz III and were called D.VIb. Deliveries started in May 1918, with 70 D.VIs in front-line service on 31 August 1918.

The Roland offered pilots good visibility, above average manoeuvrability, and very good handling characteristics. But it was never popular with pilots, since by the time it entered service, both Allied and German fighter designs, particularly the Pfalz D.XII and Fokker D.VII, rendered the L.F.G. Roland almost obsolete. In combat, the Roland D.VI offered little better performance than the aircraft that it was meant to replace, or at least augment, and was outclassed by technically superior German and Allied types on the Western Front. In fairness, the Roland was never expected to be outstanding. It was placed in production due solely to Imperial Germany’s pressing need for sufficient numbers of fighter planes during the Great War. In this sense, it was not a thoroughbred, but it did help keep airpower on the Western Front up to strength. It remains an interesting if lesser known World War I fighter aircraft.


Manufacturer: Luft-Fahrzeug-Gesellschaft (L.F.G.)
Type: Fighter
First Introduced: 1918
Number Built: About 150
Powerplant: 1× Mercedes D.IIIa,6 cylinder in-line, 180 hp. (134 kW)
Wingspan: 30 ft 10.77 in (9.42 m)
Length: 20 ft 8.77 in (6.32 m)
Height: 2.80 m (9 ft 2.25 in)
Empty Weight: 656 kg (1,446 lb)
Loaded Weight: 846 kg (1,865 lb)
Maximum Speed: 108 knots, 124 mph (199 km/h)
Service Ceiling: 19,000 ft (5,790 m)
Endurance: 2 hrs.
Crew: 1
Armament: 2× 7.92 mm LMG08/15 machine guns

The Kit

The Roland D.VIa is molded in pale yellow and consists of 90 parts: 46 injection molded plastic, 22 grey resin, and 22 photo-etch parts. While the cockpit is detailed, the instrument panel itself is spartan and The kit has engraved panel lines, a stressed fabric effect on the wings and elevators, detailed machine guns, and a resin in-line Mercedes 6-cylinder engine. There are internal bulkheads fore and aft for the cockpit and photo-etched and resin detailing parts for the machine guns. In addition, there are resin detailing parts for the cockpit, rudder, elevators, and machine guns. A clear acetate sheet is provided for the windshield, and replacement parts are provided for alternate flaps, giving the modeler the option to build the D.VIa or D.VIb versions. Cutting into the wing will be necessary to exercise this option, though.

The only real drawback to the kit is that the rigging diagram is just barely detailed enough to get the job done – it will help to study the box illustrations in detail to do a proper job of it. The kit has two different versions of lozenge decals, one with a dominant color of dark green, mixed with violet, pale green and rust; the other with a dominant color of yellow, mixed with medium green, pale green and dull orange. There are three paint schemes, all of them leaving some part of the fuselage in its original natural wood color. The first is that which appears on the front of the box art, with the forward section of the fuselage left in natural wood, ending at a point immediately aft of the cockpit, with a white tail bearing a plain black cross, and a rear mid-section in black with two white vertical stripes and a white cross – this is an aircraft of Jasta 23b, circa 1918.

The second is similar, with the forward section of the fuselage left in natural wood, also ending at a point immediately aft of the cockpit, with a white tail bearing a plain black cross, and a rear mid-section in black with two white vertical stripes and a white cross, but also a white circle ahead of the cross and bordered by the white vertical stripes – this is essentially the same aircraft, circa 1919, in American hands. The wheels of both these versions are painted black, with a lozenge pattern on both the upper and lower wings. The third version has a nose section and tail section in natural wood, bearing a white rudder, with the aircraft’s mid-section in bright red. According to the box, this is the aircraft of an unknown Jasta, circa 1919, bearing the skinny black crosses on the rudder and fuselage, with the fuselage crosses bordered in white. This aircraft has the lighter of the two lozenge patterns. For all of these aircraft, the metal components of the nose (the spinner, cowl, and the area nearest the engine) are grey-green in color, sometimes also identified as slate grey.




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