by: Stephen T. Lawson [ ]
The the original
The performance of the prototypes of Roland D.VI were quite good . Their handling characteristics & maneuverablity met the current requirements for 1918. The pilot's visibility was excellent. After the trials and modifications were made an order placed for an initial 350 machines (150 of them as D.VIa version). During the speed trials in Second Fighter Competition in May and June 1918, the Rol.D.VIa with the 180 Mercedes D.IIIav engine kept up with the BMW engined Fok.D.VIIF and the PfalzD.XV. The Rol.D.VIb was as good as the Fok.D.VIIF. Reference: "The Beknighted Rolands", Air Enthusiast Quarterly ,# 2. 1976, by Abbott and Grosz. The German aircraft factory Luftfahrzeug Gesselschaft mbH (L.F.G.), since 1914 known as Roland, designed and produced for German Army Air Service extraordinary airplanes: the two-seater C.II Walfisch and single-seater D.I, D.II, D.IIa and D.III. There were quite advanced constructions with interesting "Wickelrumpf" (semi-monocoque) wooden fuselage.
Roland's ultimate single seat fighter was the Roland D.VI from early 1918 with fuselage constructed in the "Klinkerrumpf" method. Roland D.VIa was powered by the in-line 180 HP Mercedes D.IIIaŁ engine. Both versions were different in various construction details. The powerplant of the Roland D.VIb version, the in-line Benz Bz.IIIa 185hp was a unique choice. In August 1918 70 Rolands D.VI served on the Western Front. They were not popular, because every German pilot seemed to desire the Fokker D.VII types used on the Western Front in the Summer 1918 year.
The importance of the Roland D.VI type was marginal but it did fill the gap. The express need for German fighter planes caused the production of this average and obsolete type. Nevertheless the Roland D.VI type was interesting the World War I fighter plane with good maneuverability and pleasant handling characteristics.
Out of the box it is hybrid of both the a & b types. I will discuss here the easiest ways to do the kit of your choice. Right off the bat, there is minimal interior details. No Klinker lapping at all.
47 plastic pcs.
22 brass etch pcs.
3 decal options in kit 48005.
4 decal options in kit 48004.
The D.VIa type
To do the "a" types there are some considerations. The wing struts were a steel tube with wooden fairings. Add more cooling vent around the nose and additional access hatches for the "a" version, which used the Mercedes engine. You can use the kit provided The production Rol.D.VIa and D.VIb had circular access doors. The first twenty Rol.D.VIa machines had round steel tubular interplanes struts with wood fairings with parallel edges, D.1200/18 to D.1219/18. The first 20 or so Rol.D.VIa machines had the late production Mercedes D.IIIa 170hp engine (1917) The remaining Rol.D.VIa machines had the late production Mercedes D.IIIaŁ 180hp. All Rol.D.VIa aircraft were covered with four color printed fabric, dark pattern on the upper surfaces and the light pattern on the under surfaces. Some used four color printed fabric rib tapes, tapes however most D.VIa machines employed natural color woven linen rib tapes.
On all Rol.D.VIa and D.VIb the ailerons, elevators and rudder were not taped.
The D.VIb type
To build a "b" you will need to scratchbuild the motor or alter the kit version to represent the Benz Bz IIIav . The Karaya resin Benz Bz IV could be modified but it will take a great deal of work as it is larger than a Benz Bz IIIav with four valves per cylinder and two cam shafts with push rods on both sides of the block, The Bz IIIaŁ & Bz IIIav were smaller engines overall and it will be noticeable in this scale to use the Karaya BzIV stock from the box. Also "b" machines had wood elipitical interplane struts with sheet steel ferrules on each end. Most Rol.D.VIb were equipped with the Benz Bz IIIav 195hp engine using a Germania propeller. The first Rol.D.VIb production order D.2212/18 to D.2261/18 were covered five color dark intermediate pattern, dark on upper surfaces and light on undersurfaces with natural woven linen rib tapes. Cabane, undercarriage struts and metal panels were light greenish grey.
later B types
All production orders to Rol.D.VIb 6124/18, the fuselage and interplanes struts were shellacked and varnished. Cowlings, doors, access panels, foot step, cabane and under carriage struts and axle fairing were dark olive green.
On Production orders Rol.D.VIb, D.6125/18 to D.6149/18 and D.7500/18 to D.7549/18, the fuselages were camouflaged from the nose in, lilac, natural varnish, medium light green and prussian blue on the af fuselage and fins.
(Technical input augmented by historian Dan San Abbott.)
the kit decals
1. Roland D.VIa Jasta 23b 1918
2. Roland D.VIa Jasta 23b was photgraphed during and after the war. 1918-19
3. Roland D.VIa the red area is an assumption and could be another colour like black or dk.green. Photgraphed after the war 1918-19.
1. Roland D.VIb 2250/18 ordered in 1918. photographed in 1922(?) early Czechhoslovakian markings.
2. Roland D.VIb 2253/18 ordered in 1918. photographed in 1924 later Czechhoslovakian markings.
3. Roland D.VIb serial unknown ordered in 1918. photographed in 1924 later Czechhoslovakian markings. Also this machine has been altered in that the fuselage skin is smooth no Kinkering / wood lapping.
4. Roland D.VIb 7502/18 as seen at McCook (not Cook) field in Ohio summer 1920. This machine was tried in a variety of subjects but the most apparant is that it was used in camouflage tests. At low altitude operations the upper enging cowlings were removed. The colour intrepretations are speculative. This machine's camouflage was slightly altered before it was written off after a crash.
kit lozenge camouflage decals
There is a bit of joy with the lozenge (Flugzeugstoff) decals in these kits. The upper surface 4 colour is marginally too bright but the colours are very close to the known colour dyes used on the original fabric. But Fly gets Kudos for being so close there. The undersurface colours on the other hand are several shades out of tune with what they need to be. Over all they are still not as accurate as Microsculpt. The kit recommended lozenge application (spanwise) is in error on the box art. But is accurate in the insructions (chordwise) on the last page.
Roland D.VI by P.M. Grosz, Windsock Datafiles #37 Albatros Pub. 1993.
The Benighted Rolands, Air Enthusiast Quarterly #3.by Dan San Abbott with editing by Peter M. Grosz.
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