by: Stephen T. Lawson [ ]
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.VIb with the Mercedes D.IIIaŁ 180hp engine kept up with the BMW engined Fok.D.VIIF and the PfalzD.XV. The later 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. Most of the Roland D.VIa types were powered by the in-line Mercedes D.IIIaŁ 180hp engine. In August 1918, 70 Roland D.VI aircraft 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 aircraft. Nevertheless the Roland D.VI type was an interesting fighter plane with good maneuverability and pleasant handling characteristics.
Plastic parts 142 pieces
Photoetch 7 pieces
Lozenge for 1 aircraft (This is the 4 colour type). Plus a bit more.
Decal profiles 5 aircraft
Step 1. Cockpit interior is detailed here. Station former ( F 8 ) is the basis on which you assemble everything else. From floor boards ( A 37 ), rudder bar ( A 28), Bosch starting magneto ( A 1 & 5 ), control column ( A 2, 6 & 16 ), Ammo storage ( ( A 13 & 20 ), Empty Belt collector box ( A 21 ) and fuel tank ( 23, 24, 29 & 32 ).
Step 2. Cockpit interior continued. The fuselage skeletal structures ( A 15 & 39 ) are next, Note the holes in the center of the instruments on the main control panel ( F 5 ). You will find corresponding holes on the decals for the instruments, These represent embossed face plates for fuel and air selector switches. The rear cockpit station / former ( A 10 ) has a partial fabric screen and a rigging guide plate ( A 17 ) attached. Finally the seat ( A 12 or 22 & 31) is added.
Step 3. Engine bay station formers ( F 10, 12 & 17) are attached to the engine bearer shelves ( F 3 & 4 ). Then you are shown how to integrate this with the cockpit structure from step 1.
Step 4. Daimler Mercedes D.IIIa 170hp (rated between 170hp - 175hp). The fact that LFG Roland had at least 20 Mercedes D.IIIa 170hp motors (from 1917) so early in 1918 speaks volumes on the condition of engine production in Germany. They were using up the stock allowed to them from the factory and since they were not the company with the larger production contracts they had to travel ďShanks MareĒ. That is to say they got what was left over until stocks could be made available to them.
The first 20 or so Rol.D.VIa machines also had the late production Mercedes D.IIIa 170hp engine (1917) It has a small thin air pump ( E 5 ) in front of the #1 cylinder. The rocker assembly ( E 6 ) is representative of the 170hp. The remaining (approximately 130) Rol.D.VIa machines had the late production Mercedes D.IIIaŁ 180hp. The immediate visual difference in the early Mercedes D.III 160hp / D.IIIa 170hp (F-1466 )and its progeny the D.IIIaŁ 180hp (F-1466a) are in the rocker boxes above the cylinder jacket heads. On the early Mercedes D.III and D.IIIa motors the rocker springs are centered on the sides of the rocker box covers ( E 6 ). On the D.IIIaŁ motor the box covers are moved back so the rocker arms and springs are located on the forward leading edge of the same covers. The rest is below the cowling and not readily visible. The Mercedes D.III160hp was outclassed by 1917. In 1918 the Mercedes D.IIIaŁ 180hp was the standard engine in the Roland D.VIa. This was true also for the Pfalz D.IIIa, Albatros late built D.V and all D.Va types starting in late 1917 and then the Fokker D.VII through 1918.
Many, many Mercedes D. III and IIIa type motors were rebuilt to the D.IIIaŁ specs at the airparks as the war progressed. That is why some captured examples had motors with the designation of D.III 160hp cast into their crankcases. This has caused the misconception that the standard 160hp and 170 hp were widely used in 1918 at a time when they had become obsolete. Often these were referred to as ď160hp over-compressed engines.Ē Erasing the center line seam and opening up the gaps between the cylinders is needed. The upper portions of the cylinders (E 2, 16 & 25) are covered by water jackets and are the color of blued gun metal.
Step 5 Daimler Mercedes D.IIIaŁ 180hp (rated between 180hp - 200hp).On the late 170hp & all examples of the 180hp Mercedes D. IIIaŁ six cylinder inline engine ( E 4, 8, 11 - 22, 25 - 32 & F 16 ). On the very late 170hp D.IIIa & the 180hp D.IIIaŁ motor the springs are located on the forward leading edge of the same covers ( E 27 ). As mentioned previously the rest is below the cowling and not readily visible. Primarily the water pump on the D.IIIaŁ is located directly behind the oil pump and some of the external plumbing is routed differently. Also it has a thicker shorter stand up air pump (E 29) in front of the #1 cylinder. In this case WNW has offered the horizontal dual pump ( E 37 ) which came into use in the Summer of 1918. Add fine wire painted black or white to make spark plug wires. Note the filler caps for the crankcase are both E18.
Step 6. Engine installation continued simply shows the final look of the previous assemblies and adds the oil tank ( F 6 ).
Step 7. Fuselage halves ( D 8 & 10 ) united. You will need to use rubber bands for a clamping arrangement for the front nose cowling. The fuselage side taper in a little too much and needs a scrap stick of sprue temporarily wedged inplace to be spread the opening to get a tight fit.
Step 8. Fuselage & twin Spandau machine gun details. PE fret is noticeably thin so take extreme care with the cooling jackets.
Step 9. Tailplane. The flat side of the horizontal stabilizer ( B 1 ) is the upper surface.
Step 10. Lower wings & exhaust. All Rol.D.VIa wings 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. Concerning the lower wing ( B 3 ) to united fuselage joint. My dry fit shows this is easy with no problematic gaps. That is just good engineering folks.
Step 11 Struts. 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. All subsequent machines had wood elipitical interplane struts with sheet steel ferrules on each end. Note, that there are several corrections to the kit instructions in the hints and tips section of the WNW website. These have more to do with left and right mirrored cabane strut parts having the other's part number switched.
Step 12. Upper wings & ailerons. All Rol.D.VIa wings 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. Note, the ailerons, elevators and rudder were not taped.
Step 13. Undercarriage / Landing gear. Usually I go with brass replacements, but in this case I would use the kit items. The rear union of the D.VI undercarriage legs gives the whole affair a more tripod look I am told this gave the small aircraft some greater rigidity and strength in landings. Note, that there are several corrections to the kit instructions in the hints and tips section of the WNW website. These have more to do with left and right mirrored landing gear parts having the other's part number switched. The wheel covers for option "B" are lower surface colour lozenge.
Step 14. Radiator pipe and water tank tower ( F 13 ) are shown for standard installation and the early version where you modify the route of the water pipe.
Step 15. Propeller and final assembly. The cowling ring ( F 7 ) is added either modified or modified per your profile choice. The upper cowlings ( F 9 & 11 ) edges sit too high off the fuselage & need to be thinned. The propeller profiles are detailed by company type. There is also a slight modification for the cowling when doing the Mercedes D.IIIaŁ. see the website "Hints and Tips" section.
Step 16. The rigging diagram is quite a large help.
the kit decals
A. D.3612/18, Ltn. Han Jungwirth(?), Jasta 78b (1 victory).
B. D.3615/18, 1918.
C. D.1200/18 to D.1219/18 (?) Ltn. Otto Kissenberth, Jasta 23b, early 1918 (20 victories).
D. D.xxxx/18, Ltn. Emil Koch, Jasta 32b, early 1918 (7 victories).
E. D.1200/18 to D.1219/18 (?) Jasta 32b, early 1918.
kit lozenge camouflage decals
There is a bit of joy with the lozenge (Flugzeugstoff) decals in these kits. Both the upper surface and under surface colours 4 colour are a close attempt to copy the known colour dyes. The kit recommended lozenge application (chordwise) is accurate in the instructions. I am told the decals behave well with Microset & Microsol, not so great with Solvaset. Their website actually recommends against sols & sets. Some used four color printed fabric rib tapes, tapes however most D.VIa machines employed natural color woven linen rib tapes.
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.
When contacting manufacturers and publishers please mention you saw this review at AEROSCALE