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L.F.G. Roland D.VIa

by Robert Baumgartner

 

L.F.G. Roland D.VIa

 


MAC Model's 1/72 scale Roland D.VIa is available online from Squadron.com for USD$14.96

 

Background

 

Although the Roland D.VI was not destined to achieve fame during WW1, the elegant lines of this fighter make it a favourite among bi-plane modellers.

The klinkerrumpf style of fuselage was a carry over from Rolandís earlier D.IV triplane and gave good strength with an appreciable saving in weight. This method of construction consisted of the overlapping of slightly tapered strips of spruce which were wedge shaped in section. These were then glued and nailed to the basic fuselage longerons and formers to give the D.VI its characteristic look.

 

 

When the prototypes competed at the first Fighter Competition at Adlershof in Jan/Feb 1918, the Roland was found to be inferior to other competitors such as the Fokker D.VII and Pfalz D.VIII. As a result, it was only ordered in small numbers in the hope that it could be developed into a better product.

Deliveries to the Front occurred in mid-May 1918 and the type did not receive much praise there either.

The aircraft performed well enough in manoeuvrability and speed but could not climb as well as other types already at the Front, such as the Albatros D.V and Pfalz D.IIIa. Thus the Roland D.VI was destined to play a minor role in activities at the Front and be used as a ďfillerĒ until more advanced fighters arrived.

 

 

The Kit

 

MACís 1/72 scale L.F.G. Roland D.Via is a well thought out kit. It consists of a sprue of 33 plastic parts, a small fret of etched metal, and a printed acetate sheet for the windscreen. A decal sheet is supplied for the individual aircraft markings, but the builder will have to look elsewhere for the lozenge to cover the wings.

The main parts are cleanly moulded in soft tan plastic with no flash and very good surface detail.

There are two types of tailplane, engine and aileron provided. The redundant parts are for the Roland D.VIb.

The instructions also show the latter types of fuselage halves on the sprue count but these were not included in my example.

 

 

Accuracy

 

My primary reference source was Albatros Productions Datafile 37. As expected, the major outlines matched Ian Stairís plans very well. This is because MAC themselves say that they used this piece of literature as a guide in making the product.

The question of engine/ventilation panels is a tricky one and MAC has done well to correctly portray those seen on the production D.VIa.

By using the 160hp Mercedes D.III engine, most production D.VIa were seen to have four of these panels on the port side and two on the starboard side.

Naturally there were exceptions, so study of the individual subject you are modelling is vital.

 

 

Background

 

Fuselage

The first operation is removal of the moulding plugs from inside the fuselage and engine halves. Sanding of the floor and instrument panel is needed to provide a good fit later on.

A lovely seat is provided that I decided to thin slightly and make seat belts for, as none are supplied on the etched metal fret.

The etched fret does give you the control column, rudder pedals and engine piping which can be detailed or layered with glue to give the desired thickness you require.

The fuselage halves come together very nicely and, if you are careful with alignment, no filler will be required.

 

Wings

I found the rib detail to be quite heavy and therefore sanded it to a more realistic level. This gave another added benefit in that it allows the trailing edges of the wings to be refined without destroying detail. The tailplane and separate rudder were also treated to the same process.

 

 

The dubious box art suggests that the lower wing is one piece. Ignore this suggestion and assemble the lower wing as per the instructions. Very slight sanding of the tailplane gives a perfect fit when slid on to the rear fuselage. Moulding limitations donít allow parts like struts to be in scale, so these were given some attention with a sanding stick.

The moulded in upper wing aileron horns were drilled out and scratch built items installed instead. This was to make the rigging to this unique area stand out better.

 

Final Assembly

The well moulded machine guns and exhaust had their ends drilled-out and the photo etched water hose to the top wing was replaced with stretched sprue.

I found the printed windscreens to be too large for the model so used the supplied acetate to make my own.

After painting the various assemblies, the model came together very easily. This was helped by enlarging the location holes for the various struts, undercarriage and wings.

The spinner and prop come as a single moulding, which calls for some rather careful painting. Rigging was done with grey painted nylon thread.

 

 

Painting and Markings

 

This is where the fun really begins. All comments are based on photos from the aforementioned Datafile.

The decal sheet gives markings for at least six aircraft, but no painting guide is included in the instruction sheet. Unfortunately, not all subjects are appropriate for the Roland D.VIa.

a) Serial 7502/18 - this is a D.VIb, not a D.VIa

b) Serial 1219/18 - the kit supplied crosses for this aircraft are of the wrong type

c) Serial 3615/18 - can be done out of the box

d) Serial 3612/18 - wrong exhaust pipe supplied in the kit for this aircraft.

e) Serial 5012/17 - wrong exhaust pipe supplied in the kit for this aircraft.

f) Serial unknown (box top) - This is the aircraft I chose to do and is featured on the cover of the Datafile.

The white circle on the fuselage sides is believed to have been applied by the Americans, so I left this off on my model. A photo of this machine on the inside cover of the Datafile shows the wheels to be white, both inside and out. Any perception of a black colour I would put down to American origin when the machine changed owners.

The crosses supplied are not of the correct proportions for the rudder or the lower wing, therefore alternatives will have to be sought.

Weight tables are supplied, as is a datum line and Roland factory logo. The latter was improved by adding the missing black areas at the top and bottom of the shield.

Not shown on the decal placement diagram is number 17, which is the manufacturerís plate. This should appear on the starboard side of the fuselage near the nose. Unfortunately my decal sheet was horribly out of register, so substitutes were made using decal strip.

Iron crosses are supplied so that examples from Jagdstaffel 35b can be built, but no serial numbers are available for these aircraft.

 

 

Since no lozenge decals are provided, the opportunity was taken to try the Eagle Strike range. These decals were found to have good colour density, were very thin and provided great adhesion. A look at the names of those involved in the research of this product should be testimony enough to the accuracy of the colours used.

From the photos of this machine, the rib tapes are very light in tonal value and were thus interpreted to be of the light blue type. Controversially, this was applied to both top and bottom surfaces of the wings.

 

 

Conclusion

 

This is a first class effort from MAC. Their Roland D.VIa has been well researched and moulded to a level that modellers of all skill levels can enjoy. Although there is a written explanation of general camouflage and marking practices, I feel that a proper diagram of each subject on the decal sheet is needed.

Since the majority of the parts will be the same for the Roland D.VIb, I suggest you get these gems while you can.

Thanks to Squadron for the Review Sample.


Model, Images and Article Copyright © 2001 by Robert Baumgartner
Page Created 25 July 2001
Last updated 04 June 2007

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