1/48 Scale L.F.G Roland D.II “Haifisch” (“Shark”)
The single seat Roland D.II fighter
was a development of the Roland D.I, which in turn was a development
of the highly successful Roland C.II two seater. The aircraft was of
unusual design when compared to its contemporary fighters in that it
featured a pinched centre section to the fuselage to which the wings
attached, thereby negating the need for carbine struts. Like its two
seat stable mate, the fuselage was of interesting construction for its
time – namely thin formers and stringers wrapped in a skin of plywood/fabric
laminate, eliminating the need for internal bracing. The D.II prototype
was tested in October 1916 and introduced into front line service in
late February 1917. The aircraft were manufactured by the parent company,
L.F.G Roland, as well as under contract by Pfalz, who later used the
wrapped fabric/ply fuselage on their later more famous designs. The D.II
was powered by a 160hp Mercedes DIII engine; later versions were re-designated
as the D.IIa and were powered by the Argus 180hp As.III engine. The aircraft
looked sleek and was powerful for its day, however it was not easy to
fly. All round visibility was good, although the humped fuselage proved
a major hindrance to forward view. Pilots reported poor rudder and aileron
response, and difficulty in executing quick weaving turns. The D.II also
had a nasty tendency to suddenly enter a spin in tight turns. At higher
speeds, aerodynamic interference between top and bottom wings had a detrementous
effect on flight characteristics. Serious problems with the Argus As.III
engine also plagued the aircraft’s service life in its D.IIa form,
and the aircraft was generally difficult to maintain due to the restricted
and awkward access to engines and guns within the fuselage. All of these
effects combined to ensure a short front line service life, the type
having all but disappeared from service on the Western front by June
1917, and the Eastern front by October 1917. The type served the remainder
of the war in training schools up until the armistice. Post war, at least
one example served with the Russian Air Force.
The Hi-Tech kit of the Roland D.II was released in 2000
and is currently the only injection moulded kit of this aircraft in this
scale. The kit is a multi-media kit, with a mix of injection moulded
plastic, photoetched metal, white metal and resin parts.
|Box art, sprue, decals, etched brass
There is one injection moulded sprue of hard grey plastic,
with some flash and heavy attachment points typical of Hi-Tech injection
moulded kits. Trailing edges of the flying surfaces are thick, and the
strut location points are vague or non-existent. Resin parts include
a nice Mercedes engine as well as the pilot’s seat. White metal
parts include two machine guns, some of the engine parts, the exhaust,
and the propeller. Thankfully, Hi-Tech have not decided to mould the
struts in white metal as on some of their other kits. Unfortunately,
the white metal parts are not cleanly moulded (especially apparent on
the spindly exhaust part), and the propeller has an annoying pouring
stub attachment which will be tedious to clean up. The etched parts are
very nice, and include some nicely done radiators and a myriad of other
fiddly bits. Decals provide options for one Roland built D.II which served
in Jasta 32 on the Western front. Annoyingly, the typical “fat” crosses
seen on Roland built machines are not provided – instead the more
normal proportioned crosses seen on Pfalz built D.IIs are included. A
single sheet of instructions is provided but the sheet is vague, especially
on the locations of the smaller parts. There are no rigging instructions
provided, so the modeller will have to rely on their references.
Interior – Cockpit and Engine
Construction started with the interior components.
The D.II had a large cockpit opening, however the kit details are sparse,
consisting only of a floor, instrument panel and seat, so it pays to
put some extra details in there. The raised location marks for the cockpit
components on the fuselage parts were sanded down, and some areas smoothed
out with putty. The first modification pertained to the cockpit floor.
The Hi-Tech instructions show the control column stuck onto a flat floor
piece, however the Windsock datafile #47 shows the control column protruding
through the floor panel, meaning there must have been some form of cutout
in the floor. The datafile also showed a much shorter cockpit floor than
that provided in the kit. Using this information, I modified the kit
part (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: Modifications to Kit
Cockpit Floor – Dark Area Shows Area Removed from Kit Part
The next step was to build up the cockpit internal structure.
The construction of the D.II’s fuselage was interesting in that
it consisted of stringers and oval shaped formers, without any internal
wire bracing, beneath a skin of laminated plywood and fabric, which gave
the fuselage a lot of strength and stiffness. I scratchbuilt the stringers
and formers from plastic strip in accordance with the datafile, utilising
the kit instrument panel and engine mounting parts as the central components. Figure
2 below shows the modifications.
Figure 2: Modified
Interior Structure – Added Components are in White Plastic
At this stage, the internal
structure was painted using my own “red wood” paint mixed
from various acrylics. Once this base coat was dry, I brushed on some
thinned Burnt Sienna oil paint to impart a wood grain effect, followed
by a light “glaze” mixed from acrylic yellow and clear gloss.
This was all sealed with a coat of acrylic clear flat to protect the
The pilot’s seat was modified from the kit item
by adding cushions from Tamyia putty. Seat belts were added from the
kit’s etched fret. The control column structure was scratchbuilt
from stretched sprue, and the handgrip was taken from an old Eduard Albatros
as the kit etched item was not “3D”. The rudder bar and throttle
mechanism are the kit parts. Remaining details were scratchbuilt using
stretched sprue and fuse wire. The instruments were made from both clear
acetate gauges and decals, with white glue being used to represent the
glass. Rigging from the flight controls was made from invisible sewing
thread painted black.
Only the rear of the Spandau machine guns can be seen
once installed, so all I added to the kit parts were some butt-plates
and the cocking handles. I scratch built the ammunition container from
scrap plastic. I also scratchbuilt the oil tank and filler pipe which
sits under the cockpit floor beneath the instrument panel.
Construction then moved to the engine. Little can be
seen of the engine once installed, essentially only the tops of the forward
two cylinders protrude out of the fuselage itself, so only some basic
improvements were needed. The kit’s resin engine is very nice and
was used with a few minor additions, my main reference being “ Jane’s
Fighting Aircraft of World War One”. I added the rocker arm springs
on top of each cylinder from fuse wire, as well as some external plumbing
from fuse wire and stretched sprue. Figure 3 below shows
the unpainted engine and the additions made.
Figure 3: Modified Kit Engine
(Anything not Resin or White Metal was Added)
Once all of these internal components were manufactured
and painted, it was time to add them all to the internal framework. Careful
fitting ensured it all fit into the fuselage halves. Figure 4 overleaf
shows the completed interior.
Figure 4: Internal Details
At this point I decided I wanted
to build a Pfalz built machine. This choice was driven by decal availability,
as I did not have any decals to represent the typically “fat” national
markings seen on Roland built machines. The only structural difference
between the Pfalz aircraft and the L.F.G aircraft is the absence of the
tail skid fairing on most aircraft. Pfalz built machines also differed
slightly in the application of the standard factory camouflage scheme
Whilst comparing the kit fuselage halves to the Datafile,
I found that they scaled almost perfectly, aside from the rudder, which
was too shallow in chord as can be seen in Figure 5 below.
Also apparent was that the fixed component of the vertical fin itself
was too wide in chord, as can also be seen in Figure 5 below (the
forward end of the kit rudder sticks out beyond the leading edge of the
fin on the datafile drawing). I cut the rudder from the kit fuselage,
and fabricated a new one from sheet plastic sanded to shape, and strip
plastic to represent the stringers.
Figure 5: Kit Rudder Shown Against
the Datafile (top), and Corrected Scratchbuilt Rudder (lower)
When determining what colour to paint the internals
of the fuselage, I referred to Page 33 of the Datafile. This page states
when referring to the fuselage colour of one specific Pfalz built aircraft “…the
type’s original name of ‘Silverfish’ and the Pfalz
company’s predilection for silbergrau finishes…”, suggesting
that the silver doped fabric was used on Pfalz built fuselages. I used
this as an indication of the internal colour of the Pfalz fuselage, given
that the fuselage was a plywood/fabric laminate and assuming that fabric
would be used on the outsides of the plywood to protect it from moisture.
I thus painted the inside of the fuselage dull silver. I glued in the
internal structure and then glued the fuselage halves together. The fuselage
pieces fit fairly well after some sanding, however the opening on the
nose for the engine was a tricky area as the opening in the fuselage
halves did not match and required some filler to smooth this area out.
Also, one fuselage half was slightly fatter than the other, leaving a
step along the join line, however this was not difficult to clean up.
Given the difficulty I have heard of with regards to warped Hi-Tech fuselages,
I was fairly happy with this area of the kit.
As I wanted to model a Pfalz built machine without the
tail skid fairing, I cut the tail skid fairing off with a sharp blade,
and packed the area with scrap plastic thoroughly doused in plastic cement.
After letting this try for a few days, I sanded the area flush with the
fuselage sides, and drilled a hole for the tail skid.
The fuselage parts for some reason have a rough exterior
surface, which needs sanding smooth. This is especially tricky around
the opening in the nose for the engine. Many of the panel lines on the
fuselage needed filling and relocating as their locations were not correct
when compared to the datafile. The circular access panels and control
cable run holes on the rear fuselage were located too far forward, and
the pilot’s access steps were located too far to the rear. These
areas were filled with superglue, sanded smooth and re-scribed in their
correct locations. I also scribed some additional panel lines around
the landing gear attachment points which were shown on the datafile drawings.
The datafile drawings curiously do not show the four access panels for
the machine guns, two on each side of the fuselage, located directly
under the top wing. These panels are obvious in many of the photographs
within the datafile itself! I fabricated these panels from scrap plastic
and added them in their correct locations. The cockpit coaming detail
was soft on the kit, and as such I fabricated new coaming from Tamyia
putty, rolled into a thin “sausage” and looped around the
cockpit opening. This proved more difficult than initially anticipated,
and it took me many tries and a couple of hours to get something that
was half decent (by which time I was too frustrated to try again!).
The lower wings have quite fine rib detail, however
like the fuselage the surface is quite rough and needs sanding to smooth
this out. The location for the struts is also very vague, and the location
points required re-drilling. The lower wings also required some thinning
at the trailing edges. The lower wing attachment to the fuselage was
quite bad - the chord of the kit lower wings were wider than the chord
of the fillets they had to fit onto, and the aerofoil section was not
the same between wings and fuselage fillets. Thus much filling, sanding
and smoothing was required to get a decent fit. To complicate matters,
the rear main landing gear struts had to pass through an opening in the
lower wing/wing fillet and attach onto the fuselage. Once this area was
done, the wing attachment line was re-scribed.
The upper wing had heavy flash on the sprue, and needed
very careful cutting as the trailing edge virtually disappeared into
a sea of flash along the whole length of the port wing (I’m guessing
some sort of mould mis-match, this may be limited only to my copy of
the kit). Like the lower wing, the upper wing needed thinning at its
trailing edges, as well as a general sanding to smooth out the rough
texture. Annoyingly, there were absolutely no strut location holes on
the upper wings, these had to be drilled taking measurements from the
datafile (or in my case drilled, filled, and re-drilled a couple of times!).
The only modification to this area was to cut the square openings for
the aileron pushrod mechanisms, and cutting the ailerons to allow them
to be offset. Hinges for the ailerons were made from metal foil.
The kit’s tailplane was used without any modification
other than dropping the elevators and again fabricating hinges from metal
foil. That said, one elevator had a big sink hole in its surface which
required filling, again probably a result of the low pressure injection
moulding process. I decided to not even bother with the kit’s white
metal propeller as the clean up required was way beyond my level of patience.
I used an old Eduard albatross prop, took 5mm of each end and sanded
it to shape as per the datafile drawings. The kit’s main landing
gear was constructed as per the kit instructions, the only modification
being to cut off the locating tabs. Figure 6 shows the
general state of the model prior to the addition of the etched grilles
to the nose and priming for painting.
Figure 6: The Kit Before Painting (Note the
Added Panels and Removed Tail Skid Fairing Seen on Pfalz Built Aircraft
Like most biplane models, painting
has to be undertaken before the wings and undercarriage are attached,
and it was no different with this kit. As mentioned earlier, the choice
of markings were limited by decal availability, limiting me to building
a Pfalz built machine. Most aircraft of the early 1917 period did not
exhibit colourful markings or garish personal markings (with some exceptions
of course), and many photos in the datafile show very plainly marked
factory standard aircraft. I chose to model an aircraft on operational
service, specifically an aircraft flown on the Eastern front by an unidentified
unit which had an interesting “zigzag” personal marking on
the rear fuselage. A colour side profile of this aircraft is given on
the back of the datafile, which I used as a basis for painting.
Colour references for the Roland are quite sparse, so
I went with what I felt looked right. The main difference between Roland
and Pfalz built finishes was that the upper surface camouflage extended
below the horizontal stabiliser on the Pfalz built aircraft, but not
on the Roland built aircraft. Also, Pfalz built aircraft had the serial
number painted on the fuselage which was not the case on Roland built
machines. I painted the rear fuselage area white and cut some masks for
the zigzag marking from Tamyia tape. I wasn’t too worried about
keeping them symmetrical on both sides as the markings were most likely
hand painted onto the real aircraft. I then pre-shaded the airframe with
black. The underside colour is described in the datafile as a light blue,
as such I painted the underside Gunze RLM 65 lichtblau acrylic. For the
topside colours, the datafile refers to a red/brown and green camouflage
pattern, with a reference to a French wartime colour reference to a captured
example of “vert et marron” (green and maroon). As such,
I went with Tamyia XF-10 Flat Brown and XF-13 J.A. Green acrylics sprayed
on free hand, as many of the datafile pictures show a soft demarcation
between colours. The brown has a good degree of red in it, which may
possibly be interpreted as a very brown maroon. These colours also seemed
to match quite well with the colour profile in the datafile. Struts (once
cleaned up) and wheels were also painted in XF-10 and the spinner was
sprayed white. The airframe was then given a wash using black Windsor
and Newton oils.
Remainder of Construction, Decals
Once painting was completed,
I pre-drilled all of the holes for rigging using a number 80 drill bit.
I then attached the struts to the top wing, and once the glue was almost
dry, I glued the top wing to the fuselage and the bottom of the struts
to the bottom wing which was easy as there was still some play in the
struts. Undercarriage was then attached to the fuselage with no real
dramas. Tubes for the aileron controls running from the fuselage to the
wings was made from stretched sprue, and the contraption on the centre
section of the upper wing was scratchbuilt from scrap plastic and fuse
There are no rigging instructions, so I used the datafile
as the rigging reference. The aircraft had minimal rigging (another reason
why I chose this kit); the real aircraft did not have external push-pull
cables on the elevators and ailerons which made the job a lot easier.
The aircraft was rigged using “Ez-line” elastic thread, which
bonds quickly to superglue and is very stretchy, thus allowing a lot
of flexibility during construction and also allowed for fat fingers hitting
the “wires” without causing catastrophic structural failure.
Now onto the decals. Kit decals are very thin and have
a lot of carrier film which needs trimming. Kit decals were used for
the fuselage and fin crosses without any problems, however the larger
cross decals for the upper and lower wings cracked as soon as I tried
to move them off the backing. Not having any spares, I cursed and carefully
re-assembled the crosses on the model, liberally coating them in Microsol,
to which they reacted without any qualms. These decals were then touched
up with paint. I borrowed some other minor decals from the spares box.
I then coated the airframe in Gunze clear flat, which gave a nice satin
sheen to the airframe.
The propeller was painted in the same way as the “wood” interior,
and attached onto the airframe. The exhaust part required much clean
up and bending before it would fit happily onto the engine. Other minor
final details were added, including a gauge from the spares box to the
centre section in front of the cockpit. A gun sight from the spares box
was also mounted onto a horizontal bar attached to the wing on the starboard
side of the cockpit.
Whilst certainly no where near
the quality of the recent Eduard and Roden releases, the kit overall
is quite nice. Given that this aircraft is unlikely to be released by
the major manufacturers in this scale, all the kit needs is some minor
detail corrections and additions and careful fitting, which are well
within the skills of the average modeler. This is also an excellent first
biplane kit (as it was for me for quite some time), as the rigging is
not complex and there is no requirement to align carbine struts. After
around two months work, I had a nice completed Roland D.II to start off
my 1/48 WW1 collection.
Grosz, P.M, Windsock Datafile 47 LFG Roland D.II, Albatros
Jane’s All The World’s Fighting Aircraft
of World War 1, Studio Editions Ltd.