LFG (Luftfahrzeug-Gesellschaft), who later changed their name to Roland to avoid confusion with LVG (Luft-Verkehrs-Gesellschaft), were responsible for some of the most aerodynamic and innovative designs of the Great War including the highly advanced and successful 160hp Daimler-Mercedes D.III powered Roland C.II ‘Walfisch’ 2 seat reconnaissance aircraft in 1916, an aircraft capable of outperforming most single seat fighters of the day. This was followed by the relatively unsuccessful D.1, D.II and D.III single seat fighters, which were mainly handicapped by their lackluster Argus engines. The Roland D.III being cancelled part way through production by Idflieg (the German Inspectorate of Aviation Troops) in favor of the 160hp Daimler-Mercedes D.III powered Pfalz D.III. Ironically Pfalz had learned their successful construction techniques from Roland while building their aircraft under contract.
Ever innovative, Roland’s next successful design, the D.VI featured a highly streamlined fuselage constructed from overlapping plywood ‘planks’ in a manner similar to ‘clinker built’ boats. The ailerons were operated by tubes running inside the single piece upper wing connected to control horns close to the fuselage. Other interesting features were the position of the lower wings under the fuselage and the installation of the compass in the upper wing. The prototype Roland D.VI, powered by the reliable but now quite old 160hp Daimler-Mercedes D.III engine first, appeared in October 1917 with a 2nd and 3rd prototype appearing shortly afterwards, the 3rd being powered by the new 185ps Benz Bz.IIIa. These prototypes were under evaluation for 3 months before being ordered into production in February 1918 as the Daimler-Mercedes powered Roland D.VIa and in April as the Benz Bz.IIIa powered D.VIb. It appears that newly delivered Roland D.VIas were mainly equipped with 200hp Daimler-Mercedes D.IIIaü engines but photographic evidence shows that by the end of the Great War many were powered by the now long obsolete 160hp D.III engine. Photographic records available to us curiously indicate that no Roland D.VIa was equipped with the 180hp Daimler-Mercedes D.IIIa engine.
An operational report from Jasta 23b described the visibility from the Roland D.VIa as very good and its handling superior to the Pfalz D.IIIa and Albatros D.V, but performance in other areas was lacking. While the 185ps Benz Bz.IIIa powered D.VIb performed a little better it was no match for a Fokker D.VII equipped with the coveted 185ps BMW.IIIa engine, the machine all Jasta pilots longed to fly. Any history of this aircraft here is of necessity very brief, therefore we encourage you to seek out the Windsock Datafile on the Roland D.VI mentioned below for a more thorough understanding of this interesting aircraft.