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’ two-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, with 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 powered Pfalz D.III. Ironically Pfalz had learned their successful construction techniques from Roland while building their aircraft under license.
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 (rated at 200hp in a November 1920 American report of Roland D.VIb 7502/18). 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.
An operational report from Jasta 23b described the visibility from the Daimler-Mercedes powered 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. The Roland D.VIb, powered by the new 185ps Benz Bz.IIIa, performed better but supplies of the new engine were very limited. At the Second Fighter Competition in June-July 1918 Herman Göring flew a D.VIb with an over compressed Benz Bz.IIIav ‘altitude’ engine and noted that he could keep pace with the BMW IIIa powered Fokker D.VII F although performance data indicate a vastly inferior rate of climb. Early production Roland D.VIb utilized the control surfaces of the D.VIa but later aircraft featured balanced elevators and ailerons with increased balance areas which improved maneuverability. Like all other German fighters entering service during 1918 the Roland D.VIb had the misfortune of falling short of the high expectations of the Jasta pilots set by the extraordinary Fokker D.VII. 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.
WW1 colour schemes are contentious at the best of times and we have done our best to provide what we consider to be accurate painting information for this model. The colourful unit and personal markings applied to the various German fighters of the Great War have attracted more than their fair share of debate over the years and, while we have been as meticulous as we could be, I’m sure some will not find our choices to their liking. Roland D.VIb fuselages appear to have been finished in at least 2 distinct styles, natural varnished plywood and with large bands/patches of dark blue, dark green, ochre and dark purple. The interior of the engine bay and most metal fittings, undercarriage and cowl panels were painted grey-green. The cabane struts appear to be dark grey while the wing struts appear to be light grey. Despite conventional wisdom, photographic evidence shows that the wings, tail plane, elevators and rudder were frequently covered in mixtures of both 4 and 5 colour pre-printed ‘lozenge’ camouflage material. Like many other German aircraft of the Great War, various colourful unit and personal identification markings were applied, the exact colour or shade of which continue to be the subject of many a lively discussion.