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Blue Max's 1/48 Roland C.II

 

By Tom Cleaver

 

 

The Airplane

Roland's C.II first appeared over the Western Front in April 1916, having been designed in 1915. The designers at LFG (Luftfartzeug-Gesellschaft mbH) had created one of the best-looking airplanes - single or two-seat - to appear in the First World War.

The airplane was a quantum leap in design thinking over its contemporaries in any air force. By extending the fuselage to be coincident with the top wing, the entire cabane structure was done away with, while the interplane struts were replaced with a single "I" strut. While doing away with a drag-producing structure, the design also created a much stronger mounting for the upper wing. The fuselage ended up "whale-shaped," which is where the airplane received its nickname "Walfisch."

The C.II had a performance on par with the Nieuport 17 and Sopwith Pup fighters, and far ahead of the de Havilland D.H.2, and easily outperformed every other two-seater at the front during 1916.

However, despite its streamlined construction, the airplane had several Achilles heels. The attachment of the wing did away with drag-producing struts at the expense of a narrow wing gap that caused the airplane to stall easily; and this was coupled with a violent sink rate which caught new pilots unawares. The lack of strength of the very thin airfoil section caused wing failure during dogfights.

Despite all this, the Walfisch was an excellent escort airplane for slower two-seaters, and good for long-range reconnaissance and battlefield bombing. Originally armed only with a single LMG '08 machine gun for the observer, later versions provided a similar weapon for the pilot, at the expense of forward vision over the gun.

The Walfisch was obsolete by the spring of 1917, with those that were left being used as trainers for the remainder of the war.

The Kit

Heretofore, the only way a modeler could create a Walfisch in 1/48 scale was with a fairly primitive limited-run kit made in the early '90s by Pegasus, or a good vacuform from Sierra Scale Models. The other alternative was the venerable 1/72 offering from Airfix dating to the early 1960s.

The Blue Max kit is an early C.II, offering only the machine gun armament for the observer. The choice of decals includes an airplane flown by Oberleutnant Eduard Ritter von Schleich, when he was assigned to Feld Flieger Abteilung 2b in April 1916; the other alternative is for a machine from Staffel 6 of Kamfgeschwader 1 in the summer of 1916. Both of these have the simple overall light-blue finish; modelers wanting to recreate the famous "fish scales" will have to do this on their own.

As is normal with a Blue Max kit, the interior parts are done with soft white metal, which makes up into a good representation of the interior structure. This material can easily deform, and will require some reworking by the modeler to obtain a good fit.

A mold "ripple" was found in all four wings of our review copy, top and bottom, approximately one-quarter inch in from the trailing edge. Fortunately, the surface detail on these wing parts is much heavier than the recent Camel, Bristol Fighter, or Halberstadt C.II, and would likely be sanded off by any World War One modeler to begin with, which solves the ripple problem. The trailing edge of the wings will require "scalloping" and thinning down, though the wings themselves are acceptably thin overall. The fuselage halves are well molded and thin, with a bit of "sink" on the outside where the internal stiffening structure was molded; this will require some putty and a bit of sanding to rectify, but is not unexpected with a limited-run kit.

Overall Impression

The kit bids fair to turn into a good-looking model of a good-looking and historically significant airplane from the First World War, for the modeler who wants to take his or her time with it, and is recommended.

"Internet Modeler" thanks Squadron Mail Order for providing this review copy. The kit is also available from Hannant's




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Air Intelligence
1999 Modelers'
Reference Guides

1/32 Scale Guide $18.00
1/48 Scale Guide $25.00
1/72 Scale Guide $25.00
HH-43 Huskie Color
Reference Guide $15.00

Please add $3.20 Postage in the US.

TacAir Publications

PO Box 90933
Albuquerque NM
87199-0933
USA

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