Building Mac's 1/72nd Scale Roland D.VIb

By Michael Kendix


With its fuselage looking like a Viking ship, the Roland VI had an unusual appearance. The prototype was built in October 1917, and the fuselage, designed by Reinhold Richter, produced a lighter but stronger structure. The D.VIa was introduced into service in May 1918. Unfortunately, it was less than popular with pilots who preferred the new Fokker D.VII: the Roland D.VI being virtually obsolete by the time it reached the front. The Roland D.VI was used during the war as a trainer and served after the war: for example in the Czechoslovakian Air Force.

In the box

The box contains one sprue of well-moulded plastic parts: smooth without any major blemishes, a small sheet of photoetch parts and a decal sheet with markings for two German World War One schemes. A minor problem is the slight over-thickness of the flying surfaces, which I opted to do nothing about. The plastic sprue contains redundant pieces for the Roland D.VIa version and the instructions show the parts that should be used for the version in the box, although there appears to be an error [see below].

Interior and engine

I began with the engine. Make sure you choose the correct engine because the kit contains two engines. There is a discrepancy between the kitís instructions: the schematic of the sprue crosses out parts 9 and 10 but part '1' of the instructions tells you to use those same parts. I used parts 9 and 10, and left parts 3 and 4 on the sprue. I used Mr. Surfacer to fill the engine seams and attached the engine to the base provided in the kit. I painted the engine 'Engine grey' (What else?) and dry-brushed it with aluminium and burnt aluminium. The aft part of the base becomes the cockpit floor, so I painted it 'wood' using my favoured recipe of 'Wood' acrylic paint, followed by gouache watercolour burnt umber and burnt sienna paints applied by swiping them on with a Q-tip, a coat of Tamiya Clear Yellow and then a coat of Future. I repeated the same sequence to paint the inside of the fuselage in 'wood'. I used the photoetch parts for the control stick and foot rudder and painted the seat Leather Brown. I made my own instrument panel from plastic card: the photoetch one bent as I tried to squeeze the fuselage halves together.


The clinker-built fuselage structure is one of the distinctive features of this model and to my mind is what makes this model attractive. As far as I can tell from the Datafile drawings, there should not be a centre-line seam so you are supposed to fill the fuselage seam. This has to be done without damaging the wonderful detail on the fuselage. I glued the fuselage halves and attached the lower wing parts. After several filling and sanding iterations, I sprayed Alclad II aluminium onto the front part of the fuselage around the engine and nose area. Then, I masked off the area using Parafilm and used the same recipe as above to create the wood effect for the fuselage.

Flying surfaces and wheels

First I brushed Future onto the wings and then covered them with four-coloured lozenge. The kit does not contain lozenge decals and some modellers have been able to paint the irregular hexagonal pattern but I used Americal/Gryphon's decals: different colours for the upper and the underside. The lozenge on this aeroplane went on chord-wise, which is a fairly easy task. At this point, I adhered the lozenge (upper colours) to the wheel covers having first painted the tyres in light grey and given them a coat of Future. Again I brushed on a coat of Future to seal the lozenge decals and then added the rib tapes. Rather than cut my own rib tapes, I used those from Aeromaster: pale blue for the upper surfaces and pink for the underside. I did the same for the horizontal tail parts. For the ailerons and the tail control surfaces I did not add rib tapes and I applied the lozenge decal span-wise. At this point I also sprayed the tail rudder red in preparation for the decals because I was planning to use the APC decals for a post-World War One Czechoslovakian Air Force machine, and the APC decals only supply the blue and white components of the tail colours. Before adding the top wing I glued on the decking for the guns and the guns themselves: the decking is also 'Wood'.

The hardest task for me when building biplanes is gluing on the top wing. Usually I jig things up using stacks of cassette tapes but this time I thought I would try a different method. Thanks to Larry Marshall on the World War One Modeling discussion forum, I got the idea to cut strips of magnet purchased at my hardware store that attach to a metal base to keep the lower wing and fuselage sub-assembly steady. I used the top of a metal tin as a base. Having immobilized the lower wing-fuselage piece, I stuck pieces of Play-Doh on each side of the lower wing. Then, I used Testors orange-tube glue to adhere the struts to the top wing and sat the top wing down on the Play-Doh. Pressing down gently on top wing, I manouvered the piece into position. To my surprise, this worked and once everything was in place, I used a Touch 'n' Flow applicator to send Pro Weld onto the ends of each strut piece.

Landing gear and other details

The undercarriage was not difficult to attach and similarly for the tailskid. I had a little problem lining things up and ensuring the aeroplane did not lean over to one side. I added the filler caps and other metal bits by brushing on enamel Silver Chrome, including the small photoetch piece that goes on the underside of the nose area. I gave the entire 'Wood' area a burnt umber oil wash that helped bring out the clinker-built effect.

Rather than use the kit's decals, I used the APC decals for a Czechoslovakian aeroplane used after the First World War. Once all that was dry, I gave the entire assembly a coat of Future prior to the rigging process. For rigging I used lengths of 0.005-inch straight wire from Small Parts, Inc., adhered using Elmers white glue. At this point I added the engine exhaust and the pipe and radiator detail on top of the upper wing. Finally, I gave the entire model a light coat of Testors Clear Flat.


This is a first rate kit of one of the lesser-known World War One aeroplanes. The moulding is excellent, the parts fit well and it builds into a decent model. I highly recommend this kit, even as a first biplane model for anyone who has made a few monoplane kits.


  • Peter M. Grosz. 'Roland D.VI: Windsock Datafile 37.'' Albatros Productions, Ltd., Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom. 1993.

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