1/48 Roland D.VIb 'Duo' from Fly Models

Fly Models
Kit Numbers 48004 and 48008
Available direct from Fly Models for 490CZK each (around £17.60)

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In the latter stages of WW1, the German air force was equipped with a number of relatively high-performance new fighters. The most famous (and successful) of these was the Fokker D.VII, but there was also the high wing monoplane Fokker E.V/D.VIII, the Pfalz D.XII, the Siemens-Schuckert D.III/D.IV and, the subject of this review, the uniquely-manufactured LFG Roland D.VI.

Rol01

Rol02

Why uniquely manufactured? Well, the fuselage was manufactured in the manner of many a boat, using a "clinker-built" system where the fuselage was built of overlapping strips of spruce over a light wooden framework, referred to by the Germans as Klinkerrumpf. Since many of the aircraft in service had varnished fuselages, the structure is clearly visible in some photos.

Originally commissioned as an insurance policy against any unexpected problems with the Fokker D.VII, 350 were built; 150 were the Via variant with a Mercedes D.III engine and 200 were the VIb variant with the Benz D.III of similar power (below). In truth, it performed little better than the aircraft it replaced such as the Albatros D.V and, with it being only a relative success, it was rendered effectively obsolete by the performance of the Fokker D.VII once in combat and, to a lesser extent, the Pfalz D.XII.

Rol03

Earlier this year, Wingnut Wings released an excellent 1/32 kit of the Roland D.VIa fighter which was reviewed on the site. Now, from Fly, comes a pair of the later versions of the fighter, the D.VIb. Kit number 48008 portrays the aircraft in wartime service, whereas 48004 offers post-war variants in Czechoslovak and American service. Apart from the instructions and decals, both kits are basically the same, containing 2 grey plastic sprues, resin engine and details, an etched fret, clear windscreens, instructions and decals.

The first sprue (below) contains the fuselage, struts, undercarriage, airscrew, rudder and engine mount. The fuselage, the centre of attention with this aircraft, is very well portrayed and the struts are both fine and have good cross-sections. The rudder is too thick for my taste and should be replaced with plastic card sanded to the correct shape and cross-section. In opposite to this is the tailskid, which is actually too fine and should be built up with several layers of paint. Some of the attachment points for the struts are a little thick and care will be needed when removing them from the sprue.

Rol04

Rol05

The second sprue (above) holds the remaining major parts including the wings, alternative tailplanes, alternative elevators, wheels, spinner, cockpit detail, exhaust and machine guns. The wings are alright, with good texture, but do not come up to the high standard set by some of Eduard's recent 1/48 WW1 kits, being neither a fine in nature nor as thin in cross section. However, they will suffice for most modellers. The guns look poor on the sprue but there is plenty of etch to turn them into better representations.

The resin used to make up the engine is slightly soft and could hold detail better. Both kits had a dark grey resin engine and detail (below);

Rol06a

Rol07a


The post-war kit had a second, lighter grey engine as well (above); I do not know if this is standard, but it does allow a decent Benz engine to be added to the spares box.

The next photo (below) shows the small etch fret containing mainly parts to dress up the aforementioned plastic machine guns; there are also some details for the cockpit. There is also a pair of windscreens, presumably in case the first one should go flying away and be eaten by the carpet monster!

Rol08

Rol09

The 8 page instruction booklet (above) is clear and easy to follow, except for the section on rigging which could have done with slightly more clarity.

The decals are first rate! Separately bagged, they have good colour density, excellent register and a fair representation of colour (with one exception); each kit contains bolts of both upper and lower 4-lozenge fabric (correct for the D.VI according to my references) and a sheet of individual markings. Shown are the upper lozenge and individual markings from the wartime aircraft (below)

Rol10a

Rol11a

and the lower lozenge and individual markings from the postwar aircraft (above). It is the yellow and red colour of the lozenge decals that I think are not quite right in shade.

Finally, on the rear of the boxes are colour illustrations of the various aircraft; the wartime aircraft (below) all have the classic varnished clinker-built fuselage

Rol12

Rol13

Whereas the postwar aircraft (above) have 2 such aircraft, a camouflaged Czech aircraft and, most surprising of all, a wonderful black and silver (possibly aluminium doped) American fighter.

The kits offer good value for money and are definitely the best kits of this aircraft in 1/48 scale. If Fly look at what Eduard have done to just raise the bar a little higher, then I am certain that further releases will be even better received than I have no doubt these will be.

So What Do We Think?
The best kits of this aircraft in this scale, needing a little work and refinement to get the best from them. The postwar kit has some excellent camouflage schemes on offer.

A good pair of efforts of an interesting WW1 aircraft.

Our thanks to Fly for the review samples.

Robin Jenkins.

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