Airfix Roland C.II Walfisch

KIT: Airfix Roland C.II Walfisch
KIT #: 61040
PRICE: $7.00 or so MSRP
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Bill Michaels
NOTES: Currently out of production. Also boxed by Heller


The Roland C.II is one of those aircraft that I probably would never have heard of, if it hadn’t been produced as a plastic kit.     What little I know of the aircraft’s history, I learned for other reviews here on MM and a quick peek at Wikipedia.

 The aircraft first flew in 1915, and was rather innovative for its time.  By mounting the top wing on the fuselage, the plane had a streamlined shape, with fewer drag-causing struts and wires than its contemporaries.  The plane was fast, and sometimes used as an escort for slower two seaters.     The plane’s distinctive shape earned it the name “Walfisch” , which is German for “whale”.

 The Roland was originally only equipped with the rear gun, which had an excellent field of fire,  at least above the plane.  The downside was a significant blind spot underneath. British ace and Nieuport pilot  Albert Ball had several kills attacking Rolands from below.   The Roland was a tough opponent, though, and there were times when Ball had to make a mad dash for home to escape the speedy two-seaters.  Later versions of the aircraft also had a forward firing gun for the pilot- the two gun version is the one the Airfix kit represents.


Molded in very light gray, the kit consists of 31 parts.   This is a typical kit of the era— the detail is a bit limited, with raised detail, and heavy in execution.  Most of the small parts had significant mold seams that needed to be cleaned up.   

 The flying surfaces have fabric detail that is a bit more subdued that was found on other kits of the era.   The wings still have the overdone ribs that most old WW1 kits feature— in hindsight, I should have sanded them down a bit.   Each wing panel also has a prominent ejector pin mark that will need to be filled.   The trailing edges of the tail feathers are also a bit thick. 

 The kit has no interior detail beyond a simple seat for the pilot.   There is no interior detail at all for the gunner’s cockpit.    However, the kit does include a nice pair of figures—some of Airfix’s best, IMO.  Instead of the more typical matching pair of sitting figures in clunky, stiff poses, you get dedicated pilot and gunner figures, in individual poses.  Instead of the usual generic flying suit, they are molded with cold weather gear—long coats, with scarves over the mouth and nose.  The detail is still a little weak in places, but, if painted carefully, they look pretty good.  

 The top of the engine is also simply molded, but will look OK after cleanup and careful painting.  The biggest problem with it is that the front cylinder is incompletely molded, and doesn’t fit tightly against the front of the fuselage.     The exhaust stacks and muffler are molded as separate parts.

 My one complaint about the kit is the way the landing gear parts are molded on the sprue.  The “V” struts are at the very end of the sprue, with one of the legs unprotected by any other plastic.  As a result, both parts were broken as a result of the sprues moving around in the box.   Rather than try to repair them,  I made a couple of  replacements from some brass rod.

 The kit includes decals and painting instructions for one aircraft from 1916: An aircraft flown by German ace Eduard Ritter von Schleiter,  who would later go on to command Fighter Squadrons, and became known as the “Black Knight”.


 Construction starts with the interior of the fuselage, as there is no cockpit detail to slow you down.  I built the kit OOB, so I used the thick clear parts provided for the fuselage windows.   Once they were in, I painted the interior of the fuselage a wood brown.  

(If you don’t want to use the figures and instead add some scratch built interior detail, then you’ll want to use something else for the windows.)

  The fuselage halves fit reasonably well—I only needed to use a little CA to fill the seam.  Before attaching the wings, I made a couple of shallow cuts with my knife in the fuselage at the wing root so that I could install rigging later.   I then attached the lower wing, stab, and rudder.

 I then airbrushed the model with light gray—I chose Model Master Acrylic “Camouflage Gray”.  I also painted the top wing, wing struts and wheels at this point. 

 When I installed the top wing,  I installed the rigging at the same time.  I used my standard “smoke” colored invisible thread.   This has to be the easiest WW1 biplane kit there is, in terms of getting the top wing on.  Both wings mount solidly to the fuselage, and alignment is guaranteed.   The wing struts fit perfectly, too, without any trimming needed.     


 The decals in my kit were very good—some of the best I’ve seen in an old Airfix kit.  The decals were printed in register, and the white covered well.   When they were first applied, they didn’t look like they’d settle down very well at all.  However, they responded well to Micro-sol, and snuggled down very well after only one application of the magic liquid.   After they had dried, I was very pleased with the results. 


 Once the decaling was complete, it was time to finish the model.

As I mentioned before, both of the “Vee” struts for the landing gear were broken.   I used a piece of appropriate diameter brass rod from the scrap box, and made replacement parts.  I drill holes in the fuselage at the mounting points, and then installed them with superglue. 

 For the rigging, I used my standard “smoke” colored invisible thread.   Normal invisible thread is clear floored nylon thread.  The “smoke” version has a dark grey hue to it, and looks good on 1/72 models, I think.  Since I build these models to hang over the desk, I build them OOB, so I don’t try to include every flying wire and control cable.  I generally add some rigging between the wings, and the landing wires to the LG struts, to give the illusion of a fully- rigged aircraft.  

 The final step was to airbrush the model with a coat of satin clear, to even out the finish.   


 I built this model to add to my collection of WW1 models that hang from the ceiling over my desk.  As such, this model was perfect for the task, with the nice figures a real plus.   It was a quick build—something easy to work on as a side project while I waited for parts on other, more complicated projects to dry. 

 You probably can’t find an easier WW1 biplane to build in 1/72 scale—no fragile wing struts to deal with.  This is a fine kit for a quick OOB build, and the only one on the market in this scale that I’m aware of.   The basics are there, and there are a lot of things you could do to improve the model, if you’re so inclined—you could add some cockpit detail, replace the guns, etc.  

 My model was one of the Airfix  “Special Edition” series, with the pilot’s picture on the box top.   The model has been around a long time, and can be found in a variety of boxes with a variety of markings.    The same kit has appeared in both Airfix and Heller boxes. 

 Review kit courtesy of a swap meet find and my $4.   Special thanks to Pip Moss for the great pictures he took of the completed model.

Bill Michaels

July 2008

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