Douglas Rolfe's sketch of this Roland C-II biplane is another example of his amazing ability not just to create a drawing, but to depict the model's construction features in a manner helpful to builders. That, coupled with the masterfully detailed and laid-out plans by Walter Musciano and a brief history on the airplane along with its most famous pilot, Eduard von Schleich, makes this an article you won't want to miss - especially if you are a World War I historian.
World War-1 Ace von Schleich and His Roland C-II "Wahlfisch"
Plans for U/Control
By Walter Musciano
Although Eduard von Schleich saw action at the front as a fighter pilot for only fourteen months during World War One he scored thirty five victories including some doubles and triples. In addition, this German Ace became the leader of one of four Jagdgeschwaders ("Flying Circuses") in the German Air Service with rank equal to von Richthofen. He survived that war to become one of the organizers of the Nazi Luftwaffe.
A Bavarian, Schleich was born on August 8, 1888 in Bad Tolz, near Munich, Germany. At the age of twenty he joined the 11th Bavarian Infantry Regiment stationed at Regensburg; two years later in 1910, Eduard was promoted to Leutnant. When World War One started he was a company commander. In August 1914 Schleich was seriously wounded in the shoulder during a battle near Maire, France.
Upon his return to action Eduard decided to transfer to the Air Service; during 1915 he passed the tests for both pilot and observer at the East German Albatros Works in Schneidemuhl which resulted in his assignment to Bavarian Feldflieger-Abteilung 2b as a pilot. During an observation run Schleich was wounded in the arm by an exploding anti-aircraft shell. Realizing the importance of the flight, he had his observer bandage the wound and they continued on course to complete the assignment. Both men were decorated with the Iron Cross, First Class for this heroic action.
When the future knight recovered from this wound he was given command of Bavarian Schutzstaffel 28, an escort Staffel. A shortage of aircraft forced the young leader to sit behind his desk instead of leading his men in the air. Schleich was so eager to fly that when a French Nieuport was forced down on the Schutzstaffel air field as Commanding Officer he quickly appropriated the craft and had the German crosses painted over the French insignia. After a few test flights the determined flyer was ready to go on patrol when the German High Command took the captured plane away. Schleich complaining bitterly about his inactivity demanded a transfer to a fighter squadron. Finally, he was sent to a fighter pilot's school where he completed the course in a record fourteen days.
Roland "Wahlfisch" Assembly Sketch
In March 1917 Eduard Schleich was given command of Jagdstaffel 21 attached to the German 5th Army. This outfit had one of the poorest combat records, morale was low. Schleich worked endlessly with his men toward discipline and coordinated action during aerial combat. In a short time his staffel was the best in the 5th Army. On May 15, 1917 Schleich was acclaimed for great victory by shooting down a SPAD piloted by the famous French Ace, Rene Dorme, victor over thirty German planes!
On July 27, 1917 six Albatros scouts from Jasta 21 engaged twenty two SPAD scouts. In the melee Lt. Erich Limpert plunged to his death. Limpert was Schleich's best friend. The commanding officer ordered his own Albatros fuselage and tail painted black. The staffel soon was known as "Dead Man Squadron" to Allied flyers; during September the men of Jasta 21 accounted for 41 victories; Schleich shot down 17 of these.
Although Schleich was a serious, determined pilot and administrator he enjoyed pranks - unlike many of the other Aces. On one occasion he forced a SPAD to land on the staffel airfield. During the evening Schleich had black crosses painted over the French insignia. The following morning the Lieutenant climbed into the French plane and took off toward the front lines. When the staffel leader sighted a French SPAD formation he approached them undetected. Several minutes elapsed until the French leader turned to check his flighy and spotted the strange SPAD with the black crosses. The startled Frenchman frantically signaled his flight and then all hell broke loose!
Through skillful maneuvering the German escaped but ran into some trouble as he crossed over his own lines because the anti-aircraft batteries saw only the silhouette and not the markings of his plane. A severe reprimand was Schleich's reward after he landed at his home field.
von Schleich in 1940
Just when his staffel was meeting with success the leader was stricken with dysentry. Before he could return to Jagstaffel 21 Schleich was notified he no longer commanded the outfit. Jasta 21 was a "Prussian" Staffel and Schleich was a Bavarian. An order had been issued by the High Command prohibiting anyone but a Prussian to command a Prussian outfit. Imperial Germany at that time drew a bold line between the state of Prussia and the other German states, especially Bavaria. The Kaiser and his generals were Prussians, this was an attempt to keep Prussia in an exalted position. As a result of this reorganization Jastas 16, 23, 32, 34 and 35 become all-Bavarian Staffels. Schleich was given command of Jasta 32 attached to the German 7th Army.
On December 4, 1917 Eduard Schleich was presented with the Pour Ie Merite, Germany's highest decoration. Even his old Jasta 21 sent congratulations. Schleich, not fully recovered from his illness, was assigned to the military pilots' school at Schleissheim where he was an extremely valuable instructor due to his expert knowledge of combat techniques.
When his strength returned Schleich applied for combat duty; in April 1918 he was given command of Jagdgruppe No.8 comprising Staffels 23, 32 and 35 stationed at Gavreuil. In June he was promoted to the rank of Hauptmann; the following month Schleich was awarded the coveted Bavarian Military Order of Max-Josef and an actual Knighthood. This meant the Ace was known as Hauptmann Eduard Ritter von Schleich. The "Ritter" being the German equivalent to the English "Sir" when applied to knighthood. Now Schleich was truly the "Black Knight" and his fame spread along the front.
On Octboer 3, 1918 Ritter von Schleich was placed in command of the new Jagdgeschwader No.4 which consisted of Jagdstaffel 23 under Lt. Seywald, Jagdstaffel 32, (Schleich), Jagdstaffel 34 under Oblt. von Greim, and Jagdstaffel 35 under Lt. Stark. This unit was stationed near Saarburg. Later that month the "Black Knight" was called to Berlin to test new aircraft at a fighter plane competition; by the time he returned to his unit the war was over.
During the post-war years von Schleich took an active part in stimulating aviation interest in Germany. He was employed by Lufthansa airline and was one of the organizers of the Munich Sport Flyers Club. When Adolf Hitler came to power Ritter von Schleich became active in the National Socialist movement and helped organize the Hitler Youth Aviation Program. He joined the newly formed Luftwaffe and was also an officer in the S.S. in which uniform he visited England and was warmly welcomed. By 1935 von Schleich was a Major in command of a dive-bombing Staffel; during 1938 he was promoted to Colonel and given command of Jagdgeschwader 132 "Schlageter." This unit was later renumbered to JG. 26 and became one of the most famous wings on the Western Front during World War Two.
In 1941, with the rank of General, von Schleich was placed in command of all Luftwaffe units stationed in Denmark. But he soon retired from this post due to failing health. He died in 1947.
The author thanks A. E. Ferko, N. H. Hauprich, and P. Doyle Jr. for their contribution of photographs and historical information which helped make this article possible.
During November 1915 a new German airplane appeared over the front lines more advanced than any other. Its wooden monocoque fuselage was carefully streamlined, wings were filleted, radiators were designed to minimize drag, the usual multiple interplane struts were replaced with a streamlined "I" strut, cabane struts were eliminated. This amazing craft was quickly called "der Wahlfisch" ("Whale") because of its deep, streamlined fuselage. Manufactured by L.F.G. Company (Luftfahrzeug Gesellschaft), this biplane carried the trade name of Roland - as did other craft built by L.F.G. Company to avoid confusion with L.V.G. Co., a competitor. The Roland C-II, designed by Herr Tantzen, set the pattern for many famous designs in later years.
At the front: World War-I Rolands
While Eduard von Schleich was a two-seater pilot with Bavarian Feldflieger Abteilung 2b during the winter of 1915-1916, some of the first Roland C-II's arrived at the air field. The future Ace was fortunate to have one of the craft assigned to him. His sense of humor was aroused by the "Wahlfisch" nickname and so he had a mouth and eyes painted on his plane's nose to heighten the illusion. The Bavarian also mounted a carved whale on the air speed indicator (as the plans illustrate). Our model presented is a reproduction of the Roland C-II flown by von Schleich.
von Schleich is seen in the cockpit
The Roland C-II's top speed of 105-mph was faster than the Allies' Nieuport 22 and early Sopwith "Pup" single seaters. English Ace Albert Ball considered the C-II as the "best German machine now." Yet the craft was underpowered with a 160-hp Mercedes six cylinder engine - it could have accommodated a more powerful engine if one had been available.
With a gross weight of 2,825-lbs, 3,280' altitude could be gained in six minutes; the 13,100' ceiling was reached in 45 minutes. An outstanding performance feature was its long range. A 5-hour flight time enabled the craft to penetrate deep into Allied territory on observation duty.
Most early "Wahlfischs" carried only a movable ring-mounted Parabellum machine gun in the rear cockpit since the C-II could easily outrun single-seater opposition. This superior speed resulted in some Rolands being used as fighters in which case a fixed Spandau machine gun was added forward of the pilot's cockpit. While the deep fuselage afforded a spacious, comfortable cockpit, the wing hindered downward visibility so windows were fitted in the fuselage side. Due to good streamlining the craft
landed at fairly high speeds so some early models were equipped with a drag brake to shorten the roll when landing. The "Wahlfisch" was so successful it remained in action until the Autumn of 1917.
The plans reveal the Roland makes an ideal control liner. The absence of cabane struts means solid attachment for both wings; fuselage is rugged and its streamlining enhances appearance. An engine .23 to .35 cubic inch displacement should provide ample power, Rib spacing as shown is exact scale.
Construction instructions appear on the full-size Hobby Helpers plans.
Roland C-II List of Material
(Medium balsa unless otherwise noted)
Two 1/4" x 3" x 36" for fuselage sides, top, and bottom, wing tip and center section; (2) 1/4" x 1/4" x 36" for fuselage interior strips; (2) 1/16" x 3" x 36" hard for wing ribs; (2) 1/2" x 1" x 36" for wing leading edge; (2) 1/4" x 1" x 36" for wing trailing edge; (1) 3/16" x 3" x 36" soft balsa for empennage and wing struts; (1) 1/8" x 2" X 36" for fuselage bulkheads, wing tip and center section; (1) 1/8" x 6" x 12" plywood for wing joiners and fuselage bulkheads; (1) 3/8" x 5/8" x 18" hardwood for engine and bellcrank mounts; (1) 1 1/2" x 2" x 18" for nose block cowl and spinner.
1/16" dia. music wire for control rod and tall skid; 3/32" dia. music wire for landing gear; white Aristo-craft silk wing covering; 3/16" x 3/16" x 12" hardwood elevator spar; white and black Wondur-cal Insignia; 8 oz. can Aero Gloss Balsa filler coat; 4 oz. can Aero Gloss Curtiss Blue Dope; 6 oz. can Aero Gloss Swift White Dope; (1) tube Aero Gloss Plastic Balsa; one ounce bottle dark gray Aero Gloss dope (optional); Flex-i-Grit sanding Mylar; (1) large tube Ambroid Cement; (3) 2/0 and 3/0 sandpaper; 8 oz. can Aero Gloss Clear Dope.
Miscellaneous: Straight pins, nuts, bolts, Perfect large bellcrank and control horn. Acme "U" type tank, plastic fuel line, miniature Wheel Co. 2 1/2" dia. World War One wheels.
Paint Notes: Mix white and blue dope for the sky blue color.
Roland "Wahlfisch" Control Line Plans
Full size drawings are on Hobby Helpers' Group Plan #962.
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Posted July 18, 2015