Author Topic: Kovozávody Prostějov 1/72 scale Roland D.II, D.IIa and Pfalz D.II  (Read 709 times)

Offline Brad Cancian

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 735
  • "This time I've got you, Red Baron!"
    • Brad's Models
Kovozávody Prostějov (KP) 1/72 Roland D.II, Roland D.IIa, Pfalz D.II
Reviewed by Brad Cancian



Item: KPM0270, KPM0271, and KPM0272 respectively
scale: 1/72
Price: 14.20 Euros each, direct from Kovozávody Prostějov


Review kits kindly provided by KP Models at https://www.kovozavody.cz/

The Roland D.II “Haifisch”

In early to mid 1916, it was increasingly apparent that the success and dominance of the Fokker monoplanes had come to an end. Improved allied types, such as the light weight Nieuports, and British DH2, outclassed the Fokker. German manufacturers turned their hands to “D-Type” biplanes, with sturdier construction, ailerons instead of wing warping for controls, and more powerful in line engines.

The Roland firm put their hat into the ring with their D.I aircraft; this aircraft was a sturdy, single bay biplane, based broadly on their successful Roland C.II reconnaissance aircraft, and was not dissimilar in layout and general appearance. The Roland D.II was a development of the D.I, but with a more streamlined fuselage, lower pilot position, and twin Spandau guns embedded within the fuselage.



The D.II used plywood monocoque fuselage construction. Two layers of plywood strips were spirally wrapped in opposing directions over a mould to form one half of a fuselage shell. The fuselage halves were then glued together, covered with a layer of fabric, and doped. This design was known as the “Wickelrumpf” construction technique, and allowed a smooth, strong and light structure. The upper wings of the D.II were mounted on a central fuselage fairing. Whilst this produced a strong wing attachment, it greatly impaired forward vision. The position of the lower wing also impaired downward vision, making landing accidents common.

The D.II was initially powered by a 160hp Mercedes D.III engine. Later aircraft were powered by a more powerful 180hp Argus AS.III engine, which resulted in a longer nose, and modified undercarriage to assist with landing, and to help avoid nose-overs. The Argus powered aircraft was designated the Roland D.IIa. The Argus engine produced more power and was effective at lower altitudes, but performance started to fall off at higher altitudes.

Pfalz was also authorised to licence produce the Roland D.II. These aircraft were largely identical to the Roland built D.II, with the exception of omitting the tail skid fairing. Pfalz machines are also identifiable by the use (generally) of serial number stencils, and ‘skinny’ iron crosses, when compared to the ‘fat’ iron crosses of the Roland built machines. One point of note was that it was during this licence production of the D.II that Pfalz learned and perfected the laminated fuselage construction technique, which they went on to use most effectively with their much more successful Pfalz D.III, D.IIIa and D.XII model aircraft.

The Roland D.II earned the name “haifisch” or “shark”, based on its appearance. Despite this, the aircraft was not overly popular, nor deadly to its adversaries. It had poor visibility, was sluggish on the controls, and was difficult to land. The embedded guns also made clearing jams particularly difficult (this, combined with poor visibility, made aiming and bring down a target particularly tricky). On the plus side, the aircraft was sturdy and rugged, due to its construction and arrangement. The aircraft was largely relegated to the Eastern front, and training establishments, where it served well.  There were only 300 D.IIs produced.

The D.II in kit form

The Roland has been unusually well served in kit form, given the aircraft’s relative obscurity. In 1/48, there’s the nice (though hard to find) Hi-Tech injected moulded kit. In 1/72, there are kits from Merlin and Pegasus in injected plastic, and CMK in resin. The Merlin effort is quite rough, the Pegasus kit is not too bad, and the CMK kit is very nice. All of these kits require care and patience to put together. It is therefore with great joy for fans of this little aircraft that KP have now released a new mainstream injection moulded kit of this interesting little aircraft.

The Bits and Bobs

KP have released the D.II in three separate boxings; one for the D.II model, one for the D.IIa model, and one for the Pfalz built D.II. That being said, the plastic in all three kits is exactly the same. The kit consists of a single sprue of grey plastic, constituting just 29 parts, a decal sheet, and a small instruction leaflet. There is no etch nor resin included.



Similar to their recent offerings, the KP kits are nicely detailed. The low parts count is not to suggest low detail; indeed the parts count is due in part to the relative simplicity of the aircraft itself. Yet again, KP do an excellent job with the representation of wing ribs and the small sub-ribs.




The cockpit contains enough to keep things looking busy. Seat belts are represented by decals. Struts are sturdy, but the location holes could benefit from a little bit of deepening. Ejector pins are kept largely out of sight.



There are some minor downsides, not unfamiliar to those who have seen KPs recent offerings. The plastic is slightly rough (though less so than some of their other offerings, to be fair); this is likely a result of lower pressure injection moulding and it is reminiscent of early Roden kits. It should clean up reasonably easily with a light sanding. The radiator mouldings are a bit ‘blobby’, and there is also a little bit of flash on a number of parts. The engine itself looks like a general representation of a Mercedes D.III. Those that are details inclined may wish to replace these with some better offerings (though building an Argus D.III in 1/72 will require some scratch building).   That being said, the kit provides all of the essentials needed to build a lovely looking model.

Instructions

The instructions are the same for all three kits. They are printed in a nice little folded A4 sized leaflet, and are printed in colour. The instructions contain a description of the aircraft’s history, some specs, a parts breakdown, and construction sequence. Unfortunately there is no rigging diagram, but the rigging for the Roland is sufficiently simple that enough can be gleaned from the box top and three view drawing in the instructions. Paint callouts are clear and concise, and Humbrol paint references are used throughout. One thing to watch for with the instructions; it's not immediately apparent but the rear undercarriage struts slot through the lower wing and attach to the fuselage sides. One to watch for.




Colour schemes for nine machines (three per boxing) are provided. Colours and decal placement are called out on the rear of the box:

KPM0270 (Roland D.II):
•   Roland D.II, Jasta 25, Western Front 1917
•   Roland D.II, Jasta 15, 1917 (this machine is pictured in the Windsock datafile. The colours of the shield are conjectural).
•   Roland D.II, unknown unit sporting the coat of arms of the city of Halle, Germany.



KPM0271 (Roland D.IIa):
•   Roland D.IIa, Jasta 27, flown by Uffz Stein, 1917 (this machine is pictured in the datafile, having crashed and lost its tail section. Stein was unhurt in the prang)
•   Roland D.IIa, Jasta 31, flown by Helmut Harling, 1917 (this machine is pictured in the datafile).
•   Roland D.IIa, Jasta 25, flown by 19 victory ace Gerhard Fieseler, Macedonia, 1918 (this machine is pictured in a lineup photo in the datafile). 



KPM0272 (Pfalz D.II):
•   Pfalz D.II 2876/16, flown by Hans Pippart, 1917
•   Pfalz D.II, Eastern Front, 1917 (this machine is pictured in the datafile)
•   Pfalz D.II, Kest 4, Western Front, 1917 (this machine is pictured in the datafile on its back, having ground-looped).



The schemes are quite interesting and varied, given the Roland served at a time where the Germans were predominantly using greens, browns, and light blues for their aircraft colours.

Decals

The decals are very nicely printed with solid colour and excellent register. The decal film looks nice and thin. These should go down nicely. 

Accuracy and Buildability


KP have clearly used the excellent Windsock datafile as their primary reference. There are some points of note with the scaling and overall accuracy:

•   The fuselage scales spot on for the Argus powered D.IIa version. It is too long by about 2mm for the standard D.II and Pfalz models. To create these variants, the nose would have to be shortened at the front, and the lovers just behind the spinner sanded off and repositioned.
•   The engine louvers around the sides of the fuselage are correct for a D.II, but not for a D.IIa. Additional louvers will need to be added if you wish to model a D.IIa.
•   The undercarriage legs are correct for a D.II and Pfalz built aircraft. The D.IIa had legs which were angled more forward to prevent nose-overs. So some careful bending or replacement of the undercarriage legs will be needed for a D.IIa model.
•   The undercarriage attachment points also look like they are slightly incorrect when compared to the datafile.
•   The tail skid fairing will need to be removed if you wish to model a Pfalz-built machine.
•   The vertical stabiliser is good in height, but a millimetre or so too deep in chord.
•   The wing tips need to be slightly more raked. Also, the kit is moulded with the aileron hinge strips in place; these may need filling depending on the machine you are modelling (check your references here).
•   Aileron washout is not represented. This can be easily addressed by some bending in hot water.
•   The kit’s engine is a representation of the Mercedes D.III. Additional detailing will be needed to represent an Argus engine (noting that much of the engine is buried away in the cowling).
•   The wings and horizontal stabiliser scale spot on to the plans, as does the fuselage (for the D.IIa version)








So we can see from these points that we get a kit that is a bit of a mix of D.II and D.IIa features, with some minor adjustments and surgery being needed to create a truly accurate D.II, D.IIa or Pfalz variant. None of these changes will be challenging to someone with even a small amount of modelling experience.

Regarding the accuracy of the markings, the schemes match the aircraft variants, according to what I can glean from the datafile. The Roland machines have the appropriate ‘fat’ iron cross markings, and the Pfalz machines have the appropriate ‘skinny’ iron cross markings. Well done to KP for appropriately matching the schemes here.







The kit should present an easy build. The lower wings are a single piece, and the upper wings should be easy enough to align. The seam around the fuselage for the lower wings may be tricky to clean up, and the rear undercarriage legs may be tricky to slot through the wings, but only building will tell. Otherwise, the low parts count promises a relatively easy build.

Conclusions


KP are to be applauded for tackling the Roland. This is a unique yet attractive looking aircraft, with some sleek lines and nice shapes that bely the real aircraft’s relatively sluggish performance. KP have done will in presenting a generally accurate kit, easily adaptable to make a truly accurate D.II, D.IIa or Pfalz variant. The markings are well researched and accurate for the model of machine depicted.
Some clean up work and refinement of detail will be needed here and there, but the relatively small parts count makes for what appears to be a generally simple build. I have a soft spot in my heart for the Roland, so this one will be making its way to my bench quite soon. I recommend you pick up a box or two of these truly lovely little Rolands. Highly recommended.

Our very sincere thanks to KP for the review sample. Support those manufacturers that support our forum!
« Last Edit: May 07, 2022, 12:01:19 PM by Brad Cancian »

Offline KiwiZac

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1675
Although not a type I'm interested in - or even heard of - this looks like another gorgeous kit from KP. Long may they continue this great range of WW1 models!