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1:32 Roland D.VIb 'Benz Bz.IIIa engine'

James H

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1:32 Roland D.VIb
Wingnut Wings
Catalogue # 32107
Available from Wingnut Wings for $69.00 with FREE worldwide shipping




The Roland D.VI first entered service in early 1918, just before the use of 5 colour lozenge was phased out (see notes later), and with its Daimler- Mercedes D.III engine, it was a designed to restore Roland's credibility as a producer of fighter planes, in the face of the earlier, poor performing D.I, D.II and D.III types. Pfalz was also becoming a strong competitor to Roland, with the success of its D.III aircraft.


In early 1918, the Roland D.VI and the Fokker D.VII were in direct competition to each other to win a fighter contract, and the D.VII won. The excellent performance of the Roland D.VI with its Klinkerrumpf (clinker-built) fuselage and pylon mounted lower wing, ensured a contract was still awarded, just in case Fokker couldn't fulfill its obligations. The D.VIa entered service in February 1918, and by April 1018, a Benz Bz.III powered machine was entering service, replacing the older Mercedes engines. Balanced, moveable control surfaces were eventually introduced to the 'b' type, which improved maneuverability. A total of around 200 D.VIb machines were built, slightly outstripping the production of the previous variant. After the Armistice, some D.VI machines could be seen in service with the Freikorp.



Well, we really weren't expecting this one! Now and again, Wingnut Wings gives us something a little unexpected, and this falls into that category. Ok, we have had a Roland D.VIa reviewed here back in 2011, so it was always possible that the D.VIb could be released at some point, but certainly for me this still fell way under radar, as I imagine it did for just about every other WNW fan.


The clues were on the original kit I suppose, when you look at the nomenclature of the sprues themselves. Some are labeled D.VIa, whilst others were simply classed as D.VI. It's always interesting looking at this aspect of Wingnut Wings kits, and trying to work out what they might be doing behind the scenes. With this kit being the latter Benz Bz.IIIa powered machine, you now get an entirely new sprue to cater to this engine. There are other differences in this kit, of course, and we'll look at those in the course of this review. In total, there are only two sprues which are new to this version of Roland's dainty fighter, with both of these being newly tooled for the purpose.


Wingnut Wings artwork is always the first thing that strikes you about these kits, with another superb Steve Anderson artwork depicting a colourful Jasta 59machine, framed with a silver edged border. The box sides depict the remaining schemes on offer in this release. All in all, a sumptuous package, as always. That's only the start, as we now take a look at what's on offer within.

This release contains FIVE light grey sprues, ONE clear sprue, a single PE fret, and THREE A4 size decal sheets from Cartograf. All sprues are individually packaged, as is the PE fret. Sprue's E and F are supplied co-joined in the same packet. The PE is sealed in a larger sleeve containing the decal sheets. As you'll have seen from recent Wingnut Wings releases, the instruction manual is no longer packaged in a sleeve.





Most sprues in this release are not new, and this first one we saw in the original D.VIa release. Mostly concerning the cockpit, this sprue contains the framework sidewalls, but not the bulkheads. Those are on a newly tooled sprue. For that pilot's office, here you will find moulded the control column with separate grip and throttle control, starting magneto, ammunition magazine and empty belt box, three-part fuel tank, rear fabric bulkhead, pilot seat and cushion, rudder bar, grease pump, spark advance lever, and also the footboards with integral lower bulkhead. You will need to make a small but simple modification to the latter due to the changes within the D.VIb type.








Cockpit detail is superb throughout with perhaps only the MG trigger cables worthy of being added extra. Of course you will ideally need to rig the interior using EZ-Line or similar, and a full diagram is given for this purpose. A back plate to the rear of the rear bulkhead contains a series of holes which are placed so that your rigging points terminate in the correct place. Of special note are the extremely fine but fragile looking internal cockpit side frames. Be careful when you come to clean the sprue gate location plastic from these. As with many WNW kits, the gates are actually quite short and there can be minimal space between the sprue and part. I find it good practice to use a razor saw to remove parts, and to leave the sprue cutters well away!








Many key non-cockpit parts are also moulded here, and these include the undercarriage V-struts and spreader bar, propeller and spinner/back-plate, single piece cabane struts, externally mounted fuel gauge, empty belt chutes, radiator and control horns.





Again, this is identical to the Sprue B supplied in the previous incarnation of this kit, and contains all of the Roland's flying surfaces. It's pretty obvious that the airframe of the D.VIa, as we know it, carried on over to the Benz-powered D.VIb type, for a period, and in this kit, those earlier traits are known as 'Early Production', with the 'Late Production' parts being found on a new-tool sprue we'll look at soon. Both upper and lower wings are moulded as single, full span pieces. Of course, the lower fuselage wing mounting pylon makes this very easy for this type.










All control surfaces are superbly detailed with excellent rib and taught fabric detail throughout, exhibiting just that right amount of sag. Rigging points are clearly defined, but I would perhaps just drill them out a little further with a micro-drill bit. Strut location points are very clean and deep too, with the various points being shaped to fit the specific strut required to fit there, making assembly trouble-free.






As always, this is the clear parts sprue, and it's identical to that in the previous incarnation of this kit, containing two windscreen options. Clarity is excellent.





This is the last grey sprue which is common to the previous release, and that sleek looking clinker-built fuselage is presented here. Whilst this is the same as the previous variant, there are of course some changes to be made to this relating to the position of the various engine services access ports moulded on its exterior. This will require some parts which are supplied on a newly tooled sprue. As far as I can see, this is the only variation that needs to be made to the fuselage. Wingnut Wings did a great job in recreating that clinker fuselage, with nice, sharp strakes and nail pattern lines. The rear stabilizer is designed to slot into the rear fuselage as a single piece.










Internally, that clinker construction is carried through, creating a most unusual cockpit interior. Unlike some other WW1 German types, such as the Pfalz machines which were painted grey/green within, the Roland was natural wood, so you will need to master that oil-drag technique, or similar.


Wing struts are to be found here, and there are two sets, with one of them marked as not for use. Don't get these mixed up. Two versions of Spandau MG are supplied too. One of these is the standard plastic moulded one, whilst one is classed as 'high detail', and is moulded without the jacket. This particular option will be fitted with photo etch jackets which are also supplied. I know there can be a tendency for modellers to use the MASTER barrels with many of these kits, but the PE parts supplied by WNW are actually very good and fit superbly. They perhaps are more authentic due to being thinner, but of course the MASTER barrels and muzzles are first rate.




Wheels are supplied as a single piece inner hub and wheel, and a separate external hub which is fitted after the wheel locking washer is fitted. Other parts on this sprue are tachometer, Spandau cocking levers, and control horns.





I love busy looking engines, and the Benz Bz.IIIa is one of those. This model allows also for the high altitude Bz.IIIau also, but of course you'll need to check your specific scheme to see which type you should fit. The main difference between the two types is the intake manifold. All parts on this sprue are slated for use except for two parts which form a different cylinder head block.








Whilst you are quite at liberty to paint the red bands on the cylinders which indicate over-compression, decals are supplied to do this, as they were in the D.VII releases. Having spent hours masking these up previously to paint them, I know which path I'll be taking here! Serial numbers are also supplied for the forward cylinder, with options being given dependent on which machine you are modeling.


This engine comprises around 20 parts, and some images, both period and contemporary, are supplied in the manual, to help you detail your masterpiece. Pushrods are integrally moulded, but there are alternative parts, should you wish to add your own detail. 






Another 'first' with this engine is the moulded ignition and magneto wiring detail!!! It' actually quite nice. Take a look.





This is the second newly tooled sprue supplied with this release, and provides you with all those Late Production tail surfaces and ailerons for three schemes which warrant their use. Those internal bulkheads are also moulded here, as is an entirely new upper, forward coaming to suit this variant. There is another which is moulded on sprue D, but DO NOT USE that particular one. The instructions clearly show it's not for use, do don't get them mixed up as they are very similar.










A new engine needs new cowls, and here is where you'll find them, as well as the forward nose cowl too. Other parts are the engine bearers, oil tank radiator, instrument board, water coolant pipe, exhaust manifold, new engine access ports for exterior, and control horns. Just a quick note about the exhaust manifold. This is moulded so the outlet is a formed from an extra part which fits to the main manifold, creating a hollow structure which looks quite authentic. I would perhaps thin this a little further before assembly, but the lion's share of the work is done for you already.


Decals are supplied for the instrument board. The Roland D.VIb had quite a sparse set of instruments, but what there is, is authentically reproduced here.






Of particular note is the forward nose cowl, moulded with fine, open louvres. When it comes to finesse and detail like this, Wingnut Wings never lets us modellers down.


Plastic Overview
Sometimes it seems pretty pointless doing this section for a WNW kit as all I can really say again is that the kit is flash free and seams are minimal. There are no issues with ejector pin marks as these are either on tags external to the parts, or they are hidden after assembly. There aren't any sink marks either. It's pretty much as good as it can possibly get.





The single bare brass fret in this release contains a full set of seatbelts, ejector chutes, Spandau jackets and sight reticules. Still no idea why an elephant is used to indicate PE part gluing. If WNW's Richard Alexander is reading this, please explain and put me out of my misery! Etch quality is excellent as always, and tags holding parts in situ are minimal and thin.













THREE sheets of decals are included with this release. Two of them contain lozenge fabric and rib tapes, exclusively. Lozenge is supplied in both four and five colour types, and as none of these are 'cookie-cut' types, it's intended that you cut the required panels yourself. Hardly any sort of hardship.


The last sheet contains all the individual machine national markings and personal emblems, as well as a full suite of stencils and instrument decals. There are also a set of linen rib tapes supplied, as an alternative to the 4 and 5 colour ones on the main lozenge sheets. Where a marking crosses over an aileron, it is presented in parts for your ease.






All sheets are printed by Cartograf, and are in perfect register. Colours are authentic, and decals are thin, and with minimal carrier film. In my experience with WNW decals, they adhere well without setting solutions, but can also be used with Mr Mark Setter. There is a tutorial on Large Scale Modeller which shows you how to apply WNW decals using a hairdryer, for an even more effective method of compliance and adhesion.

The five schemes supplied in this kit are:

  • Roland D.VIb, 'Berg Wappen', mid 1918
  • Roland D.VIb, Jasta 59, mid to late 1918
  • Roland D.VIb, 7502/18 "P132", McCook Field, Dayton Ohio USA, May to June 1920
  • Roland D.VIb, 7504/18, November 1918
  • Roland D.VIb, 7535/18 "Marie", Oskar Freiherr von Boenigk, Freikorps, late 1918- 1919 (26 victories)







Hang on, did I say FIVE schemes? Sorry, I meant SIX! There is a bonus scheme available in this kit. This one is:

  • Roland D.VIb, 2225/18, currently in Krakow Museum, Poland.

This last machine was restored in the 1990's and the manual says to use optional parts for scheme 'A' in order to build this one as it would looked when fresh off the production line.


Instruction manual



This A4 sized publication stretches to 26 pages, all printed in a satin finish, with beautiful constructional sequence images within. These images are coloured in grey, with newly added parts being highlighted in blue for clarity. These drawings are interspersed with colour drawings which show assembled sections, with an even clearer colour call-out being given. Paint reference codes are given for Tamiya and Humbrol with FS codes also supplied.


A number of period and contemporary images are also supplied, and the various schemes have images to back up the artworks which have been ably produced by the talented Ronny Bar.






Full rigging drawings have been supplied, but some study of this is perhaps required, along with looking at the period images, if you want things to become all the more clearer in relation to what needs doing.


The Roland is certainly an attractive little fighter plane, and WNW have captured its essence perfectly. This highly detailed model is detailed throughout, with clever engineering and high quality parts. Again, the schemes selected for this release are nice and varied, and will perhaps cause you a little headache in finally choosing what machine you want to build. For me, I've narrowed it down to three schemes, and now I'm stuck. The inclusion of the experimental low-visibility scheme which the Americans used on their evaluation aircraft, is a very nice touch. For more information on this, there is a detailed description in the Windsock Worldwide issue which we reviewed here.


Very highly recommended


Our sincere thanks to Wingnut Wings for this review sample. To purchase directly, click THIS link


James H



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Great review! Re: the elephant/super glue thing, just google "super glue elephant". It's said that you can glue a baby elephant's head to the ceiling with just a one square inch patch of it (animal rights issues notwithstanding)

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Re the Elephant; there used to be an oddly popular advert on television here where a workman in a shiny yellow hard hat superglues a shackle and then lifts an elephant into the air with his crane. I'm not sure why you would want to lift an elephant in the air with a crane, but after achieving said amazing feat the workman smiles to camera and the by-line rolls 'One drop holds a tonne'. I suspect Richard, like many of us here, now associates superglue with elephants.

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Re the Elephant; there used to be an oddly popular advert on television here where a workman in a shiny yellow hard hat superglues a shackle and then lifts an elephant into the air with his crane. I'm not sure why you would want to lift an elephant in the air with a crane, but after achieving said amazing feat the workman smiles to camera and the by-line rolls 'One drop holds a tonne'. I suspect Richard, like many of us here, now associates superglue with elephants.


Whooh... I remember that ad! That must be going back a few years.. mid/late 1980's?

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 3 months later...
Guest Dekenba

Mine has arrived in Blighty, it's lovely, it was just the little touch of the engine that made me buy this instead of the A version....




Instead of? 


Buy both!

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