Sunday, August 28, 2016

L.F.G. Roland C.II

Yet another Airfix classic was completed today: the Roland C. II. Although the kit has been around since approximately the early or mid-1960s, it is the only OTS (One True Scale, i. e. 1/72) kit of this important aircraft. The dimensions are accurate, the figures are remarkably good, and the assembly is simple and quite fun to engage in. No profanities were used. This particular model was modified as to represent an early Roland with only an aft machine gun, in this case from a Roden kit. The Roland was also rigged, the wheels replaced, and the early type of half-hoops in front of the pilot to protect in case the aircraft overturned were scratchbuilt.

The Luftfahrzeug Gesellschaft (LVG) started off building airships in 1908, and they adopted the Roland name to avoid being confused with the LVG company, since "v" and "f" are pronounced similarly in German. The C.II appeared in October 1915, and the semi-monocoque fuselage influenced much of subsequent German aircraft design, and the Walfisch, as it was known, earned quite a bit of respect in 1916. It was used for a number of tasks, including the role of combat scout, that is fighter. British ace Albert Ball met several Roland aircraft during the summer of 1916, and he described the aircraft as the "best German machine right now...her guns fire backwards and forwards and everywhere except below". The Roland saw long service, and examples could be found flying over quiet sectors of the Western Front as late as the fall of 1917.

The decals of the kit were useless due to age, and I wanted an alternative marking anyway, so this Roland is painted and marked to represent an aircraft from Kasta 8, which was part of Kagohl II in mid-1916. It should be added that is was quite difficult to find out exactly what color the Rolands of Kasta 8 were. Some sources point to a very pale blue verging on white, while other sources indicate more of a light blue. I preferred the latter for aesthetic reasons. Kasta 8 was based at the Mont-Morville Aerodrome during May through June of 1916, and it was commanded by Victor Carganico throughout the war. The unit also included a young officer by the name of Manfred von Richthofen.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Avro 504K

The Avro 504K was one of the true workhorses of early aviation. The aircraft initially flew on September 18, 1913, and the last one was completed in 1932. In all 8,970 examples of this iconic aircraft were built, and 13 were delivered even before the war broke out. The Avro 504 had the dubious distinction of being the first RFC aircraft to be shot down during World War One, but the aircraft gained fame on November 21, when Avro 504s of the RNAS bombed the Zeppelin sheds in Friedrichshafen. The Avro 504 became the mainstay trainer of the RFC after Major Robert Smith-Barry, an outspoken critic of the way the RFC trained its "Fokker Fodder" during the first years of the war, became the CO of No. 1 Reserve Squadron at Gosport very late in 1916 or in early 1917. Smith-Barry got rid of the old Maurice Farman S-7 Longhorns, also known as "Rumpties", that had been used to train budding pilots. The Avro provided a flying experience that was more akin to the aircraft used in combat. Among other measures, Smith-Barry also sought out competent and encouraging instructors to train new pilots, and furthermore he made sure that the pilots were taught how to deal with stalls and spins instead of simply avoiding potentially hazardous maneuvers. The so-called Gosport System eventually became the norm within the RFC and then the RAF, and the Gosport System contributed greatly the British successes in the air later in the war. As an item of curiosity, the skid between the wheels of the Avro 504 was referred to as the "toothpick" by members of the RFC and RAF.

This incarnation of the 1960-or-so Airfix kit comes from the late 1980s and 1990s. The kit is moulded in grey plastic, and the decals are for a trainer in Egypt in the early 1920s and a preserved Avro. The Airfix kit apparently has a fuselage that lacks depth. This can be remedied by gluing plastic card to the underside, but I did not realize this error until the model neared completion. Some parts were added, such as the tube attached to the petrol tank, a nervous pilot up front and his instructor in the rear cockpit ready for takeoff, the windshields, the semicircular braces under the wings, and, of course, the rigging. I wanted an Avro from the time of the Great War, and i chose to paint the aircraft in markings from No. 8 Training Squadron Royal Australian Flying Corps, which was based in Leighterton in 1918 and 1919.