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  • LFG Roland C.II (Whale) Reconnaissance Biplane Aircraft

    The LFG Roland C.II was a dedicated two-seat reconnaissance platform of the German Empire during World War 1.

     Updated: 10/27/2016; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

    The LFG Roland C.II was a rather advanced biplane fighter design of World War 1 (1914-1918) serving with the forces of the German Empire. It incorporated such forward-thinking features as drag and weight-reducing "I" struts, a lowered upper wing assembly, an aerodynamically-refined tubular fuselage, and construction that yielded a lighter-yet-stronger end-product. While reportedly something of a handful at the controls, the series was a sound performer when introduced during 1916 - its speed proving a vital asset. The deep fuselage of the aircraft earned her the nickname of "Whale".

    Since the summer of 1914, the "World War" in Europe had bogged down to static lines of trenches dotting the country sides of France and Belgium by the end of the year. Most observers felt that the conflict would have been resolved by Christmas until the actual horrors of war set in and continued to count the lives or more young men throughout 1915. Advancements in aerial warfare developed at a quickening pace during this period of history, new model series typically making existing ones instantly obsolete. Aircraft were now armed with machine guns and could engage aerial- and ground-based threats at will while others were slated to carry drop ordnance. The breaking of the stalemate was the imperative of the day and technology usually found all-new ways to kill a man - indeed the war introduced the "tank" into military service as well.

    Aircraft became faster, high-flying implements as the war progressed. Fighters carried one pilot into battle, initially as "lone wolves" until the concept of squadrons was an established component of military aviation. Fighter-like "scouts", initially unarmed", were now equally outfitted with machine gun support and typically carried two crew in tandem. The second crewman offered another important set of eyes and could engage any inbound aircraft coming from the rear. Along with Britain and France, the German Empire was at the leading edge of fighter development and one of its many contributors to its aviation cause became Luft-Fahrzeug-Gesellschaft GmbH (LFG) and one of their products was the LFG Roland C.II reconnaissance biplane. First flight of the type was seen in 1915.

    As finalized, the C.II design incorporated a well-streamlined fuselage of monocoque arrangement utilizing thin strips of plywood material for its skinning to produce a lighter, stronger result. The upper and lower wing mainplanes were integrated well into the natural flow of the aircraft to further reduce the drag generated between the two. Another drag-reducing effort was the implementation of the aforementioned "I-struts" at a time when parallel struts were the call of the day., This allowed for far less strut-work to be used and far less cabling to be exposed between the two wing elements. This simplified wing was quite a noticeable departure from fighters of the day, producing one of the cleaner biplanes of the war. The plywood process involved in skinning the aircraft did require much time and effort - restricting the available numbers of the aircraft for the German Air Service.

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    LFG Roland C.II Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 1916
    Type: Reconnaissance Biplane Aircraft
    National Origin: Imperial Germany
    Manufacturer(s): Luft-Fahrzeug-Gesellschaft GmbH (LFG Roland) - Imperial Germany
    Production Total: 400

    Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

    Operating Crew: 2
    Length: 25.26 feet (7.7 meters)
    Width: 33.79 feet (10.30 meters)
    Height: 9.51 feet (2.90 meters)

    Weight (Empty): 1,687 lb (765 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 2,833 lb (1,285 kg)

    Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

    Engine(s): 1 x Mercedes D.III water-cooled inline piston engine developing 160 horsepower.

    Maximum Speed: 103 mph (165 kph; 89 knots)
    Service Ceiling: 13,123 feet (4,000 meters; 2.49 miles)
    Rate-of-Climb: 545 feet-per-minute (166 m/min)

    Armament / Mission Payload

    1 x 7.92mm Spandau machine gun in fixed, forward-firing position over forward fuselage.
    1 x 7.92mm Parabellum machine gun on ring mounting in rear cockpit.

    Up to 115lbs of external stores.

    Global Operators / Customers

    Imperial Germany

    Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

    C.II - Base Production Model

    C.IIa - Modified wingtips and vertical tail fin

    C.III - Variant with additional wing bays; fitted with Benz Bz.IV 6-cylinder liquid-cooled inline piston engine of 200 horsepower.