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LFG Roland C.II (Whale)

Imperial Germany (1916)
Picture of LFG Roland C.II (Whale) Reconnaissance Biplane Aircraft
Picture of LFG Roland C.II (Whale) Reconnaissance Biplane Aircraft Picture of LFG Roland C.II (Whale) Reconnaissance Biplane Aircraft
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The LFG Roland C.II was a dedicated two-seat reconnaissance platform of the German Empire during World War 1.


Detailing the development and operational history of the LFG Roland C.II (Whale) Reconnaissance Biplane Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 6/15/2018. 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.

With the upper wing assembly now lowered onto the top of the forward fuselage, the pilot's position ahead of the observer was largely unobstructed when looking forward and above. The wings did, however, have the natural detrimental effect of blocking views downward and to the sides. The observer, sitting at near-center in the fuselage, was given a better vantage point but his view forward was also blocked by the biplane wings and his view rearward held the tail. The tail unit featured a sole vertical tail fin and elongated horizontal planes. The undercarriage was typical of the time - fixed and wheeled - which allowed for rough-field operations from make-shift bases. The engine at front drove a two-bladed wooden propeller assembly. The deep-look fuselage provided the C.II with a very portly shape - hence its well-earned "Whale" nickname.


Picture of the LFG Roland C.II (Whale) Reconnaissance Biplane Aircraft
Picture of the LFG Roland C.II (Whale) Reconnaissance Biplane Aircraft


Typical armament of the series became a sole 7.92mm Spandau machine gun in a fixed, forward-firing position over the nose and controlled by the pilot. This required use of "interrupter" gear to synchronized the machine gun's rate-of-fire to that of the spinning propeller blade so as to not shoot off a blade in action. The Germans were the first to perfect such hardware and it was immediately followed by an Allied version of the same concept. A 7.92mm Parabellum machine gun was fitted on a ring system at the rear cockpit for the observer/rear gunner. When called to the bombing role, the C.II was cleared for up to 4 x 28lb drop bombs held externally underneath the aircraft.

Introduced in early 1916, the C.II was pressed into service alongside many German aircraft types - those obsolete, some modern, and others of all-new designs mixed into the German Air Service in an attempt to gain the upper hand against the Allied offensives. Control of the skies shifted multiple times during the war - such was the impression of technology pressed upon the war, a single development could render an enter class of aircraft obsolete within weeks of introduction.

Pilots judged the performance of their new C.IIs as strong though they held some reserve about the handling aspects of the aircraft . The wings were a major sticking point as they rendered visibility quite limited from both seating positions, particularly for the pilot when attempting to view the oncoming terrain ahead and below his aircraft. However, the C.II was a naturally fast aeroplane and could simply outrun most aerial threats of the day while ground-based fire had to struggle to train in on the fast aircraft. If an Allied warplane attempted an attack on the C.II series aircraft, it was suggested that it attack the aircraft from above if possible - under the element of surprise. The only other vulnerable attack angle was from underneath though this was a tricky-to-achieve affair. During the war, the C.II undertook various reconnaissance-minded sorties and also managed light bombing and fighter escort missions as called. Within time, the C.II line suffered what other World War 1 aircraft suffered to have it removed from frontline service - it was simply superseded by more capable types before the end of the war in 1918.

The German Air Service took on the C.II through the original base reconnaissance two-seated "C.II" form. This mark was powered by a single Mercedes D.III water-cooled inline engine of 160 horsepower. Performance figures included a maximum speed of 103 miles per hour, a service ceiling of 13,125 feet, and a rate-of-climb of approximately 545 feet-per-minute. The inline engine allowed use of a streamlined spinner on the propeller blade unit, keeping the general profile of the C.II very smooth.

In time, engineers exacted some changes to the base design to produce the "C.IIa" mark which introduced stronger wingtip sections and an enlarged vertical tail fin for better control. The "C.III" was an evolved version of the line fitting a Benz Bz.IV 6-cylinder, liquid-cooled inline engine of 200 horsepower with revised, two-bay wings.






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Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 120mph
Lo: 60mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (103mph).

    Graph average of 90 miles-per-hour.
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Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
400
400


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


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Origin: Imperial Germany
Year: 1916
Type: Reconnaissance Biplane Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Luft-Fahrzeug-Gesellschaft GmbH (LFG Roland) - Imperial Germany
Production: 400
Status: Retired, Out-of-Service
Global Operators:
Imperial Germany
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the LFG Roland C.II model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
2


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
25.26 ft


Meters
7.7 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
33.79 ft


Meters
10.3 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
9.51 ft


Meters
2.9 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
1,687 lb


Kilograms
765 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
2,833 lb


Kilograms
1,285 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Mercedes D.III water-cooled inline piston engine developing 160 horsepower.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
103 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
165 kph


Knots
89 kts


Performance
CEILING


Feet
13,123 ft


Meters
4,000 m


Miles
2.49 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
545 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
166 m/min

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Armament - Hardpoints (4):

STANDARD:
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.

OPTIONAL:
Up to 115lb of externally-held conventional drop bombs.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• 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.