Douglas Rolfe's sketch of this Roland C-II biplane is another example
of his amazing ability not just to create a drawing, but to depict
the model's construction features in a manner helpful to builders.
That, coupled with the masterfully detailed and laid-out plans by
Walter Musciano and a brief history on the airplane along with its
most famous pilot, Eduard von Schleich, makes this an article you
won't want to miss - especially if you are a World War I historian.
World War-1 Ace von Schleich and His Roland C-II "Wahlfisch"
Plans for U/Control
By Walter Musciano
Eduard von Schleich saw action at the front as a fighter pilot for
only fourteen months during World War One he scored thirty five
victories including some doubles and triples. In addition, this
German Ace became the leader of one of four Jagdgeschwaders ("Flying
Circuses") in the German Air Service with rank equal to von Richthofen.
He survived that war to become one of the organizers of the Nazi
A Bavarian, Schleich was born on August 8, 1888 in Bad Tolz,
near Munich, Germany. At the age of twenty he joined the 11th Bavarian
Infantry Regiment stationed at Regensburg; two years later in 1910,
Eduard was promoted to Leutnant. When World War One started he was
a company commander. In August 1914 Schleich was seriously wounded
in the shoulder during a battle near Maire, France.
Upon his return to action Eduard decided to transfer to the Air
Service; during 1915 he passed the tests for both pilot and observer
at the East German Albatros Works in Schneidemuhl which resulted
in his assignment to Bavarian Feldflieger-Abteilung 2b as a pilot.
During an observation run Schleich was wounded in the arm by an
exploding anti-aircraft shell. Realizing the importance of the flight,
he had his observer bandage the wound and they continued on course
to complete the assignment. Both men were decorated with the Iron
Cross, First Class for this heroic action.
When the future knight recovered from this wound he was given
command of Bavarian Schutzstaffel 28, an escort Staffel. A shortage
of aircraft forced the young leader to sit behind his desk instead
of leading his men in the air. Schleich was so eager to fly that
when a French Nieuport was forced down on the Schutzstaffel air
field as Commanding Officer he quickly appropriated the craft and
had the German crosses painted over the French insignia. After a
few test flights the determined flyer was ready to go on patrol
when the German High Command took the captured plane away. Schleich
complaining bitterly about his inactivity demanded a transfer to
a fighter squadron. Finally, he was sent to a fighter pilot's school
where he completed the course in a record fourteen days.
Roland "Wahlfisch" Assembly Sketch
In March 1917 Eduard Schleich was given command of Jagdstaffel
21 attached to the German 5th Army. This outfit had one of the poorest
combat records, morale was low. Schleich worked endlessly with his
men toward discipline and coordinated action during aerial combat.
In a short time his staffel was the best in the 5th Army. On May
15, 1917 Schleich was acclaimed for great victory by shooting down
a SPAD piloted by the famous French Ace, Rene Dorme, victor over
thirty German planes!
On July 27, 1917 six Albatros scouts from Jasta 21 engaged twenty
two SPAD scouts. In the melee Lt. Erich Limpert plunged to his death.
Limpert was Schleich's best friend. The commanding officer ordered
his own Albatros fuselage and tail painted black. The staffel soon
was known as "Dead Man Squadron" to Allied flyers; during September
the men of Jasta 21 accounted for 41 victories; Schleich shot down
17 of these.
Although Schleich was a serious, determined pilot and administrator
he enjoyed pranks - unlike many of the other Aces. On one occasion
he forced a SPAD to land on the staffel airfield. During the evening
Schleich had black crosses painted over the French insignia. The
following morning the Lieutenant climbed into the French plane and
took off toward the front lines. When the staffel leader sighted
a French SPAD formation he approached them undetected. Several minutes
elapsed until the French leader turned to check his flighy and spotted
the strange SPAD with the black crosses. The startled Frenchman
frantically signaled his flight and then all hell broke loose!
Through skillful maneuvering the German escaped but ran into
some trouble as he crossed over his own lines because the anti-aircraft
batteries saw only the silhouette and not the markings of his plane.
A severe reprimand was Schleich's reward after he landed at his
von Schleich in 1940
Just when his staffel was meeting with success the leader was
stricken with dysentry. Before he could return to Jagstaffel 21
Schleich was notified he no longer commanded the outfit. Jasta 21
was a "Prussian" Staffel and Schleich was a Bavarian. An order had
been issued by the High Command prohibiting anyone but a Prussian
to command a Prussian outfit. Imperial Germany at that time drew
a bold line between the state of Prussia and the other German states,
especially Bavaria. The Kaiser and his generals were Prussians,
this was an attempt to keep Prussia in an exalted position. As a
result of this reorganization Jastas 16, 23, 32, 34 and 35 become
all-Bavarian Staffels. Schleich was given command of Jasta 32 attached
to the German 7th Army.
On December 4, 1917 Eduard Schleich was presented with the Pour
Ie Merite, Germany's highest decoration. Even his old Jasta 21 sent
congratulations. Schleich, not fully recovered from his illness,
was assigned to the military pilots' school at Schleissheim where
he was an extremely valuable instructor due to his expert knowledge
of combat techniques.
When his strength returned Schleich applied for combat duty; in
April 1918 he was given command of Jagdgruppe No.8 comprising Staffels
23, 32 and 35 stationed at Gavreuil. In June he was promoted to
the rank of Hauptmann; the following month Schleich was awarded
the coveted Bavarian Military Order of Max-Josef and an actual Knighthood.
This meant the Ace was known as Hauptmann Eduard Ritter von Schleich.
The "Ritter" being the German equivalent to the English "Sir" when
applied to knighthood. Now Schleich was truly the "Black Knight"
and his fame spread along the front.
On Octboer 3, 1918 Ritter von Schleich was placed in command
of the new Jagdgeschwader No.4 which consisted of Jagdstaffel 23
under Lt. Seywald, Jagdstaffel 32, (Schleich), Jagdstaffel 34 under
Oblt. von Greim, and Jagdstaffel 35 under Lt. Stark. This unit was
stationed near Saarburg. Later that month the "Black Knight" was
called to Berlin to test new aircraft at a fighter plane competition;
by the time he returned to his unit the war was over.
During the post-war years von Schleich took an active part in
stimulating aviation interest in Germany. He was employed by Lufthansa
airline and was one of the organizers of the Munich Sport Flyers
Club. When Adolf Hitler came to power Ritter von Schleich became
active in the National Socialist movement and helped organize the
Hitler Youth Aviation Program. He joined the newly formed Luftwaffe
and was also an officer in the S.S. in which uniform he visited
England and was warmly welcomed. By 1935 von Schleich was a Major
in command of a dive-bombing Staffel; during 1938 he was promoted
to Colonel and given command of Jagdgeschwader 132 "Schlageter."
This unit was later renumbered to JG. 26 and became one of the most
famous wings on the Western Front during World War Two.
In 1941, with the rank of General, von Schleich was placed in
command of all Luftwaffe units stationed in Denmark. But he soon
retired from this post due to failing health. He died in 1947.
The author thanks A. E. Ferko, N. H. Hauprich, and P. Doyle Jr.
for their contribution of photographs and historical information
which helped make this article possible.
During November 1915 a new German airplane appeared over the
front lines more advanced than any other. Its wooden monocoque fuselage
was carefully streamlined, wings were filleted, radiators were designed
to minimize drag, the usual multiple interplane struts were replaced
with a streamlined "I" strut, cabane struts were eliminated. This
amazing craft was quickly called "der Wahlfisch" ("Whale") because
of its deep, streamlined fuselage. Manufactured by L.F.G. Company
(Luftfahrzeug Gesellschaft), this biplane carried the trade name
of Roland - as did other craft built by L.F.G. Company to avoid
confusion with L.V.G. Co., a competitor. The Roland C-II, designed
by Herr Tantzen, set the pattern for many famous designs in later
At the front: World War-I Rolands
While Eduard von Schleich was a two-seater pilot with Bavarian
Feldflieger Abteilung 2b during the winter of 1915-1916, some of
the first Roland C-II's arrived at the air field. The future Ace
was fortunate to have one of the craft assigned to him. His sense
of humor was aroused by the "Wahlfisch" nickname and so he had a
mouth and eyes painted on his plane's nose to heighten the illusion.
The Bavarian also mounted a carved whale on the air speed indicator
(as the plans illustrate). Our model presented is a reproduction
of the Roland C-II flown by von Schleich.
von Schleich is seen in the cockpit
The Roland C-II's top speed of 105-mph was faster than the Allies'
Nieuport 22 and early Sopwith "Pup" single seaters. English Ace
Albert Ball considered the C-II as the "best German machine now."
Yet the craft was underpowered with a 160-hp Mercedes six cylinder
engine - it could have accommodated a more powerful engine if one
had been available.
With a gross weight of 2,825-lbs, 3,280' altitude could be gained
in six minutes; the 13,100' ceiling was reached in 45 minutes. An
outstanding performance feature was its long range. A 5-hour flight
time enabled the craft to penetrate deep into Allied territory on
Most early "Wahlfischs" carried only a movable ring-mounted Parabellum
machine gun in the rear cockpit since the C-II could easily outrun
single-seater opposition. This superior speed resulted in some Rolands
being used as fighters in which case a fixed Spandau machine gun
was added forward of the pilot's cockpit. While the deep fuselage
afforded a spacious, comfortable cockpit, the wing hindered downward
visibility so windows were fitted in the fuselage side. Due to good
streamlining the craft
landed at fairly high speeds so some early models were equipped
with a drag brake to shorten the roll when landing. The "Wahlfisch"
was so successful it remained in action until the Autumn of 1917.
The plans reveal the Roland makes an ideal control liner. The
absence of cabane struts means solid attachment for both wings;
fuselage is rugged and its streamlining enhances appearance. An
engine .23 to .35 cubic inch displacement should provide ample power,
Rib spacing as shown is exact scale.
Construction instructions appear on the full-size Hobby Helpers
Roland C-II List of Material
(Medium balsa unless otherwise noted)
Two 1/4" x 3" x 36" for fuselage sides, top, and bottom, wing
tip and center section; (2) 1/4" x 1/4" x 36" for fuselage interior
strips; (2) 1/16" x 3" x 36" hard for wing ribs; (2) 1/2" x 1" x
36" for wing leading edge; (2) 1/4" x 1" x 36" for wing trailing
edge; (1) 3/16" x 3" x 36" soft balsa for empennage and wing struts;
(1) 1/8" x 2" X 36" for fuselage bulkheads, wing tip and center
section; (1) 1/8" x 6" x 12" plywood for wing joiners and fuselage
bulkheads; (1) 3/8" x 5/8" x 18" hardwood for engine and bellcrank
mounts; (1) 1 1/2" x 2" x 18" for nose block cowl and spinner.
1/16" dia. music wire for control rod and tall skid; 3/32" dia.
music wire for landing gear; white Aristo-craft silk wing covering;
3/16" x 3/16" x 12" hardwood elevator spar; white and black Wondur-cal
Insignia; 8 oz. can Aero Gloss Balsa filler coat; 4 oz. can Aero
Gloss Curtiss Blue Dope; 6 oz. can Aero Gloss Swift White Dope;
(1) tube Aero Gloss Plastic Balsa; one ounce bottle dark gray Aero
Gloss dope (optional); Flex-i-Grit sanding Mylar; (1) large tube
Ambroid Cement; (3) 2/0 and 3/0 sandpaper; 8 oz. can Aero Gloss
Miscellaneous: Straight pins, nuts, bolts, Perfect large bellcrank
and control horn. Acme "U" type tank, plastic fuel line, miniature
Wheel Co. 2 1/2" dia. World War One wheels.
Paint Notes: Mix white and blue dope for the sky blue color.
Roland "Wahlfisch" Control Line Plans
size drawings are on Hobby Helpers' Group Plan #962.
The AMA Plans Service offers a full-size
version of many of the plans show here at a very reasonable cost. They will scale the plans any size for you. It is always
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Posted July 18, 2015