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In the belly of the whale

July 3, 2015 in Aviation

I’d intended to build this Airfix 1/72 LFG Roland C-II Walfisch (whale) with minimal upgrading, but with only giant pegs and a blobby aircrew in the cockpit (not surprising for a 1965 tooling) the interior needed a bit of help. Referring to the Windsock Datafile and the instruction sheet from the Eduard 1/48 kit downloaded from their site, I began scratch building some cockpit detail, and it just grew from there. And then it seemed a shame to close it all up, hence the decision to cut one fuselage side open…

As a further challenge to myself I decided to use no after-market stuff – not that there’s much available for this kit anyway. Everything’s made from scraps of styrene sheet, stretched sprue, bits of wire etc. The mounting ring for the Parabellum gun was a slice from a pen barrel. Normally I’d have used photo-etch for the Spandau gun but instead the cooling jacket was made from a piece of rolled mesh; not perfect, but an improvement on the kit gun.

The C-II had a wooden fuselage, unlike most of its fabric-covered contemporaries. Figuring out the cross-sections for the various bulkheads was a challenge, but eventually I got it all crammed in, including the engine.

Despite its two-man crew the Roland was a fairly small aircraft. The Airfix kit is reasonably accurate but one or two shape errors became obvious when comparing it with the Windsock plans. Some were corrected, such as the shape of the rudder and tailplanes, others were left well alone. The heavy fabric texture on the wings was completely sanded off.

Paint scheme was overall pale blue, with the undersides carrying a black checker pattern (though some sources suggest this was actually dark blue). All of the markings including the checkers were printed onto clear decal paper using a laser-printer, since it was all in black.

Rigging was done using .005″ nylon wire, coloured with a black marker before being installed. It has to be one of the easiest biplanes to rig – two hefty interplane struts and no cabane struts since the upper wing is attached directly to the fuselage.

It’s not a highly accurate replica and this old kit can’t compete with the latest and greatest releases, but I really enjoyed building it.

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46 responses to In the belly of the whale

  1. Well, Mike, you certainly set yourself some challenges. This is a superb result, and great to see the application of traditional skills to basic parts to achieve this sort of quality. The subject, too, is unusual – this has to be one of the ugliest aircraft of the First World War – but every ugly duckling deserves its chance.

    • Thanks Rob 🙂 Sometimes I think ugly aircraft make the most interesting models, although I actually find the Roland’s streamlined fuselage quite attractive.

  2. This is the old Airfix kit ??? I for one am utterly gobsmacked at the result you have produced ,well done does not seem nearly enough.
    I believe I’ve seen your stuff before but can’t remember where ,was it one of the dedicated Airfix sites ? , I think you posted the Airfix Bloodhound missile set which inspired me to build one ,sadly not nearly as good as you’rs ,it’s on my gallery here at iModeller.Welcome aboard.

    • I have to disagree with my collegue Rob ,I always thought this aircraft with it’s streamlined lines one of the prettier aircraft of the era,but there.s no accounting for taste 🙂

    • Cheers Neil! I’ve posted it on UAMF and ATF, and a build article was published in SAMI a few years ago, so it’s likely you’ve seen it before. Had a look at your Bloodhound, it’s very nice. You persevered and built the launcher – I was so fed up with the whole project by the time I got to that and never built it 🙂

  3. Another Mike Grant masterpiece.

  4. Very nice work and photography.

  5. Mike, your talent/skill really shine thru in this build. Great job.

  6. Man I cannot believe it is 1/72! Could almost be a WnW kit! Great job

  7. Nice build and photography, sir…..well done.

  8. I’m with Rob here, when I first saw the header picture I, too, assumed it was a WNW model, on discovering it’s based on a 40 year old 1/72 Airfix kit I was flabbergasted to say the least. Fantastic work, Mike.

  9. Not bad “Ol man, not bad.

  10. What a nice model and subject. Even cooler when the tamiya paint jar is placed next to it and the actual size of the model becomes apparent.

  11. That really is remarkable. A labor of love.

  12. Lovely work Mike.
    An old old Airfix classic.

    • Thanks Simon! It is a classic just by virtue of its being a 50-year old kit, but it would be nice to see Airfix re-tooling it. I read yesterday that they do have a couple of new-tool WW1 subjects planned in 1/72; very exciting 🙂

  13. Beautiful work! Particularly in the one true scale, no less!

  14. 1/72 scale, you have got eyes like an eagle, great build.

  15. Mike,

    Really good work! I like what you did with the Spandau gun. really cool!


  16. goodness gracious man…you are sooo talented

  17. Beautiful build, lovely photography, and as I’ve noticed before on your projects, excellent modeling skills on display. (plus I just have a great affinity for other 1/72 modelers!!!)

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