In the belly of the whale
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.