Метод изготовления фюзеляжей, применявшийся на ранних "роландах", обеспечивал хорошие результаты в области аэродинамики и весовых характеристик, однако он отличался высокой трудоемкостью и длительностью производственного процесса. Для ускорения и удешевления производства инженер Танцен летом 1917 года разработал новый способ сборки фюзеляжей по так называемому "корабельному" принципу. Он заключался в том, что ажурный деревянный каркас из овальных шпангоутов и стрингеров обшивался длинными и узкими продольными полосками шпона, соединенными внахлест. В результате получилась очень легкая и технологичная конструкция, не уступавшая по прочности "скорлупе" выклеенной на болванке.
Истребитель с новым фюзеляжем получил индекс D.VI. Он впервые поднялся в воздух 13 октября 1917 года, а в январе 1918-го принял участие в конкурсе перспективных моделей истребителей в Адлерсхофе. И хотя победителем на этом конкурсе был объявлен "Фоккер" D.VII, испытатели отметили высокую скорость, хорошую маневренность и выдающиеся взлетно-посадочные характеристики нового "Роланда".
Помимо "корабельной" обшивки, отличительным признаком этой машины стало применение двигателя "Бенц" Bz.III с повышенной степенью сжатия, обладавшего мощностью 185 л.с, который обеспечил самолету отличные летные данные. "Роланд" D.VI - единственный серийный истребитель, оснащавшийся этим мотором. Но выпуск "бенцев" был весьма ограничен, поэтому на значительную часть "роландов" ставили менее мощные "мерседесы" D.IIIa в 175 л.с. Модификация с "Мерседесом" обозначалась D.VIa, а с "Венцем" - D.VIb. Вооружение обеих модификаций - два синхронных пулемета LMG08/15.
Первый заказ на 50 D.VIa поступил в феврале 1918-го, а на D.VIb - в апреле того же года. Всего до конца войны заказано 150 D.VIa и 200 D.VIb (последних успели построить около 180).
Первые "шестерки" поступили на западный фронт в мае 1918-го. В июне их насчитывалось 55 штук, в августе это число увеличилось до 70. Несколько десятков машин провоевали до окончания боевых действий.
D.VI; двигатель "Мерседес", 160 л.с.
D.VIa; двигатель "Мерседес", 180 л.с. Элероны с роговой компенсацией.
D.VIb; двигатель "Бенц", 200 л.с. Измененная форма вертикального оперения.
ВООРУЖЕНИЕ: 2 синхр. LMG 08/15 "Шпандау".
Размах, м 9,39 9.39
Длина, м 6,40 6,40
Площадь крыла, кв.м 21,7 21,7
Сухой вес, кг 655 670
Взлетный вес, кг 845 850
Скорость максимальная, км/ч 190 200
Время подъема на высоту
2000 м, мин 6,0 4,9
Потолок, м 5800 5800
O.Thetford, P.Gray German Aircraft of the First World War (Putnam)
L.F.G. Roland D VI (prototype)
From this machine, the 1,000th Roland aeroplane built, was developed the successful D VIb production type. Engine, 160 h.p. Mercedes D III.
L.F.G. Roland D VIa (prototype)
Another of the Roland D VI prototypes, fitted with large horn-balanced rudder and overhung balanced ailerons. Engine, 160 h.p. Mercedes D III. Armament, twin Spandau machine-guns.
L.F.G. Roland D VIb (prototype)
Yet another D VI prototype. A standard D VIb fitted with two-bay wings and "I" interplane struts. Engine, 200 h.p. Benz IIIa. Armament, twin Spandau machine-guns.
L.F.G. Roland D VIa and VIb
First of a long line of some twelve L.F.G. Roland lighters, the D I appeared in 1916 and was developed through to the D V, but only the D II and IIa were built in any quantity. In the D VI series, which followed, the klinkerrumpf style of fuselage construction, first pioneered in the D IV triplane, was again used. The prototype D VI was the 1,000th Roland machine built, and differed from the production variant in having no under-fin and unbalanced ailerons. Various modifications, mainly in the tail surfaces, followed, including one aircraft with double bay I-struts in order to dispense with incidence bracing.
Produced to compete in the 1918 "fighter trials'" held at Adlershof, this elegant-looking aeroplane was first fitted with the 160 h.p. Mercedes D III engine, when it was known as the D VIa, but as supplies of this engine were restricted, it was reworked to take the Benz III of similar power. Although the main production order went to the Fokker D VII, an order was placed for a batch of Roland D VIs as a precaution against Fokker D VII supplies breaking down.
Distinctive features of the D VI were its "clinker"-built fuselage, keel-mounted lower wing and rather "droop snoot" nose. The proportions of the D VI were nicely balanced, and it was of distinctly clean and racy appearance: its performance was good, and it was probably only the somewhat intricate fuselage construction, and consequent production difficulties, that precluded the placing of a larger order.
The fuselage was "clinker" planked after the style of small boat construction. The slightly tapered strips of spruce were wedge-shaped in section and overlapped each other by some two-thirds, thereby giving a smooth internal surface. They were pinned and glued to the light basic structure of spruce longerons and ply formers.
The Benz Bz IIIa engine was cleanly installed, with easily removed metal panels in the immediate vicinity of the cylinder block and aft of the neatly spinnered airscrew. A saxophone-type manifold exhausted to starboard. The main and under fins were both integrally built with the fuselage and covered with plywood. The keel, to which the lower wing panels were fitted, was also part of the fuselage structure. A bucket seat was fitted in the cockpit, the cross bearers of which dropped into spaced slots to afford some degree of adjustment. The control column was of steel tube with a grip top, and had auxiliary throttle adjustment very similar to that of the Fokker Dr I. The main throttle quadrant was on the left-hand side of the cockpit.
A tailplane of inverted aerofoil section and trapezoidal shape carried ovoid steel-tube elevators: it appears that both balanced and unbalanced elevators were fitted. The rudder was also of steel-tube construction, and all these members were fabric covered.
The parallel chord, single-bay wings were based on the orthodox twin main spar formula with steel-tube compression members: the built-up ribs were interspersed with false ribs. The radiator, which conformed to the wing section, was installed in the centre-section, slightly offset to starboard. Ailerons were of welded steel-tube framework and actuated through torque tubes running through the upper wing, as in the Roland D II. Centre-section struts were a welded steel-tube structure flattened at the lower attachment ends, slotted into their fixtures and secured with a bolt. Interplane struts were of wood, and converged slightly, due to the closer spar spacing in the lower wing, which was of narrower chord than the top wing. Some 3° of dihedral was rigged into the lower wing only, the top wing being perfectly flat.
The undercarriage was a conventional vee type of steel tube. The axle and spreader bars were neatly enclosed in a light fairing, and the wheels were sprung with elastic shock cord. The ash tailskid was hinged to the under-fin and sprung at its top with a lashing of elastic cord.
Flight characteristics of the Roland D VI were normal; slight nose heaviness with engines throttled well down and slightly tail heavy at full throttle. Manoeuvrability was assessed above that of the average single-seater, Take-off run was short, and the machine could be landed very slowly, though the somewhat narrow track produced a tendency to pirouette. Visibility from the cockpit was very good, and its roominess afforded considerable freedom of movement for the pilot, which contributed largely to the elimination of blind spots.
Apart from limited use with Jagdstajfeln (mainly Jasta 23), the Roland D VI was issued to the German Navy for seaplane defence duties. Some furteen of these aircraft were found at Barge (the station set up for the defence of Wilhelmshafen) after the Armistice.
Description: Single-seat fighter.
Manufacturer: Luftfahrzeug Gesellschaft m.b.H. Charlottenburg (Rol.).
Power Plant: One 200 h.p. Benz Bz IIIa 6 cylinder in-line water-cooled engine, (D VIb).
Dimensions: Span, 9.4m. (30 ft. 10 1/8 in.). Length, 6.322 m. (20ft. 8 3/4 in.). Height, 2.8 m. (9 ft. 2 1/4 in.). Area, 22.13 sq. m. (239 sq.ft.).
Weights: Empty, 650 kg. (1,450 lb.). Loaded, 860 kg. (1,892 lb.).
Performance: Maximum speed, 182.5 km.hr. (114 m.p.h.). Climb, 1,000 m. (3,280 ft.) in 2 1/2 min., 3,000 m. (9,840 ft.) in 9 min., 6,000 m. (19,680 ft.) in 28 min. Endurance, 2 hr.
Armament: Two fixed Spandau machine-guns firing forward.
N.B. Performance figures for a D VIb (with 200 h.p. Benz) tested in the U.S.A. after the war were:
Climb to 6,500 ft. in 6 1/2 min; speed 114 m.p.h.
Climb to 10,000 ft. in 11 1/2 min.; speed 108 m.p.h.
Climb to 15,000 ft. in 24 min.; speed 99 m.p.h.
Climb to 17,400 ft. in 38 1/3 min.; speed 90 m.p.h.; service ceiling, 19,000 ft.
W.Green, G.Swanborough The Complete Book of Fighters
LFG ROLAND D VI Germany
On 17 October 1917, the first of three prototypes of the D VI fighter was rolled out as the 1,000th aircraft manufactured by LFG. Whereas the D V had been essentially an attempt to enhance the capabilities of the D III design, the D VI was an entirely new design. Utilising the Klinkerrumpf fuselage constructional method first employed by the abortive D IV (Dr I), the D VI entered flight test in November 1917, initially with a 160 hp Mercedes D III engine. As supplies of this engine were restricted, the 185 hp Benz Bz IIIa was installed in at least one of the three prototypes. Testing continued through January 1918, being hampered by inclement weather and difficulties in achieving a suitable propeller match with the engine-airframe combination. After participating in the 1st D-type contest at Adlershof, the D VI passed its type test on 9 February 1918, an initial order being placed for 50 aircraft. By the time World War I came to an end, orders had been placed for 350 D VIa (Mercedes D IIIa) and D VIb (Benz Bz IIIa) fighters. Both the D VIa and D VIb began to reach combat units in May-June 1918, 58 of the former and 12 of the latter being included in the frontline inventory of 31 August. Pilots did not consider the D VI to be anything more than a marginal improvement over the Albatros D Va and Pfalz D IIIa that it was intended to replace - it was slightly faster and more manoeuvrable, but had a lower climb rate - yet it remained in limited production until the end of the conflict. Of the 350 built, 200 were of the D VIb version to which the following data relate.
Max speed, 124 mph (199 km/h).
Time to 16,405 ft (5 000 m), 19 min.
Endurance, 2 hrs.
Empty weight, 1,446 lb (656 kg).
Loaded weight, 1,865 lb (846 kg).
Span, 30 ft 10 7/8 in (9,42 m).
Length, 20 ft 8 7/8 in (6,32 m).
Height, 9 ft 2 1/4 in (2,80 m).
Wing area, 238.1 sq ft (22,12 m2).